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.