"Do you want to be a guest or our photographer?" the big question from Jess when we were out double dating & something I definitely wanted her & Tom to decide. It is difficult when friends / people I know ask me to photograph their weddings. In some instances (this wedding for example) I obviously would've loved to be drinking champagne in the sunshine. Other instances it makes you question, "oh my god, I sort of know this person, what do I charge, do they only want me to photograph them cause I know them, do they expect a deal" - so yeah I would be lying if I said it hasn't made me feel awkward in the past. But this wedding changed that. I obviously made it very clear I would love to do both, so they would need to make the right decision for them. As they chose me to be their photographer, I knew it was more than "it's cause she's a friend". Also, you will find their wedding film highlights at the bottom, filmed by Rob. You know how passionate I am about working with Rob so I won't go off on a tangent about that, but it was so lovely & a great dynamic as all four of us get along so well.
I have known Jess for about seven years after meeting when we did numerous performances together in Stratford & at The Edinburgh Fringe. I have great memories with Jess, including me falling headfirst down a slope during one of our performances, crawling off stage leaving us crying laughing along with the rest of the cast for the remaining ten minutes of the show. Good job it was light hearted family fun! Also when we got VERY drunk at the fringe, danced the night away & I ended up falling asleep on a table & getting us escorted out. You may be thinking why am I talking or sharing this, but I think it's rather special, we were just two mates having fun & neither of could foresee at that point, that in a few years time I would be photographing her wedding. At that stage in my life I didn't even know I was going to be a wedding photographer! So the fact I was Jess' actually had more meaning to me & it really was an honour!
Rob & I arrived at Jess' parents house to photograph / film bridal prep & I pretty much felt emotional straight away! It was lovely & time flew by! It was also great having my best friend & ANOTHER Jess there doing the makeup, so it really felt like a proper family! Once I arrived at the church, Alishia Love, my other friend & fabulous photographer was there as she was my wonderful second shooter for the day. St Mary's Church Warwick is probably one of my favourites from anywhere I have worked. Totally beautiful, grand, spacious, it really was like a fairytale wedding which is exactly what Jess & Tom wanted, what with the castle & their cake which you will see below! During the first hymn I was thankful they were my friends as we all got the giggles, it was the longest hymn EVER. Just when you would think it was the last verse it would start again. There's nothing I love more than someone with a sense of humour & nothing I hate more than someone who takes themselves too seriously. So I loved that we practically all laughed through their first hymn! This was all changed around by Jess' sister who sang a cappella through the signing of the register - now this was beautiful.
Following the ceremony we did a few group photos outside & then waved them off in their car whilst we all walked with the guests to Warwick Castle. Now I knew it was going to be a hot day but NOTHING could've prepared us for the HEAT. It was the hottest day of the year & I actually did think I was going to collapse at one stage! I usually power through but I had to make Alishia go & buy us some fanta & water during the drinks reception. But, it was worth the suffering. The drinks reception was in the peacock garden which made for extremely beautiful surroundings & photos by the fountain. Jess' friend Jack was singing in the (very hot) orangery which started some early dancing. Who says you have to wait until the first dance to put your dancing shoes on! The drinks reception was longer than usual as the Castle had to let the public out so they could get the Great Hall ready for the wedding breakfast. This meant we had plenty of time to walk the grounds with Jess & Tom taking photos. It was really special for me, even if I was pouring with sweat & bare foot! Yes - I had to take my shoes off so I was walking around like a Hobbit with dirty feet - all for a good cause may I add. It meant so much to me that Jess & Tom have since said it was one of their favourite parts of the day. I think a few couples worry about going off to have photos together as they don't want to leave their guests, or may just have apprehensions about it, & yes it was probably easier for Jess & Tom as I am their friend, but this is how I want all my clients to feel, & I really stress this at the initial meet. But not only that, it's so important as it will be the only time you will spend together alone on the day (apart from bed time.....), it will definitely be your first moments alone since the ceremony, so it gives you that time to take a breath, look & love each other. Yes I'm there, but you should both be in your own bubble.
Once the Great Hall was ready everyone entered for the wedding breakfast & it really was like something from Hogwarts! I loved photographing the speeches as they were filled with so much laughter & emotion & I could get really close to the top table whilst Alishia did wider shots of the guests. This was followed by Jess & Tom's first dance to 'Tale as Old as Time' sang again by Jess' sister Polly & friend Jack, which was interrupted by a flash mob dance with the bridal party! We then went outside for fireworks & sparklers.
By the time it was time for us to leave I have to say I don't think I have ever been so exhausted after a wedding, mainly due to the heat & the amount of walking we had done around the grounds on top of doing the 12 hour day. So with this in mind, it wasn't great when Rob & I found ourselves lost in the grounds with me bare foot nearly crying surrounded by what sounded like a group of Pterosaurs' in the trees (obviously owls &/or peacocks), so we then had to walk all the way back through the grounds only to find out we were actually right by where we needed to go. It was PITCH BLACK! I actually think this added another 40 minutes before we had even left. We have all had huge laughs about it since, which is another reason I am particularly glad on this occasion that they're our friends!
This will be a day I will never forget & I feel so proud that we could all share it together & we created special memories for them.
Jess & Tom - we love you!
Venue: Warwick Castle
MUA: Jessica Ava
Cake: Daisy Blue Bakehouse
Flowers: Daisy Chains
Band: The Cover Ups
Film: Fuzfilms (My Fiancé)