Back in the days when I worked in newspapers, I worked with Sam (the groom)’s sister at the Daily Post. Even though I was in professional photographer mode, it was really nice to be able to spend the day with her and shoot her brother’s wedding.
The Belsfield Hotel is part of the Laura Ashley hotel group, so as you can imagine, the décor and styling of this venue are good enough to feature in any glossy interiors magazine. Sat at the edge of Lake Windermere, the views from the hotel are exactly what you would expect in an area of outstanding natural beauty, sweeping landscapes and dramatic expanses of water – although there was a little too much water on the day!
Samuel and Puja at The Belsfield, Laura Ashley Hotel in Windermere.
The heavens opened from the moment the bride and groom woke up in the morning and thunderstorms were forecast for later in the day. Although the rain was pouring down, spirits were high as Puja was getting into her dress, the backdrop of the Cumbrian hillsides and the lake looking spectacular despite the heavy showers. The view truly was stunning.
Thankfully, the thunderstorms kept away, but the rain meant we were inside for the photographs. Luckily, we were in one of the most elegant hotels I’ve ever seen, and we ended up doing pictures of the happy couple on the stairwell, which actually is my favourite shot of the day!
We made our way to Puja and Sam’s room, The Grand Wedding Suite, with the intention of getting some more romantic shots. Literally, as they walked through the door, blue sky popped through the clouds and the sun started shining. We quickly went outside and made the most of the amazing location.
After all the rain, the day ended with one of the nicest sunsets you can imagine.
It was a perfect end to a perfect day and to top it all I have just found out I won a gold award with The Guild of Photographers for the image of Puja on the staircase.
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I often get asked is it really necessary to have a professional wedding photographer these days when smartphones have such good cameras and apps that can make your pictures look awesome. Or maybe Uncle Bob has offered to take some snaps for you on the day with his fancy new camera. Friends and family offer their services in good faith, but wedding photography is more than having a decent camera and an ability to take a good shot. It’s about having an eye to capture those special moments, to tell the story of your day – as well a s all the technical expertise.
When I am booked by clients to shoot their wedding, I am as invested in their day as much as they are. I can’t wait to take pictures of the preparations, capture that moment when family see the bride in her dress for the first time or catch the groom wiping a tear from his eye as his wife-to-be walks down the aisle. A professional will have scouted out the best places to take photographs and where the best light will be at a certain point in the day. The pictures that usually get the biggest reaction are candid moments I’ve spotted, when the bridal party or guests didn’t even realise they were being snapped. This is where a professional makes all the difference, we already know what shots we are looking for and make sure we get them. It’s why I love what I do.
Being a wedding photographer isn’t just about knowing how to compose great shots or make the best of the light and location. There are moments when I have to take control and organise lots of people for group shots, get guests to relax whilst they have their picture taken, even show people how to pose! Being able to communicate and get the best out of people so you have the best wedding photographs possible is a real skill that Uncle Bob may not be able to pull off. (Sorry Uncle Bob!)
I’m lucky that I’ve never had a wedding where equipment has failed but should the worst happen on your wedding day and a camera stops working, or a memory card crashes, I always have a Plan B. I carry extra equipment and have contacts I can call on in a real emergency.
Imagine walking down the aisle, the special music you chose is playing, the flowers adorn your venue, your husband-to-be is waiting nervously and everything looks perfect – but all you can see is a sea of people holding up their smartphones, looking into their screens and not at you! Smartphones are a blessing in our modern world, but can be a curse on your wedding day. You want your guests to be fully present in this once-in-a-lifetime moment. A professional photographer will know exactly where to stand to get the best shots as you make your way to your groom and capture people’s reactions on seeing you in all your finery.
I know couples who have been upset when guests take photos during the ceremony. It’s the most intimate and important part of the day, full of emotions, and can be ruined with well-meaning people who just want to get a picture of you both. Many brides and grooms ask their vicar, registrar or celebrant to ask guests to refrain from taking any pictures so that they can take in every moment of the ceremony they’ve been invited to attend.
Having a professional photographer at your wedding is a big investment, but it’s an investment that will give dividends forever, and be one that you will look back on without regret… And Uncle Bob can relax and enjoy the occasion without worrying he left the lens cap on!
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As I made my way along the drive into Manley Mere I was beginning to think I was there on the wrong day. The lake was busy with people on paddleboards and in kayaks, the grassy areas full of families enjoying a summer picnic in the sunshine and lots of people bouncing and splashing around on a huge inflatable aquapark. I couldn’t imagine how someone was able to hold their wedding at such a busy venue.
Katie & Grant
My worries soon disappeared though as I was shown to where the wedding party was going to be held. Kate and Alistair from Manley Mere were so friendly, helpful and accommodating I was soon at ease. At the back of the main building is a secret hidden gem of a garden. It was so unexpected but made the perfect location for photographs, like an oasis of calm. In fact, wherever I pointed my camera made the perfect location! Getting a shot of the swans that are lucky enough to call the mere their home, was a lovely moment, they looked so serene and romantic.
A wedding day can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, and what was so fantastic about Katie and Grant’s wedding was how organised they were. The bride got ready at home in Helsby and she had Dawn from Elizabeth Arnold Sewing Studio on hand to help her get into her dress, leaving mum and the bridesmaids time to relax and enjoy this precious time together.
Katie arrived in style in a vintage cream Volkswagen Camper-van, it was such a fun way to arrive for your big day!
Grant, meanwhile, was awaiting his bride – and just about managing to keep it all together. I think he is the most emotional groom I have ever seen, which was so lovely. In fact, Grant’s brother was really emotional too and I loved being able to capture their feelings forever in the photographs. Being on the other side of the camera meant I was able to hide my emotions too, as I confess I had a little tear or two.
Everything about the day was gorgeous. Seeing how happy the bride and groom were together, how much Grant obviously adores Katie, how lovely both sides of the family were and all set in an amazing location made this wedding pretty much perfect.
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