I met Jo and Rob last year at a wedding fair in Brighton where they were really drawn to my photojournalistic style of photography. In particular, they’d seen an un-posed black and white group photo from a wedding I’d covered in Oxford the summer before and were completely taken by the possibility of having their own wedding celebrations covered in a relaxed and non-intrusive way. And I was looking forward to being there as they’d booked the historic Battle Abbey school to host their wedding celebrations, somewhere I was keen to visit.
Historic Battle Abbey
Battle Abbey was an old Benedictine Abbey in East Sussex, built on the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, now run by English Heritage. Part of it is now run as an independent school, set in extensive grounds overlooking the old abbey ruins and stunning Sussex countryside. If you’re looking for somewhere unique to host your wedding take a look at this venue, particularly if you’re keen to have everything – a complete wedding day in one place, it’s a stunning venue and really has the wow factor!
Their June wedding day arrived and I started at the PowderMills Hotel in Battle where Jo was getting ready with her mum, sisters and bridesmaids who were mostly her little nieces – good thing she had a big room! Jo’s a kind sort, really relaxed and easy to be around. She oozes calm! Jo took her time getting ready, enjoying the last few hours before the wedding and about an hour before the ceremony I headed off to the Abbey as I wanted to capture Rob’s arrival with his Groomsmen who were walking from their nearby hotel.
Wedding Ceremony in the Great Hall
Guests were already beginning to arrive and it wasn’t long before umbrellas were up as the predicted summer downpour made it’s appearance, just in time for the bridesmaid’s arrival. The Great Hall was filling up as Rob was greeting guests just as Jo arrived in a camper van with her Dad. Everything was now ready! The bridesmaids and flower girls all made their long walk down the aisle, followed by Jo and her incredibly proud Dad, and Rob absolutely glowing watching his gorgeous Jo walking towards him. They held hands throughout the ceremony, listening to reading by Jo’s brother and then came their vows and rings. Then they were married in the Great Hall, under the huge Victorian painting showing William the Conqueror and the fall of Harold on the battlefield. Such an epic backdrop. I managed to quickly sneak upstairs onto the gallery overlooking the hall to take a few photos of the scene.
Ceremony over, everyone headed outside where the rain had finally stopped so they could have their confetti moment and a few essential family group photos. They had lots of catch up time with their guests over drinks and an hour later, we headed outside for a walk around the grounds to take some photos. After months of organizing a wedding, one of things couples really value is a bit of alone time after the ceremony before sitting down to dinner. They’re surrounded by people all day and it’s the only time they’ll have alone.
Dinner in the Library
After a short time, we headed back inside as guests had made their way into the Library, ready for dinner. With a round of applause, the newlyweds made their entrance and dinner service begins. There are lots of children at this wedding and they gather at one end of the library to have a run around. Shoes are off and babies are on the floor exploring. Jo’s brother Christopher, better known as Uncle Fluffy, is constantly surrounded by all the flower girls – his nieces, teasing each other relentlessly. Dessert arrives in 4’s! (always my favourite part of dinner) and then the speeches begin. Jo’s Dad’s up first and it’s not long before a few tears are shed as he welcomes Rob into the family, and the batton is swiftly passed over to Rob who says many thank you’s and presents are handed out. Then the best man Paul took to the floor and did his very best to tell the real story about Rob and suitably embarrass him! Lots of laughter and cheers before dinner is wrapped up and kids are happily running around again.
The Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Cake!
There’s a quick cake cutting and evening guests start arriving, and it’s not long before the DJ starts spinning a few tracks. The flowergirls are all on the dance floor, literally spinning themselves silly and from there, a dash to the sweet trolley and back. There’s another cutting, this time of the pork pie cake from Rob’s hometown Melton Mowbray which everyone’s keen to try. Jo & Rob’s take to the floor for their first dance and the spinning flowergirls join them. Meanwhile, the VW camper van (from Gecko Campers) has been transformed into a photo booth outside which attracts lots of keen photo seekers. Jo’s mum and dad are the first in there, slowly followed by a steady stream of guests, young and old getting silly with wigs, oversized glasses and mad hats. A great end to a lovely, super fun big family wedding.
Jo and Rob were a super relaxed couple, who totally trusted me to do what I do best, to capture their wedding as it’s happening without any formulaic posing or a list of shots. By blending in, being left to my own devices to take natural story telling photographs, I can capture the essence of a wedding, its characters, the couple, the big moments and small moments. Going with the flow allows my couples to concentrate on their day and not the photography. Jo & Rob, I wish you both a lifetime of happiness together and thank you for having me xxx
If you’re getting married and my approach is something that appeals to you, get in touch I’d love to hear from you. As this is my last post before Christmas, let me wish you all a very happy and restful Christmas. Enjoy time with your loved ones 🙂