There is something special about winter weddings; the crisp, cold air; the low, brilliant sun; the early sunset and the cosiness of friends and family all brought together to celebrate that special day in the warmth of a terrific venue.  Well Elliot and Charlie's big day was all this and more, from the perfect colour-coordination of tasteful reds and greys, the adorable gang of friends and family, to the serendipitous winter sunshine and Southdowns Manor, one of the most generous and perfect of wedding venues.

Ah Petersfield.  Is it Hampshire or is it Sussex?  Is it New Forest or South Downs?   Actually bordering Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, the Manor is perfectly situated to accommodate couples from all about and, while it nestles peacefully in secluded and beautiful countryside down a two-mile-long country lane, it is really easy to get to. 

The venue had given Charlie and Elliot free run of the place, which included the honeymoon suite, perfect for pampering, prepping and some nifty portrait and prep shots.

While the girls made the most of their time getting ready, the chaps respected the man-tradition of being suited and booted in the minimum possible amount of time.  Which gave us a nice little window for some fun man-portraits.

Brilliant!  Come on, let's do a fight shot!  Ooops!!  that went well!

Having scored our men's portrait shots from the list, Elliot and the boys went off to meet and greet guests.  Meanwhile, back in the honeymoon suite, Charlie, stunning in white, was applying the finishing touches.

Southdowns Manor offer three different rooms licenced for civil weddings, which was handy as Elliot and Charlie had actually booked two seperate services!   

I shall lead the expedition.  We head North, I tell you, North!

Elliot succeeding in looking not in the least bit groom-apprehensive.

And here, below, it looks like we have the world's youngest, littlest wedding planner calling the shots

Oh... she's the flower girl!  So cute!

Charlie is a singer, but of course you can't really sing during your own wedding blessing service, so the honour fell to Lara and Dean who gave a fantastic performance of John Legend's "All of Me".

I call this wedding gymnastics.  Whaddya think? Not at all distracting for anyone, right?

I love every aspect of shooting weddings, whether it be the carefully-planned portraiture, the from-the-hip immediacy of the ceremony, or the quick-reflex, intuitive style-adopting needed to make the best of available light for group shots and first dance.   But perhaps my favourite part is capturing candid moments during reception and speeches.

So much orange juice, and still not a decent-looking man in sight :(

Look at him down there on his knees, damn photographer won't go away.  Try not to look self-conscious lol.

Me, I don't see what all the fuss is about.  Much more interesting things going on over here on my i-pad.

What do you think, is this my best side?

Or this?

Some couples are so great, you have to marry them twice!  Having completed the wonderful, moving blessing ceremony, Charlie and Elliot moved onto the conservatory for the full legal wedding service. 

You know how it goes, you drink champagne on an empty stomach, the wedding breakfast is still some way off, so you tuck into the .. er.. confetti?

Any decent wedding photographer will used development presets to give their pictures the best overall look.  A very popular look is the LXC grade you can see on the group shot below.  No one look is of course to everyone's taste, so - lucky Elliot and Charlie - I also edited the group portraits with a more 'standard', colourful and bright look.   

What do we think?  Which look is better?  As the world's most super-generous photographer, I've actually supplied you with both :)

That low winter sun we were talking about.

And winter sunsets can be something else again!  I was tempted to ask Charlie and Elliot if they wanted to nip out in the middle of their meal to grab a couple of dramatic, romantic portraits, but they looked so cosy and happy, and it was so cold.  And we had other portrait plans for later anyway...

And in any case, soon enough, Dad kicked off the speeches...

....which were generous, touching, warm, funny...

... included something about tiny shoes...

... and some prompt-cards which were surplus to requirements.

A lot of photographers have an aversion to Pinterest boards and being given lists of shots the couple would like.  As a commercials guy, I'm accustomed to the idea of working to a brief, so I love working with a couple to achieve the shots they really want.  The night portraits below were someting we agreed on beforehand, and I really love them.

And sparklers!  We all love sparklers!  Traditionally, the width of a church aisle is the length of two swords, dating back to the days when warring clans would intermarry.  In modern times, the sparkler arch is the width of a photographer carrying carrying two cameras and a cigarette lighter.  How times change.

And cake!  We all like cake, right?

And dancing.  Nobody doesn't like dancing.

Blue Steel!  Do blue steel!

So much love, so much warmth, so much laughter.  What a brilliant, funny, wonderful day!  Congatulations Elliot and Charlie, and all my best wishes for a wonderful life together!