Dream Weddings come in all shapes and sizes but for a wedding photographer, they can be determined not only by the things one ordinarily might expect; beautiful bride, dashing groom, lovely church, beautiful reception venue, etc but also the mitigation of logistical risk – the biggest stress for us on the day – getting from A to B to C to D, Groom to Bride to Church to Reception. Luckily for us, Claire and Ben’s Wedding ticked every single box.

We first of all met Ben and his best man Laurent in Kingston, a mere 5 minute drive from our house for a few shots of them both getting ready but when we got there, they already were, so we wandered around the locale looking for some photo-opportunities to set the scene for the day. Pretty soon we were joined by Ben’s Dad, Bramwell ( the best name of any dad ever ) who had flown in from Canada for the wedding and had been trying to work out Kingston’s rather confusing one-way system shortly beforehand.

After leaving the guys in Kingston for breakfast, we headed to Ham, just another 5 minute drive down the road to Claire’s parents house where we got straight into the swing of things capturing our favourite part of the day – Bridal @ Home. Makeup and Hair duties were in the capable hands of our beautiful friend Faye Marie who went to school with Claire and is generally amazing.

After photographing as much as we could, which included some portraits of Claire’s mum and dad and her lovely bridesmaids, we headed off to the church (less than 5 minutes drive) to catch up with Ben and Laurent. Even though the church is really very local to us, we had never met Simon, the vicar of St. Andrew’s before, so after a brief introduction and when he was happy that I wasn’t going to cause him any trouble, we set up camp and waited for the arrival of the bride, first making sure that we had a couple of good shots of the rings of course.

Very shortly, the silver Mercedes arrived and out stepped Claire, looking incredible and after a short pause for composure outside the West door, where I managed to steal a quick shot of bride and bridesmaids looking radiant, I took up my agreed position in the church and waiting for Claire to begin her last few steps as a single girl accompanied by her father John.

We were limited to shooting from the back of the church, actually by prior arrangement with Simon via a typed sheet of notes that we had received from Claire earlier in the process. Generally speaking, being told that we can’t shoot where we want to does tend to cause frustration but due to the restricted movement in the part of the church where the ceremony was to take place, I could see the sense in remaining well out of the way. So it was all good.

After vows and the exchange of rings and a proclamation that the couple had indeed become husband and wife we made our way over to the side of the church where the register signing was to be conducted. There were no restrictions in place here so I made sure that as well as getting some staged shots afterwards, I captured lots of documentary style as well during the actual signing.

After some readings including one from Ben’s Dad, Bramwell, all that remained was for Simon to give the blessing and Claire and Ben were on their way to start their new life together, starting with lots of hugs and kisses from well-wishers and some group photographs directed by a rather manic ‘yours truly’.

Confetti followed ( really pleased with these shots )  and then we were off for the short drive into Richmond Park to Pembroke Lodge where the Wedding Breakfast and Reception was to be held.

Upon arrival, we made sure we had some images captured of the reception room, in this case it was The Belvedere , the larger of the two wedding venues at Pembroke Lodge, and after doing so, made our way onto the terrace to cover ‘Cocktail Hour’ where we captured guest candids and even a few small groups on request, which are always fun.

With the help of the staff at Pembroke Lodge, not least of all the amazing Banqueting Manager, Adrian Vagg, we arranged a large group photograph where I was afforded a vantage point from the first floor staff room on the North Side of the building.

Straight afterwards the guests were assembled in The Belvedere and Adrian announced in the new Mr and Mrs Tovey and the very important business of eating food began in earnest. It has to be said, and we know from first-hand experience because we were given a meal too, the food at Pembroke Lodge is amazing. Not only that but the service is incredible. Adrian and the staff there deserve recognition for this because we’ve been to a lot of weddings and very few venues are so well-run.

After the main course was served the scheduled ‘Cutting of the Cake’ took place which served to provide the dessert for the meal and then we were treated to some speeches, first from Claire’s Dad, John and then from Ben who had decided to adopt a freestyle approach to declare his appreciation to everyone and of course to pledge his love for Claire. The spontaneity of working without a script only served to make Ben’s speech more heartfelt. Best man Laurent brought the speeches to a close, and while providing some humourous anecdotes of their time growing up was also keen to give an appreciation of his friend and his achievements.

After having partaken of desert, we all headed outside onto the terrace once again so The Belvedere could be cleared for the evening’s dancing. More candids and still more impromptu requests for groups were followed by attempt #1 to get the bride and groom down to the meadows for what was beginning to look like an amazing back-lit sunset. After a few setups, we managed to make it about half-way before we noticed that we had been followed by one of the very junior members of the guest-list, so Ben made sure they were reunited with their guardians on the terrace before deciding that it might be a good idea to hang back for the arrival of the evening guests. Of course, we were deflated. The meadows were ripening into something totally amazing as golden hour approached and we knew that if we left the opportunity too long, we’d miss the chance to capture some truly spectacular photographs.

As luck would have it, within about 10 minutes we were back in the groove and so we made our way back through the grounds to the little hidden pathway that leads down to the gate in the meadows and as quickly as we could, we set up and shot some incredible images in the tall grass which turned out to be, in our opinion the signature images of the day.

Back at The Belvedere, the DJ had by now set up and slowly but surely the guests made their way into the room for Claire and Ben’s First Dance which was really moving and started the party wonderfully.

With all the ‘events’ of the day covered, we figured that we’d just be required to cover a little more of the party but then we remembered that earlier Claire had requested a photograph of them both at the front of Pembroke Lodge. Ben seemed to be busy and needed a little convincing but having built up sufficient trust throughout our epic Engagement Shoot and the rest of the day, he probably figured that we knew it was worth leaving the party one last time.

So we made our way around to the front of the Lodge, found a member of staff to turn on the lights for us and managed to steal a few closeups before securing the last shot in our collection you see below before embarking on our 10 minute drive home. Luxury!

In closing the summary of the day, one feels happy but also a little sad as amazing things draw to a close. Not just the Wedding Day itself but a collection of projects that have involved Claire and then Ben. They really are a lovely couple and we’ve enjoyed working with them both throughout our ventures and obviously we hope to see them again at some point in the future to ensure they’re doing as well as they deserve.

Everyone on the day was amazing, Claire’s parents, Ben’s Dad who was so complimentary of us, Simon Brocklehurst the vicar of St. Andrews who while having some strict policies on photography was such a nice guy with it, the staff at Pembroke Lodge, a venue we love so much, even though this was only our second wedding there (hint hint) and of course the man upstairs for giving us that great sunset.

Once again, we’re so grateful and continue to be so for what it is that allows us to do what we do.

  • Veronica Salazar - October 18, 2013 - 9:46 am

    Beautiful work, Rob! This abdolutely visual poetry. How lucky this couple was to have you document their special day so beautifully! ReplyCancel

Shirley and Andrien contacted us last year as a referral from Shirley’s sister Natasha who’s wedding at The Ritz we documented a couple of years previously. We really hit it off with Natasha’s family first time around and so we were delighted to be presented with a good excuse to spend some more time with them.

The day started at the family home in Sutton where Shirley was getting ready for her big day with help from mum Wendy and sister Natasha, who had flown in from Canada to be Matron of Honour & MUA.

Our work started with documenting details and general goings on with the occasionally directed setup where an opportunity for something special was observed. When Shirley’s 4 bridesmaids arrived we took the opportunity to gather a few portraits in the garden of everyone individually and of course a big group before the girls dashed off to Croydon to wait for Shirley at St. Mary’s.

After taking a few more family shots we too quickly followed so that we would be able to ensure we’d be able to document the arrival of the bride and also collect some images of Andrien and his best man and ushers while we were waiting. Upon arriving we made sure to find the officiant to check the house rules which we were relieved to discover were quite liberal.

In the meantime it transpired that the car in which Shirley and her entourage were to arrive had developed a bit of a hiccup, so we found ourselves with a little more time on our hands while contingencies were put into effect. There was very little panic at the church though and with a little help from a neighbour back in Sutton, Shirley and Wendy arrived a little late but both looking quite amazing.

The service held very few surprises for us but was lovely nonetheless. Shirley was lead down the aisle by her father, an amazing guy who in spite of being able to say very little in words these days has a most wonderful smile. We remembered him fondly from our previous meeting and it was great to see him again looking fantastic.

Natasha who is a professional performing artist was the obvious choice for a soloist and sang beautifully during an interlude.

And so with vows spoken, rings exchanged and kisses shared, the new Mrs Meyers returned down the aisle with her new husband. Rather fortunately, so the journey to the reception could be made in style, the car issues that had hampered the arrival earlier in the day had been fixed and when the happy couple emerged into the daylight, their carriage was waiting for them.

Once again, after a little fun jostling for photos, we leapt into the Miragemobile and zoomed off towards Addington Palace, the venue for the Wedding Breakfast and Reception.

It wasn’t long after our arrival that Shirley and Andrien followed suit and transferred to a horse-drawn carriage for a little excursion by themselves while all the guests arrived and became settled with drinks and chat. This period which the Americans refer to as ‘cocktail hour’ is always a lot of fun. We spend most of this time trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, collecting guest candids and documenting the emotions and interactions of all concerned.

After a short settling in period, the bride and groom returned to a party that was well underway. We captured the return and continued with a few small groups once we had determined where best to do so. This is always a lot of fun at weddings and takes some quick thinking because not only do you have to find somewhere that’s a relatively simple environment that’s free of distractions, but also you’ve got to make sure that you’re not subject to the whims of the sun moving or popping in and out of the clouds. It’s good to keep all group photographs consistently lit and where possible without harsh shadows or a direction that will cause your subjects to squint. Yes, there’s more to all this that you might imagine. After some hilarity with the guys and girls, we found ourselves having to leverage yet another skill which they don’t teach you at photography workshops – convincing every one of the guests to stop what they’re doing and gather for a big group photograph. Three Cheers!!!

After the large group photograph, everyone dispersed and made their way to the main hall for the Wedding Breakfast. We were lucky enough to have been offered a meal by the bride and groom ahead of time so while we waited for that, we had plenty of opportunity to capture the guests in between their courses as they chatted and generally enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with good company.

Speeches were interspersed between courses which is a nice way of doing this and these were delivered by Wendy, Natasha, Andrien’s Groomsmen and of course Andrien himself who came out from behind the top table to address the guests before bringing out Shirley to sit on his lap while he declared to everyone his love for her. Isn’t it great when guys do that?

After the meal we managed to grab them both again for a few portraits before the first dance which was preceded by a large conga line, Indian style lead by master of ceremonies Gerrard, The first dance proper was really lovely but held in almost total darkness so we were grateful that we don’t pride ourselves on being natural light shooters. Bounced flash can look really fantastic in any case and with the right post processing, you can retain a level of intimacy that is appropriate for the occasion.

Straight after the first dance the party got into its stride and the DJ sets were interspersed with some live music from an excellent band which added some great variety to the entertainment. We stuck around for a while longer to capture the party atmosphere before bidding our farewells and heading home for a well-earned rest.

Yes, a relatively long and eventful day but with a stunning bride and groom, beautiful cultural diversity, amazing families,  and really lovely guests. There’s not really much more one can hope for in this line of work. The love was there for all to see, we certainly felt it and hopefully you’ll agree, we captured its essence for posterity.

We are blessed.

We first met Claire on a little styled shoot we did last year for our makeup artist friend Faye Marie where Claire ended up being painted gold. It was pretty cool.

In any case, she must have liked the results because she booked us to shoot her wedding to Ben soon after that and the rest is history.

We decided that we’d offer Claire and Ben the chance to participate in a 2 part Engagement Shoot concept that we dreamed up ( more on this later ) which is directed towards a fusion of video and stills. The couple chose the locations of Richmond and The South Bank and so over the course of the weekend, we gathered lots of amazing mixed media for our ingredients – a selection of stills from which you may have noticed that we have posted right here.

This shoot was very remarkable in terms of the evolution of our approach to Engagement Shoots. There was a definitely sense of empathy and a desire to create a refined sense of visual significance which we hope to  continue to develop in the future.

We feel that it’s incumbent upon professional photographers of people to rise above the snapshot mentality and show more the importance of and the respect for their subjects. That’s not to say that everything needs to be stuffy and lacking in fun, but if we can find the sense within ourselves to see everyone as an incredible incarnation of something great beyond out wildest imaginations, then and only then will we truly deserve to be recognised as those providing something special.

Anyway, that’s enough soap-boxing for now.:)

Please enjoy – The amazing wedding will follow shortly.

  • Veronica Salazar - September 28, 2013 - 12:04 pm

    Amazing work, Rob! Beautiful images and I love your ease in the use of words to accompany them. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Paola De Paola - December 6, 2013 - 9:26 pm

    Yes lovely work!ReplyCancel