Wedding Ideas And Inspiration

Memorable Wedding Days


How to make sure my Wedding Day will be memorable. A Wedding Espresso Scotland special with Nicol Photography and Iron Broo Ceilidh Band.

Listen to Charlie and Gordon on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


The amazing people that made this possible…

Charlie Abel from Iron Broo

Gordon Nicol from Nicol Photography


James: [00:00:00] OK guys so as you know we’ve been thinking about the hot topic this week which has been, “how to make sure my wedding day will be memorable”.

And I remember from our wedding we had a number of kind of points that we wanted to hit, to make sure that people had a really really good time. And one of them was absolutely 100% the music, the dancing, the disco. This was a huge, huge thing for us. And so we piled hours and hours and hours into the planning of it, trying to make sure that there were tracks that everybody would like, so that everybody would have a good time. And like Charlie said earlier, getting people to mingle. Absolutely essential. If we’d had the budget I think we would have had a ceilidh because they’re great. We love them. But sadly it just wouldn’t fit into our budget, which was a shame and especially considering that we did actually get married in Scotland, in Inverness. That would have been very apt I think. So Charlie have you got any thoughts on how to make sure that a wedding day would be super memorable? 

Charlie: [00:01:06] I think there’s certain things that make it memorable. The venue is obviously one. The person you’re marrying is definitely another one. The food probably, and the photographs of course, because that’s what you’re going to remember, looking back at the photographs. And the music is also a very important ingredient because if it’s a band, they’re probably going to be playing for four or five hours at the end of your night. I’d hope you remember some of that. 

James: [00:01:40] Depends on how much of the dancing juice you’ve had! 

Charlie: [00:01:41] Yes aye, the go go juice. Especially if someone’s never been to a Ceilidh before. We get a lot of weddings in Scotland where the bride and groom’s English, and there’s a whole contingent that comes up from England, and they wouldn’t know Ceilidh stuff, and they’re a bit nervous.

But for them every time, the English have been straight up onto the dance floor, want to take part as it’s a total novelty to them. And they definitely go home with memories. People have said to us that we played at their Wedding, 20 years ago, and they still talk about it. Even had one bride I played for at our first Wedding, and sadly she got divorced, and years later she got married again. And she says, you remember you played my wedding before. I couldn’t remember, no. Everything was right the first time, apart from the husband. 

James: [00:02:44] I suppose the great thing about a Ceilidh, versus anything else musically, is that you give instructions, don’t you? So if somebody hasn’t done it before, they get a full set of instructions and then in no time they’re having a super great time. 

Charlie: [00:02:58] Yes all the dances that we do, they’re all easy so you don’t need to have any previous experience.

There are complicated dances. We think of them more as a Scottish country dancing stuff. Where you go to classes to learn how to do them, but Ceilidh dancing is much more sociable. You don’t need to be nimble on your feet, anybody can really take part in it. The instructions that we gave at the start are very clear, rarely complicated, but they have to be very simple, they have to be very clear because people have been partaking, and you know, the difficult ones we do at the beginning, in the evening. They get easier as the night goes on. 

James: [00:03:41] Right! I didn’t know that. I hadn’t spotted that one before! 

Charlie: [00:03:49] They’re all easy. Every one of them, even the difficult ones, they’re so easy. But some of these people don’t know their right arm from their left arm these days. 

James: [00:03:59] So how do you actually get around the situation when you’re shouting you know, to the left, to the right, or people don’t know their left and right? 

Charlie: [00:04:07] I just say the other right or the other left! 

James: [00:04:13] You get there in the end. And so Gordon what do you think, what would make sure that a wedding day would be memorable? 

Gordon: [00:04:26] I think there’s so many elements come in to it, probably different for for the bride and different for the groom. I did a wedding recently and the groom was very much all about the music, and it was a huge part. They didn’t have a Ceilidh, which I was a bit disappointed at, but they actually had quite a lot of friends who are musicians, so they were all up doing a couple pieces and things like that, and then the guy spent, I think, you know his contribution to the planning of the wedding, was the playlist. And he’d spent all his time putting this together, and a great joy and pride in it I suppose, and he wanted me to capture the dancing. And he said that’s going to be one of the big memories for him. And in fact I got some fantastic shots with him up on everybody’s shoulders. He was aware that he was being a true Scotsman so he managed to hide his embarrassment whilst on top of these people’s shoulders. So there were not too many shocking shots at the end. But for the bride, what was terribly important was she wanted everybody to have a good time, and to be relaxed, and she wanted the photographs to reflect that. And also that the food was very important. There wasn’t so much about the actual ceremony… they were very sort of brief with that. It was a humanist celebrant and they’d given them instructions to keep it to be an absolute bare minimum, which was more or less “do you take this man, do you take this lady” and that was about it. They weren’t concerned with that aspect of it. But they wanted everybody to be there with them, and for it to be relaxed and not too formal actually. And they definitely wanted the photography to reflect that. 

Gordon: [00:06:27] I think as well as about the memories, the photography is about the memories and it’s something that they can come back to at a later date and look at, and it’s just trying to get shots that are maybe a wee bit different.

Everybody’s got, you know, pictures of the bridal group together if you like, but more important is that wee moment where the bride maybe has a tear in her eye or the mother of the bride, and you’re trying to capture those moments that are longstanding and memorable, and are ones that they’ll keep going back to, to look at and hopefully will then sort of bring back their memories when they’re talking about it. But the music I think, or I know myself whenever I’ve been to a wedding, that’s the bit you always talk about with your friends and with the families, how the dancing went, who was doing what and as we were saying, how much of the falling down juice people have had. 

James: [00:07:28] Yeah that’s true, too true. It’s funny that you brought up food actually because that reminds me that we had a wedding barbecue buffet. So they cooked the barbecue food in advance and brought it in obviously, to serve it, but then it was a buffet, and we were very much of the opinion that another way to get people to mingle well is to not have such a formal structured sit down meal. So people could just get up and mingle and move about and it worked quite well. 

Gordon: [00:07:59] From the photographers point of view, whether or not the bride and groom want photographs to be taken at that point, and some times they do, some times they don’t.

I had one a few months back. It was a complete bar from being in the room while any of the eating and the speeches in fact were being made. they didn’t want any sort of interruption. I get that. I make a point, I work very unobtrusively. I have a mirrorless camera which is very small. In fact this is it here. So that’s it. And I have another one with the slightly bigger lens on it. But it’s very small and unobtrusive and you get fantastic results from it. 

James: [00:08:44] Is that a Fuji? 

Gordon: [00:08:47] The Fuji, yes. Yeah, yeah. They’re fantastic cameras but the thing is as well, you’re very unobtrusive. So for the type of photography I want to do, I’m not there with big bags of gear. So it can be an opportunity to just bleed into the background. Almost from the start you want the bridal party to forget that you’re there. So that you can do your job. Whereas for Charlie, it’s to be heard, and seen and noticed much more. 

James: [00:09:27] Yeah, yeah I heard on the wind actually Charlie that you offer a composition service for weddings, which is interesting, because I actually wrote a song for our wedding, and that’s one of the ways I tried to kind of put a personal stamp on our memories. But I think you know maybe having a piece of music composed, Great idea! 

Charlie: [00:09:47] Yeah aye. I enjoy writing music. Yeah and I’ve got a studio here so I can record the tune properly. I’m a Pro Tools engineer. So I can make a right good job of recording it, and upload it to YouTube with photographs, or send it to them in an audio file. They can get a PDF. So they can print it out and put it in a nice frame. Have it as a memory as well. 

James: [00:10:17] That’s a fantastic idea. How long does it take. I mean, I know personally like, I dabble in music writing and it takes me months to write a track or something. So how long if someone was going to commission you. How long would that take? Typically that process? 

Charlie: [00:10:32] Once I have the tune organised I can record it and do a video probably in a day. If it’s the right thing, the writing of it can sometimes take five minutes or it can sometimes take a few days or maybe it’s an idea I’ve been developing and I’ll put it together.

When I’m happy with it. I find that when you try to do something creative, it’s difficult to put a target because there’s so many distractions in life that take you away from it all the time. 

James: [00:11:09] So if someone approached you to have a piece of music commissioned would you ask them for ideas? 

Charlie: [00:11:17] Not too many ideas. Because if you start to do strict stuff, it’s a bit more difficult if you’ve got restrictions on what you can do. But I would stick with what I know. I would stick with like a Scottish style tune, so maybe a waltz or a strathspey, or a jig. Then that way I know what it’s going to sound like. And if it’s for a gent, then it’s like something nice, like a strathspey, it’s kind of grand. It’s got a grand kind of feel about it. It’s almost like a march, but it’s a particular type of music to the north east of Scotland. It has a doric rhythm and it almost reminds me of a stag walking through the mountains or something. I’d let them choose a title if they said I want it to be named after somebody. They can choose a title. They could say well I’d like a waltz. We could go with that, but not tell me what key it should be in. 

James: [00:12:27] I doubt many people would even understand that, but yeah. 

Charlie: [00:12:33] Going back to what you were saying about the wedding venues. Here they often have weddings, not just in Hotels, in different places like halls. I feel that some of the best weddings are the ones you do in like a village hall where the people have done their own thing. It’s not normal that people do their own catering.

But some people are brave enough and get their family to take in stuff. There’s a famous butcher here who does a lot of barbecues and hog roasts, and I’ve seen guys doing like the pizza now in the back of a van. The village hall has a completely different atmosphere to the hotel, where it’s very formal and the people are sat down. Then maybe they’ve got another wedding going on next door or three weddings. I like those weddings. The village hall ones. I like Hotel ones as well, but there’s something special about a village hall wedding. 

James: [00:13:35] Yeah, that real down to earth DIY feel. 

Charlie: [00:13:39] Yeah and they can take their own drink as well, so they’re not getting shafted at the bar. 

James: [00:13:47] Well yeah, I think having your own piece of music composed then printed out and framed. I think that’s a fantastic way of making your wedding day memorable and unique. 

Charlie: [00:13:56] Yes. 

James: [00:14:00] And kind of related to this, actually Gordon, speaking of memories, would you say, there’s great debate on the Internet right now as to whether people should go digital only or have an album. And what’s your take on that? 

Gordon: [00:14:17] My take on that is actually not to do either of those things. I offer them, it’s taking the idea of an album but kind of deconstructing it in a way. So basically it’s what I call a folio box. And so basically you get a nice presentation box with, it can be anything up to 30 prints in it, that are all ready to be viewed. But at the high end, the box actually has a window so you can take the prints out and insert it in the window and actually have that as a permanent display. And then you can change it over as time goes on. It might be because you have the in-laws coming, so maybe you get that photo out. Or maybe special friends or whatever. Or just because it’s a special memory, and you can have that on display. It’s much more informal than an album. You can pick up the individual prints and pass them around, and people can hold them and talk about them, and everybody can share in viewing the wedding photographs, instead of it just being the person who has the wedding album, if you’ve got a group of people, so it’s a much nicer way of doing it. I think printing the photographs is vitally important. 

Gordon: [00:15:42] I think a lot of people do ask for the digital files. And I tend to give them the digital files, if that’s what they want. But there’s a price to that.

People expect that they’re just digital files, and they think it’s a cheap thing, and an easy thing, but actually you’ve invested an awful lot of time and money and effort in processing those files. So actually they are very valuable in theirselves, and I view them as kind of individual pieces of art in themselves. And the next stage is the printing of them, and I feel that there’s a bit of education needs to be done really to all clients, whether it be brides and grooms, or people buying fine art, that there’s value in a digital file that has to be met. And ultimately it’s the print that’s the most important though. And I like the folio box, it allows the couple to have a lot of choice in what goes into it and then from then, they can choose maybe some large pieces of wall art for themselves. Or I also offer a sort of more customised option on the digital file side of things where I’ll actually, because I’m telling the story, I’ll select the files that I think tell the story of the day best, and turn it into a short video with some music. If we can get music from people, the band that were there or maybe their favourite pieces that they had playing in the background, and that adds to the memory for them as well. 

James: [00:17:24] Fantastic. So how many photos on average would you say makes a folio box? 

Gordon: [00:17:30] A folio box generally, it’s between 24 and 30 in a folio box. So it’s a bit similar to a traditional album if you like. And it can be done in a range of sizes as well. So it can be quite a nice gift. A smaller one for the parents of the bride, or grandparents, or whatever as well.

So a smaller version can be put together which can be a nice option as well. And really, the thing is that there is the option to have more files than that, and they can actually then choose to have them printed in a different way, or to have them maybe put in a multi aperture frame. Maybe you’ve got half a dozen different sized images presented as well, and there’s a lot of variety. I think the thing I particularly like about it is that common sharing aspect that you get, and the fact that you have a permanent display of the photographs in the living room or wherever, if you want to do that. So nice as an alternative to the photo album. 

James: [00:18:45] I love that idea because, as you know being a photographer, sometimes you get sort of a photography option, where you know, you have an album and it will contain 100 images or 150 images, and you get given 300 images, and they say, you know, you’ve got to choose 150 images. I love the idea of just getting 30 key images and then getting the digital files, which you know you’re going to look through, and then you’ll get them out every couple of years or something. But focusing on those 30 key images and then like you say, maybe just having a couple of big prints for the wall. I mean that’s such an easy way of getting those memories put together. 

Gordon: [00:19:24] I think the problem with digital is that there… You know basically as a photographer, you’re only as good as your worst image. So if you’re producing say, 150 images, they’re not all going to be very good. There’s going to be some that aren’t so good, and you’re going to have some that maybe you know you feel kind of need to be in there, just because it’s expected. But I try to be quite self-critical and try and put myself into the shoes of the bride and groom and say, well you know, what would they want to see? They would want to see the good quality. They want to see the key moments. You don’t want to see 20 images of, you know, a few people dancing round the dance floor. They want to see that one hilarious moment when the bride was being carried around the room, and maybe you know, that uncle or the old grandfather who was dancing with the youngest person that was there. Those are two really memorable moments. Everybody else just dancing around, isn’t that memorable. They still might be reasonable photographs, but they’re not going to be memorable. So I think if you can whittle down what you show, or what options exist for the bride and groom, and to a certain extent, whittle down what you show them, I think your quality shines through. But also the memories are much stronger of the event, because they’re not belittled by the other images that aren’t as good, or aren’t showing memorable moments. 

James: [00:21:01] And actually speaking of whittling down Charlie then, you must have a massive setlist. On the day do you feel out the couple and the dancing to choose which tracks to play? Or do you organise that in advance? 

Charlie: [00:21:15] Well we have our wealth of repertoire all up in here and we just go by the response we get. You learn to read an audience and see what’s working and what’s not. See if they need a rest or if they’re up for the fast stuff, or intersperse it with some folk music and later on, we’ll often do our disco, if it’s a wedding, for the last hour. If people are having a problem communicating, sometimes it’s easier to go onto the disco. A lot of the stuff with a Ceilidh, we kind of know what works. 

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