These two were best friends for 10 years having met at Oxford Brookes, but it took just a little while longer for Tom to propose to Milly on the Pont Marie in Paris after a boozy lunch. All good things come to those who wait… Deluge and downpour the morning before - but their day in Wiltshire dawned bright and the light cloud only gave way to rain once the guests were having dinner and oblivious to outside weather conditions. Weather report aside, I'd been struck from the very first meeting by the warmth of Milly and her family - parents Pippa and Alan, older brother Alex (whose wife H had recommended me - high praise, from a fellow photographer) and younger brother Jinx who will be marrying his lovely Illy next year. So welcoming, so natural, so close: it's easy to imagine the years ahead of small cousins galloping around the gardens of Partridge Farm (which had been made glorious by hours of Pippa's hard work), family holidays and general fun.. Lucky them.
I digress. The boys were lunching at the Bath Arms which is so close to Longleat safari park that it would have been rude not to have bagged posing rights; happily they were all game (sorry) for a bit of posing with a T-Rex billboard. I have to thank stellar bridesmaids Caroline and Sophie for keeping Milly calm as she was buttoned into her exquisite Caroline Castiglione dress, with hair and make up by Stephen and Charlotte. One of the adorable flower-girls was even wearing a replica of a dress Milly wore herself as a girl, a typically detailed and thoughtful touch to honour a special guest.
I've really never seen flowers like those that Miranda Fairhurst and her team produced at the church. Every pillar, every window frame - the pew ends were so garlanded that Milly & Tom needed to pick their way carefully through them as they came down the aisle, like wading through a summer meadow in the sunshine. Hundreds upon hundreds of delicate sweet peas: the fragrance was delicious.
How exhilarating it will be in years to come to look back at all your favourite people lined up in sunshine along a church wall cheering, laughing, throwing confetti. Max is perhaps not a career chauffeur (no peaked cap? really..). but as a best friend he did a decent job even if the first glass of champagne poured on the way home was his own. Perfectly coordinated wisteria for the formal photos, more rivers of champagne, and although I'm generally a bit busy to take stock of the delicious things coming out of the kitchen I could see that Victoria's canapés were sensational, as was dinner later.
And this was some marquee. The phrase 'jaw dropping' is overused, but I can promise you mine did. Just take a look. Look at the flowers! Look at the view beyond! What an incredible setting. There were speeches, there was much laughter, there was a second Milly with new hair and a breathtaking belt (I've never seen a bride inhabit an exceptional dress like this - really - she look ravishing), there was more champagne, cocktails, fluorescent headgear, and oh, there was dancing.
Milly's father Alan reminded me, as the dance floor jumped behind us, that all his (many) professional achievements and milestones 'were as NOTHING' compared to his love for his children, as he gestured proudly to those three and their soul mates who were whirling around in joyful excitement. Couldn't have put it better myself.