Updated: Dec 18, 2021
The Back Story
There is nothing quite like a wedding at the Ashridge House, and it was the perfect venue for my clients, Hazel & James on the 20th July 2019. But before we relive this incredible day, I want to share a little of the back story that helped me capture their special day.
It all began with a “ruff”, a meeting with this beautiful couple in a local, dog friendly pub. You see, Flo, a gorgeous French bulldog, had just been introduced to this budding family, and what would be a better start than this little meeting! With a round of drinks, a laugh and a giggle, we began the magical preparations for their special day.
At first, the couple were quite hesitant when planning an engagement shot. Capturing the first moments of romance can sometimes feel quite awkward, so to help them in their decision in came a little “poochy” touch! At the time, I was experimenting with dog photography, and Hazel, after seeing the images suggested we do a mix of puppy and engagement photography to convince James to join in. We agreed on a date at Epping Forest, and I must say it was the most fun I've had at an engagement shoot!
Meeting the Family
After the puppy engagement shoot, Hazel stayed in touch, showing me a few budding ideas that really inspired. This time round even James was keen and up for the shoot having remembered the great shots we captured last time. Welcoming me into their lovely home, I met her mum, sister and close family for the first time, and of course reunited with Flo.
After sundown, we set off to a nearby field to do our practice images. Complete with a little planning and experimentation, we captured the perfect moment that the bride-to-be wanted, pulsing through with creativity.
Before we get into the details of the big day, I want to take the time to thank the following suppliers. Without whom, the day wouldn't have been possible.
The Florist: Augusta Florals
The Harpist: Arianna (click for contact info)
The Groom's Suit: NA Menswear
The Wedding Rings: Queensmith Master Jewellers
The Wedding Shoes: Charlotte Mills
The Doves: Angel Wings Dove Release
The Invites: Silk Beau
The Incredible Cake: Nicky's Buttercup Bakery - Honestly the best cake I've even seen at a wedding!!
The Toastmaster: Daniel Morris
The Hair: SLG Hair
The Make Up: Jodie Richards MUA
The Venue: Ashridge House
The Video Team: Couture Wedding Films
The Big Day
As I arrived on this very special day for Hazel and James, I was greeted by her lovely bridesmaids, all dressed in silk robes. The girls weren't quite ready for me to start taking photos, so I convinced Hazel to let me grab her dress for a creative shot. To say she was apprehensive is a very large understatement, but the risk paid off as she was simply gobsmacked with the results.
Next came shots of the bouquet, rings, shoes and a couple of added personal touches, to treasure every detail. James really stepped up with a beautiful handwritten letter, even going so far as to add a fancy wax seal!.
While I set to work with the getting ready photo of the bride and her entourage, my second shooter worked on getting the shots with the groom and his groomsmen. Jodie, our very talent makeup artist for the day (mentioned above) brought a ring light with her, which came in very handy to shoot through and capture some magical pictures! We even got to have a little fun with some of the pre-wedding shots, spelling out 'Just Wait Til You See Her’ with Hazel's back to the camera.
After capturing the most special moments of the initial morning preparations, I then ventured around the stunning venue, taking shots of the ongoing ceremony preparations and the splendid décor, matching perfectly to the location.
Just a little historical context, as the Ashridge House in Herfordshire is a true sight to behold. Once a former hunting lodge of King Henry VIII, it was a childhood home to several royals, including the famous Queen Elizabeth I. Even the nearby woods played a significant role as the Forbidden Forest in the Harry Potter Films.
I returned later to see how Hazel and the girls were getting on, and what a stunning bride she was in her fitted Enzoani Wedding dress! Easily one of the most beautiful dresses I've had the opportunity to photograph, finished with a beautiful white lace. It was almost time.
My second shooter and I met up to discuss the best positions to situate ourselves during the ceremony. Unlike most weddings in the UK, this one was being held on the plush grand staircase (take a look at the images)!
It presents the unique challenge of once you've chosen your location for taking the shots, you don't have the freedom to move around as much. But then we discovered at the very top of the staircase, there was a hidden passageway that connected to the ground floor, meaning then I could make it for the key moment.
Waiting at the top of the staircase, the bridesmaids arrived with the bride and began their descent. It was showtime! Dreams burst into reality as this magical moment blossomed for the happy couple, the gaze in which the groom first cast eyes on his wife to be is always one of my favourite moments. Listening closely to when the exchange of rings was close to happening, I signalled to my second to keep shooting whilst I ran down the hidden passageway. Success! I made it just in time, to capture the groom about to put on Hazel's wedding ring, and the rest is history.
Immediately following the ceremony, it was time for the confetti throw with white rose petals, another favourite moment to capture in any wedding. It’s full of agape love and happiness from all of their most loved ones as they're showered with petals to celebrate their new life together.
Not only this, Hazel & James opted to have a DOVE release! Hazel and James did let me know before, but it was still such a pleasant surprise to capture this winged wonder.
Finally, it was time for the couples photoshoot; arguably some of the most important memories that’ll be treasured from the wedding day. Jumping straight to shoot in the Main Hall, what a beautiful setting it was! Not only did I get some of the most gorgeous images of Hazel and James that I have snapped in my whole career, we also had a lot of fun! James was ever so lovely and carried back my special lighting, pretending it was a lightsaber. This was very funny, but also presented us with some unique imagery!
When we returned to the guests, it was time for the speeches. But alas, the unthinkable happened; the fire alarm went off! We calmly exited the venue, but seeing that my couple were visibly upset I took opportunity of the fact that everyone was safely outside to do the large group shot. Luckily, once we completed all of the group shots we were allowed back in to continue the ceremony as they had determined it was a false alarm.
We got back on track with the speeches and after some funny and emotional moments, we moved back to the Main Hall for the cutting of the cake, the bouquet toss. and back to the dance floor for the couples' first dance.
We then went outside for a golden hour sunset shoot with the couple, the bridesmaids and close relatives.
It was almost time for the final act. As you may recall, from the “Meeting of the Family” section, we had planned some creative work for outside in the Italian gardens with sparklers. Suggesting we could do what is known as a 'Sparkler Tunnel', with some careful instructions to the guests and couple we got some absolutely stunning images of them engulfed with light and sparkles, savouring the last moments of what was a perfect day.
Please take a moment to gaze upon the final shots of this wonderful wedding below.
It was an absolute honour to work for Hazel & James, and a joy to get to know them and their family. We have since become friends and I absolutely wish the best for them in the future!