On the 19th Feb 2022, I had the experience of a lifetime. I was hired by ITV to capture Vicky & Nicholas’ wedding live on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
At the start of the year, a close friend of mine saw an advert from one of the producers of the show, seeking the assistance of a wedding photographer. Dropping me a message via WhatsApp she encouraged me to apply. I took a chance, thinking (in the back of my mind) I would never hear from them. But two days later, one of the producers, Will, got in touch with me saying they would love for me to be on board. Furthermore, he stated that the team were impressed with my stunning portfolio. And the journey began.
The backstory for the event was that it was going to be a surprise wedding for a nurse who had lost her dream venue due to the pandemic. The couple were forced to reschedule multiple times, like so many in the UK, and the latest lockdown resulted in their venue going bust. Resulting in a loss of £28K spent on a wedding that couldn’t take place. A decision was made to indefinitely suspend the wedding. Fast forward to 2021, where ITV stepped in and offered to cover the cost of the wedding. Nicholas decided that he would keep it a complete secret and organised with the show to surprise Vicky on Live TV. How they managed to keep this secret whilst inviting over 100 guests, some of whom flew in from Australia and the USA was very impressive.
In the lead up to the wedding, I planned the evening with Will and got all the necessary timings. Unable to visit the venue in person, I had to do extensive research. I watched wedding videos from past clients on Vimeo & YouTube, looked at the Chiswick House social media channels and even downloaded their wedding brochure to get an idea of what to expect on the day.
It goes without saying that it was be a completely new challenge to how I would normally handle a wedding. Usually, I would arrange to have consultation meetings with my couples. However, for obvious reasons it wasn’t possible to meet. In addition, the ceremony was to be live, which meant shooting in the evening at 8pm! Despite modern cameras being more than capable of handling low light shoots, the biggest concern I had was having to shoot in silent mode. Unfortunately, a large portion of venues in the UK, especially seen in churches, have a frequency that can be out of sync with a cameras shutter speed - when using the electronic shutter. Which can create very ugly banding in images and are next to impossible to remove in post production. Luckily, however, the ITV film crew were using powerful industry standard ARRI lights. Which significantly alleviated my concerns and I was good to go.
On the day of the wedding, I arrived at the venue in time for blue hour (just after 5:30pm) and set about capturing images of the beautiful conservatory. Whilst shooting I could hear a helicopter landing on the venue grounds to deliver members of the team. It was getting real. I then introduced myself to the rest of the team and we worked out the best vantage point for me to shoot from, once the cameras were rolling. At a typical wedding I would be roving around, getting images from the centre and from two key angles left and right to capture all the moments, such as during the vows and exchange of rings. Unfortunately, due to it being live, I had to choose one side. I made the decision that I would focus on getting the brides reactions as a priority. In the meantime, I took some images of the room and of all the beautiful décor that was setup by Etiquette Event Styling.
Before long, the guests started to arrive, and I trained my lens onto them capturing the natural moments of happy greetings.
A large TV panel was setup to show us the moment that Vicky would be surprised live on air, and I used this exciting period to focus on the reactions of her guests. There were cheers of joy and tears of excitement as it was revealed to her and the nation, that her Nicholas was not on holiday in Miami but rather a few short miles away with a 100 guests at the beautiful Chiswick House in West London.
After the reveal, Vicky had only 45 minutes to arrive in time and be ready for the ceremony! Ant & Dec presented her with her bouquet with their faces on it and she was quickly whisked away, with her bridesmaids in tow, via her dream wedding car and to top it off flown to the venue by Helicopter!
During this undoubtedly exciting moment for Vicky, I took this opportunity to capture Nicholas in his final preparations with his best man and capture some images of him greeting their loved ones.
Once Vicky arrived, Michelle (the funky celebrant) got everyone settled down and the ceremony proceeded immediately. Whilst the show continued with other activities. From my unique vantage point, behind one of the static cameras, I was able to capture Vicky outside the ceremony room with her father. It was a beautiful ceremony, despite a visibly shocked Vicky. Towards the very end of the proceedings, the show tuned in and displayed the final moments live to the nation. When the celebrant announced them as Mr & Mrs, the guests all threw confetti and the couple had their first kiss. It was a beautiful moment to capture!
Once off air, I had less than ten minutes to quickly arrange the couples shoot. I had the couple meet me outside, in the cold, under the beautiful canopy of lights. Despite it being my first time meeting the bride, I set about giving them some quick directions to get the most out of our short session, and had them laughing in no time. I even enlisted the help of one of the groomsmen to assist me with my strobe (flash) to help create the stunning header image!
Once complete, I said my goodbyes to the fantastic ITV crew, and then joined the guests on a coach to get to the secondary location. Which was to be held at the White City House (Soho house group) near Shepherd’s Bush. Upon arrival, I quickly set up my secondary lighting gear, and began taking photos of the festivities.
During the speeches, it was funny to learn how Nicholas was able to keep the secret from Vicky. He detailed how he would pop out for a walk and if one of his "co-conspirators" needed to reach him, he would make up an excuse to go out again to buy chicken or milk. Often coming back empty handed ha. It got to an emotional part where he stated the hardest part of the whole process was having to keep the plan secret from his trusted partner. But I think we can all agree he did a fantastic job!
All said and done, it was beyond a doubt a unique experience, one that I will cherish! And it was a truly fantastic way to kick-start my 2022 wedding season. I am excited for what the future holds. Thank you for reading and if you or a loved one are planning a wedding, either this year or in future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
The Magic Suppliers that made their day special:
If you haven't already seen the special here's the link to the video: