Sophie & Freddie

If you're Big in Japan (as these two are) you might baulk at the idea of organising the quintessential English country wedding at such a distance. But then you would have reckoned without a formidable team of mothers, sister and girlfriends aided and abetted by the wonders of modern communications technology.   Not for Sophie those long champagne-fuelled wedding shop visits and bridesmaid summits - in fact all of the unofficial bridesmaids had no prior knowledge of The Dress, and were surprised and amazed by its unexpected sleeveless style.   But if you've managed to pull off Michelle-Obama-style upper arms in the run-up to your wedding, why wouldn't you want to show them off?    

(The boys, meanwhile, had travelled to Spain for a little light bull-fighting.  Yes;  bull-fighting.  MoG not best pleased when younger brother George returned with an arm in plaster, but it could have been so much worse...)

This was a local (five minutes from home, might be a record) and largely home-grown affair - I arrived to shoot the preparations to find a team of bridesmaids sweeping, arranging, potting, weeding, decorating and gently perspiring.   Sophie's sister Victoria in particular takes the credit for the stunning marquee interior and table design - and all those table decorations came from the garden which was in fullest bloom.    The doves released after the service were borrowed from a friend next door so wouldn't have taken long to get home... Even the cake was made by Sophie's aunt - and was surrounded by (not quite sure how many) candles as they'd chosen Freddie's birthday as their wedding - that'll be useful in future.

I love this crowd - so happy to see Daisy & Willsy from their amazing tropical wedding last year returning Best Man honours, and a bunch of Bristol University folk I've gone on to see several times over the course of this wedding season.  And so glad to say that Sophie made a speech - you'd be amazed how rare it is.   I've been doing this job for over 15 years, and have only heard four brides speak at their own wedding.  One of them was me. 

Make up:   Charlotte Cowan

Dress:  Brides of Winchester

Florist: Heather Coulter

Marquee:  Pole to Pole  

DJ: Hey Mr Wilson

Film: James Hollingsworth at Digi-Scope

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Emma & Peter

Ah, this 21st century dating thing..  It feels like most of my couples have met at university, at school, at playgroup... but these two are different.   Having led very different lives, and with absolutely no likelihood of ever crossing paths, they idly logged on to Tinder one evening in London, and KERPOW that was it.   (I wonder how many Tinder marriages there now are?)   Peter even calls Emma his Tinderella - once there might have been some kind of stigma attached to internet dating - now that couldn't be further from the case.   These two are perfectly suited, and blissfully happy, and how lucky they are..   

But the RAIN, dammit.  Not just a short shower, but relentless, drenching, tedious, unforgiving rain - I think Alanis Morissette wrote a song about it.   The only people who got outside all day were the ushers, who enjoyed some of Tim's legendary hospitality at the Yew Tree - that was it.   I think I might invest in one of those headband umbrellas for moments like this:  one of my camera bodies even decided to pack up after it got too wet.  (Stressful? Nah - even the back up has back up).   But as Billy Connolly famously observed - there's no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing.  

And if you're wondering why the best man looks so familiar, you'd be right.   None other than TV funnyman Rob Brydon, whose speech caused several guests' faces to contort in helpless paralysed laughter - truly the funniest speech I've heard in many years.   As you'd expect.    Amazing food from my old favourite Georgie at Mange 2 and for me the highlight - Rob joining up with the brilliant Millie & Tim of Saloon Star for a few numbers to the surprise and delight of all the guests (and most of the waiting staff).   Work?  Not really...  x

Make up: Lucy Baker

Dress:  Stewart Parvin

Catering and event design:  Mange 2

Music: Saloon Star

Cake: Final Touch

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Bel & Justin

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 –

Rings – London Rocks

Beer and landrover transport – Wimbledon Brewery

Hair & make-up – Amanda White

Band – Soul Machine

String Quartet – Strawberry Strings










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Milly & Tom

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.

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Liz & Henry (and the piglets)

So - if you were an Elizabeth and a Jane Austen fan, then you might perhaps want to find a Bennett to marry?   This Elizabeth found her Henry Bennett and she married him in May, when the blossom was at its absolute best. I've known Liz's mother for years, and photographed Liz's older sister Caroline in her Vera Wang 10 years ago. (It was SUCH a treat to see her again looking just as happy with her Hugo as she was a decade ago). 

Amazing make up by Sophie, a pre-loved dress from Suzanne Neville (I love a thrifty bride) altered by the lovely Luda. Heels by LK Bennett (no relation). Bridesmaids Rachael & Portia were the perfect combination of attentive, hilarious and gorgeous, but not quite so much so as to upstage the bride, who by this stage was looking rather stunning. (It was hard not to imagine, as I had 10 years before, how proud their father would have been to see these girls get married, and what an incredible job their mother Chris has done.)

On to the church which is within spitting distance of Le very famous Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. Henry's niece Felicity provided the scrumptiousness as a perfect pink flower girl (I want that dress) and like the bride and bridesmaids was carrying beautiful blooms by Louise.  It's a talented family, clearly: not one but two choirboys (brothers) who sang like the proverbial nightingales during the service.

The Bennetts (and boy, there are a lot of them) own and run a small, traditional, organic farm 8 miles outside of Oxford which is where the reception was held. Vegetables, pigs and lambs, horses on livery and a produce market every Thursday. Pigs (Pippa, Pansy, Pearl & Poppy and Boris the Boar) are pretty central to life at Sandy Lane, and proved a great diversion for guests. Henry's stepmother Sue was even back in her wellies and overalls the minute we got back, and (in an all-time first for me) appeared in the formal photos dressed like that. And why not?   There was a smorgasbord of sweets and cakes, and homegrown amazingly delicious organic everything cooked by Lauren of Rumba Kitchen on what appeared to be a camping stove.   I've had some unusual shot requests in my time, but a family group with the frankly terrifying Oxford Allen auto-scythe which sounded like an angry yeti and blitzed everything in its path, was yet another first. No Poldark oiled bare chests needed here. It was a farm wedding, what did I expect?

The most amazing, warm, heartfelt, genuine, lovely day.


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Zoe & Bobby – married

I first met Zoe when she saw an album of mine at White House Brides and the first meeting involved coffee, cuddling her gorgeous baby daughter Phoebe and in-depth chat about a great deal other than her forthcoming wedding.   You just know, don't you, when you've met a kindred spirit.    The path to the wedding wasn't entirely plain sailing but I never met anyone who could handle life's vicissitudes with such calm and good humour.   She's a coper, a looker-after, and has the legs of a baby giraffe.   

Fast forward to January this year - a chilly day with a smattering of snow (sadly not the photogenic type, especially as their lovely house seems to sit in its own cosy ecosystem), a tipi in the garden and a banquet for intimate friends, family, and a scrumptious bunch of small flower girls.   The wedding came just a few weeks before a move to the US, so Zoe kept herself busy in between table plans with organising a container, packing boxes, making lists and a few other minor jobs.

She's lovely, and she's practical too:  this was definitely the first time I have been called upon to remove a bride's stockings before the ceremony because they were slipping down - far too distracting.  You can imagine how cold my hands were.  And when there was a momentary blackout it was she, rather than the many capable blokes around, who got stuck into the generator.    

Have a safe journey Zoe, Bobby & Phoebe - I'll miss you x

Marquee: The Stunning Tents Company

Catering: Caper & Berry

Bouquet, posies and buttonholes: The Blacksmiths daughter, Petersfield

Ring: Jeremy France, Winchester

Hair & make-up: Suzanne Dusek


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Ashden head shots

I’m a huge fan of The Week magazine and have subscribed since it launched many years ago.   One of the features which has always caught my eye is the ‘Boring But Important’ column – always brief, always relevant, and yes, sometimes a little worthy.

Jobs like this can fall into the same category – a series of head shots to freshen and improve a website – straightforward, not especially creative, but really worth doing properly.    Ashden is a brilliant and inspiring charity that champions and supports the leaders in sustainable energy to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon world and I love the way they’ve used the head shots to give such a clear and approachable guide to the people that make it happen – here’s their ‘people page’ .

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Sam & Evie

I love seeing the changes when I go back to photograph regular clients – these two feature here when they were two, and now they are nearly five.   Battersea Park is a favourite location – so many places to explore and extremely familiar to this family which lives close by.   So this walk is part of the fabric of their daily lives, and it was lovely to be able to capture that for them.   And yes, you could be forgiven for wondering why one twin has lost teeth and the other hasn’t – the first top one was lost in small collision, and the second one gave up the ghost almost the moment I arrived for the session.   I think it’s adorable – didn’t stop her grinning from ear to ear..

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Cleverly Wrapped

This amazing businesswoman, wife and mother has moved back to the UK after a long stint overseas and with all her children at school, is not the sort of person who can sit idle.   She’s also well versed in all things fashion and retail, having worked her way from the Gap shopfloor all the way up to the higher echelons of the White Company.   Highly organized, driven, and super-stylish, she’s set up a new online boutique selling designer scarves Whilst it’s important to view the product, she felt it was also important for people to see and get to know a little more about her story and motivation.   I know I’m more likely to buy from a small company like this (small for now only, she has ambitious plans) if there’s an approachable, intelligent person behind it.   She is especially keen to support local designers, and can be seen here discussing scarves with whose wonderful designs she stocks.

You can read more about Harriet’s story here and see what she thought of the experience here.