Planes, trains and automobiles….sort of…

Getting to the wedding reception

wedding bus

Not quite planes, trains and automobiles…but getting from A to B to C at weddings can vary a fair bit.

Looking back at the last three years and the weddings that I have covered, there has been a 50:50 split, as to whether the wedding reception is held at the same venue as the ceremony or somewhere different. I don’t doubt the pattern being the same going back more years. Similarly, non-religious ceremonies outdo religious ceremonies, 2 to 1. Both patterns being repeated with weddings already booked for 2020 and 2021.

When the reception as at the same location, it’s often just a stroll across some lawns, to the drinks. Over a dozen weddings, in the last three years, have had different reception venues – be it a parent’s garden, a pub garden or a village hall – but just a short stroll from the church or ceremony venue also. But when transport is needed – there isn’t just the traditional or non-traditional wedding car, there are other means of wedding transport – which leads to different images… It isn’t always just everyone piling into their own cars. The journey to the reception and the transport used, can be a big part of the day and the resulting coverage. A big part of the reportage narrative, creating storytelling images.

Let’s start with walking then…

Walking to the wedding reception

It could be a walk from the church, down a country lane, across some fields or winding your way through London’s streets. Leading the wedding guests to the drinks. Pied piper style. In the sunshine or in very heavy rain.

It leads to different picture possibilities. Different angles. Shot from some way in front, looking back or in amongst the crowd. Glimpses through shop windows or picking up on the shadows left. Showing the environment in which everyone walks – the onlookers, the landscape.

Narrative glue, to link the ceremony to the reception, through pictures.

Bride and groom lead the wedding guests across sunny fields to the wedding reception
Bride and groom on the South Bank in London heading to the reception venue
Wedding guests head to the reception in heavy rain
Islington wedding
Wedding guests encounter a big rain puddle
Country lane wedding
Pershore Abbey wedding
Wedding guest sheltering from the rain
Sunny London wedding
Brighton wedding
Screen on the Green wedding

The wedding taxi

Pretty much a London thing this. Different to a wedding car, the layout of a classic London cab, with it’s fold down seats facing back, means you can hop in with a bride and groom and capture some intimate images, as they head to the wedding reception. It can lead to some nice moments captured – be it a look, a hug or a shaken up bottle of champagne opening.

Bride adjusts her makeup in the London taxi
Bride leans her on her husband's shoulfder in the cab
winter wedding london black cab
Wedding guests see off the bride and groom
Bride and her mother in the London taxi
Opening a bottle of champagne in the London taxi

Boat journey

A wedding reception on a boat. Often a primary drinks reception, using the boat as a means of getting to the main reception dinner. A trip up and down the Thames in London. A pleasant entree to the reception – like messing about in boats on the river in Henley or on punts in Cambridge.

Wedding party on the Thames heading to the reception
wedding boat party
London wedding reception on the river Thames
Bride and groom in a punt on the river Cam in Cambridge
Wedding party on the river at Henley
Wedding reception on the river

Wedding bus

The most popular means of getting many of the wedding guests, if not all, to the wedding reception. The wedding bus. Often the old big classic red Routemaster bus.

As a photographer, they are not often the easiest places to shoot on – just standing up can be a struggle. Some bus companies will not even let you get up – citing spurious health and safety laws… Others are more than happy for you to wander about. But really, if a couple sit on one of the benches, that face in, near the back of the bus and there is room opposite (not always the case…), it can make nice images from there. More as they then wander about the bus themselves. It also helps if the bus is not too full. Having two buses, to spread out the guests, does lead to more varied images. sat, camera poised, watching , as the light in the bus changes – in and out of shadows and sunlight.

With London weddings, it is often a quick tour of London, showing the sites to wedding guests, before heading over to the wedding reception venue. Like the time when this went wrong. The traffic was at a standstill, but this bride was no ‘princess’ – she sat behind the driver and helped him navigate his way around narrow London streets, to reach the pub, where the reception was. It was some very smart driving.

Other times it’s a means of getting across the city, keeping everyone together. Unlike a wedding a few years ago. Myself and the bridal party got to the reception venue. The bulk of the wedding guests were all together on a wedding bus. They didn’t show for ages. Turned out, between the church and the wedding bus, had been a nice pub, on a sunny day – it was too great a distraction!

Wedding buses pass through Piccadilly Circus
Bride smile at groom sat in wedding bus
Guests board the coaches
Bride chats with guests on the coach
Wedding bus arrives at the In and Out club in London
Flower girl and bride on the routemaster
Champagne on the wedding bus
Wedding shoe detail
Hackney town hall wedding
Just married and sat on the bus
Bride gets onto the Routemaster bus
Wedding bus stuck in Lodon traffic
Wedding guests on the bus
Wedding in dark Soho

But this isn’t just for London weddings. The first image here from a Routemaster bus, heading down the M4 from a Taplow Court ceremony, near Maidenhead, to a reception near King’s Cross.

But also weddings here in Sussex, Surrey, Suffolk, Kent, Portsmouth and Dorset.

Bus on the M4 motorway
Detail of vintage bus
Getting on the bus in the rain
Bus at Corfe wedding
Bride and groom kiss at the back of the bus
Sunny Suffolk wedding
Square tower wedding getting to the bus in the rain

It’s not every wedding that needs wedding transport laid on, but when it happens, it can really add to the coverage.

As for transport getting to a wedding…maybe another blog post? But here is on horseback and via a tractor at River Cottage… Wedding days can be different.

Bride and her father arrive at the church on horseback
Tractor ferries wedding guests to the River Cottage wedding venue

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