When you get an email, shortly after blogging one of your favourite weddings of the year, that starts with the following sentence, you know you're doing something right: "We LOVE the photos of Liz and Ben at our restaurant and was wondering if you were happy for us to post this on Gordon Ramsay's Instragram channels and for use for on our website gallery & brochures?"
But more important, is what Liz and Ben got right, which was, quite simply, everything.
Great friends and family, an awesome day’s schedule, and above all a couple who knew what they wanted and were all-day lovely.
The first picture above says it all about Liz and Ben. Cool, sophisticated, stylish, great taste, and above all, very much in love. A London wedding is always an exciting affair, but when you start at a listed art-deco Town Hall, take a Routemaster across the Thames past the Houses of Parliament, and down Whitehall, the Strand and the Adwych, when you dine at the Savoy, when you’ve got the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy set aside for a few minutes portraiture, and when you land up in Kensington's super-cool Ognisco for your party, you have no choice but to have a stylish day.
So having got my visa through to travel south of the river, I took the underground from cosy North London with some terpidation it into that dark and mysterious place they call South London. Would it be safe? Were their wild dogs roaming the street? Do they even have trees down there? Do the locals eat their own children? In fact Wandsworth is the cleanest borough in the city, and Wimbledon, one of the leafiest parts, and of course, having already met Ben and Liz, twocharming successful lawyers, it was no real surprise to find their loft apartment was all restrained good taste and beautifully lit interiors.
Liz had chosen an elegant motif of blue and white that extended to bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen alike, from dresses to waistcoats, to bouquet. And so the intimate chaos of bridal prep began
And here we see the perfect communication between mother, bride and bridesmaid...
That butterflies moment when the dress is on, you're looking fabulous, and there is nothing left to worry about. Nothing, that is, but the fact that this is your BIG DAY!
And with my taxi waiting and the clock ticking, we grabbed a few snatched minutes of bridal portrait in the hallway, which provided some beautiful softening of the bright morning sunlight
Meanwhile, calmly waiting down at the registry office, Ben, already looking pretty suave, got a little extra sprucing-up from star-of-the-day best man Fran.
Wandsworth is an interesting part of London. Although I'm not quite old enough to remember, it was originally settled in by the Huguenots in the 17th and 18th centuries, who were attracted by its cloth mills. They developed a hat industry for which Wandsworth was once famous, and for which Ben, sporting his elegant topper, is now suitably famous. Wandsworth Town Hall, originally opened by Queen Mary in 1937, is a fantastic wedding venue, with a sumptuous marble art deco interior.
Not everyone can pull of the top hat and tails look – me I would look like a geriatric version of the Artful Dodger, others might look like clownish toffs, but Ben rocked the look in an effortlessly cool way I don’t even think he knew he had. Whether he’ll get away with conducting cases in court wearing it, I’m not so sure, but it was an awesome signature look for the day
And that moment of apprehension, as the clock ticks nearer... or as is often the case... PASTthe allotted time for the ceremony.
"Look serious, look like a lawyer signing important papers"
Ben and Liz had opted for bubbles instead of traditional confetti, which was a lovely, fun and original touch...
... making for the occasional interesting alternative look for a confetti shot. You like the way I got those bubbles so well lined up?
And after group shots and portrait, it was time for everyone's favourite wedding party transport, the classic red London routemaster bus. Thankfully this was one from the 1960s and unlike the very old ones, had some pretty good suspension. Is it possible to outgrow the pleasure of hanging off the passenger rail of a routemaster? I don't think so.
Although jumping off to grab this shot of Big Ben was a bit of a race against the lights. Sadly the scaffolding on the Houses of Parliament looks set to be there for a couple of years, but hey, it's still Big Ben.
And so to the fabulous, the glamourous, the one and only Savoy Hotel. If you have never visited, you haven't lived. One of London's most celebrated hotels and landmarks, it sits between the Strand and the Thames in the heart of Covent Garden's Theatreland. Combining the very best of classical Edwardian design and stylish Art Deco interiors, you feel instantly transported to a Belle Epoque, to an era of pearls and cocktails, of Jeeves and Wooster, of Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Club. The service is world-class, with all the hushed reverence and charm one might associate with that era. And style. Above all, you find, style.
With a few minutes to spare, we made our way to the award-winning Beaufort Bar, where you can snare yourself one of the greatest cocktails the city has to offer. It has a dark, sensuous opulence, and iconic interior design that transports one back to the roaring twenties, to a time when gentlemen like Ben did indeed still wear top hat and tails, and where glamorous women like Liz donned their pearls to put on the Ritz.
The six-course meal was held in the American Grill, adjacent to the Savoy's legendary American Bar, the oldest surviving cocktail bar in London. On top of some charming and hilarious speeches, the guests were in for one further treat...
With the assistance of the very skilled Maitre D, Ben flambed some crepes for the intimate gathering of friends and family.
One of the great things about shooting with Liz and Ben was how they managed to be both keen and relaxed about taking photos. I mean you can't have your wedding breakfast in a place like the Savoy and NOT take photos, right?
And then it was a quick change, before our next crazy trip across London, and true to form, Liz asked if I could capture the chaos of everyone getting ready in the hotel room they had booked at the Savoy.
You want chaos? You got it.
And then it was a short taxi ride to Ognisko, the Polish Club in South Kensington. Situated opposite Imperial College, and a mere stone's throw from the V&A, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, Kensington Gardens and the Royal Albert Hall, Ognisco was founded in 1939 as a meeting place for the Polish community-in-exile in London. As well as being ever since a cohesive social hub for Polish people in London, the club regularly holds exhibitions, meetings, lectures, classes and seminars, playing host to artists, critics and academics.
More to the point, they also hold a mean party.
What an amazing crowd of friends and family, what an effortlessly stylish and quintessentially London day. And what an awesome couple, and awesome wedding. Congratulations Liz and Ben, and thank you for a brilliant, brilliant day.