Weddings

CRAIG AND SAMMY'S FIREWORKS NIGHT NOVEMBER WEDDING

I first met Craig and Sammy in a crowded bar in Paddington Basin in London after a day's work, and it was one of those wonderful encounters where you know pretty much from the outset that this will be a great wedding, that the couple are truly, madly, deeply in love,  that you will hit it off immediately with them, and that it will be a big day of laughs. 

Having shot their engagement in Virginia Water, and having already during that shoot, popped in at the Royal Berkshire Hotel in Sunninghill, I was familiar with the grounds and with the venue.  What I hadn't expected was the incredible blaze of autumn colour that awaited us. 

Originally built for the family of Winston Churchill, this lavish country hotel is housed in an 18th-century mansion just a stone's throw from Ascot Racecourse.  And as you can see, you can also play a game of draughts with any nearby giants that happen to be wandering the Surrey countryside.
 

The rooms are large, generous and comfortable, and Sammy's suite had plenty of room for all the bridesmaids to relax and prep.

and that, of course, included Mum!

and the dress, of course...

Now it may surprise some of you to hear this, but girls take a little bit longer than guys to get ready.  On this Saturday, I rocked up, bright and breezy at 10 am to find Sammy and her girl crew already in curlers and prepping.  Four hours later, at 2pm, when the ceremony was due to start, they were still adding the final touches.   The boys on the other hand...

The boys took a record fifteen minutes.  No word of exaggeration.  I've never in my life seen a swifter transformation from jeans and trainers to mourning suit and cravat. 

Shooting a wedding is always an adrenaline buzz, there is always chaos and rush.  But, boys, seriously, fifteen minutes?

and that goes for you dads too!

I guess there was a bit of a rush to get to the bar, so much of a rush that one or two of the chaps appear to still be empty-handed...

And then that moment when Dad goes in to make sure his daughter is okay, and it's a kind of a farewell moment, and always so touching

While the boys, well, they don't seem too worried do they?

Nah, nope, nothing to worry about...

and everything to be thankful for, with such a beautiful bride-to-be walking down the aisle

and these next two moments I love so much.  There is nothing but love, youth and enthusiasm in Sammy and Craig's faces.  So much hope and excitement for the future they will share together.

Despite the November cold, Sammy and Craig were game to do a little walkaround and grab a few shots.  The window for couples portraits is always a nice opportunity too for a newly-married couple to gather themselves together and get away from the bustle - kind of like quiet time, except I'm there, and I'm not that quiet.

Just look at those autumn colours! And with the last rays of the sun, the light has that golden glow to it

A quick walk around the fountain and, even with Craig lending Sammy his jacket, frostbite looked to be close at hand, so we grabbed just a last few snatched portrait shots and headed indoors

For the speeches

and, inevitably, the tears...

...looks like Craig's Dad was working hard to keep those tears back as well

and last but not least, to round off the evening, what else, on November the 5th, but sparklers and fireworks.

Congratulations Sammy and Craig and wishing you both a wonderful, happy, long life together!

MEERA AND HUSSEIN'S SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT - OR HOW I ALMOST DIED SHOOTING A PROPOSAL

So let's make one thing clear, this was the most fun I've had on a friday lunchtime ever, ever ever!

So my very good friend Holly Poulter at Join the Revelry dropped me a line.  Was I free to shoot a secret surprise proposal in Hyde Park?  Without hesitation, except to double check my diary, I said yes, and here's where the craziness started. 

City banker Hussein had approached Bernadette at Dream Occasions,  together with Holly, to come up with some ideas and help organise a romantic treasure hunt proposal event across London.  The big thing, he said, was to make it a surprise.  

After an excited brainstorm, and finding out all of Meera's favourite things, it was on to the planning.

On the morning of the proposal, Hussein's brother collected Meera from her Mayfair apartment under the pretence of going to a meeting.  Instead, he gave her the first treasure hunt clue scroll - along with a single rose from Phillippa Craddock flowers, and an Artisan Du Chocolate box.

The next surprise stop was at Meera and Hussein's old apartment in Knightsbridge, just behind Harrods, where Bernadette was waiting with the next clue, and another flower. 

So far, so romantic.  And what could be more fun than being dragged away from your work in the sunshine to be taken on a whirlwind treasure hunt mystery?    

But what, I hear you asking, does this have to do with the photographer having a near-death experience?

Because, chasing them across London like a crazy fool, on a motorbike, camera bag swinging from his side, swerving and battling the insane city traffic of Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch, was our intrepid photographer, shooting the whole event like a paparazzi, with telephoto lens and ninja stealth skilz.   At least my younger friends might put it that way.  "You're too old for this lunacy", is how my wife put it.  But what fun, what thrills, dodging the insane cab and bus drivers of the capital on a glorious Autumn afternoon, to capture the special moments of two young people in love.

Ooops!  Looks like Meera spotted me, right?  By then, of course, we were at location three and it was pretty clear what would happen next.  Hussein's brother drove her on to Hyde Park, with me just a little ahead of them on my bike, and Holly and Bernadette of course, already way ahead of them, waiting with flowers and message cards. 

As Meera got out of the car at the park, in the glorious October sunshine, Hussein was there to greet her with a bouquet of enormous pink roses and hydrangeas - her favourite colour.   They walked towards the fountain in the dramatic Italian Gardens, where Bernadette and Holly had cleared the space from tourists to create a beautiful backdrop for the proposal. 

Hussein got down on one knee and pulled out the ring to ask the all important question.

.... and though by now it must have been clear what we were all up to, still you could see that somehow it still really WAS a wonderful romantic surprise for Meera!

And of course, it needn't be said, but Meera did say Yes!  Congratulations to you both Meera and Hussein, and congratulations on your forthcoming wedding day!