Jen Brook

I consider myself an artist trapped inside the body of one who cannot paint...so instead, I model... www.jenbrook.com

Dear Bride-to-be… Kindest regards, Model. x x x

Having worked on many bridal shoots as a model and involved in several real weddings myself, I’ve picked up some things that I hope might help a few others. If you’re part of the wedding industry then please feel free to share this tongue in cheek guide with your clients, whilst understanding that although it’s a bit brazen, it might actually be what they need to know! 

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Dear Bride-to-be, 

Posing for the camera: There are certain posing tips that apply to all women whether they are wearing a bridal gown or not. However, your wedding day is the time when you’ll really want to put theory into practice and believe me it makes all the difference. Here are my top ten posing tips; 

1. Where to hold your flowers - Aim for just below belly button level. Not too high and not too low. This pushes your arms out with a slight bend at your elbow, avoiding crushed skin and bingo wings. It also acts as bonus stomach coverage. #Winning

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

2. Separate limbs - as with the above, keeping your arms away from your body also slims down the thickness of your overall body shape through illusion (see more of this in a past blog titled Dear Model). This works for men as well as women, although it is less noticeable in a suit and limbs may need to be brought out more obviously.

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

3. Find your waist - when your photographer says “put your hands on your hips”, what they actually mean is your waist. By putting your hands on your waist you elongate your legs and draw attention to your smallest width. Your hands on your actual hips are far lower and essentially the widest part of your figure. Look in the mirror and you’ll see, it’s a little cheat that’s priceless to know. 

4. Chin chineney chin chin charoo - the brides enemy is her second chin, even the size zero model has one hiding, I promise! Practice by pushing your jaw down and out, whilst stretching your neck and rolling your shoulders back. Obviously there is a limit on how far and you’ll know when too far is too far. image

Above: image from Just Cute Animals website.

5. Leaning - if you lean forwards or backwards in a heavily boned corset, it’s hard to avoid back fat and the double-boob-fold-over by the armpits in a strapless dress. It’s really important to find a flattering dress that fits correctly for this reason and tailored to your shape. Try to ensure you can dictate to it where you are wanting to lean, rather than the dress staying in one place and you going in another.

7. Smiling - it sounds really silly to say practice smiling, but hey if it releases good endorphins and makes your life a little better then by all means please do! I’ve found that I can’t disguise a fake smile very well, so I try to do a little laugh before the shot to avoid the typical school photo forced face. If all else fails, just look at your other half and remember what a happy day it is! 

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Above: one of my portfolio images supplied by Brett Harkness with make up by Zan Atkinson & male model Josh James. 

8. Don’t always look to camera - it’s often said by brides that the natural shots are their most favourite. A set up is arranged but then it’s often the in between shots that sell. Well, here’s some news…the ‘set up’ is usually to capture those moments, crafty photographers hey! The ones where you and your guests are naturally smiling and joking together, or when you as a couple are caught in a real moment of love. It’s all in the eyes and you can’t force those looks, so just act as you would normally and I’m sure those moments will be photographed. 

9. Pose appropriately - if your photographer has you doing something that you really really don’t like, then do tell them. Most people aren’t used to having their picture taken, so it’s ok to feel shy and a little bit embarrassed at first. But if you really do detest what they’re suggesting, then just have a quiet word and they will move onto the next shot quickly instead of wasting both of your time on something you won’t choose for your album. It’s reasons such as this that pre-comms with your suppliers is so vital and practice engagement shoots come in so handy. 

10. Practice with your partner - just like you would for the first dance, it’s ok to practice posing in preparation…and your photographer will probably love you for it! Pre-wedding engagement shoots are a wonderful way to get some casual and natural shots of you both together (perfect for save the date cards actually) and will save so much time with posing direction on the actual day. 

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

Bridesmaids: Onto the girls…whilst selecting your besties, remember their breasties. There is no dress in the world that suits everyone. However there are certain styles that hide a multitude of sins and you need to keep this in mind when dressing them with dignity. Big boobed pals are not going to thank you for a strapless number, whilst the skinny minnies aren’t going to be too chuffed with a gaping open neckline. It might be a good idea to get your girls together to discuss what they’d hate before deciding what they’d like, in an attempt to cover the basics. 

A small note added - if they wear floor length dresses then you can usually get away with them wearing their own shoes, saving on additional costs that can go towards more wine for the tables! Hurrah!

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Vintage: If you’re going down the cupcakes, teacups and bunting route, then it’s a good idea to give your suppliers a more detailed term than ‘that vintage look’. Your make up artist/hair stylist might especially thank you so they don’t get the decade wrong. Ask yourself if you are referring to the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s or 1950’s? Remember, that’s already a forty year span of very different looks regarding era specific trends…and the word ‘vintage’ isn’t exclusive to just those years!

Generally meaning ‘old’ (which to be fair, could be that decaying loaf of bread in the kitchen that you haven’t yet parted ways with), you must decide which type of vintage you want to replicate, so you’re not disappointed with what you’re given. However if you are aiming around the looser term with what may alternately be known as a retro wedding, then Pinterest is a great place to build up ideas spanning various decades and styles.

Shoes: If you’ve arranged with your photographer to go walking in a local park for your group shots and bridal portraits, you may wish to bring along comfortable shoes. Treading on grass in heels is not fun and will soon stain your satin Valentino’s in mud as you sink. Also walking further than three feet takes longer in shoes that you’ve never worn before…and today is when time really is of the essence - a day that you’d rather spend supping buzz fizz and relaxing, than posing for hundreds of smiles with your new Mother in law.

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

Standing tall: Exceedingly high heels create long legs and height for good posture in a heavy bridal gown…fabulous! Until of course, you realise that your other half is now three inches shorter than he or she used to be. When you decide what you’re wearing on your feet, tell yourself repeatedly “it’s not my day, it’s our day” and everything you choose affects your partner. If you are already taller than shorty, there are poses that can balance out the height. BUT saying this (and this is a big butt but) if your partner is already shorter, you’re probably already comfortable with the aesthetics, so it doesn’t really matter for this day out of all of them. What’s a few missing inches anyway?! **cough cough**

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

Fashion fads: if you want timeless pictures, it’s probably best to avoid anything that is overly current or considered especially modern, as these will be the things that will date your album first. If you look back at an older relatives wedding, you’ll likely notice what decade it represents. This is all very well if they married during the ‘vintage’ era (you know the one, that forty year span we spoke about earlier)…but not so much when you hit the eighties and nineties. Poofy long sleeved dresses, big boffs, thick framed glasses and huge veils that flowed for half a mile past questionable perms (just look at Charles and Diana; so very very eighties). Not to everyones taste these days, but certainly decade recognisable if that’s what you want. Look at what you’re using and ask yourself if it’s timeless. But of course if you’re happy to represent the year that you wed, then by all means go ultra modern.  

Print your pictures, laptops die: Whilst we’re on the topic, lets talk about those priceless photographs. Please, please, please remember to order an album! It’s a cherished heirloom and computers can (and will) destroy treasured memories by wiping hard drives completely never to be returned. Technology is your best friend and your worst enemy at times. Much like that second muffin you’re about to eat… 

Group shots: It’s nice to welcome Suzy to the family who has been dating cousin John for three weeks. But with his track record he probably won’t still be with her in another fortnight…and to be honest, it’s a right ballache to clone out unwanted guests. Remember to get your group shots with immediate family as well as extended family. It won’t take the photographer that long to get those few extra shots, but it will take him or her hours and hours in photoshop to remove them after the event. P.S. “you can just remove it in photoshop can’t you?” will not sit well with your photographer, so do what you can in the moment. Wediting was meant for refining, not reconstructing.

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

Trust your photographer: Hopefully you have done your research and picked a person who is trained, experienced and knows exactly what they are doing at a wedding with a camera. So don’t be surprised if they do unusual things like standing you in the shade on a glorious sunny day. They’re simply using top shade to avoid squinty eyes and nasty shadows on your face. Just go with it, they will have shot many weddings before and will probably have reason to what they’re doing. Trust them. Note: do try to give reasonable time to the photographer where you can on the day instead of just ten minutes and then expecting miracles. After all, the pictures are the one thing that last after the day.

Inspiration: Try not to send your photographic inspiration (FYI beach pictures when you’re marrying in a city hotel are irrelevant to your photographer) to your suppliers the day before your wedding. Chances are they have already sorted it. Plus they might not even see the new email in time. Avoid disappointment by having advance clear communication including all the final plans laid out in writing to avoid potential cock ups. Things like where, when, who, what, how much and how soon. A detailed guideline with the plan of events will enable them to figure out what they can do with you in the time that they have. Just don’t give them ten minutes and expect miracles. 

Kids: Some people love kids. In fact many people have kids before they say their own nuptials these days. But not everyone shares the same adoration for the little folk and it’s worth bearing in mind that children are quite often uncontrollable at special occasions when caught up in all of the excitement.

Be careful who you invite knowing that little Tommy toerag from three doors down will be the one legging it up and down the church aisle with a toy trumpet on your wedding video and nobody will ask him to stop because he looks soooooo cute in a three piece suit. It’s perfectly acceptable to declare your day as an ‘adult only zone’ - a chance for Mums and Dads to do their own thing without the mini me’s to care of.

So if you do want to tell rude jokes in the speeches and stay up talking about the old times until dawn, then you do that. Children welcome or not, either is as acceptable as the other. Do whatever suits you and your wedding, kids can make or break it. 

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Wedding day politics: If you’re from a divorced family like me, then you have my sympathies when it comes to politics. From the seating plan, to who gets to walk you down the aisle, any kind of tradition flies out of the window. There really is no right or wrong these days regarding what should be done. So be firm, reminding the relatives snubbing their noses that this is YOUR day before you even begin. Oh and the highest bidder doesn’t necessarily get their own way. It’s so lovely that Great Aunt Mabel wants to donate the largest chunk of the finances, but that doesn’t mean to say she gets to pick what colour the bridesmaids wear because she paid for them. Be strong - your day. 

Alcohol: Oh we all like a tipple in celebration, but for goodness sake don’t get leathered before you even arrive at the church. It’s a long day and a little champagne breakfast on an empty stomach and sleepless night can only end in complete disaster with a bath and bed before your evening guests have had chance to arrive. Take it slow, pace yourself, eat sensibly even if you’re not hungry (you don’t want to faint at the altar) and try your best to wait until the evening if you really want to nail the hard spirits. You’ll appreciate your wedding night a lot more if you can remember it!   

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

Don’t panic if it doesn’t go to plan: On the morning of your wedding, it would be brilliant if you could hand over all responsibility to someone you trust if you can. You’ve spent months preparing so why ruin the next twelve hours by fretting over cold canapés and missing croutons? This is what bridesmaids and ushers are there for, or better still, hired help like a wedding planner or master of ceremonies who will carry the celebrations along for you. The day is long but will fly by so fast that you need to cherish each moment as it happens. By heaven you’ve paid enough, so have fun!

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Above image by Bentham Imaging

Pick your suppliers wisely: A dress off Ebay is a risk, a student photographer with only their family in their a portfolio is a risk, flowers from the garden are a risk, a cake made by your Mum is a risk…I’m sure you get my point. I’m not saying go all out and splash the cash on anything and everything, in fact I’ve seen many budget weddings done wonderfully. But do have trial runs where you can and do order products in advance so there is plentiful time to change plans where necessary. There are places to cut costs (like on invites, favours and table decorations), but there are places where really you can’t. As with anything, prioritise with your budget and choose wisely according to your own preference according to what means most to you both.

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Above: image taken from Buzzfeed. 

Personal appearance: As a serious note from your future self; please don’t fake tan, dye your hair, apply a face mask, wax visible areas, get laser eye surgery or anything else out of the ordinary just hours before your big day! Your body might have a melt down, react to a substance badly and then you’re well and truly screwed. Give yourself enough time for recovery but not enough time for regrowth where applicable and you’ll be just fine. Also remember when you’re on holiday sunning yourself, that tan lines last a long time and are not so removable with scrubbing.

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With all this being said, I’ve never known a wedding be exactly the same as another and some things you just can’t predict. No amount of money can persuade the weather Gods to do as they’re told and no amount of pre-warning can prevent some family members from squabbling on the dancefloor. Just remember to enjoy celebrating your marriage with your nearest and dearest. With perfect preparation everything that can, should go to plan.  

 

Kindest regards,

 

Model. 

 

x x x

 

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Chat Roulette

It was Saturday night and we were going to Southport for the International Firework Championships set to music (cue my absolute favourite scene from V for Vendetta: the blowing up of Parliament to the tremendous tune of Tchaikovsky’s Overture

But alas, the rains they did fall and oh how they poured! They poured and they poured and the cold wind wasn’t forgiving. Our plans were scuppered but soon replaced by an evening of Indian takeaway. 

As the naans were being passed, somebody mentioned the wonders of YouTube. We ate and laughed over Laddergoat, PewDiePie and laughing turkeys as well as Steve Kardynal doing a Chatroulette parody of Miley Cyrus on a suspended gym ball (FYI, amazing!!):

Choking on a chutney covered poppadum, one bright spark suggested we might make a visit of our own to the live lounge of Omegle (the non-members version of Chatroulette). Little did we know that our eyes were about to experience something ineffable… 

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If you’re curious to explore the world of Omegle, please know in advance, that what is seen can never be unseen…and is most certainly NSFW

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Oh how the funnies fell out of our faces! Oh how the tears rolled down our aching cheeks! It was all very entertaining, until something unexpected and slightly more sinister occurred… 

Having seen quite enough of what we had just witnessed (involving featherless frozen poultry and something equally as bauld)…we hit the key to greet our next guest at the global table.

There before us, our jaws hit the ground. Having thought we’d seen it all, this was the most unforeseen…

A little girl waved back at us from the illuminated screen.

Do you know Demi Lovato?" she said, sweetly smiling at us.

Oh my God" my friend whispered, her mouth still wide open in horror. "What do you we do? Do we talk to her?

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We were in shock, genuinely unable to believe what we were witnessing.

How old are you?" we asked. She held up ten fingers. "Ten?" we questioned as she nodded, "oh my…she’s just a baby!

It was 11:30pm on a Saturday evening and a child was sat in her playroom talking to strangers on a website we knew only for…well, stuff kids shouldn’t see to be frank. Her childrens chalkboard easel in the background was an even more disconcerting reveal of her juvenile age that made me shudder. 

Not knowing what to do for the best, we spoke to her for a few minutes about the celebrities she wanted to talk about, whilst trying to warn her that she shouldn’t use the internet on her own in this way. We hoped wholeheartedly that her parents were the type to care and would find out and act appropriately. But we had no way to ensure this would happen.

Having seen what we had before her, the thought of what she might see after us, was 99% predictable…and that was certainly not her age appropriate. The entire situation was so frustratingly sad and disappointing. 

She did the curved hand heart gesture to us and waved goodbye as we both hit the tab to move on to the next person - and there it was…another body baring all, asking us if we wanted to watch him play with a cucumber, oh joy. We just hoped she hadn’t had the same ‘luck’. 

Where once we were laughing uncontrollably, it suddenly wasn’t that funny any more. The computer was closed down and we went back to chatting amongst ourselves, changing the subject and carrying on the night as we had before over curry. 

I suppose you can’t protect youngsters from the outside world forever - wrapping them up in cotton wool will only lend them a greater fall when they step out…but some things really need talking about and I’ll never forget the girl that I saw. 

I truly believe that topics like this should be taught in schools tactfully by professionals who know how to speak to minors on their level. Things like how to open a bank account, write a resume/CV, what a mortgage is and how pensions work to prepare teenagers for life after high school. Then things such as understanding issues like eating disorders and coping with death, as well as the even more taboo topics like stranger danger (more commonly known as peadophilia amongst adults) for all ages.

Since when were kids not experiencing these things just like adults? Since when were they too young to be given help to deal with them? Imagine a world where a child can say when they suspect something’s wrong because they were taught to recognise the signs. Imagine a world where they can talk about life without shame.  

I’m all for keeping children in their childhood for as long as possible, my own was an absolute blast disturbed only by an ugly divorce. But I hope there are ways of keeping kids a bit safer at the same time. The harsh reality of the big wide world evidently isn’t as hidden as we once might have hoped. 

Food for thought don’t you think? 

** Follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jenbrookmodelling and Twitter @Jen_Brook_Model & my website www.jenbrook.com **    

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