I have had so many smaller, intimate weddings during the Autumn and Winter of 2019. It’s such an honour to be chosen to photograph someone’s wedding day whether there are hundreds of guests or just two. However, there is something particularly special about witnessing a moment that only a small handful of people are seeing.
In December I was lucky enough to capture a ‘Secret Elopement’ at the glorious Stourhead Gardens and National Heritage Site. This wedding was particularly special to me because I am close friends with the Bride and Groom!
On the 5th of November 2019, Sammy sent me a message to say she had found a perfect venue that she was ready to book if I was available to photograph her wedding which would be on the 5th of December 2019. Yes you read that right, the whole wedding needed to be booked and planned in one month!
So over the next few weeks, Sammy and Mike planned as they had never planned before. When the wedding day arrived they absolutely smashed it!
The day started in a gorgeous manor house. It had been booked for the guest accommodation (there were only 17 of us!) which we had stayed at the night before the wedding. With a choice of stunning rooms to choose from we were spoilt for choice. I used one bedroom to shoot the bridal details and the dress. One was reserved for hair and makeup and down the corridor, the boys had their own room to get ready in.
The house was also hosting the reception later that day. This meant I was able to photograph the dining room all set up for afternoon tea, the bride getting ready as well as the groom’s details. The space was a photographer’s dream, with oval windows and unique rooms at every turn.
The guests accompanied the groom to the venue while I stayed with the bride and her close friend who was also her make-up artist for the day. The finishing touches were being done and the excitement was building as we got ready to leave the house to drive the short distance to Stourhead for the ceremony.
Now Stourhead Gardens itself is absolutely breathtaking with bridges and views for miles. Just getting to the temple where the ceremony was being held you have to walk through a candle-lit cave, under a moss-covered stone arch and up a cobbled hill. It sounds like a fairytale journey!
There is a choice of temples here and Sammy and Mike chose The Temple of Apollo for their marriage. It is a small round temple looking over a picturesque lake. Once we arrived I walked up to the temple to join the guests ahead of the bride making her entrance.
The temple has remained authentic so there were no lights and no heating in there. The natural light spilt in through the open doors and lit the room while having the amazing views of a show that was just outside.
At last it was time for Sammy to make her entrance down the aisle. Now this moment is always special to me but this entrance made me particularly emotional because the handsome man giving Sammy away is in fact, my Fiancé. It was so lovely to watch him walk one of his close friends down the aisle on her wedding day and something you don’t often witness!
The ceremony was a lovely relaxed atmosphere. The shape and size of the room added to the cosy (but slightly chilly!) and intimate feeling of the wedding.
After the ceremony, I lined everyone up on the stone steps outside ready for the confetti tunnel. This building is so beautiful I would recommend a visit to Stourhead just for the sights you can see as you walk around! The views were the perfect backdrop to some of the group shots too. We were very lucky with the weather too as we woke up to an extremely foggy December day that morning but it had cleared away and become a beautiful day.
After the group photos were done we sent the guests on to the pub to give the Bride and Groom some time away to do their couple photos.
There is no end to the photo opportunities at this venue. We had a lovely walk around the grounds stopping along the way at bridges, archways, steps and even an extra temple!
Along the way, we were joined by a little robin who landed next to the Bride & Groom just as I was taking their photograph. The Grooms’ Grandfather, who he was very close to was called Robin so this little bird that hung around with us for a while was very special.
We made our way back to join the others and head back to the manor house for the afternoon tea reception. There were so many beautiful spots there for photos too we had a quick walk round before we enjoyed our tea.
Everyone chipped in to serve the food and drinks and set everything up. We had a lovely time laughing at stories and celebrating together. The Groom started the reception off with a speech closely followed by his new wife who also wanted to say a few thank yous to everyone before we enjoyed the tea and cakes we had set out.
After the reception, we headed back to Stourhead as there is a lovely Christmas light trail on in December. We wanted to make the most of it for some extra special nighttime photos with the Bride and Groom, as well as some sparkler photos and my much-requested ‘Umbrella shot’ complete with Snofetti.
What a wonderful day we all had and I’m so happy I can share it with you guys!
P.S. If you don’t end your wedding day sat in the tub in your dress with a bottle of wine then why not!
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