Let’s take a moment to think about and appreciate confetti on a wedding day. I just love it! When else in your life would your friends and family all gather around to throw small biodegradable things at you? It sounds rather odd when it’s put like that, but ultimately it is a wonderful wedding tradition that I just love to photograph.
The word ‘confetti’ is the Italian name for sugared almonds that in medieval times where thrown during processions, carnivals and parades. In the same era at weddings grains or seeds were thrown as a symbol of prosperity and fertility for the newlyweds.
It wasn’t until 1875 that paper confetti were first used, also in Italy. Then in 1895 was the first recorded use of confetti in Britain, where it was used at a wedding on Eastbourne Pier in East Sussex. Coincidently I grew up visiting Eastbourne regularly as my grandparents lived there, and now my parents live there and I still visit this time with my own son. Having spent many happy hours on Eastbourne pier I was thrilled about this little part of wedding history.
In my time I have seen a few different types of confetti, some work better than others (more on that later when I share my tips.) You can have paper, in all sorts of wedding related shapes like hearts and horseshoes. Also, some more traditional shapes like little circles or something different like butterflies. Petals are very popular, whether it be fresh or dried, large and small.
A lovely idea I came across recently online was confetti made out of shapes stamped out of dried leaves. The person who wrote the article explained how they brought a simple heart shape stamp/cutter from a craft shop, dried some already fallen leaves and when the time was right stamped out hundreds of mini hearts. I really love this idea but bear in mind it will be rather time consuming (maybe give this task to one of your bridesmaids!)
Some venues will not allow confetti at all, even biodegradable, but don’t worry, there are some wonderful alternatives. Bubbles are great and look wonderful in photos. As they literally disappear into thin air, they are great for non-confetti wedding venues. At one wedding I photographed the bride and groom arranged bubble machines to be used which was fantastic, the more the merrier in my opinion.
Streamers are another lovely alternative I have seen. I have not photographed them at a wedding myself, but I have seen it on other photographer’s profiles. Guests have ribbon streamers attached to sticks and wave them as the bride and groom walk past and it looked really lovely.
Another (slightly odd) alternative I have read about (but never seen) is apparently a new trend to throw marabou feathers. I admit I didn’t know what a marabou feather was, and I had to rely on my good friend Google to enlighten me were they come from (historically storks, but today chickens and turkeys). In all honesty I find this most odd. I can only picture those pillow fight scenes in movies where inevitable the pillow splits and feathers are flying all over the place. That doesn’t seem very wedding-like to me, but I may be proven wrong in time.
Some venues have a specific spot they like to have the confetti throw to take place and I will find out this information ahead of time. However, if this isn’t the case and you have a particular location at your venue that you would like it to be done then please let me know in advance. The best place is either on a path with room either side for guests to line up, or a grass area or courtyard with plenty of space.
For church weddings sometimes they have strict rules about where confetti can be thrown. Usually they ask it to be away from the church doors due to the confetti often blowing back into the church (and the verger will not be happy!) and sometimes totally outside of the church grounds on the other side of the lychgate. However, I have had a few weddings at churches where the ceremony is either the last, or only one of the day and they are happy for the confetti to be thrown right outside the church doors.
The majority of the time wedding guests line up in two rows and the happy couple walk down between them getting showered. However, if the location doesn’t allow that it is also lovely for the couple to stay still and guests gather round them. This happened at a wedding at The Crown Inn Pishill and the stone steps outside the beautiful thatched barn was the best spot. I asked the guests to line the steps and gather around and I got myself in position (on a step ladder as the patio had steep steps and I had to be a couple of steps down to get the shot!) I gave the signal and the bride and groom simply stepped out of the doors and stood on the top step as their guests showered them in rose petals. It worked really well.
Aside from the traditional use of confetti at a wedding I have seen it used a couple of other ways as well. During first dance is wonderfully spectacular, when guests use confetti cannons and stand around the dance floor. I have seen it used in the ceremony room as the newlyweds walk down the aisle at the end, and also at one wedding at Stokes Farm Barn confetti cannons were used during the ceremony when the couple did their first kiss. Fortunately, I had been briefed in advance of this plan, so I was able to get up high on the balcony to capture that great moment as the cannons went off.
I have learnt a lot about the all-important confetti throw over the years and what can work best in order to get a great confetti throw photo. Here are some of my top tips!
Personally, the best type of confetti to use has the smallest bits. For example, small fresh or dried petals, or small biodegradable paper confetti. Large petals like rose petals don’t actually work that well as they can be quite large and a lot heavier than small petals. I have seen them used before and they kind of whacked the couple in the face and fell quickly to the floor and it didn’t look that elegant.
Also get lots of it! The more confetti the better the photo, I think.
Usually the confetti throw happens just after the ceremony. What I like to do is advise my couples to ‘hide’ around the corner or in another room when they exit the ceremony, then the guests can file out and get lined up ready for the confetti throw. The reason I do this is because if the newlyweds wait at the door everyone will stop to congratulate them which can take a long time. So how I like to do it is to have guests line up first, the couple then make their exit and get covered in confetti, then there can be time for celebratory hugs and kisses from guests.
It is always super useful from my perspective to have some helpers for this part of the day. I always like to call upon the help of groomsmen and bridesmaids to help get guests into 2 lines as well as get the confetti handed out. So, another tip is to designate this job to a couple of your bridal party ahead of the wedding day.
Confetti is often put into paper cones, little bags, boxes or all in one big basket. I always like to tell guests to get the confetti ready in their hands prior to the couple walking out. This way it can easily be thrown at the perfect moment and not have to be shaken up high out of a box or a bag which can look a little awkward. The only exception I would say to this is paper cones, as confetti can be easily flung out of those.
Tip for the bride and groom. When you are walking through the shower of confetti don’t walk too fast. Enjoy the moment and nice slow walking gives me plenty of time to get some great photos. Also don’t look down. I know it’s tempting with things being thrown at you but please look up and smile, look at guests or at each other. Stopping mid-way through the walk for a little kiss is also lovely. But don’t worry too much about remembering this, I always give my couples a quick briefing before they walk. I also like to brief the guests. By this I mean I mention about having the confetti ready in their hands as previously mentioned, but I also like to request they throw it up and over the heads of the couple, not in their faces. I cannot guarantee this will not happen though. At one wedding at Essendon Country Club groom James got a right mouth full from one of his friends!
My final tip is to enjoy it and prepare to get covered. Trust me ladies you will be finding it all evening down your dress and in your hair. I often get home at the end of a wedding and find confetti in my hair, pockets and camera bag.
I hope you have enjoyed my confetti blog and taken away some useful tips. I have also written a blog all about wedding veils (another love of mine). If you would like to have a little read of the blog, please click here.