Photographing the Signing of the Marriage Schedule
From 4th May 2021, everything changed regarding the registration part of the marriage ceremony. The traditional register has now been moved online, and a tradition dating back to 1837 has been replaced.
What this means for couples is that there will still be a signing, but the signing of an A4 piece of paper called the ‘Marriage Schedule‘, with all information to be entered online later. No marriage certificate is now issued on the day, with couples either receiving it through the post or picking it up in person.
As a wedding photographer, I have mixed feelings about this…
Gone are any Photographic Restrictions!
The signing of the schedule usually follows shortly after the vows. In a church wedding, this may be slightly different depending on the order of service.
I love natural photography – it’s what I do and why people book me! Apart from any required posed shots, I try to take natural photographs all day.
I used to be restricted by rules around the signing of the register. Happily, this is now largely a thing of the past. Most register offices outside Central London used to cite data protection as a reason not to allow photography of the signing, instead opting for a ‘dummy’ register. But now, with the introduction of the Marriage Schedule, I can photograph throughout this part of the ceremony.
Please bear in mind that this is still at the registrar’s discretion and some may still prefer this isn’t photographed to avoid distraction.
The Dummy Register is Dead: No More Pretend Signing
It used to be that at weddings at Cardiff City Hall, (as at many register offices and civil marriage venues) the registrar politely requests that I stop shooting until the signing was complete. I had to respect the rules of the house so turn my camera on to the guests until the signing was completed. The registrar then provided a blank ‘dummy’ register and let me pose the couple pretending to sign the register.
Now, I can still take posed photos with the pen and paper schedule, but because I will have already taken photos of the signing, the need to have the couple pretend to sign is diminished.
And Church Wedding Signings?
The signing has changed for religious ceremonies too… They are the same as for civil partnership ceremonies, but, again it’s up to the individual member of the clergy to set out their preferred rules. Historically, vicars and priests have been more relaxed around the signing, and I see no reason why this should change.
Goodbye Certificate Presentation
The major negative for me is that the couple don’t now get their marriage certificate on the day, so there is no presentation and photo opportunity. I’ve always found that to be the definitive shot the shows that the couple is now officially married. Some registrars made a big presentation of it and it is a shame that this part of the day is gone… Still, I suppose it avoids them losing it on the way home!
Where to Have the Schedule Signing for Photographic Aesthetics
As with all photography, it’s all about the light. Most wedding venues have a dedicated signing area, but if you do get a choice of where to sign, choose somewhere with good directional light such as facing or adjacent to a window. Having the window behind you is not ideal though as it could cause glare and hazy images. A good photographer should be able to deal with this though.
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