Before I start, a huge congratulations to Nicola and Damien on behalf of Alan and I for their wonderful wedding, what a beautiful day for a beautiful couple.
The day started out as usual for Alan and I, both visiting Nicola and co at her mother's house to grab a few 'getting ready' shots as we like to call them. We find these can be some of the best of the day, in candid terms at least, as they not only show the whole transformation into gushing Bride to be but are generally a right good laugh, which sets up the day nicely. I cannot tell you how many pictures we have been instructed not to show (read delete) because they are just a bit too silly! Oh and the wonderful breakfast spread and copious amounts of Champagne we were 'forced' to consume that morning will always be greatly appreciated, actually now I think about it, it's a wonder that the rest of the shoot wasn't a Champagne fuelled blurry mess!
After the early morning shenanigans, we hot footed it to the church where the ceremony was to be held. This was a lovely little church with wonderful characteristics and really was a perfect fit for Nicola and Damien. We had previously visited earlier in the month to do a 'recce' so as to find ideal group shots placements, entrance, exit shots etc and then again when Nicola and Damien had their rehearsal. See, we at A&M Photographic like to do our homework. As it turns out, this was especially relevant with this particular church as the priest initially absolutely forbade the taking of pictures while the ceremony was taking place, arrrgh! What to do? Now, we totally understand the respect for holy places such as this and as the priest pointed out, this was a time for sacred wedding vows and 'not a photoshoot' as he explained it.
This is where firstly top of the line equipment comes in and secondly we always have two photographers at all our shoots. We explained that as there were two of us, in this instance Alan would position himself at the back of the church behind the priest and I would follow the guests in and stay at the front by the entrance, both with long, fast lenses (canon 70-200mm is f2.8 L if anyone's interested) which meant no flash and we kept our distance and being two of us we didn't need to move. The priest was wavering, I could tell but he still wasn't 100% convinced that we wouldn't cause a distraction. I think he's had bad experiences with unruly photographers in the past, so I explained that as well as Alan and I being static in our locations, we also had near silent 'wedding modes' on all our cameras and promptly demonstrated this by firing a few shots right by him, which he admitted he could hardly hear, 'Ok' he says, woo hoo we're in! So with some friendly charm, forward planning and great camera equipment, we were able to bag some great shots, thank you Canon for the wonder that is the 5D mark 3 and thanks to the priest for changing his mind.
The ceremony itself was absolutely lovely and being in a small church intensified the atmosphere and emotions which made every smile, tear and laugh that bit more special. As for Damien and Nicola, they were wonderful and it was an absolute privilege to capture the moments for you.
After the ceremony, as you can expect, everyone is jubilant and full of happy emotion so this we find is the best time to gather everyone for the standard issue wedding group shots. Oh and the fact that everyone is already in one place is a massive bonus too ;) Now for reasons I'm not too sure about, it has fallen upon myself to be the photographer that is always up the ladder for these shots, the 'ladder of doom' I like to call it as it makes me feel less of a wuss when I'm up there! Anyway, we always bring a ladder (of doom) when we have more than 50 or so guests as it's really the only way to get everyone in in all their glory. It has become somewhat of an A&M tradition to have a bit of a laugh with the guests at this point, saying that the 'Bride and Groom told us they want us to get you lot to do silly things for some less traditional shots'. This may or may not be a lie but it does help to make people realise that the pictures are for the Bride and Groom and not for us after all. Nicola and Damien's family and friends did not disappoint in this regard, 'Vogueing' and 'GQing' away with abandon and cheering and waving so much that I spent most of the rest of the day being asked whenever I was taking a picture if I wanted them to wave? Funny. These pictures are just for a bit of fun but they make for a much more candid feel to the whole group shot thing, although when I asked for Damien's mates to point at him as if to say 'you're the man' it wasn't supposed to come out like they were all trying to shoot him, also funny.
Nicola and Damien's reception was held at Dyrham Park Country Club a few miles away from the church and boasted beautiful property with acres of land, it even had its own golf course! (golf buggy anyone?) We arrived first and as friends and family were still travelling in we took this opportunity to whisk the newly weds away for an hour or so around the grounds to get a few cherished shots of just the Bride and Groom together, unfortunately we never did get that golf buggy.
This all turned out to be very lovely. Nicola and Damien looked absolutely amazing in their wedding outfits. It was warm, sunny and we had most of the grounds to ourselves, it was a wonderful day for a wonderful couple.
After our little photoshoot with the newly weds we settled down for the 'wedding breakfast'. Now usually at this point Alan and I would retreat for bit, head back to our car, have a bite to eat and quite literally re-charge our batteries but Nicola and Damien both insisted that we join them for their first meal as a married couple, which we did and we would both like to thank them deeply for this very kind gesture, it really made our day...it also meant we could grab a few extra candid shots while no one was expecting it, win win I'd say.
When we were done fattening ourselves up with juicy food and Alan grabbing some great emotional speech photos, we headed outside to just run around with the guests snapping away at everyone we could find. I must say we love this part of the day as everyone is full of food, lots of people have had probably much more alcohol than they usually would and everyone is just, well, happy. This makes for some really great candid pictures and also the pressure is off us at this point as the 'difficult' bit has been done, now let's go and have some fun.
No wedding is complete without a bouquet toss...
At one point Alan and I grabbed Damien and a couple of guys and asked them to jump after 3 (don't ask us why?), this was unsurprisingly met with something along the lines of 'yeah right' but eventually with a combination of annoyance and more alcohol they agreed, which resulted in the daft picture below.
This seem to make the other guys curious as to what was going on so we managed to get them involved too, which ended up with an hour or so of much madness and hilarity and I must say it was very funny seeing big burly men jumping around like school girls (Alan's words, honest).
Unbeknownst to us the girls were watching all along by the sidelines and started to feel left out, so they decided to come over and join in with the fun, with a: wanting to prove that they could jump higher than the guys, (they could) and b: be more daft, (they were).
Even the kids got in on the act!
This will never happen again......maybe?
A selection of the evening's fun...
Cake and Dance
After a lot of fun and lots more beverage, strictly for the guests you understand, we never drink on the job...ahem, we headed back inside for the cutting of the cake and Nicola and Damien's first dance.
After which it was off to the dance floor.
Father and Daughter started proceedings with a wonderful tango, brilliant!
Then Nicola and Damien took to the floor for their first dance together as Bride and Groom.
Alan and I soon pack up for the evening but the celebrations would go on long into the night for what was a beautiful and memorable wedding day. Our love and best wishes go out to Nicola and Damien for the wonderful couple they are and wish them all the happiness in their future. It was an honour and a privilege to capture your special day.
Click here to see all of Nicola and Damiens wedding pictures.