So, wedding ceremonies are back! Just the small ones, no singing, no confetti and certainly no canapés or ceIebratory drinks, but it's a start. I actually have my first post-lockdown wedding at the end of next week, and potentially a second the following day pending confirmation from the registrar. Both fewer than 15 all in and of course minus the hugs that I love to capture. But I'm really excited to be back out there with my camera and will do everything I can to find creative workarounds to capture the magic of the day.
One of those wedding ceremonies will be conducted by the lovely Claire Bradford, a celebrant at Creating Ceremony, who's a good friend of mine and who I've have the pleasure of working with several times. As the couple are already legally married, having a celebrant enables them to have their ceremony uniquely personalised to them, and I know it will be a moving and emotional occasion. If you're a bride- or groom-to-be reading this and would like to know more about what exactly a celebrant is and does, I definitely recommend heading over to Claire's Creating Ceremony website.
Marlies & Jeroen's celebrant-led wedding ceremony
Marlies and Jeroen's wedding story on this month's blog also features a celebrant-led ceremony. The couple live in London but originally hail from Belgium, where they travelled to legally marry with just witnesses in tow. Their main wedding day was to be in West Sussex, in an absolutely stunning natural setting, called Rye Island in Henfield. The venue is literally 20 minutes down the road from me, but I'd previously never come across it, and was absolutely blown away when I went to check it out.
The couple wanted an eco-friendly wedding surrounded by nature, and the setting couldn't have been more perfect. The caveat is that it's not a ready-made wedding venue in the normal sense, where pretty much everything is done for you, and you simply sign on the dotted line. In additional to having to plan the day's activities themselves, overnight accommodation was needed for the two-thirds of their guests who'd be travelling from Belgium, and Marlies and Jeroen spent many hours sourcing amenities such as toilets and electrics and even bell tents.
Locally sourced suppliers included vegan specialists Cashew Catering; flowers from Ginger Lily Florists; décor from The Beautiful Day; and bride/bridesmaid hairstying from Pinnies Hair. The main tipi for the wedding buffet and speeches was provided by Love Tipis, and the guest accommodation from Brighton Bell Tents. Live, festival style music was provided by London based band The Roamin' Emperors, and the celebrant, DJs and ceremony musicians were all Belgian, with several family members involved.
On the day of the wedding last July, everything came together perfectly, and the weather couldn't have been more obliging. The lakeside ceremony was magical, both for the setting and for the personalised speeches made by each of the six bidesmaids and six groomsmen. The flower girl walked ahead of Marlies and her father down the aisle, and the pageboy untied the rings which were then passed along each row via a long white ribbon to enable guests to give them their blessing. The ceremony ended with each guest 'signing' a framed print of a tree with their thumbprint, while peacocks casually walked past.
Thanks to all the speeches, I even had time to climb up into the tree house (no mean feat with two cameras swinging off me!) and take a few arial shots of the proceedings. I headed back up into the branches later for a big group photo too, as it was easily the best place to capture 100 people.
I'll leave you to view the rest of their wedding story through my images. Owing to the couple travelling to Belgium following the wedding, I was unable to meet with them in person, but they kindly sent me this lovely email:
Thank you so much for the amazing pictures!
We loved watching the slideshow and were really able to re-live this beautiful day again!
We especially love how you were truly part of our day and perfectly able to capture those little moments with family and friends that mean so much to us. We never noticed you were really there which made us and everyone feel so comfortable, which shows on the pictures.
Marlies & Jeroen
If you're planning your special day, I hope this has given you inspiration and maybe a few ideas to incorporate. And if you're all about nature and the big outdoors, whether surrounded by fields or beaches, then do get in touch! Most of my couples get married by the beach, in barns, or marquees in countryside settings - you'll see lots of examples if you browse through the weddings on my blog.
I'm now booking predominantly for 2022 and this week have just taken my first enquiry for June 2023, literally 3 years before the big day! With postponed weddings filling next year's diaries, newly engaged couples are definitely having to advance plan their special days in the wake of the pandemic. But if I'm already booked on your date, I'm very happy to recommend a photographer with a similar style, so do feel free to ask.
Take care, and if you want to see how my intimate, socially distanced weddings pan out this Summer, please follow me on Instagram!
Marlies & Jeroen's wedding team:
Venue: Rye Island (Arabian Tents Company), West Sussex
Tipi: Love Tipis
Caterers: Cashew Catering (vegan specialists)
Decor: The Beautiful Day
Florist: Ginger Lily Florist
Bride's Hair: Laura at Pinnies Hair
DJ & Barman: SevnOaks Leuven (Belgian Duo)
Band: The Roamin Emperors
Celebrant: David Vanneste
Glamping tents (for guest accommodation): Brighton Hell Tents