I always enjoy an outdoor wedding ceremony, with the freedom it gives to move around unobtrusively and photograph discreetly. I often photographed outdoors when working as a wedding photographer in Florida, but even in our somewhat less sun-drenched country (ha!), outdoor ceremonies are becoming more popular. There can be a little added weather-related stress for the couple choosing this option, although (so far - no promises!) I've been lucky at Pangdean Old Barn weddings, Lewes Castle and Brighton Bandstand weddings. But last July at The Ravenswood in Sharpthorne, West Sussex we were brought inside in changeable weather. Overall the odds seem good in July and August, but I am an optimist, so if you're thinking of an outdoor ceremony, do check you'd be happy with the venue's Plan B, should the need arise!
And whilst a warm, sunny day is what most couples are hoping for, it's worth pointing out that photographically, this can be a tricky gig for the wedding photographer. In the States, couples can get married outdoors in the open (often standing under a decorative arch), so they are bathed in similar light to all the guests. Here in the UK, outdoor ceremonies require the couple to be under a permanent shelter, whilst their guests are, in the main (less so at Brighton Bandstand weddings) fully exposed to the elements. Without wishing to get technical, even the best camera's dynamic range cannot replicate anywhere close to what we can see with the naked eye, so the contrast between the shaded couple and guests on a sunny day will be especially tough to capture digitally. Happily I shoot in what's known as RAW format (as opposed to the standard JPEG format), which maximises the information stored within each file, giving me greater latitude to reduce that contrast in post-processing.
For Sue and Dan's Great Danes Mercure Hotel wedding in Maidstone, Kent last July, we got lucky with the weather, and the couple and their friends and family enjoyed a glorious outdoor ceremony at the hotel's stunning gazebo. The setting was perfect, with green in every direction, and mature trees making for an ideal backdrop for the couple's vows and register signing.
In fact, it wasn't the weather that was the issue here, rather the zip on Sue's gorgeous boned wedding gown, which got stuck more or less exactly half way up, and which no amount of gentle coaxing was going to budge, either up or down. Sue had wanted to get ready quietly, with 'just' her four children (aged between 11 and 18) in tow, and had asked me not to photograph her bridal preparations, but instead to take a few family photos just before the registrars' arrival in her hotel room. That was Plan A. On my arrival to see one of Sue's sons grappling with the stuck zip, I quickly came up with Plan B, put down my cameras and legged it to the hotel reception. Several broken needles and a good half an hour later, I finished sewing the length of the zip, then hid my imperfect stitching and a few little blood spots (hey, I'm a photographer, not a seamstress, and have you tried sewing a heavy boned dress with a hotel sewing kit?!) with the covered buttons. Once persuaded that the dress looked fab and wasn't going anywhere - what with my double stitching - Sue relaxed and commenced her somewhat delayed conversation with the registrars. Conscious that I hadn't been able to photograph guests arriving, and proceedings were now running rather late, I headed outside and photographed super-quickly to capture guests enjoying the warm sunshine and beautiful setting.
I'm really happy that Sue didn't let the little zip mishap spoil her day - in fact, quite the opposite! It became a great talking point and source of hilarity among the children - as you can see below, there's an image of one of her sons examining my handiwork shortly after the ceremony! Things often don't go totally to plan at a wedding, it's how you handle them that determines how they affect your day. The unifying of Sue and Dan and their six children was what it was all about, and everything about their day was family-orientated, personal and heartfelt. A truly lovely wedding that I felt privileged to have been a part of. Enjoy!
Like my photography and want to know more? I'll be at Pure Events Wedding Fair at Worthing Assembly Hall on 9th April, and at Plumpton Racecourse on 30th April. Plus Long Furlong Barn's Open Day on 14th May. And of course, you can always fill in my Contact Form to check my availability for your date and arrange to meet with me at a time to suit you.
Hope to see you soon!