I often daydream about creating a wedding family tree – how each bride comes to me via a sister, cousin, bridesmaid, best friend, and how the trail leads back, and how it will lead forwards. I can trace Bel back several years to Anna & Eli’s very wet wedding in East Sussex, and on through both Anna’s bridemaids, Molly and Georgie. Bel was Georgie’s bridesmaid.
And yes I know what you’re thinking – I thought it too. When I first met Bel & Justin all I could think of was how utterly blonde their children would be. In Justin’s case he could be forgiven, being Finnish and all, but Bel is harder to explain, especially given her gorgeous brunette sisters Kate and Gemma…
But that’s all in the future… this was 16th April in London and the launch of my 2016 wedding season. These two met at Birmingham Uni, next-door neighbours in Shackleton Halls; I suspect that first glance was enough for Justin. So much shared history from marathons and road races to travel adventures all over the world – not to mention Bel’s recovery from a broken back in a devastating car crash. They moved in together while Justin trained and worked as a pilot in the US, Spain and Norway until finally in May 2015 he flew Bel over Whitstable Bay in a light aircraft and, finger poised on her ejector seat button, popped the question. (You may notice an aviation theme running through this day.)
This was very much a Wimbledon Wedding: Bel was born and raised in SW19 and I fear may have misspent her teenage years at the Rose & Crown. Her lovely mum Pippa is Business Manager at King’s School where the wedding reception and dinner was held, and where Bel used to work at the sports club as a Saturday job during school. Justin and his mates Charlie and Kisz (pronounced Quiche – just don’t call him Keith) can be found at the Crooked Billet most weeks after a game of tennis. It really does feel like a village – not so far removed from the country weddings I do, especially when there’s a bit of cherry blossom – who cares that it’s in the middle of a traffic island – whatever works. You won’t get a District Line train in the background very often, I’ll grant you that.
I REALLY love weddings. I know I’m there to record the important bits, but for me the emotion and drama, little moments that would otherwise be forgotten are just as significant: the bridesmaids’ expressions as they open their gorgeous gifts from the bride, Audrey Hepburn looking down on Bel as she dresses, that heart-stopping moment as the Bel & her father Roger find themselves alone outside the church in a moment they both must have envisaged for months if not years, Justin’s stunning (yup, blonde) sister Antonia biting her lip as Bel walks down the aisle… I could go on. Quite pleased, I confess, to have caught one of those outsized paper confetti planes whizzing past Justin’s ear (fluke? moi?) . And this was a first for me (and for him) – Charlie the Best Man made the cake. That’s right – he made the cake – he fancies himself as a bit of a chef, but this was a whole new ball game. There was only a momentary wobble as Bel & Justin cut into it (hence the priceless expressions) but I can vouch for its deliciousness.
A brilliant way to kick off 2016 – so much love, friendship and fun. I’ve always imagined a wedding day being the big ‘push’ to start a lifelong partnership much like you might kick hard on the side of the pool to swim a length: the harder you kick, the further you go. On that basis, this one will last the distance. Oh, and stunning sister Gemma caught the bouquet, so I’ll be standing ready…
Welcome back from Sri Lanka Bel & Justin, and thank you for your lovely messages about the photos x
Flowers – Brian Kirkby Flowers
Dress – Lusan Mandongus Bridal from Teokath
Bridesmaid gifts – www.monicavinader.com
Rings – London Rocks
Beer and landrover transport – Wimbledon Brewery
Hair & make-up – Amanda White
Band – Soul Machine
String Quartet – Strawberry Strings