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NEIL AND EMMA'S ROCK AND ROLL WEDDING IN GOODWOOD

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NEIL AND EMMA'S ROCK AND ROLL WEDDING IN GOODWOOD

I first met Neil and Emma in the early spring of March 2016 for their engagement shoot at Pooh Corner in Sussex.  A relaxed, loving, and very together couple, it very quickly became clear that they had what all successful couples have, very real shared interests.  In their case, this included a love of Rock and Roll, a love of the countryside, and a love of aeroplanes and cars.  So what better venue could there be than Goodwood, just a little down the road in Sussex, home of the aerodrome, the race track and the beautiful sprawling Chichester countryside and grounds of Goodwood House. 

The Goodwood Hotel , set in the heart of the glorious 12 000 acre Goodwood estate is the perfect mix of high class modern comfort and style and classic rural English charm. 

And what became very quickly apparent on arrival was that Emma and Neil had two other traits in common.   Firstly, exceedingly good taste...

... and secondly a love of the colour blue.

There was blue...

More blue...

....and a bit more blue on top of that!

Joking aside, what Emma and Neil had created was a brilliant, styled rock and roll event, which didn't even for a minute go over the top.  I confess my jaw dropped a little at how impeccably they had paid attention to detail and good taste, whilst still incorporating the rock and roll into each corner of the venue and the day. 

But it wasn't ALL rock n roll....

This was after all, a wedding, first and foremost, and a chance for the beautiful bride to be made even more beautiful.

Meanwhile, down the other end of the hotel, the blue theme was being continued as Neil the groom and his best man got themselves ready.

With a little help from Mum.

Meanwhile, back at the bridal suite, excitement was mounting as Emma's family and entourage came to gee her on.

Because time waits for no bride... well it does a little bit, but you know what I mean...

With literally a couple of minutes to spare, we grabbed a moment to snatch a couple of hasty portraits.  Much as it may sound like the last thing you want to do when the clock is ticking, a moment to look out of the window and gather your thoughts, your breath, your earings, is something every bride needs.

That, and a sixpence in the shoe...

... and the last minute check that everything is perfect

and relax, ladies, relax.  Breathe in.  You're all beautiful.  It's going to be wonderful.

Meanwhile, not so relaxed, Neil was waiting dutifully, expectantly for his gorgeous lady to appear

...preceded by the most adorable flower girl sprinkling a trail of blue petals.  We mentioned the blue theme, right?

and then the bride was there, on time, resplendent in white, escorted by dapper Dad

There's nothing quite like seeing the excitement and joy when a groom slips the ring on his bride's finger

... and the slightly phased reaction of most grooms when the favour is reciprocated!

Joking aside, I can remember the butterflies of my own wedding, and it always gives me so much pleasure to capture these unique moments

After the confetti line, Neil and Emma were super keen to zip away to Goodwood Aerodrome, just a mile or so down the road.  Big fans of planes and cars, they got permission for us to grab a few quick shots out by these fantastic planes out on the airstrip.

Caption: "I told you it would have been easier to book a car"

Formerly a wartime RAF airfield, Goodwood Aerodrome has grown from a tiny satelite airfield to a flying school and centre for flying excellence.  The fantastic choice of buildings and planes left us a bit breathless given we only had a few minutes to grab some fun shots.

We got as far as the motor circuit and race track, but as grey clouds loomed and the clock ticked ever closer to party time, we reluctantly turned back to the venue.

All too soon it was time for us to whizz back to the hotel for the Wedding Breakfast and speeches

although some of the younger guests had already peaked early

others were just getting into their stride

All the frivolity was put aside for a few moments, as Neil and Emma wanted very much to do a balloon launch tribute to a dear departed family member.

It was an emotional moment for everyone, with tears and hugs.  But the couple, family and friends were so supportive of one another, that the mood of togetherness and celebration soon returned.

So much so that in amongst the formal group shots, there was space for a little bit of horseplay

"Do Dean Martin"

"Who?"

The superb wooded private driveway of Goodwood Estate was the perfect setting for a romantic walk.  I love how the wind catches Emma's veil...

And I love how the trees so perfectly frame this young couple's tender moment.

...not to say it was all soppy kisses and tender moments... this was after all a rock and roll wedding as well

with room, sure for some cute stuff

... and some more kissing as the guitar amp cake was cut with a sword

but as the first dance got underway

it was clear that rock and roll

was here to stay

and things got a little wild on the dancefloor

as the band rocked out

taking the mood up a few notches, along with the volume

oh, and pants.  Did we mention pants?

All in all, a glorious, fabulous, splendid rock and roll wedding occasion.  Congratulations and love to Emma and Neil.

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TONY & KATE'S HERTFORDSHIRE WEDDING

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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.

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

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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!

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