Bride getting ready for the wedding
On 10th June I was back in my old stomping ground of Wells-Next-The-Sea to witness the preparations for the wedding of Alex & Alex. The big day began poignantly with the girls getting ready at Ally’s family home where she grew up, and she was joined by mother Liz, father Arthur, maid of honour Polly, and bridesmaids Sarah and Lisa. Sarah did a wonderful job of everyone’s makeup, and the girls, who were dressed in personalised pink robes, were then looked after by hairdresser, Henry who completed their look. The girls had a great morning being pampered and there were giggles and fun all round! Ally presented each of the wedding party with beautifully personalised mugs from Emma Bridgewater, each illustrated with their individual roles for the day.
In what I imagine must have been quite a sentimental moment, Ally then got changed into her wedding dress in her childhood bedroom, surrounded by all the trinkets that a young girl acquires over the years! Ally looked absolutely phenomenal in her wedding dress, which suited her down to the ground. Sophisticated and effortlessly glamorous, the modern lace sheath wedding dress included an illusion neckline, beaded belt, and lace cap-sleeves. The look was completed with an illusion back with ruched details finished with a row of pearl buttons.
Ally was to be driven to the church in her grandfather’s Rolls-Royce so it was only fitting that we got a photograph of the owner with his prized car, and soon to be married granddaughter prior to them all going to church.
Groom getting ready for the wedding
Back over at Ally and Alex’s house where the boys were getting ready it was quite the typical affair, a little quiet, with a buzz of nervous energy in the air, (or perhaps they had enjoyed themselves a little too much the night before)! As us men can appreciate, getting ready for such an event is much more enjoyable from a woman’s perspective and so Alex and his best man Matt and two ushers, Jake and Ian, were taking the morning in their stride, casually getting ready and not letting the occasion fluster them in any way.
Not one to let down the side, however, and dressed and ready to go at 9.30 in the morning was Louie the page boy, who made sure he wasn’t to be late! With Alex keen to get on with his special day the boys headed to the church matching blue suits and burgundy ties with time to spare, awaiting their guests and the all-important arrival of the Bride!
The “I Do’s”: wedding service at Binham Priory
Ally and Alex’s wedding took place at the beautiful Binham Priory, and what an absolute feast for the eyes this incredible church is. Among the most complete and impressive monastic ruins in Norfolk, the priory lends itself perfectly to a sophisticated and traditional day in wonderfully peaceful surroundings.
The wedding ceremony was conducted by Revd. Ian Whittle, who led a lovely, traditional service complete with two readings, one from Ally’s aunt Gloria and the other by Alex’s aunt Diane. As the pair exchanged rings it was clear to see how in love this young couple are and I was reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of so many couple’s most defining moments.
As the newlyweds made their way down the aisle and out of the church it was time to relax and celebrate! Binham Priory is a wedding photographer’s dream as it provides the perfect setting for group shots. We were also lucky enough to have beautiful sunny weather which certainly helps! My thanks go to best man, Matt, who was a star in helping to organise everyone into their assigned groups for some lovely family photos.
Wedding – farmers field, Binham
Together with their guests the bride and groom arrived at a private farm just outside Binham. A majestic marquee had been erected in the field especially for the day, creating the perfect setting for a private and serene wedding. To enter the field, Alex had gone to the trouble of building a bridge across a small stream that surrounds the land, one of a number of special touches that made this day so unique. The marquee, bridge and surroundings were decorated with beautiful flowers, all arranged by a family friend, Jenny Young who had obviously put a lot of time and effort in to create such wonderful displays. As a lovely personal touch, all the tables were named after breeds of cattle, in recognition of the family business, Arthur Howells butchers. For place settings, individual, handmade cupcakes with each guests name on were placed on the crisply laid tables. Working in the food industry, Arthur was well aware of potential allergies amongst the guests and amusingly issued a health and safety announcement, warning that they contained gluten!
Wedding confetti and drinks
It was decided that since Binham Priory does not allow confetti it would be a real shame to shun this tradition altogether, so what better way to showcase the Groom’s handmade bridge than to gather the guests at the entrance and christen it with petals! Confetti shots are always a favourite of mine as they tend to get everyone laughing in a quick moment of colourful chaos, lending the moment perfectly to some naturally joyous and fun filled photos, as wonderfully shown here by the newlyweds. Meanwhile, the lovely staff from the Crown Hotel were busy making sure all the guests had a welcome drink of bubbles.
The wedding speeches
As customary, the wedding guests were treated to speeches from the Groom, the father of the bride, and of course the best man. As typical of a best mans speech Matt was very comical and managed to have everyone in fits of laughter! In an especially nice touch the mother of the bride Liz also made a heartfelt speech to her daughter and new son in law, welcoming him in to the family.
The wedding breakfast
Catering was managed by Chris Coubrough’s team from the Crown Hotel, Wells-Next-The-Sea, (a place very close to my own heart as I grew up there)! Ally & Alex’s guests were spoilt rotten with a fantastic menu of deep fried brie, fillet steak, (of course provided by the family business!) and a trio of yummy desserts. The food looked fantastically presented and the guests had nothing but compliments for Chris’s professional but friendly team of catering staff.
Cutting the wedding cake
Much to the delight of many of their guests Ally and Alex shunned tradition and opted for a cake made of cheese, including some local cheeses, which cleverly doubled up as both the final course of the wedding breakfast, and for guests to nibble on throughout the course of the evening. Thanks to my previous life as a deli owner I was keen to get a good look at this creation and took an educated guess at the stacks of wheels of cheese used; they included Brie de Meaux, Norfolk Dapple, Colston Bassett Stilton, Epoisses, Shipston Blue Buffalo and Norfolk white lady, (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong)! This aptly rustic looking cake was artistically put together by Matt from Wells-Next-The-Sea Delicatessen.
First dance & wedding reception
Rather cleverly the dance floor had been concealed at one end of the marquee by a curtain made from the same material that lined the whole marquee. So, when the time for the newlyweds first dance came and the song began to play the curtain was slowly raised to reveal Ally and Alex dancing gracefully to their chosen song, Only Love by Ben Howard. Best man, Matt and bridesmaid Sarah were primed by Ally and Alex that they were not to be left dancing on their own for their first dance. So, after the first verse or so they got up to lend moral support to the happy couple and encouraged the rest of the guests to join them. It did not take much encouragement for people to gladly join in, this could, however, have been the impact of the very generous open bar!
The brilliant Lee Vasey Band played throughout the night, one of the best wedding bands I have had the pleasure of watching and whose services I would thoroughly recommend for an evening of the like.
Wedding big shot
When photographing a wedding I am always looking to get that winning shot of the couple, one that will be treasured by the couple and their families, and evoke happy memories for years to come. Just as the sky was turning hazy we got this great image of the newlyweds taking a moment away from their guests to sneak away and enjoy some alone time. I’m sure you’ll agree they both look absolutely stunning and so madly in love!
To end the night with a bang Ally and Alex treated their guests to a fantastic fireworks display, taking advantage of their secluded surroundings (not that I can imagine anyone would have been upset to see such a wonderful display light up the sky). This perfectly capped off a truly memorable day and added a final wow factor to what had already been a wedding full of sentiments and romance. A generous hog roast was served to guests throughout the display, creating a lovely, outdoorsy, carnival atmosphere.
I really do wish Ally and Alex a long and happy marriage and thank them for the very kind words that they have since sent me. Congratulations Mr & Mrs Smith!
For examples of previous weddings I have photographed, take a look at my wedding portfolio.