New… that’s what a wedding means essentially; new day, new beginning, new adventure and new emotions. That’s what I felt about Cecily and Kristian’s wedding last Friday. Although I have been priviledge to dozens of weddings now I am always surprised at how very different they all our. This wedding felt…new.
In the morning, I dropped off my new assistant Chris at Hedsor house while I went to where Cecily was preparing with her family. I had a bit of trouble finding the house; it was literally down a very narrow unpaved road.
Cecily’s father greeted me at the door. Without any drama I went straight upstairs to where the girls were getting ready. When they saw me enter, they all greeted me with a warm welcome. Everyone was very relaxed, Cecily was sitting in the corner looking very chilled out while having her make up done. A couple of the brides maids were getting themselves ready in a easy manner. In the background was an iPhone playing dance music. I always feel a wedding morning has no occasion without music.
I clicked my lenses to my Nikon cameras ready to go, however not alot was happening for the next 10 minutes so I just experimented with angles and lighting. While Cecily is still sitting on the makeup chair, I had to photograph from a creative angle so not to show her in her ‘getting ready’ stage. However, saying that I have to say Cecily has amazing eyes. As a photographer I believe the eyes are the windows to the inner person. Even though she was still getting ready, I just had to photograph a few close-up shots just to see if I could capture the her eyes.
I took this opportunity to photograph the dress. I know how important the dress is, it is always with a sense of wonder and nervousness when I approach the wedding dress. You cannot imagine how delicate the dress is, so I am very cautious around it. Cecily’s Wedding Dress was just next door in another room. I was led by a Brides maid. The dress is very special. It is what I would call a princess dress. It was magnificent. It had alot of detail without being ostentatious. I also noticed how tiny Cecily’s waist is! The back of the dress was facing me; I was reluctant to move it.
Before I knew it, Cecily’s hair and make up was complete. She was still in her morning wear. She was still very relaxed and playing with her litle sister Leticia who was adorable; all morning she was rehearsing her ballet routine for the ceremony.
After a few more impromtu photos, Cecily was helped by her mother to put the dress on. When she was decent, entered the room and just had to take the shot straight away. The way the window and light was framing her was just perfect. The room was modest but I had to get all the shots I could in the limited time I had.
Leticia helped with Cecily’s dress as she walked downstairs. I had a bit of time so I asked if she would move to the living room where there was large patio doors letting in a wonderful light; you will note folks that its all about the light!
Cecily was specific about the photos she wanted, one of them being as she was leaving the house with her father. Because of the light rain, the car parked right next to the doorway which meant I had to situate myself very tightly between the car door and a large pot plant! After that, it was a quick dash down the M4 motorway to Hedsor House.
By the time I got to Hedsor House, most of the guests had already arrived. I setup my assistant Chris on the balcony looking over the ceremony. I waited outside in the drizzle for the Bridal car to arrive. The sun came out, and then back in again, and then out just to make my life a little tricky. It is one of those things that a Wedding Photographer has to get used to; moments of waiting then suddenly lots of things happening. That is what happened when the Cecily arrived in the car; I must have been waiting for about 10-15 minutes, then when she arrived she got out of the car and straight into the Mansion. Then a fast stroll to the front of the ceremony so I am position to take the very important ‘walking down the isle’ photograph.
Cecily’s sister Millie was to perform “Ava Maria” as Cecily enters the room with her father. I was in position. The first to lead the Bridal prosession was Laticia; she performed her ballet routine perfectly. It was great fun to photograph her because she was really enjoying the moment!
With Ava Maria as the soundtrack, I had to shoot very quickly but without my very loud Nikon D3 camera clicking away like a machine gun. Also, I had to be careful get out of of the way as Cecily approached the front. Again, a very tricky balance of getting the shot the couple require but without spoiling the day. I think I got it right; once Cecily was half way down the isle, I moved to the left side where I could still get the rest of the ceremony without drawing attention away from the couple.
Cecily looked amazing, she was smiling all they way with her father looking very proud and dignified. She was a joy to photograph.
The ceremony was very special. There was a moment when Kristian’s mother gave a reading. As she came to the front I could tell she was emotionally composing herself. Before she even finished the first line she had to wipe tears away. As she continued to read, she had to stop a few times as it became more and more moving. Yours truly could not be helped but be moved also. It was a really happy moment that I was privileged to witness.
After the fantastic ceremony, I always allow 25-20 minutes to allow the Bride and Groom to mingle with friends and family. Everyone was having alot of fun and it provides me with an opportunity to take photos of spontaneous moments. It is always tricky ducking in and out of the the crowd but most people can see I am carrying a huge camera and very quickly let me through. I love wedding guests!!
The wedding was running thirty minutes behind schedule I had to check with the Wedding organizer to see if I could still have my allocated one hour to take all the group shots. Fortunately, he said it was fine which was a relief. I have been in situations where the Wedding has been almost two hours behind schedule and I had to make up for alot of lost time, fortunately I had my trusty second photographer Kelly there to help me out on that one.
It was actually the best man who asked me if we should proceed with the group shots; after getting the OK from Kristian I announced to the guests, in my most authoritative voice, that I would like everyone back in the ceremony room where the chairs had been quickly cleared out by the staff of Hedsor House. I have been very blessed with all my group shot moments because they have always been relatively straight forward to organize. I love interacting with all the guests, but it also a moment where I represent the Bride and Groom so I must not mess up. I must be assertive yet be friendly; if there are key guests missing then we have to wait for them which means the other guests have to wait. I have to keep everyone informed and keep them engaged. I used my trusty method for group shots (trade secret) and got the shot I wanted, but to be absolutely sure I always do the big group shots 2-3 times. I am pleased with the result.
The big group shot was done quite quickly, I believe in shooting fast to keep the energy levels up and so people do not get bored. When the big shot was completed, Kristian asked if we could move the rest of the group shots outside… AH! I had expected this but I have thought once we started in the main hall we were going to stay in there. However I had discussed with Cecily at the rehearsal that outside would be alot better if the sun had come out, and of course by God’s Grace the sun had come out! So with the help of the ushers and best man we ushered the first group outside.
I whipped through the first few groups quite quickly, but as I thought the rest of the guests had scattered everywhere; to their cars, at the bar, to the bathrooms so it was hard to find everyone in a timely manner. I was under a bit of pressure (put entirely on myself) to get this done. I also noticed Cecily was getting colder. To put a long story short I completed all twenty plus shots in just under an hour.
Next was the moment where the guests file into the breakfast room. My only duty for that moment is to get the shot of them walking in. I decided to put on my big fat 14-24mm lens because I knew it was going to be cramped as I photographer in there.
While everyone is having their meal, I take that opportunity to relax for a bit. I do not take photos during the meal as it never comes out well. I went to the bar with Chris and got talking to the pianist about weddings. It was very interesting to learn what is to be expected from the musician for only a few hours work.
The speeches were conducted after the breakfast. It is often a nervous time for the those giving the speeches but everyone did very well. Roy, the father of the bride, even sang an acoustic version of Cars by Snow Patrol.
By the early evening, the evening guests had started to arrive. The couple still wanted some photographs of just them around Hedsor House. During the rehearsal we had discussed possible locations; one was by the stairs and the other was in the bridal suite. The first was by the stairs, however I was inspired by a photo a friend took of a model so I asked Chris to be my stand in bride for a moment and took a few test shots, HURRAH it worked. So I guided Cecily and Kristian to get into the same position and took a few shots by the red wall on the staircase. I think it turned out quite well.
Once those were done, I knew I was up against time. I kept checking with Cecily and Kristian to ask if they were ok to carry on with the photoshoot; Kristian’s reply was “I’m enjoying it, lets carry on”. So we made our way to the Bridal suite were we used all the props that where in there! It was alot of fun. Everyone contributed to several ideas in there; I had to filter what was good and what was possible in the time given. In the end, we got some amazing shots with the couple being incredibly generous with ideas and their time.
I can appreciate this post is longer than normal, but I had to write it all down while it is still fresh in my head. Yours truly maybe a good photographer, but I have often gone into my kitchen, opened my fridge door and completely forgot what I was meant to get out of it!! However, this Cecily and Kristian are well worth it. During the speeches, everyone spoke of Cecily’s kindness and warm heart and I could not agree more. They are a perfect match for each other, and I wish them all the very best in the future.
— UPDATE —
You can view more highlights of Cecily and Kristian’s wedding on my main Wedding Gallery Page, click here to view.