We first met Holly & James in January of last year when they came to us via a referral from a wedding we photographed in 2010. It seems like a long time ago and it certainly was rather atypical for us at that time to be booking a wedding 18 months in advance, but we’re glad they did because they’re awesome.
As you’re probably aware, this Summer has been somewhat of a mixed bag in terms of weather in the UK, but the forecast for the day promised to be showery at worst and of course, when your glass is half full, you kind of hope for the best, don’t you?
The day started off relatively sunny. We arrived at their venue, the delightful Rowhill Grange Spa Hotel near Dartford in Kent with literally hours to spare as we had built in contingency for the traffic uproar being caused by the Olympic Cycling.
With 4 hours to fill before the ceremony, we captured everything we possibly could to record ‘Bride @ Home’. Lots of getting ready PJ style ( later to be turned into ‘News’ Black and White ) and even more details of the reception room, table settings, lovely floral arrangements by Muscari Whites and of course the absolutely amazing Wedding Cake from Choccywoccydoodah.
After a brief encounter with James and his wingmen, we headed back to Holly for some shots in her dress and with her bridesmaids during the run up to the magical hour. It was during this time that luck, at least as far as the weather was concerned, appeared to take a nosedive.
Of course, we completely forgot to mention that Holly & James’s Wedding Ceremony was to be an *Outdoor* affair. You know, like you see on those amazing destination weddings with a little gazebo and lots of little white chairs?, but even though everything had been done to mitigate misfortune by booking their big day in the middle of Summer, the peculiar UK weather, it would appear had completely different ideas, and as the sky got darker and the rain started pouring, anxieties started to creep in but strangely enough, not from the bride.
Holly somehow knew that her outdoor wedding *was* going to happen, and even though the staff at Rowhill and most everyone else was starting to resign themselves to cramming everyone into the reception area, Holly just wasn’t having any of it.
And in the event, she totally made the right decision.
As the guests waited underneath umbrellas and as the distant rolling of thunder taunted us and both myself and Mary quickly taught ourselves how to shoot with an umbrella in the crook of one’s arm, everyone appeared to have resigned themselves to the idea that once you’re soaked, you’re not getting any wetter, so you may as well just have fun.
So spirits were high, everyone was making the most of it, the registrars arrived, James appeared to be sharing the mood and thankfully Holly’s determination and resolve appeared to be stronger than the rain’s, and at 10 minutes past the hour, the weather broke, the sun came out and Holly arrived with her dad in her vintage car and looked as gorgeous and as relaxed as if she’d planned it that way.
After a brief ceremony with some readings and incidental music by a classical trio the new Mr. & Mrs. Banks headed back to their car. Once safely inside, as if by magic, the rain started again and they were pursued by ‘yours truly’ while holding a camera *and* umbrella while simultaneously attempting the sign language for ‘Stop looking out of the back of the car at me and kiss each other!”, which thankfully was understood.
The guests hurried into the reception area of the hotel and were greeted with an interesting looking red drink containing Hibiscus flowers. We took a selection of ‘Guest Candids’ during this time and after Holly & James returned in their car, we set up some umbrellas in a small corner of the room and took our first few formal shots as the rain poured down outside.
Pretty soon everyone was called outside for a butterfly release, which was a lot of fun and then ushered back into the Wedding Breakfast. Holly and James had arranged for us to have a meal close at hand, so we popped in between courses for more ‘Guest Candids’ because they look awesome.
Soon came the speeches, starting with Holly’s Dad (who was justly proud of his daughter and new son-in-law), James himself and then James’s Brother and Best Man – a hilarious string of anecdotes delivered in such an entertaining fashion, one of the best we’ve heard.
At the end of the meal the happy couple were announced as leaving by our Toastmaster and we then took advantage of a break in the weather to capture some Bride & Goom portraits, after first stopping off at the bridal suite for a few (clothed) photographs in the bathtub.
Upon returning (10 minutes later than promised, much to the Toastmasters’s chagrin) we headed back inside for the cutting of that incredible cake which was followed immediately by the first dance, in which Holly, having started with her dad, was handed over to James for the continuation which we thought was a nice touch.
From then onwards, it was party all the way.
A marvellous buffet had been laid on for evening guests as will as an ice-cream cart and a sweetie wagon as well and of course the bar staff were on hand to make sure that everyone was kept in the party mood. The DJ was pretty proactive at getting people to boogie and arranged a dance-off with a few of the guys.
Who knows what happened after that because after 11 hours on our feet, capturing a lorryload of amazing photographs, we figured we just about had enough energy to make it home and we bid our farewells.
In summary – A fantastic wedding at a really lovely venue with a really amazing couple and to be honest, we’ve already forgotten about the weather. A big shout out must of course go to the staff at Rowhill including Marina and her team who kept their heads and made sure that everything ticked along nicely througout the day.
And of course to the new Mr. & Mrs. Banks, to whom we wish the very best of good fortune in their future together.
We hope to return to Rowhill again in the not-too-distant future, so if you’re planning a wedding there for yourself and you like what we’ve posted here, we should definitely have a coffee and a chat. 😀