Best wedding photography of 2017

Best wedding photography

I don't know why or when this started, but it's kind of an industry trend to do an annual round up of the best wedding photography throughout the year, I guess it's a nice easy way to curate our portfolio for new people getting married in 2018, and also to kind of take stock for ourselves and see what we'd like to develop creatively.


In terms of creative and career development, I've had a golden year. Five of my images received awards from the Wedding Photojournalist Association, and I won Rangefinder magazine's 30 Rising Stars of wedding photography, which is quite a sought after honour in our industry. It's a way of saying, these are the 30 best wedding photographers around the world, these are the ones to watch (who have been working for less than 5 years full time). It was very unexpected as I had a few lovely friends in the running, who are amazing photographers with work I really respect- current winners get to help nominate for future years so fingers crossed for my pals for next year! I also met with the Fujifilm representative at the very end of 2017, and will be a featured photographer on their blog at the start of 2018.


I taught five sell out flash workshops, in 2017, which was a career development I hadn't necessarily planned but ran with. It all started from an FB group I'm in, where people were saying they wanted to learn flash and how much they hated it and had put it off all this time. I said "look, I'm not an expert but I'll teach you everything I know and it'll be enough to get you by". I don't tend to do anything with studio lights, or close up portraiture, but I know how to craft the light for a room or to creatively use flash to add a bit of fun to a couple shot, and most importantly I'm a strong believer in people having the necessary basic skills to shoot their best wedding photography. I feel like every wedding photographer should have the emergency knowledge and the current situation is that many are put off learning about flash for a variety of reasons. There's kind of a stereotype in the industry that women don't know techie things, but from teaching the numerous workshops I found that it's not that they don't understand it, they just aren't interested in having it explained to them in a boring way- if you make it absorbable, everyone and anyone can grasp the theory behind flash and use it to take full control of their creative look! As well as teaching my own workshops, off the back of that and perhaps from the kudos that came with Rangefinder, I was invited to speak at a variety of conferences and workshops, I taught flash at Goaldiggers, and I'm due to teach about mental health and coping strategies at Snap 2018 and branding and marketing at a the Fujifilm X Weddings conference.


Onto the most important achievement of the year- my couples! These are the couples I laughed with, cried with, ran with and drank with! I shot 34 of my own weddings this year, and second shot a little bit more. I like to second shoot in the winter months when I have an available weekend as it gives me the chance to explore new ideas without the necessary pressure to get all the key events when you're a primary shooter. After 2016 I capped my annual primary wedding number at 35, as I had shot about 45 the previous year and found it too draining. It's more important to me to maintain the quality of my work vs. quantity. I was discussing this with my friend who I like to second for, he's very relaxed and reacts to moments (a perfect second shooting job haha!) whereas I find to get my very structured style I need to almost be a little bit on high alert stalk mode throughout the day. I'm in fit shape, being a keen runner in the midst of marathon training, but I do still find that to be constantly searching for the next shot is quite mentally and physically draining. As a result, I find I'm good with shooting a back to back wedding, but I stopped taking on triples a few years ago. Getting this work-life balance right was really crucial to my growth as a photographer, so making the change to cap the number of weddings I shot, I feel I conserved a lot more headspace for both the quality of photography, time for things like teaching and growing my career, and also quality of my own wellbeing!

So that's my annual round up, now onto the fun part, my best wedding photography of 2017! It'll be interesting to compare it to the best wedding photography of my 2016 and 2015!

best wedding documentary photographer London both parents crying documentary photo of wedding guests playing on beach doughnut wedding cake a mirrored image of two children at hackney round chapel first look between bride and dad funny shot of groomsman putting on tie fun wedding photographer bournemouth beach old couple funny kid documentary wedding photo lively wedding party photo blue tram wedding group photo crowd surfing wedding party man crying into table cloth bridesmaids fixing the dress bride and groom getting ready together waltham abbey wedding ceremony best man giving a speech fun alternative wedding photography     quirky documentary wedding photographer grandma shocked at daughter smoking bride sassing groom beer pong at wedding flower girl laughing hysterically   candid photo of cigar smoking couple coop giant white wedding balloons jaegerbomb toast wedding couple on the tube      

An outdoor destination wedding in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain

I'm not a regular destination wedding photographer as I tend to be too booked up to find the time to fly out and back, but I absolutely love the chance to shoot in fresh environments with different light (yes it's true, the different weather abroad does equate to a different natural light experience!) and Carmel and Neil's Spanish wedding in Sitges also gave me the opportunity to shoot new local experiences! It just so happened that their wedding coincided with a local festival where the whole town took to the streets with insane amounts of fireworks and very little safety regulations, so my prep photos are a little different than usual! Their actual wedding was held in the mountains of the National Park outside of Sitges, with the ceremony in a tiny stone church in Olivella in Catalonia.


All their close friends and family started the day with them getting ready at the reception venue, which was a private house they hired in the National Park with a marquee set up in the garden.

Neil wore a grey vintage Lanvin suit and the boys wore matching Liberty print ties. Carmel wore a Vera Wang dress with cream blunt studded Valentino shoes. They were fortunate enough to count a high end fashion MUA amongst their friends so Carmel had runway quality bridal make up! The bridesmaids dresses were a range of complimentary grey, blush and neutral tones.

Their ceremony was held in the tiniest stone church in Olivella which they filled to the brim with loved ones. A local priest carried out the ceremony and they had several readings from family. After the religious ceremony they had a big fun singalong!

The guests had a quick glass of bubbly in the courtyard outside the church before taking their transport back to the reception venue. The wedding was planned by Karolina Rafalowska so they organised what could be described as drinks reception 1.0

Their dinner was held in a marquee outdoors, it was such a novelty having a wedding pretty much all outside in the warm!

By the time we kicked off the speeches it was pretty dark, they had the classic combo of FoB, groom, best men- who rounded it off with a karaoke sing-a-long of Neil's favourite song by The Smiths, This Charming Man, a perfect segway into the live band and ensuing party!

documentary wedding photographer

fun vice wedding photo

If you're looking for a destination wedding photographer for your wedding abroad, feel free to get in touch!

An Autumnal atmospheric Round Chapel wedding in Hackney, East London

a bride with a bob haircut and autumnal orange flower crown and wildflower bouquet

Round Chapel wedding photography

I've been a Round Chapel wedding photographer once before at Katy and Adam's and it's one of my favourite alternative wedding venues in London! I had an absolute blast shooting this wedding, every venue was a real London wedding photographer's delight and Chris and Fiona and all their guests were absolutely superb to be around! A perfect blend of elation and emotion all round, you could really feel that the guests were rooting for them.They had this wonderful feedback for me:

"We are so pleased we chose Marianne to photograph our day! From the moment we met her we felt comfortable and at ease. After the wedding and honeymoon the day felt like a complete blur, but looking through Marianne’s photo’s was like living the whole thing again – a rollercoaster of emotions and memories came flooding back. She captured the essence of our day, the most natural moments between our loved ones all the way up to the crazy dance moves in the evening .

We seriously don’t know how Marianne has the energy – the marathon stamina must help – as she managed to capture so many classic moments. Every photo is a winner – all killer no filler! She is an outstanding photographer as well as being a top person to have around with a work ethic second to none. After all the wedding organising, agonising over decisions and prices – trying to predict the things we really needed to do and those we might regret afterwards – looking back now booking Marianne was the number one best decision we made!"

Chris and Fiona's wedding in their own words:

"We met in 2001 in a Bar called the Trinity in Harrow. I completely ignored Chris’s advances to begin with, but after experiencing the comedy duo which were Chris and his bro (and best man) Mike on the dance floor later that night, he won me round & that was that. Chris made a joke in his speech that he waited through 4 separate leap years waiting for me to propose and finally took it into his own hands when we went on a big 3 week trip to California last October. He waited until our very last night and proposed at sundown in the middle of the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree. It was perfectly romantic and worth waiting for.

Getting ready in the morning...

I got ready with my family & bridesmaids at an incredible architect designed AirBnb house round the corner in Hackney and we were chauffeured to the Chapel in a vintage White Taxi organised by Chris and Best Man Mike as a surprise. Chris was at home in Walthamstow but spent most of the morning delivering the wedding booze to the venue we'd been stockpiling all year! I wore a Temperley ready to wear dress (not bridal!) and Chris wore a Paul Smith suit

The ceremony...

We did it all in one venue - The Round Chapel in Hackney - which I cycled past everyday on the way to work & always wondered what was like inside. It was first venue we visited & the quickest decision we've made (normally v.indecisive) but it was perfect & got our wedding planning ball rolling. It was great to have the whole thing in one place – it made things so much simpler – just one (big!) room to decorate, no worries about the logistics of getting people between venues & more time for everyone to have one big party. It also made it much less stressful for Chris’s Dad who now needs the help of a wheelchair to get around. The civil ceremony at the Chapel was simple & relaxed. Walking down the aisle with my Dad to 4Hero’s Les Fleur, surrounded by everyone I knew was a thrill I’ll never forget. Chris’s face was a picture – he couldn’t believe how tall I looked!

In the ceremony we were able to include personal readings from my sister in law Sophia & our friend Brad. One of the most emotional moments during the ceremony was when Chris’s nephew Sam played the guitar and sang his own interpretation of The Beatles ‘Here comes the Sun’. Sam was born just after we met, so he’s a physical representation of how long we’ve been together – ages – 16years!! It was incredibly touching for him to sing for us & he was so good! We both found it hard to keep it together at that point. We were also completely unprepared for the reaction when we were pronounced Husband and Wife – the place erupted in the most enormous cheer. We think our family and friends were just so glad we’d finally done it!

We both love autumn and the season ended up forming our theme. The venue was decorated with flowers by Treea Cracknell - The London Flower Farmer - who lives round the corner from us. She works with seasonal British flowers and even in October was able to use a lot of blooms she’d grown herself in Walthamstow. It was really exciting seeing her ideas come to life. The experience of working with her has made us realise the importance of giving your suppliers the creative freedom to expand on your ideas… you’re likely to end up with something magical. Treea’s arrangements of beautiful seasonal dahlias, autumn branches, just turning bracken, along with squashes and pumpkins were perfect & really created the autumnal atmosphere we wanted. I adored my flower headdress and didn’t take it off it was so comfortable. The venue is beautiful in itself so we didn’t need to do much more decoration, aside from a simple string of festoon lights to highlight the balcony kindly put up by our friends Hannah and James. My Mum collected and pressed over 150 leaves from the huge Oak outside the house where I grew up. These were tied with bows at an impromptu leaf tying / place card writing party in the AirBnb the night before the wedding, helped by my whole family. A leaf was placed at each table setting. I designed the invites, place names, table numbers & plan and also made wraps for my Bridesmaids and pocket squares for the men with the print to match, including little portraits of our heads!

Food is my favourite thing, so it was important that everyone was well fed & never hungry. Humdingers were the perfect solution providing really tasty sharing platters for each table. Their event manager Niall is an absolute legend and really made sure the day went without a hitch.

The speeches...

Chris’s brother Mike delivered the most hysterical and well put together Best Man’s speech - a re-imagining of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ – complete with live piano and a timed power point presentation. The jokes were the kind that only a brother could get away with and it all ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Our friend Miwa Gemini came all the way over from New York for our wedding and performed 3 songs just before our first dance.  She covered one of our favourites – Neil young’s Harvest Moon - and also did two of her own.  For our wedding present she gave us a one off ‘one take’ recording of one of the songs recorded straight onto vinyl which we will treasure forever. For Chris, being a vinyl obsessed former DJ, it was really important to get the music right and for everyone to have a really good dance all night long. Realising at last that he wouldn’t really be able to DJ his own wedding party he researched & found Eddie, the Indie Wedding DJ. Dj-ing for a DJ is a hard gig , but Eddie was really great and totally read the crowd keeping the dance floor packed all night just how we’d hoped. He also graciously stepped aside at peak time to give the groom a bit of limelight doing his own set. An absolute highlight on the dance floor, captured magnificently by Marianne, was dancing the Electric Slide to Cameo’s Candy with my netball girls. In the evening we had Yard Sale Pizza’s delivered in batches, which was the answer to everyone’s late night hunger dreams and they are still all talking about how good it was!

Final tips from the couple...

Planning a wedding is stressful – we completely underestimated how it would take over our lives. The best advice is to try not to get swept away with the pressure to have everything that’s on offer. Think about the most important things to you both. Also once you’ve decided on your suppliers trust them to deliver – we definitely spent too much time worrying about things we didn’t need to. One thing you must remember on the run up is that it’s all going to be completely worth it in the end – the feeling of collective happiness you will get one the day is absolutely indescribable and priceless. You will be grinning from ear to ear…and if you’re lucky enough to have Marianne as your photographer this feeling will be tied up in every single shot, committed to film & and yours to keep forever."

If you're looking for a Round Chapel wedding photographer, don't hesitate to get in touch!

A Waltham Abbey and Mulberry House wedding

Al and Victoria did two of my favourite trends for their Mulberry House wedding: Firstly, Victoria gave a speech. I find I've hit the point where 3/4 of my couples are taking the progressive, modern move of having brides or mums speaking at the wedding. Secondly, Al chose his own outfit and it was equally as surprise reveal for Victoria as it was for him seeing her for the first time. I have long felt that guys get the short end of the straw in weddings, with limited choices in wedding attire and rarely a totally free choice. Al looked absolutely dapper in his white tuxedo jacket and velvet crested loafers, which the groomsmen also wore. The bridesmaids wore the most stunning collection of dresses, Victoria told them the only criteria was a gold-ish kind of match, and they wore a matching but different ensemble of sequins and textures.

Their ceremony was at Waltham Abbey, they arrived and left in style in a series of vintage cars, a passion of Victoria's dad. He reminded me several times throughout the day that I'm a terrible driver! I don't always include many shots of the ceremony as its usually a restricted environment to shoot in so its harder for me to get a variety of shots that meet my high blog standards, but Al and Victoria are married by Al's father, and it was a wonderful space where I was able to catch both Al's super emotional reaction at the front, the stunning light falling onto his dad in the pulpit, and his friends having a bit of a laugh during the hymns.

Mulberry House wedding venue is a fab spot in Essex with a marquee set up for the evening dance floor and multiple connected rooms for dinner and drinks. Victoria and Al decorated the entrance with various photos of family members' weddings, and succulents in gold pots. Their wedding favours were mini alcohol bottles (any way to get in more booze they said!) and they created a paper flower backdrop for their top table. They also had alcohol bottle and golden pineapple centrepieces.

They also gave each table a go pro with various attachments so everyone could tell their story of the wedding and they were going to edit it together as the wedding video, I feel this was surely opening themselves up to some risky footage but that's all part of the fun! Their guests proved they certainly were lots of fun! I've never seen so many impromptu games played over a wedding dinner. People started up Fives, rather messy eating and drinking challenges...

They had their speeches after the dinner, as I said at the start, Victoria also gave a lovely speech alongside the usual bestman, groom and father.

Instead of love, they decorated their Mulberry House wedding dance floor with RAVE light up letters, a first for me! They also had alongside the usual English evening buffet, a jerk chicken food stand outside, absolutely fantastic!

Booze and cigars were definitely the rounding off of this epic wedding day!

Marianne Chua.

© 2017 Marianne Chua Ltd trading as Marianne Chua Photography. Registered in England, Company No. 9511431. All Rights Reserved.

Branding & web design by: ditto creative | Brought to life & maintained: Lara Brook