Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wedding magazine. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Our local experts offer cheerful advice on planning the unexpected
Q. I'd like to surprise my other half with a really special album of our wedding photos – what options are available?
A. David Bostock says: Giving your other half a beautiful surprise album is a fantastic idea. The motivation to do something with the images is always high, but then life gets busier and somehow it gets pushed back and back and, apart from the lone frame on the mantelpiece, the rest of the images get forgotten at the bottom of a drawer.
You have probably paid your photographer a considerable sum to take the photos that tell the story and create imagery that stands out from the crowd. Fast-forward 20 years. Your kids come to you and ask: “Mum, dad, what was your wedding day like?” You'll wish you had something you could get out to show them that they can touch and feel that doesn't rely on electricity, batteries or Wi-Fi.
Having high-resolution files on a USB stick as a form of backup is a great idea, but it should never be the final product. Some clients who have purchased high-resolution discs go on to get some flat-looking prints. Some design their own wedding photo books over the web, but unfortunately, when the image files do not perfectly match the calibration of the lab's colour profiles, clients can end up disappointed. Often, these modern photo books are not designed to last a lifetime, unlike a properly bound, professionally designed wedding album.
Leaving images in a digital format on a high-resolution disc is also not sensible. Far too often, digital files get forgotten or misplaced or laptops and hard drives fail. The long-term compatibility of the files or the disc is not guaranteed, either. On the other hand, I am still captivated by my parents' 1948 wedding pictures with real photos stuck into a pretty simple album.
Broadly modern wedding albums fall into two main categories. They are either albums wherein the images are printed directly on to the page itself – often known as coffee table books or flushmount albums – or the type where photographic prints are set into apertures with bevel-cut mounts (matts) on the page known as matted albums.
Remember the simpler and less flashy the design, the less your album will date in the future. However, some coffee table book companies now have some great products coming on to the market, including rigid pages and a mix of paper finishes, from high-gloss HD paper through to matte heavyweight fine art paper with an incredible tonal range.
For me, a well-designed, matted classic wedding album will be something that stands the test of time and is well worth the investment. And one of the advantages of getting your professional photographer to design your wedding album is the access to album companies that deal exclusively with professional photographers and a high quality range of products not available to the consumer.
Q. We want to surprise the bride and groom with some extra music during the ceremony. Is this possible?
A. Harlano Weekes says: A performance at the wedding ceremony by a gospel choir is always a nice surprise for your guests as it provides an emotional and uplifting start to your special day. Having the choir singing as the bride enters sets the tone and they can also entertain your guests during the signing of the register. Popular choices include From This Moment, All You Need Is Love and Stand By Me. Choirs can also perform during the evening reception. A 30 minute hi energy performance can really get the party started and act as a bridge between the speeches and evening do. Uptempo songs such as Signed, Sealed Delivered and Higher And Higher work well here, and there is also nothing better than a live singer performing your first dance either with a choir or a band.
Q. Help! We're having children at our wedding, but I know from past experience that they can often get restless at certain points in the day. Any suggestions for things that might keep them entertained?
A. Victoria Hazel says: A little planning can go a long way when children are on the guest list. Where possible, it can be a great idea to involve children in the day with a role such as handing out confetti, giving gifts to bridesmaids and ushers or announcing the cutting of the cake, in addition to traditional flowergirl and pageboy roles.
Although this will help children engage with the ceremony, there is still the rest of the day and evening to consider. Providing a discreet area of toys and games at the reception can help; with children happily occupied, parents are freed up to fully enjoy the celebrations too. You do not have to compromise on the look of your venue to achieve this – for instance, we provide teepee play corners, which can be decorated to blend in with your venue.
Of course, there are times during the day, such as during the ceremony and speeches, when you will not want the children to be as involved, and planning some quiet activities for these times is a good idea. Create a speeches survival kit for your youngest guests (which could double as a child's wedding favour) containing activities such as drawing, puzzles, a small Lego set, an activity book or sweet treats.
Providing for children at your wedding needn't be complicated or a compromise. A few simple steps is all it takes to turn a potential source of tension into special memories of everyone coming together to celebrate your marriage – which is what it is all about.
Q. I'd like to make sure the hen day is actually full of nice surprises, not just the obvious predictable stuff. Any suggestions for making the day go better?
A. Danielle Kendall says: Our No.1 rule is to plan a hen party full of personal touches and surprises that your bride will love. You should also consider the level of surprise. Some brides-to-be are perfectly happy to hand over all planning and control to their friends, and others like to know what's going on and even have a hand in the organising.
If your bride is the latter type, maybe consider adding in surprises to the day that she's planned – if you've got a lovely weekend away in a big house sorted, arrange for a mobile bar to come and mix up some delicious cocktails. Or if you're going out, how about hiring a glam squad to get the bride looking her best?
Or for a low-key surprise, how about putting together a goodie bag full of little treats? Hen party accessories have come a long way, and you can get some gorgeous gifts, such as clutch bags, lapel pins and headbands to adorn your bestie. The best advice we can offer, though, is to remember the person you're planning for and plan accordingly!