Take some handsome soldiers in their finest, beautiful bride and bridesmaids looking radiant and co-ordinated, a lovely sunny Saturday in May, and – did I mention – a ceremony at the chapel in the Tower of London.
When you’ve shot in Islington, Camden, Shoreditch, Richmond, Ealing, Barnes, Westimnster and Soho, you get to thinking, how much more London can a wedding get? Well this would be it.
Prep started off in a hotel next door to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on London’s Southbank. For once, the boys took almost as long as the girls, what with all the ceremonial attire and uniform involved. Not many people can get married at the Tower of London, but Royal Fusiliers are amidst that rare number.
The day started to warm up and so did the filmmaker. But there was nothing for it but to toughen up, as the lads had decided to walk the whole way along the Thames, past the London Dungeons, through Borough Market, past HMS Belfast and City Hall, and across Tower Bridge. And what a walk! I shot it almost entirely on a gimbal, a kind of mini-steadicam, scurrying alongside the fusiliers, who, despite being in full thick uniform, seemed unbothered by the first really hot day of the year.
It also meant I had to leave behind a whole bunch of my usual equipment, at the reception, in order to keep up with them. Lucky for us modern-day filmmakers, small lightweight cameras and lenses have made this more practical.
After the ceremony, Tommy and Carina were announced by a Beefeater – and all these guys ARE super friendly, not just professionally, but actually they’re really great guys.
We had time for some portraiture, always the time when you get to see just how natural and in love a couple are, before the two jumped in a classic vintage car, and I jumped in an Uber.
The reception was on the top floor of the four star The Swan Restaurant, conveniently situated opposite St Paul’s and right next door to The Globe. The food is fantastic, and while it is an intimate venue, the ambience was just right, with a mezzanine for canapés and cocktails, and a balcony for watching the sun go down over Christopher Wren’s most famous architectural triumph.
While Carina had hoped to get her first dance in before ten pm, so her Grandmother could get to her bed, we took advantage of the brooding storm clouds and a delay setting up the dancefloor to take Bride and Groom out past the Tate Modern to Millenium Bridge, where we grabbed some night portraits. With almost no lighting on the bridge, and with no time for tripods and gimbals, I was amazed to find with the new Sony camera technology, I could crank up the camera and shoot steady handheld. What a revelation, and also what a beautiful moment, seeing this dashing fusilier and his beautiful bride framed by the iconic backdrop of St Pauls Cathedral.
We got back in perfect time for first dance, and – thanking my own judgement – before the massive thunderstorm that ripped across the London skyline. With thunder and lightning tore across the city, and the country, while we remained cosy and dry for a fantastic wedding party three flights above the Thames.
And for you history buffs:
The Tower of London or to give it its official name Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, dates back to 1087 when it was known as the White Tower. Famous for imprisonments and executions, a cynic might say it was the perfect place for a wedding. But we’re not cynical here, and in fact it is without doubt one of the most beautiful, historic, majestic and flamboyant places you could hope to marry, rich as it is with history, pageant and tradition – from ravens and drawbridges to Richard III and Henry VIII, to Beefeaters, Yeomen Warders and the Crown Jewels.
The Chapel itself was rebuilt by Henry VIII and its full name is The Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula. The existing building dates back to 1520 and is what is known as a Royal Peculiar. (Aren’t we all on our off days). What this actually means is it is a church under the jurisdiction of the monarch, and separate from any external church jurisdiction. You remember how Henry liked to flout those rules. It is rich with history, mainly through the number of famous names buried there, including Anne Boleyn and Thomas More.