A Wedding Story
“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
The sun has a nasty habit of hiding away for much of the summer (insert quotation marks) months and setting off from home for the drive up to the Lake District was no exception, it looked like we were in for another soggy, miserable day. However by the time I arrived at the stunning Lakeside Hotel, Newby Bridge, Windermere it was a gloriously sunny day. It's the first time I've photographed a wedding here and although I'd looked on google as I do before shooting at any new wedding venue, I really wasn't prepared for just how stunning a location it is. Right at the very southernmost tip of Lake Windermere, the beautiful country house hotel set in landscaped grounds leading to the lakeside shoreline with picture perfect views across the lake and fells. I may be a little biased here because we recently married in the Lake District but I really do think it is THE most beautiful part of the country and is a stunning backdrop for your wedding photos.
There were still the final few remaining covid restrictions in place, especially on the numbers you were allowed at a wedding however Joanne and Andrew had already decided that they wanted a smaller, more intimate wedding anyway so happily they weren't forced to cut back on the number of guests invited.
A good wedding tip, when you're picking your Bridesmaids make sure you choose wisely, pick one that will do all the running around and organising for you before the wedding and on the big day, Joanne had picked 2! They had everything arranged ready for me to start photographing, and you can see in the first couple of photos, everything nicely laid out, I'm a documentary wedding photographer so technically it's not cheating if everything is there already, the girls even took Joanne's dress away to hang up in a much quieter and tidier room for me to photograph later in the morning. Once I'd finished photographing the wedding details it was present time for all of the Bridesmaids and Flower Girls, this is always something worth holding on for until your photographer arrives as it can make for some great reaction shots and helps break up the wedding prep a bit too.
Everyone continued getting ready, making sure they'd got their own Instagram-worthy photos and selfies, even the hair and MUA took time out from the prep to create their own tiktok / instaboomerangstory or whatever they're called these days I quietly went about my job, keeping out of the way, capturing and documenting the action and fun as it happened, nothing staged and nothing posed.
As Joanne posed for a final few photographs by the hair and makeup artist for their Instagram accounts I headed to meet up with Andrew in the gorgeous and intimate Oak Room with its' wood panelled walls, ornate fireplace and classic decor, it's a great room with lots of natural light and views of Lake Windermere beyond the conservatory windows. Andrew was nice and relaxed as he waited for his new Bride, all the wedding guests were laughing and joking and, clearly happy to be finally celebrating both the wedding and easing of lockdown restrictions, it was lovely seeing everyone having a great time after such a tough year for everyone.
Drinks and Confetti
After the wedding ceremony and the formal photographs were over and out of the way it was time for a short reception in the gorgeous Cumbrian sunshine, everyone congratulating the newlyweds and having drinks and canapés before we headed down onto the shoreline for a confetti shot as we weren't able to in the grounds, not that it mattered anyway, a bit of a breeze had got up and those confetti canons really go with a bang and send out a heck of a lot of confetti way, way up in the air, well that combined with the stiff breeze sent the confetti way up into the air, covering most of the landscaped gardens, the hotel guests sitting enjoying a drink and I'm pretty sure right into the hotel bedrooms, the ones that had left their windows open for fresh air anyway, oops! Very funny though as everyone at first stood around in shock and disbelief before setting off laughing at just how much of a mess they'd all made. Ayway as I said earlier, it was a fairly short drinks reception as it was on to the next part of the day....
Messing about in boats...
After the "formals" and confetti shot was over everyone excitedly headed down to the Lakeside Pier to board the beautiful, traditional wooden launch, the Queen of the Lake for an amazing private cruise on Lake Windermere. Everyone had a great time and really enjoyed the breathtaking scenery of the Lake and Fells. The views are beautiful from the shoreline anyway but if you ever do get the chance to take to the water, I'd thoroughly recommend it to make the most of the views, you can really appreciate just how spectacular the Lake District is when your on a boat. It was perfect weather, a glorious day for messing about in boats and there was plenty of drinks for everyone on board to toast the newlyweds and to help cool down in the sunshine and even something for the kids too, one of the Bridesmaids joining in with the flower girls. It is a great way for everyone to relax, chat and just enjoy themselves without the usual hustle and bustle of "what's happening next" that you often get at weddings. It's such a great way to break up the day so if you're considering a Lakeland wedding, I'd definitely advise you to try and make time in the day for a cruise.
More messing about in boats (for me anyway)
Something you can say for people in the Lake District, everyone is so friendly. We experienced it on our own wedding day, we walked up to one of the jetties for some photographs ourselves and everyone on there enjoying the views very kindly cleared it for us, without asking, so we could get our own stunning shots. This time it was one of the guests staying at the hotel had his speedboat moored up outside and offered to take me out on the Lake so I could get this fantastic shot of all the guests on the jetty with the hotel in the background, probably one of my favourite ever group shots and also giving me a chance to get some shots of the newlyweds that wouldn't normally be possible from on dry land.
It was also great fun for me on the speedboat so to the very kind person that offered up the use of your boat, thank you sir!
Back on dry land...
After the fun on the boat it was back to dry land and a few photos of Joanne and Andrew making the most of the jetty and the shoreline, I don't like to tell couples what to do during the portrait session, I try to shoot from a distance and it gives the newlyweds a chance to spend a bit of time together away from their guests before joining back up with everyone as they all headed inside for the wedding breakfast.
One of the best things about the wedding breakfast (apart from the food of course!) has got to be the wedding speeches and more specifically, the reactions of the guests. I've heard a lot of speeches as a wedding photographer and you can usually tell when a speech has been written from the heart and when it's been "googled". If I had a pound for every time I've heard the same joke(s) over and over again I might not be able to retire but it'd certainly be able to put it towards a new camera! It's highly likely that a lot of the guests would've heard the same jokes too.
If I could offer up a bit of advice, if you're one of the lucky ones (or unlucky depending on your point of view) that has been asked to make a speech and you're struggling with what to say or worrying what to say, don't head to straight google, hands down the best speeches are ones that come from the heart. If you're the Father of the Bride have a think back to when your daughter first brought him home to meet everyone or those first few weeks and months of getting to know him, there must be some sweet or funny moments perfect for a bit of light embarrassment for the newlyweds. If you're the Best Man, you can't beat a good roasting of the Groom, talk about the things you got up to growing up together just make sure you don't push it too far, as I say a bit of roasting is funny and a squirming, cringing Groom always good for a laugh but absolutely flaming him and having the guests wincing, not so good. Think carefully about whatever tales you're letting everyone in on, there's been times where even I've thought, ooooh I'm not sure you should've brought that one up. As for the Groom yours is easy, there's not the pressure to be funny like there is with the Best Man, just don't forget to tell the Bride she looks beautiful and don't forget about the Bridesmaids, thank both sets of parents and that's it, you're pretty much done!
Joanne's Dad wasn't one for making a speech so Andrew's picked up the baton. After previously photographing Andrew's Mum, Eileen's 70th Birthday Party a few years back, I knew his Dad wasn't shy and more than happy to make a speech so I wasn't surprised he took over and absolutely nailed his, a very funny man as you can see from the reactions.
As I mentioned right at the start there were still a few remaining government covid restrictions in place and unfortunately singing and dancing were still outlawed and that mean now cake cutting on the dance floor followed by the Bride and Groom's first dance as Mr & Mrs, so instead we headed back outside for a final few pictures outside the hotel making the most of the lovely light you get during golden hour, just as the sun slowly sets.