So this was our greatest wow! moment, but to be honest there were more than a few moments that took the breath away throughout the day.
Katie and Anthony were childhood sweethearts. They grew up together and went through school together. Like many childhood sweethearts they drifted apart a little, but when it came to taking that huge step of sharing a future together, they knew they were made for each other.
Despite both living and working in Paris, what Katie and Anthony wanted more than anything was to connect with family and true friends. And with this in mind, they held their wedding in the village they had both grown up in, Pavenham in Bedfordshire.
And so it was I found myself whizzing between two very different family homes. The bookish chaos of Anthony's family home, and the orderly modernism of Katie's Mum and Dad's house.
Katie had chosen a modest white dress, striking in it's beautiful symmetry and simplicity, complementing her figure with a flowing lightness that still flattered.
and while Katie's house spoke of restraint and tidiness, you could see the chaos and hilarity of pre-wedding preparations would soon turn the place into a classic picture of clutter and anticipation. Which is as it should be.
Meanwhile, back at the boys' house....
Anthony, his brother, and his best friends were getting their glad rags on...
...with the occasional spillage of course...
and the more than occasional glass of champagne
I love how black and white can isolate a moment, and freeze it in a kind of pool of dark serenity in a way that colour so rarely can. Something about the simplicity and starkness of monochrome brings a calm intimacy that to me is the real beauty of wedding prep. I've never shot a wedding without shooting the preparations, and to be honest I hope I that remains always the case. The unguarded and candid moments speak of the simple and honest emotions behind the big day. The friendship and family ties, the love and support.
...and the happiness, excitement and joy...
...and of course, the champagne.
...after which, things got a little bit out of hand...
St Peter's is one of three churches in the Benefice of Milton Ernest, Pavenham and Thurleigh. Built in the 12th or 13th century and Grade 1 listed, it is the only church in Pavenham and is positioned in a high location overlooking the village.
But more to the point, everyone was getting the traditional pre-wedding butterflies...
Whether it was the excitement of friends and family
Or the nervous anticipation of the groom
and certain flower girls
and, of course, our beautiful bride Katie.
Katie and Anthony had specifically asked if they could have all the photos in colour, and all in black and white. A fairly unusual request, as normally, as a photographer, you tend to judge a picture in advance, like the these two above, in the moment, as being ones that will work best in monochrome. Yet it was interesting to see how many shots worked so well in black and white AND in colour, like the moment below when Anthony slips the wedding ring onto his bride's finger.
And here is Katie, returning the courtesy so to speak. In colour.
There are moments, such as the first kiss, that, even if you are compromised in the moment as to where and how you can get the shot, still you MUST get the shot. And the shedding of a tear when your friend sings the most beautiful pastorale in honour of the bride is another unmissable moment.
Of course, the confetti walk is another crucial, unmissable shot. Good fortune and knowing where best to place the couple for the light meant that I was able to offer over a dozen different shots!! Look what a beautiful glow there is to the light on their faces, a wonderful combination of the position of the sun, the reflection of it off the church and the ground, and the cool shade of the big fir trees that surround the front of St Peter's.
And so, while the guests were accompanied on their walk to the nearby reception venue tipi by nothing less than a marching brass band, comprised of old school friends...
Katie and Anthony and I got down to some serious portrait work.
Well, I say serious, it was smiles all the way, and we probably only took 15 to 20 minutes, as is so often the case at a wedding, where there is so much to do and adrenaline is still running so high.
... and on a day like this and with a couple so happy, beautiful and full of love, you could hardly really call it work either...
and so to the venue, a tipi in a field, styled with simple rustic charm
The key to delivering great wedding photos is to be adaptable and quick on your feet. Katie and Anthony had asked me to shoot some sunset portraits - as if I would need to be asked!!. So after the first course of several, in a wedding breakfast that stretched over several hours, it became clear that we would miss the sunset unless we sneaked out between courses. So while the guests were amusing themselves, talking, eating, drinking....
... and in some cases, getting ready for take-off....
We snuck into the neighbouring cornfield for some of the most sun-kissed, sun-blessed romantic imagery I have ever shot.
And this was another of those Wow! moments. Katie had seen this shot and asked could we try it. It took a couple of goes, but doesn't it look like they're having fun!? Which we were. A leap for joy in the golden rays of sunset on the biggest day of your life - what's not to like?
Meanwhile, back at the tipi, guests were getting ready to tuck into that classic dish, meringue and cheese.... er... well maybe not both in the same mouthful...
And while the younger kids had a chance to run around in the breezy half-light of an English summer dusk, some of the less young kids were busy liberating the refreshments.
You know how it is, it's hot, you're thirsty, and goddamnit, you need a glass of wine, like RIGHT NOW!!
And then it was time for speeches
The first dance
Anthony's carefully rehearsed 'impromptu' romantic serenade to Katie
And then it was party time!