‘We would just like to say that the photos are exquisite and absolutely capture the day. Your photos are amazing and the write up very insightful and honest. We don’t know how you managed to remain so invisible but invisible you were – very professional, thoughtful and sensitive to the day.Thank you so much for all that you did to enhance Abbey and Ollie’s day and for your beautiful photos which will live on as a constant reminder of a truly amazing day.’ – Mother of the Bride
Like so many other couples this year, Abbey and Ollie were faced with the prospect of downsizing their wedding guest list or having to postpone. And then along came the announcement from the powers that be (just days before Abbey and Ollie’s wedding!) that weddings would be limited to just fifteen. Hmmmm…a not insurmountable challenge, surely that can be made to work? So, to stick or twist? Can we make a wedding party of fifteen (including Abbey and Ollie) work in such a substantial location that is Eastnor Castle? The answer, as it turned out, was an emphatic ‘yes’.
At not one point during the day did it feel like a compromise that the couple had to make, rather it was the opportunity to celebrate in style with their closest of friends and family. The word ‘intimate’ has been banded about so much over the last few months (particularly in wedding related circles), but that’s just what this was. An intimate day at an exclusive location, with wonderful food and drink, a great party, and a treasure hunt once enough concentration-juice had been imbibed. Now, about that bloody rain…
After a wet drive to the stunning Eastnor Castle, I joined Abbey and the girls who were getting ready upstairs, whilst sporadically popping downstairs to capture the boys getting ready (although they spent far more time prepping their cars – men after my own heart). Once ribbons were adorned (to the cars of course), ties were tied and dresses were donned, we all headed to the church not much more than a stone’s throw away.
I may have already mentioned something about the weather, but yes, it did rain a tad. However, this sort of thing is the smallest of obstacles to overcome when you’re in Abbey and Ollie’s shoes and you’ve come this far in the planning of a 2020 wedding. So, umbrellas were at the ready and not much was said about it for the rest of the day.
Once raindrops had been dodged between the church gate and the porch, Abbey and her father entered the church together – one of those unforgettable milestones in life. The ceremony itself was filled with laughter and poignancy in equal measure, and as always, it’s a moment to reflect on the things we have rather than the things we don’t. In my memory, there hasn’t been a year where this has been more appropriate than 2020. When I hear remarks like ‘let’s put 2020 behind us and never think on it again’, I beg to differ.
Once the knot had been officially tied, we all headed outside for the quickest of confetti dashes before the short drive back to the castle for a glass of bubbly. When all is drenched outside, a glass of champers and good company win every time.
After braving the weather for a few intimate shots of Abbey and Ollie around the castle grounds, dinner and speeches awaited. This was followed by a surprise film put together by Abbey’s sister, who had painstakingly requested and stitched together video messages from seemingly every guest who couldn’t be there – a fine wedding present and one that will be treasured for years to come.
So you’ve got a huge castle and Agatha Christie-esque weather rapping on the windows and trying to beat down the doors, what do you do? Well no, a murder mystery could get a little messy, but a treasure hunt? Definitely. And it was all the more fun to photograph because of the different approaches teams took. Without mentioning any names, there were the ‘scamperers’ who took the bull-in-a-china-shop approach (no priceless artifacts were harmed in the making of this film), and the elder statesmen/women who had a more methodical approach. In the end I have absolutely no idea who won but it was fun to photograph…after all it’s not the winning that matters but the taking part (Team Scamper’s ethos in reverse).
So picture this, you’re the groom and you’re about to embark on a First Dance in front of just thirteen guests and a guy with a camera, and your now wife is a professional dancer. No pressure. None at all. Truth be told, just like Ollie’s speech, he blitzed it. And not because of following a routine, but because he enjoyed it which is exactly the way it should be.
And the party itself? Could it really work with a maximum of fifteen people spread out on the dance floor? Well put it this way, after about three songs, I heard the vocalist say quietly under her breath “This is f***ing awesome!!!” And she was right, everyone was absolutely tearing it up and living in the moment…joy, celebration, love, and the human spirit should have no bounds, and indeed on October the 3rd 2020, they didn’t.
Congratulations Abbey and Ollie, you guys were the best!