Weddings

CHARLOTTE AND SHAUN'S FUN, ROMANTIC GREENWICH WEDDING

Now Charlotte is the kind of girl who you might describe as a bit of a Diva.  Though only, I hasten to add in a good way!  We first met on her engagement shoot and hit it off from the first.  I had just shot a marryoke for a lovely couple which Charlotte thought was fabulous - Charlotte being an absolute Karaoke Queen - and so it was we got chatting ten to the dozen, forgot that was what we had initially got nattering about and I didn't really give that fact a second thought until the day of the wedding.  Which was when things got a little unpredictable.  Again, in a GOOD way.  Read on to find out how one young couple's wedding was full of enough surprises to make even a seasoned wedding photographer stay past the cut-off time! 

First up, a little slice of Greenwich history.  Many of you will know Greenwich and will have walked past St Alfege's church, no doubt on your way to get pie and mash rather than to say you prayers, but I'll try not to judge.    An amazing choice of church for a wedding, St Alfege is full of history and character, having  stood witness to Viking pillagers, the baptism of Henry VII and the German bombs during the Blitz that destroyed half its roof.  Its current grade 1 listed building status is thanks to the impeccable design of Nicholas Hawksmoor, but there has been a church on this site since The Archbishop of Canterbury's martyrdom in 1012, over a thousand years ago.    And no, I don't remember it well, whoever said that at the back of the classroom. 

Today, just round the corner from this historic church, stands a place of even greater history... the salon that would do Charlotte's hair on the day of her wedding. 

Now I've told you a little already about Charlotte, adorable, star-of-the-show Charlotte.  Shall we first meet Shaun, the groom.  No? Can't see him?  Ah well, Shaun is the kind of guy, who.... let's just say he's modest.  And time, geography and budget were against us having a second shooter. So as he was getting ready over in Canary Wharf whipping on his tie so quickly we might have blinked and not shot it, you'll have to enjoy instead Charlotte's prep for a little while before you get a glimpse of Shaun.  In his place, a shot of the Greenwich Clipper, the awesome hairdressers where Charlotte got herself pampered and prepped the morning of her big day. 

Below, inside the clipper, to Charlotte's left,  Mother of the Bride  Beverley tries not to look too nervous as her little girl gets ready for the big day.   To her right, in the background, the two guys are, I think, debating the complexities of existential philosophy in a post-modern era of Foucaultian uncertainties.  But it might have been shampoo, I forget.

Though on reflection - see what I did there - Charlotte herself doesn't appear to be too troubled by nerves.

The young man joining the proceedings, by the way, is brother Alex.  You're going to get a little surprise from this young guy later.  Just thought I'd prepare you. 

Again, Charlotte was reflecting on the big day ahead... oh you know, I'm sorry.  There are a couple more mirror shots later in this series, I'll try and leave the Dad jokes in my camera bag from now on, okay?

Having finished up at the Clipper, we walked round to Devonport House next to the Naval College, where yet more history was being made.  Yes, the most gorgeous women ever to have worn purple on maritime soil had assembled to put on their bridesmaid dresses and makeup

bites hand to stop himself making any more reflection jokes...

While along the corridor, Charlotte and Beverley were applying the finishing touches  .

I had thought the shot below was such a smart idea, it not occurring to me in the morning's rush that, like.. duh, brides don't wear hats!   In fact, of course, the Jacques Vert was for Mum, with Charlotte's dress being Galina Signature.

Insert reflection joke here....?   No, I'm not gonna do it.  You know who the dress is by, you know where the hair was done, you know how gorgeous Charlotte looks in the soft light from the windows looking out onto the garden, it's time for the Rolls Royce, isnt it...

A classic Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, and look how proud and doting Dad is as he holds the door open for his beautiful little girl.   Oh God, I'm getting mawkish, I'm getting a tear in my eye, time to zip off and meet Shaun.  We've waited long enough now...

Here he is!!  Looking a bit apprehensive.  Or is that just expectant? He's a pretty cool customer is young Shaun, so you wouldn't expect him to be too nervous really. 

Even with this gorgeous, lily-clutching lady walking down the aisle in white. 

And before you say it, no Shaun and Charlotte are not in a family of giants;  petite this lovely lady vicar may be but she is large in personality, generosity and charm.

I love how black and white can enhance areas of light and shadow, creating contrasty tones and artistic textures.  I call this shot "view of the stalker'.

And here the stalker gets a bit of tasteful foreground blur for the blessing. 

While here below, we say a big thank you to the god of wide angle lenses for helping with the most awkward angle ever invented for the signing of the register.

Huge white lilies for a bouquet, and smiles that could light up the darkest of churches. 

Oh, and did we mention Rolls Royce Silver Cloud?

Is any London wedding complete without a classic red Routemaster bus?  Such a lovely, thoughtful thing to do, to put on a routemaster for the guests.

And macaroons.  There were macaroons for everyone.  One of Charlotte's favourite things.  Along with Karaoke, purple and polkadots.  Much more about which, later.   

We arrived at Charlton House and, oh.  Look at that sky.  This is meant to be a summer wedding.  What's going on? 

Perhaps if we do the ancient weather ritual of "pretend you're Kate Winslett in Titanic" maybe the clouds will break and the sun will show.

Hmm... no, still looking overcast and gothic.  Let's just silently pray and do some more portrait stuff...

Snogging!  That'll do it.  That'll bring the sun out! We'll do some kissing shots with the Roller - guaranteed to push the clouds away.

Now, can we try and take the group portraits seriously.  Please?  Can we?

No?  Okay, let's have a bit of a laugh and maybe flash some ankle.  Did I mention purple?  Charlotte's favourite colour.  Purple. How you were going to see a lot more of it? 

Built in 1607, Charlton House is a wonderful example of Jacobean architecture, with a wonderful library gallery upstairs and plenty of walnut wood-pannelling downstairs.

Oh oh, the stalker's still prowling around up there with the books, raise a glass and let the poor lonely camera dude  come down and join us.

Notice the purple and polka dots?  I did tell you.

And so the speeches began and I decided to make use of the purple fairy lights to create what we call bokeh, lovely blurred circles of light that can add a cinematic texture to pictures.

And then the tears started coming, as they do sometimes in speeches.  

Oh how they cried....

....and cried...

... and smiled...

... and laughed....

...and, yes, cried some more.

When it came time to toss the bouquet, that marvellous tradition where the catcher will be the next to get married, tradition was once more respected when the catcher - lying prone here on the ground - was... a boy!

Oh, clouding over.  Shall we do some more kissing see if we can get the sun back out?

I took Charlotte and Shaun for a walk in the Peace Gardens for their informal portrait session.  A serene and tranquil environment of simple and subtle colours and textures, the garden was opened in 2006 to mark Amnesty's Stop Violence Against Women campaign, and is the perfect oasis for a newlywed couple to stop, take a breather and collect themselves.

And then it was back to the reception for  cake, baked by Shaun's sister Hanna and then the fun and games began...

...and surprises.  Most couples opt for a simple slow waltz for their first dance.  Something low-key and sedate.  Not these two.  Without a word of warning to anyone, including me, they launched into an extended, choreographed routine that started with The Contours' Do You Love Me  and The Human League's Don't You Want Me Baby

....through to Disney's Sleeping Beauty  Once Upon A Dream and The Pokémon Theme tune..

...to Breaking Free from, yes, from  High School Musical and The Magnetic Fields'Nothing Matters When We're Dancing. 

Oh and Coolio's I'll See You When.  

The next surprise was when Charlotte stepped up to the microphone to kick off the Karaoke.  Now, I had some idea that Karaoke was happening, but what I hadn’t reckoned with was the sheer glorious power and talent in the voice of the Diva with the mostest.

As Charlotte delivered her incredible, note-perfect version of the classic love song I will Always Love you, she truly out-Whitneyed Whitney Houston

Followed by Shaun's brothers' version of He Ain't Heavy.  By which time there wasn't a dry eye in the house. 

As if this wasn't surprise enough, Charlotte's brother Alex gave an impromptu ballet performance.

I am tempted to say that Alex swooped through the air like a gazelle,  reminding me of the classic description of Fred Astaire “cutting an elegant swathe across the room like an exquisite paperknife”.  But that would be pretentious of me, so I won't. 

Enough to say that it was amazing to watch this talented young man, now a star lawyer in the making, flying through the air. 

As the evening party continued, this young lady's face, I think said it all. 

And there was just time for us to grab one last romantic shot, I think my favourite of this wonderful, loving, hilarious, generous special day.   Congratulations Charlotte and Shaun and all my sincerest wishes for your wonderful new life together!

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!

TONY & KATE'S HERTFORDSHIRE WEDDING

Sometimes you meet a young couple and there is something so generous about their spirit, and so serendipitous about the day, that everything just falls into place.  I won't ever forget how Tony's simple and humble recommendation "I think there's a field just up here with quite a nice view when the sun goes down"  would result in a red gold glory of poppies and the sunlight.  Possibly the most dramatic and beautiful sunset of the summer of 2016 and we were right there.  But enough about us, this is about them.  Tony and Kate, and the story of their day.

Which started off in brisk and elegant fashion at the Sun Inn in Hitchin, a beautifully, tastefully restored 16th century coaching inn located in the heart of one of Hertfordshire's many charming market towns.

While you can arrange to have your whole wedding ceremony and reception at The Sun, Tony had opted for reception only.  And a little groom prep. 

One of my favourite ring shots ever, achieved in a couple of minutes with the help of some optics behind, and a purple shot glass to balance the bands on.  Look close enough and you can make out a ring-reflection selfie.

But enough about me, meet the boys.

Tony and his best man, looking suave, dapper and handsome, as they tog up for the big day ahead

with of course, the help of a stiff drink, a good pair of cufflinks...

...and...er... a couple of goes on the roundabout in the market square!

Meanwhile, down the road at Kate's house, the mood was surprisingly calm and serene

with ample time for me to capture some of the lovely bridal details

Dad's garden had been carefully and lovingly tended, with a bit of extra attention, knowing that we might well have time to grab a few shots out there.

Beautiful Kate, elegant and modest as a true English Rose, was the perfect model, allowing me to experiment a little with the light and grab these portraits, which, because we had that little extra bit of time, I could make look a little like paintings.

It's a curious irony of wedding photography that often has to be explained - most weddings are summer weddings when the sun is bright and high, and yet us photographers take to the shade.  These shots show why a little.  See how the light reflects back onto the girls, so that even though they are shaded, their skin seems to have this lovely glow. 

A nervous moment for Tony when a car identical to the one driven by his father-in-law-to-be turned up twenty minutes early.  When he'd finally recovered from a close encounter with a near heart attack, it turned out of course to be the bridesmaids arriving just on time. 

St Mary's Church in Hitchin is the largest parish church in Hertfordshire and is remarkably large for a town of the size of Hitchin.  This has been cited as evidence of how Hitchin prospered from the wool trade. The present church stands on the site of two previous churches and dates from the 14th and 15th centuries, with its tower dating from around 1190.  As well as being generously proportioned and impeccably restored, it is also wonderfully light inside.  No gothic gloom here.

As Tony's expression testifies.  The vicar, by way of a bonus, it should be said is a lovely, warm, generous and good humoured priest, welcoming all with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

While every photographer will strive to capture the bride arriving...

... I think we all treasure those delicious candid moments of apprehension as the groom waits inside

Owner of the highly successful production company HitchinTV, Tony has a keen eye himself, and was eager to try all kinds of different portrait shots.  I think I may have gone a little over-gothic with this one, but it was the one overcast moment of the day, so I like to think at least we were being in some way true to the day.

Back at the Sun Inn, meticulous preparations had seen the reception room beautifully decorated with restrained good taste.

While the party got started, Tony was keen to see if we could grab the sunset shot we had talked about.  We jumped in his car and he showed his true Italian heritage by racing across town with all the speed and dexterity of a Formula 1 driver keen to get home for his champagne dinner.  And boy was it worth the pedal to the metal.  

When we arrived at the chosen location, we were greeted by this stunning field of poppies. Capturing a sunset is always a matter of luck - will cloud cover ruin it?  Will there be too little cloud to make it truly dramatic.?

On this occasion we were blessed with one of the loveliest and most dramatic summer sunsets.  

And as dusk quickly settled in we even had a go at a Gone With the Wind moment.

STEVE AND PETER'S MAYFAIR WEDDING

From St Paul's to Tower Bridge, to Mayfair to Chancery Lane and Soho, this is the story of  two lovely Aussie guys, one same-sex wedding, and more taxi-rides than most people fit into a year! 

I was delighted when Steve and Peter asked me to shoot their London wedding, not just because the locations were so cool, but also because I've known them for over a decade, having worked together in various TV broadcasting and production companies.  So I knew they were great guys, and that we would have a great day out in London. 

Instead of the traditional morning 'bride and groom prep' stuff, the guys preferred instead to meet up, already suited, to grab some informal and romantic shots of them chilling in some of London's most iconic spots, partly so they could send pics to the 'folks back home', both being Australian, and partly because, hey, London is a cool city, right?

Kicking off with a few fun shots around the Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge, with the classic view of St Paul's behind us, we moved on down towards London Bridge.

Soon it was time for the short Uber-ride down to Mayfair, to the public library in South Audley Street.

mayfair wedding same sex marriage london photography 1

Where things got a little held up when Pete's Mum, who was supposed to be giving him away and walking him up the aisle, got held up, ironically by a taxi strike. 

In the end, Steve had to lead Pete up the aisle, though thankfully Pete's Mum and Dad did make it in time for most of the ceremony.

As you can see, it was a small and intimate wedding, and again, Steve and Pete were keen to dispense with formal group shots, opting for just one simple, and touchingly close family gathering on the staircase.

.... and just one quick posed shot outside the library itself.   Many couples who marry at Mayfair Public Library like to get some romantic shots in the park next to it.  But again Pete and Steve wanted to buck convention and do something a little more interesting.  And here was their plan;  while family and friends would decamp to London's trendy Bounce club in Chancery Lane to play table tennis...

... Pete and Steve wanted some more romantic shots around Tower Bridge.

The boys were hoping for a romantic London sunset at Tower Bridge, and as luck would have it, mother nature chose that particular evening to dish up the most incredible glowing red sky as the sun dropped behind The Shard.

One of those rare cases where you don't need to ask the couple to gaze off into the sunset with a look of joy and wonderment on their faces...

With only a few minutes left before we had to jump in a taxi to catch up with the rest of the bridal party at Bounce, the boys granted me a couple of minutes to do a quick cool long exposure shot on Tower Bridge.  I had wanted to capture a passing red London Bus, to make the shot truly iconic, but with time against us, of course, there were no buses to be seen...

We got the shot, though, and then it was back in another taxi, and back to Chancery Lane, to re-join the table tennis fun in EC4.

And then it was back in a taxi yet again for the intimate wedding reception at London's Kettner's restaurant off Old Compton Street in Soho

Though once again, some people were late... :)

ROSIE AND JEROME'S ISLINGTON WEDDING

A short tale of a French family, an English family, a couple with a new baby on a short hop over from Malaysia, some of the wackiest group shots I've ever taken...  and a wedding cake made entirely from cheese!

 

 

When Jez and Rosie first asked me to shoot their wedding, I was thrilled not only because they were the lovelies, funniest, most laid-back young couple, but also because it was a chance to shoot at the Zetter Hotel, at Islington Town Hall, AND at the fun and funky Artisan of Clerkenwell

 

The boys got the day off to a great start with that classic combo;  champagne and hankie-folding.  

 

Zetter's is a fantastic boutique hotel in the heart of trendy Clerkenwell.  Having taken a few healthy drafts of bubbly, the boys were more than happy to gad about the corridors to make the most of such an unusual and eclectic location.

 

Rosie, meanwhile, was busy getting ready at the Holiday Inn, having opted for space and comfort over funky furniture.  After all, she had the baby, and the rest of the family to think about. 

 

... including a certain young lady who would later on be quite the spirit of the party, but for now, was a little less than enthusiastic about having her hair done !

 

There's something so moving about a father giving away his daughter, the pride in his eyes, his joy at her happiness, and at the same time, the sweet sadness of letting go of the most precious person to you.

From those heart-stopping last few moments of anticipation....

...to that perfect moment of recognition and love, where you know you committed to the right person!

Islington Town Hall has one of the finest marble staircases of any London town hall, offset as it is by the wonderful green panelling. 

And what really makes a London wedding, is a classic London Routemaster Bus

With just a little bit of retro fun

And then it came to the group shots, and a whole different kind of unexpected fun started to happen.  After mucking around on the bus - a big kid's thrill for everyone - not least the photographer who got the chance to break some of the H&S rules -  we were left with limited time, in a courtyard that wasn't all that interesting or well lit.  Then I had an idea and had a chat with the Maitre D at Zetter's and was pleasantly surprised to discover they were more than happy  about letting us use their lovely Georgian town house to shoot group portraits.  Provided we were quick.  With a lightning five minute lighting set up, which took me back to some of my most dramatic commercial shoots, I was left with a whole new task.  Shoot the group shots quick AND can we do something different, something less boring, something a bit wacky and off the wall?   Well asking a photographer these things is like candy to a baby... You want wacky, you got it!

The less formal side of formals.  Heheh.  Okay, great.  Now give me Charlie's Angels...

Excellent, excellent, now can we have a family punch-up?  Can you all try and murder each other?

Not often you get the chance to say that at a Wedding, right?  But it resulted in one of my favourite ever group shots, and, one of Jez and Rosie's favourite shots from the day too!

Then it was into The Artisan for the reception, where certain small people were starting to look a little tired.

While other small people were full of beans!

I'll admit, this was my first ever time witnessing the best man's speech as powerpoint demonstration.  But as it was part of an interactive quiz involving everyone there, and testing their knowledge on some of their funnier memories of Jez and Rosie, it was far different from any powerpoint demo I'd ever seen before. 

Jerome is half-French, which goes a long way to explaining his love of cheese, a love that somehow found it's way into the couple's layer cake.  Yes, you read that right.  A wedding cake made entirely of French cheeses!

 

Do please feel free to leave a comment, if you enjoyed these pictures, and thanks for reading. 

x

Adam

KIRAN AND KEVIN'S WILTSHIRE WEDDING

Kiran and Kevin chose Weddings at the Lost Orangery for their venue.  Situated just outside the picturesque village of Colerne in Wiltshire, a short drive from Bath, this stately home with private drive, ornamental lakes and breathtaking views across the rolling countryside of the Avon valley has to be the perfect location for a sumptuous, romantic wedding.

While Kiran, as bride, had the good fortune to stay in the comfort and luxury of the Orangery, others, including hardy groom Kevin, had to make do with tents pitched in the grounds outside.

Non the worse for wear for his night under the stars, Kevin was up bright and early to help with organising the day, and of course to scrub up rather nicely. 

While Kiran, out of sight, on the other side of the Orangery, looked stunning in red.

And what a blaze of colour the bridesmaids were.

Oh, and did we mention red...?

The civil ceremony was conducted in the charming pergola overlooking the ornamental lake, with guests seated around it.

A joy for the spectator, a challenge for the photographer - that's me - who, with the sun shining directly at the camera, rigged up two flashes in the ceiling of the pergola, to give that nice lit look to the ceremony.

KATRINA AND BEN'S WHITEHALL WEDDING

Katrina and Ben chose the wonderful One Whitehall Place as their venue for both the ceremony and the reception of their London Summer Wedding. 

“We’d love you to shoot our wedding video and our photography”

Being both a photographer and videographer, this is always my favourite booking.   Though sadly I can’t clone myself, and of course Ben and Katrina hadn’t expected me to be in two places at once either, meaning I brought in one of my team of videographers to work alongside me.  

One of the specialities of Delirious Films is that we can offer an all-in package.   Working with videographers and photographers across the country, I tailor every wedding to suit each couple, which means sometimes I shoot stills, and sometimes video. 

On this occasion – as I had always wanted to capture the ambience and atmosphere of this beautiful Victorian building with it’s chandeliers and pillars, its history and architecture, I took the helm as photographer and director and hired in my best videographer to shoot the movie.

On arrival, the chaps decamped to the Churchill’s Bar, drinking in not just the g&t’s but also the wonderful atmosphere of a glorious history. 

Churchill was not the only political titan to debate and relax, within the National Liberal Club’s walls: Asquith, Lloyd George and many others shared a glass and a frank exchange of views here.  Churchill’s Bar captures this spirit. It’s a place of tranquility and character: of strong words, softly spoken. Ideal for a drinks reception, for small-scale gatherings or a postprandial chat. In the spirit of this great intellectual heritage, as you can see, the boys were deep into a serious debate.  Probably about the merits of beer over gin. 

Meanwhile Katrina was getting ready in the Ladies’ Room on the top floor, a wonderful, discrete and stylish space that brought out Katrina’s already highly-developed spirit of glamour.

The ceremony took place in the The Reading and Writing Room, a magnificent room that can accommodate 120 people, with its floor to ceiling windows that allow natural daylight to flood the room. The windows provide enviable views of modern day London, looking out across the Thames to the London Eye and the South Bank.

 

As Katrina's mother is Russian, part of the ceremony was  the “Bread and Salt” tradition for  when the groom’s mother greets the bride and groom. In the old days, the groom’s mother presented the couple with “Bread and Salt” at the groom’s family house when the bride moved in to live. Nowadays, as a rule, most couples of course live separately from their parents and after an official marriage ceremony or a wedding, the “Bread and Salt” ritual takes place right in the banquet hall where the wedding celebration takes place.

The bride and groom break off pieces of bread, dip them in salt and feed each other. These actions symbolize that they’ll never be without the necessities of life and they will always take care of each other.

When it came to the formal family portraits, luck was on my side.  The best end of the library had been cleared, prior to dinner, and there was just space enough to fit and light close family members.  With a handy five minutes on my side, I quickly set up a backlight flash to help balance the sunlight, and a studio soft box to give this group shot the Downton Abbey feel.  

Then it was out for a quick couple of portraits and romantic shots for the film on Hungerford Bridge, overlooking the Thames, Big Ben, and the London Eye.

This last shot is one of my favourites, and is actually a still from our film that accompanied the photoshoot.  Feel free to take a look at the film here:  

and do please feel free to leave a comment, if you enjoyed these pictures, thanks for reading. 

Adam

ERICA AND TOM'S ROMANTIC EASTBOURNE WEDDING

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Another last minute phone call from my pal Kirstie Blake: "My dear friend has just been let down by her photographer, can anyone help?"   And the next morning, I am hurtling through Sussex on a glorious sunny July Saturday to the rescue. 
 

I instantly fell in love with Tom and Erica's cool, retro Peacehaven bungalow, and it wasn't long before I'd fallen for them and their friends and family too!

Some weddings are all about the planning, some are all about the style, and some... some are all about the warmth of feelings, the strength of commitment and love from friends and family. 

Wanting nothing but the best, Dad booked a classic chauffeur-driven Daimler to drive Erica to the town hall.

And who couldn't help but be totally smitten by the Britain's youngest best man!?  Aw... so cute!!

and while the groom waited nervously...

a romance appeared to be blossoming between the best man...

... and one of the ladies in the congregation.

though nothing could distract from how beautiful the bride looked as Dad lead her down the aisle

There were tears and smiles at Eastbourne Town Hall.  With more than their share of challenges, this young couple came through for each other in a big way.

with more than a little help from the littlest, cutest best man ever ever ever

the signing of the register

the walk down the aisle, with a littlest best man now a bit grumpy and no doubt in need of some sugar

 What is lovely about Victorian Town halls, like the classic one in Eastbourne where Tom and Erica held their wedding ceremony, is the mix of colours, the wonderful architecture, the mix of natural and modern lighting and the melange of municipal rigour with a gentle, relaxed local atmosphere.  

Of course nothing expresses the joy and excitement following the wedding ceremony than confetti

and while a lot of wedding photographers won't use a wide angle, I can never resist squeezing in that little bit of extra action, because it is as much the guest's day as it is the bride and groom's.

After the formal shots, we had a little bit of time to run off for some romantic photo down time at Burling Gap.  And no trip to the south downs in the summer would be complete without... an ice cream.

as the saying goes, what's yours is mine, and ... erm... well that's it really..

Birling Gap and Crowlink, near Eastbourne in East Sussex, are part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast.  One minute you can be walking on ancient downland, the next you could be rockpooling below towering cliffs of chalk. Spectacular, unspoilt views of the sea can be seen from all angles. The beach below is ideal for seaside picnics with its rock pools and areas of pebbles and sand. It is a great example of a marine nature reserve.

Also, great for a bit of a snog, after your wedding.

but the fun didn't end with just one ice cream and a bit of a snog...

... and we were off to East Dean for a full-on Hog Roast.  Just look at the delight on those kids' faces...

then of course there were the speeches...

... the cake....

.... the cake down the bride's cleavage....

... the cake in the groom's face...

and then a proper, bonkers knees-up party

and also, thankfully, a beautiful South Downs Sunset 

Do please feel free to leave a comment, if you enjoyed these pictures, and thanks for reading. 

x

Adam

Don and Kayan's Glamourous Westminster Pre-Wedding Shoot

Most brides wouldn't dream of letting their groom see them in their wedding dress before the big day, but in Asia, pre-wedding photography is hugely popular. 

Pre-wedding shoots see brides and grooms pose together in their wedding finery before walking down the aisle, to get perfect pictures, tailored to the couple's exact taste, which there may not be time for on the wedding day itself. 

Now couples in search of something extra special for their shoot are flocking to the UK to pose alongside famous landmarks or in renowned luxury hotels such as The Ritz.

Don and Kayan, like many Chinese couples, have fond memories of working and studying here in London, and while their call came last minute, and while time was short, we had some fun whizzing around a few favourite places, including a romantic and dramatic start in Green Park, and a quirky long-exposure shoot at Paddington Station.   Along the way, we took in the ubiquitous and inevitable red phone booth, black taxi and, of course Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Big Ben and Westminster Bridge.

 

GREG & TINA'S HAMPSHIRE WEDDING

Now here was an unusual situation.  I couldn't sleep and got out of bed,  early one Saturday morning, when, at six in the morning, my Facebook  pinged an urgent message from my good friend, fellow photographer Lisa Gigante-Field.  She was horribly sick and could I help her cover Greg and Tina's wedding?  No photographer ever wants to call sick on a wedding.  We'll turn up half dead, half-severed limbs dangling, on crutches, you name it.  The show, after all, must go on.  And we have committed.  So I knew she must be tremendously ill.  Sure, I can help, where is it?  Portsmouth, she replied.  A two hour drive.  No problem!  

But Lisa hesitated.  Could she really let the couple down?  It's a strange thing, but wedding photography is like no other business.  You so badly feel you owe the couple, you are so involved in their day, in their happiness, and in capturing that as you promised.  So Lisa hesitated.  She would try and shoot the wedding.  But just in case, could I hold out in case she pooped out?  Sure thing.  That's what we do, photographers.  We help each other out.  

Bravely Lisa tried to make it to the venue, but to no avail.  The virus had her in its grip.  And now it was too late for me to get there for the ceremony.  Another good pro photographer friend, close to hand, Anthony Burdett-Clark stepped in to cover the ceremony, but couldn't stay any longer.  And so it was I jumped in the car, to cover the rest of the day, foot down, whizzing my way down the M3 to Portsmouth.

That's right, let's raise a glass to the brave photographers... erm.. no that's not right.  Let's raise a glass to the wonderful Greg and Tina who were the sweetest of couples, with the loveliest of close friends and family around them to celebrate.

The wedding ceremony and reception took place at the lovely Meon Valley Country Club.  Mother nature had been kind and offered up a beautiful sunny day.

And though only a few photos are posted here, I delivered something like 500 images from the day's celebrations!  Well Lisa - and I - were very keen to show that no couple should miss out because their original photographer was struck down so ill.  And who wouldn't have wanted to keep snapping with such a fun-loving, lovely family?!

But if we were lucky with the sunshine, we were also lucky with the sunset.  And I was luckier still when Greg and Tina were happy to take a little walk with me and my studio soft box to grab a couple of romantic dusk couple portraits. 

And then it was back to the golf club house for the party.  And boy, what a swell party it was!

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!

Group shots - what to do, and how to have fun with them

The formal group shots.  Something every wedding photography moans about.   You have to organise all these people intent on having fun somewhere else, determined to chat, to get drunk, to socialise, to congratulate, to cop a crafty snog, or nip off for a sneaky smoke.  Goddamnit, these people are here to be photographed, not to have fun, right?  

Wrong. 

They're here to have fun.    People want to look their best and act their best, and of course they've come to wish the bride and groom a lifetime of fulfilled dreams, love and happiness.  But they've also come to have a laugh, to meet old friends and new, to let their hair down and enjoy themselves.  And part of a photographer's job should be not just to not get in the way of that fun, but to add to it. 

While some weddings can be chaotic when it comes to formal group portraits, it is crucial to have an idea of what you want, so that time isn't wasted herding your friends and family with a megaphone.  (In the wedding below, the best man actually used one!)

Every wedding is different and should be as you want it.  My only recommendation would be to try to keep things to a sensible limit.  We photographers want to document a day of love and fun and we want you to have fun, rather than be worrying about the 53rd set of formal shots of your third aunt twice removed.  

With this in mind, as a help to all couples, I have put together a simple template of which groups are good to include, though, as I say, the choice is always yours. 

Bride and Groom and Brides parents

Bride and Groom and Grooms parents

Bride and Groom and both sets of parents

Bride and Groom and Bridesmaids

Bride and Groom and Bestman/ushers/suits

Bride and Groom Bridesmaids, Bestman/ushers/suits

Large group shot

Bride and Groom and any special family members.

and remember - have fun!

 

Which isn't to say formal group shots should all be wacky, ad-hoc, crazy affairs.  More often than not, the ceremony and the gathering call for refinement, formal composition and a respectful portrait of family and friends. 

 

But this shot, lit and composed and shot at the wonderful One Whitehall Place in London's Westminster embankment is a great example of the opportunity a group formal portrait offers a photographer to get creative.  When nervous planners are urging you to "just pop out in the park" or grab a few shots on the stairwell, it is often too tempting to take the quick and easy option, rather than to see that something more challenging will result in something more rewarding.  Here I lit with two small flashes behind and a studio portrait soft box in front and arranged the family in the Gladstone library to create a Downton Abbey look, perfectly in keeping with the assured and sophisticated mood of the day. 

Which isn't to say the grand, sweeping staircase of One Whitehall Place shouldn't also get a look-in when it came to the group shot.  In fact it was ideal for placing all of the guests in a sumptuous surrounding.

And there are other times when circumstances force you to have a bit of fun and jazz things up.  We all pray the day will be wonderful and sunny, but as Brits, we are also philosophical to know that those rain clouds are never far away.  So it was with Heather and Sam's Dartmouth wedding. It rained ALL DAY LONG!  And it is then, at a beach-party wedding, when a photographer, has no real alternative to shooting outdoors, that the last thing anyone needs is a stiff pose and a long face. 

Although, I have to confess, the most fun I've had to date, was shooting the group shots at London's Zetter's Town House in Clerkenwell, at the reception held for Jerome and Rosie after their Islington Town Hall Wedding.  Having arrived breathless with excitement on a classic route master bus, and eager to party on at The Artisan Clerkenwell, Jez and Rosie were more than happy nonetheless to give a little time and creativity to their group shots.  The only challenge being that the outside of The Artisan is really just a courtyard.  As Jez had stayed the night before in Zetter's, they kindly let us shoot in their townhouse club, with the proviso that we were quick.  For a Saturday night, the townhouse was blissfully quiet, and so we snuck in, at first with the idea of merely shooting some classic, stylish and contemporary group shots.  

And then this happened.

Jez and Rosie, and their family were immediately game for some fun.  They're a fun and funky bunch and responded to every whacky idea with an eager grin.  "No, we don't want stuffy posed pictures, do whatever you want", they said. "Dangerous words", I said.  "Bring it on", they replied. "Do Charlie's Angels", I said.  And this is what I got.   

"Now all have a terrible family fist fight, really try and kill each other", I urged, as, so naturally you do at a wedding.  And this is what I got. 

This image makes me smile every time I see it, front lit with a studio soft box, a little kicker backlight from a flash on the floor, and light coming in from the window, but most importantly, a wonderful, fun-loving family, all game for a laugh.  

Of course, not every formal group shot can or should be like this.  But sometimes, you wish maybe just a few more were. 

So that is probably the long and the short of it - keep it simple, keep it intimate, keep it fun. Try not to squint (we do try and shoot in shade, and if there isn't any then we battle with the sun behind you)

and please, not too many this big:

 

and smile, don't forget to smile x