When I meet up with prospective couples and they tell me a little bit about their wedding day plans, I can usually get a decent idea of how the day will go. But with Jess and Chris, there was surprise after surprise (for the guests, not me, I’d been kept up-to-date) and their wedding, at Jessica’s parents home between Whitstable and Canterbury, was truly spectacular. There was mention of Krispy Kremes, glamping, a gin bar (hmmm), sharing platters, Bollinger … was I really prepared? I joined the girls at bridal prep where trees were still being sawn down, gardens cleared and boxes and boxes of wine being taken from one location to another. It was a true hive of activity, the Krispy Kremes had been collected by the box load, the marquee was set up, the caterers were preparing the wedding breakfast, champagne was being poured … and I, along with Mark, from the Short Film Company, who I last worked with on Emily and Luke’s wedding at Rowhill Grange in 2012 (you remember, the one with the knitted place holders …) were ready to go.
The groom and his best men had arrived. A few issues during groom prep but nothing that a delivery on a moped couldn’t sort out … thanks goodness the boys had sourced their suits locally!
Bridal gown time was approaching so quickly (the concept of “lots of time” on the morning of a wedding is a fallacy – time gets squished somehow …) but before Jess was put into her dress, the girls made time for a quick rehearsal to Jess’s entry music so that their timing would be impeccable. And that gown!
In the ten years that I’ve been photographing weddings, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an enthusiastic reaction from a groom. Jess and Chris were already legally married earlier in the week and their celebrations were then presided over by Julie who is a registrar and celebrant. And also a member of Jess’s hockey team (more on that later …).
In fact, they both smiled. All day. All the time. And Chris has a great sense of humour which seems to set Jess off!
There were seats nearby the ceremony area for the immediate family and bridal party and the rest of the guests were seated at their tables. I haven’t covered a wedding set up like this before and it seemed very inclusive. Everyone could see and everyone had a seat. And, of course, because it isn’t a registrar led ceremony, the guests could have their drinks on their tables to enjoy. Registrars do not allow alcohol in the ceremony area – I’ve never asked why … perhaps I should and I’ll let you know!
Earlier I mentioned that Julie, the celebrant, is part of Jess’s hockey team. She had told me earlier that she wanted to do something with the team’s hockey sticks … and as Chris plays hockey too, we had two opportunities. After Jess and Chris had come through the arch for the second time, Chris grabbed a stick and “clacked” his way back through the group. Noisy and great fun.
We galloped through formals … (and informals)
(23 minutes to be precise … I never like to keep a chef waiting) and the guests enjoyed sharing platters of seafood and anti-pasti (a nod to Chris’s Italian heritage). I tried some … and it was DELICIOUS! After a main course of chicken, dauphinoise potatoes and vegetables (yep, I had some too) it was time for speeches … just as the sun was showing its face for the last time … I quickly asked Jess and Chris if they could spare a few minutes to get some natural light portraits … and luckily they agreed.
And then we dashed back in for speeches. Which were emotional. It’s at times like these that we miss those who are no longer with us. But they are in our hearts and our memories and our minds. Jess and Chris watched a slideshow which incorporated many images from their childhoods and showed images of family members … this was accompanied by the beautiful singing of three songs by Pippa, Jess’s sister.
Speeches and slideshow were done, guests were mingling and it was time for the cake smash … those Krispy Kremes were quite precarious on the dance floor!
Before the first dance, we went back outside. There was no ambient light whatsoever but luckily I had my light sabre (AKA my Yongnuo YN360 …) held by some of the guests. It was a bit bright … this part of the photoshoot was great fun, enjoyed by quite a few of the guests as the light stick creates a lovely light for selfies!
Jess and Chris’s first dance was slow and romantic … immediately followed by their band, Party Up Band, who launched into Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” (the lyrics in the first line are: “Do you remember the 21st night of September?”) and this is the reason that Jess and Chris chose this date! I have never seen a dance floor get so packed so quickly!
So many great partying photos! I can’t wait to edit and share Jess and Chris’s set of images and I had just the best time. I was made to feel part of the family and what a family celebration it was! Wishing you both much love and happiness in your married life and hope you enjoyed your glamping first night!! xxx