The Magazine of a Northern Ireland Photographer

Getting Ready: Signing the Register

If there is one photograph that almost always makes its way into a wedding album, its the signing of the register. It captures that moment where a couple legally become man and wife!

Let me start by saying that when it comes to planning something like the Signing of the Register, there are no rights and no wrongs. Some churches are quite prescriptive and so you may not have a choice. You may also want the table to look a particular way.

Photography by Peter Thomas Photography

The following is simply a few things to look out for, which will make your photographers job a little easier. Of course, a full-time, professional photographer will be able to make a good photograph out of most situations.

So here goes:

1. Watch out for large floral arrangements.

While a large floral arrangement on the table may look good and blend in with the rest of the colours, it can often hide the registry document. If you have flowers, they are often best placed off to the side (like above). If they are in the middle, the congregation often can only see the bride and a large bunch of flowers. The pen and register are completely hidden. This forces the photographer to stand on a chair or take the photograph at an unusual angle.

2. Buy a decent pen!
This is probably one of the most important documents you will ever sign! Quite often the minister / clergy / priest will bring a pen – and you would be surprised how often it is a cheap biro! You may wish to purchase a good quality pen, at least for the photographs. I always try to carry a good quality, silver pen with me to use for the photographs.

3. The Table
There is some personal preference in this – but I find that the best signing of the register photographs are taken when the bride is seated at a table. Many churches do the signing of the register while standing at a bench. This is fine but just something for you to think through.

4. Location
This one is entirely up to you! Some people like to sign the register in the main church, allowing the congregation to watch and take photographs. Others prefer to take a breather and sign in a side room. I’m not going to outline the pros and cons of both – its a personal decision.

5. The Background
Wherever you decide to sign the register, just take a moment and look at the background. Is it a pleasing background? Is there something in the way that could be removed? Often these photographs are taken in minister’s offices – and there are often posters, photocopiers, computers etc. in the background. Often a small change in the position of the table can make for a much nicer photograph.

A plain room off to the side of the church - yet a pleasing image. The bride is relaxed - note the pen and brides bouquet off to the side! Photograph by Peter Thomas Photography
A plain room off to the side of the church - yet a pleasing image. The bride is relaxed - note the quality pen and brides bouquet off to the side! Photograph by Peter Thomas Photography

And finally….
Don’t worry! Ask your photographer for direction and be safe in the knowledge that a professional photographer has probably seen it all before. Remember that the Signing of the Register is only a small part of the day – so no point in stressing too much about it!


  1. Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for sharing. I’ll certainly be subscribing to your blog.

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