I enjoy all my weddings, but not many have me laughing behind the camera from early morning 'til late in the evening. Shelley and Kathryn's wedding at beautiful Pangdean Old Barn, Brighton, was one such wedding. If ever a couple enjoyed every second of their day, it was those two brides.
I had known it would be a fun day after spending time with them on their pre-wedding shoot at Brighton Bandstand and Seaford Beach. The girls bounce off each other like a comedy duo, and their best women and family members delivered equally funny and personal speeches. I'm pretty sure I captured every one of their 150-or-so guests laughing at some point or other in the proceedings. Not only that, but as the sun went down and the evening got underway, I let my guard down and allowed a guest to grab my camera and photograph me laughing uncontrollably too! (Yes - you'll find the photo further down in this blog post if you look closely...!)
For anyone who's ever been to a wedding, you'll know that the role of the photographer goes way beyond simply taking photos. It's about creating order for those group photos without being bossy; being everywhere all at once without being in the way; chatting politely to Uncle Bob about his new lens without missing that killer shot on the dancefloor. Everyone has a story to tell of an overbearing photographer who spoiled the mood of their friend's wedding day. With each booking I take, I know that the couple has assessed me fit for all of those things, on top of my ability to deliver the most amazing memories of their day.
When Shelley and Kathryn phoned to tell me the best news, I felt especially privileged. For when I first met the girls at a wedding fair in Hove, they told me they loved my work, but already had a awesome photographer sorted - the lovely and very talented Brighton stand-up comedienne and musician, Hannah Brackenbury, also a wedding photographer and a friend of the couple. The girls hung around to have their make-up done by Stef Sale (who was invited back for the wedding and, as ever, did an amazing job), and, with the fair being quiet, I enjoyed chatting to them about their day and hearing all about the wedding proposal on Brighton Bandstand. So I was more than a little surprised when they contacted me again, some three weeks' later, to ask if I was still available on their date in June. With Hannah being such a good friend, they'd decided to ask her if she'd prefer to enjoy the day as a guest - and to put her camera away once she'd captured guests arriving at Pangdean Barn - allowing me to concentrate on the bridal preparations at The Grand.
On the day, Hannah was an incredible help to me - getting 150-odd guests enjoying the sunshine, glass in hand, to come together for a group photo in a venue the size of Pangdean isn't the easiest of taks - but I hung out of an upstairs window with Hannah gently herding the masses, and together we achieved that shot with the minimum of fuss, allowing me to quickly get back to what I do best - natural, candid shots capturing the moment. Thanks, Hannah!
The day began at The Grand hotel on Brighton seafront. Shelley and Kathryn each had rooms on separate floors, and I swear I clocked up several miles on The Grand's amazing staircase flitting from one to the other!
In additional to photographing both brides getting ready, the plan was to capture each bride with her father on the staircase without them meeting, and then photographing their separate departures in the two classic cars waiting outside the hotel. I was extremely glad to know that Hannah was already at Pangdean, camera in hand, as I knew then I'd be the last to arrive. As many of my brides will testify, it's not the photography that stresses me out, it's parking nightmares at tiny village churches, or late arrivals at the ceremony from over-running bridal preparations!
With the paint literally just dry on Pangdean Barn's newly built ceremony hut, the weather was perfect for the venue's first outdoor ceremony to take place. The couple invited their friend and clergyman, Nigel, to marry them, ensuring the ceremony was personal and true to their values and beliefs. The bright midday sun (the ceremony was at 1 pm in mid June) was tough to photograph in, necessitating strong flash to fill in unflattering shadows, but I'd do another outdoor ceremony at Pangdean in a heartbeat! I love the stunning backdrop afforded by Pangdean's mature trees and shrubs, and the freedom to move around virtually unseen to capture different angles.
I've photographed weddings at Pangdean in Spring, Summer and Autumn, and all have been equally picturesque. Even at the height of Summer, Pangdean's trees offer sufficient shade for flattering portraits of the couple and family group photos. At Shelley and Kathryn's wedding, the owners kindly allowed their two classic cars onto the grass for photos, and guests literally stayed outside for most of the day, except to eat - enjoying a giant Connect 4, croquet, and various ride-on carts and toy cars. It was kid (and big kid!) heaven, and a joy to photograph, as you'll see below.
And then there's the food. I have to say, I photograph at some amazing venues and I usually eat extremely well, but Pangdean Barn's food ranks especially highly! To provide fine dining for 150 guests is quite a feat, but they always manage to pull it off. At a wedding, I find it important to sit down to eat properly and take time to refuel in readiness for the evening celebrations. I'm often popping out of my seat to photograph kids doing crazy things with bubbles or icecream, but I take the time to enjoy my food none the less. (Just ask my husband, who's honed his cooking skills to near Masterchef level since I started up my wedding photography business and feeding myself and the kids went to the bottom of my to-do list.)
Shelley and Kathryn opted for a seaside theme, complete with deckchairs and crazy props for some fun images. But the centrepiece just had to be one of Evelyn's chocolate masterpieces. Evelyn's business is called Chocadyllic, and to call it a cake making entity wouldn't do it justice. This particular masterpiece was crafted into Brighton Bandstand, complete with a staircase and balustrades in perfect miniature - there's photos below. Oh, and it tasted amazing too!
Anyway, for those who have read thus far, thanks for persevering, and I'll let my images tell the rest of the story:
Wedding Cake by ChocadyllicAmazing wedding cake of Brighton Bandstand by Evelyn of Chocadyllic
Jenny of Jenny Rutterford Photography at Pangdean BarnA rare unguarded moment of me being on the wrong side of the camera
And no, I didn't take the last photo! This is me, finding myself on the wrong side of the camera. But as some of my readers won't know what I look like, I thought I'd include it! Be kind - I had been working for around 11 hours at this point :)
If you've enjoyed my work and would like to check my availability for your wedding, please get in touch here! And there's links to some of the suppliers I've mentioned below - all of which come highly recommended.
Bye for now folks!
Wedding Venue and catering: Pangdean Old Barn, Brighton
Bridal Preparation venue: The Grand, Brighton hotel
Make-up Artist: Stef Sale
Cake: Evelyn of Chocadyllic
Cars: Premier Wedding Cars
Band: The Gremlins