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Oh it’s such a perfect day!

This was one of those days where absolutely everything went to plan. I’d been particularly looking forward to shooting the wedding of Darren and Sarah at the idyllic Hilltop Country House since they booked me last November. I’d never shot a wedding here before, but I’d heard many positive comments about the place from fellow photographers who’d told me I would be seriously wowed by this enchanting venue nestled in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. If I’m being honest, their website doesn’t really do the place justice and I was glad to be able to visit the venue with Darren and Sarah a couple of weeks before they got married; it’s one of those venues you have to visit for yourself to get a real feel for just how beautiful it is.

The Hilltop Country House is located within fifteen acres of private land, the owners of the venue (Clare and Martin) live in the adjoining house all year round. It has four reception rooms, formal gardens, woodland and is completely surrounded by fields and farm land. There is also a stunning marquee attached to the 17th century house which is used for wedding ceremonies and receptions. It really is a little piece of paradise!

Darren and Sarah are a magical couple, they’re warm, affectionate, welcoming and funny. I was made up when they booked me to be around all day to capture their wedding from start to finish. As well as booking me to cover the bridal preparation through to the end of the evening reception, they also wanted an additional photographer to capture Darren getting ready at his parent’s house whilst I covered the bridal preparations at the wedding venue. So, I called upon a trusted photographer friend of mine to shoot Darren getting ready, his name is Adam Spencer Young and he’s a cracking bloke. As well as covering the groom preparation, it was great to have Adam around for the following reasons:

1) He’s a fantastic photographer.

2) He’s a smashing guy, friendly and personable.

3) He dresses sharply.

4) He’s better looking than me, a bit of eye candy for the guests!

So, with Adam’s arrival at Darren’s parents house confirmed, it was time for me to shoot the bridal preparation with Sarah and her entourage. This was such a fun time; the girls were brilliant, there were plenty of laughs, jokes, banter plus a few tears of course. Sarah’s bridal party even made a book for her as a wedding day gift filled with photos and hand written memories from their time spent together as friends over the years. There was also a video call made to one of Sarah’s friends in Australia who unfortunately was unable to make the trip over to England due to work commitments. Sarah’s friend is singer/songwriter Sheridn Smith and as she was unable to attend the wedding, she wrote a song especially for Darren & Sarah – A truly touching gesture indeed. You can listen to the song via YouTube by clicking here – it really is beautiful. Below is a selection of images from the bridal & groom preparation.

Buck Fizz

Cork Popping

Hair prep

Mother of the bride

Bride laugh

Bridal prep

Bridesmaids gift


Bridal Party drinking

Bridesmaid drinking

Hair rollers

Father Bride Kiss

Laughing bride

Australia Call

Sheridn Smith



Father Bride Hug

Father Bride Tears

The Dress

Happy Bride

Bride nerves

Mother make up

Window peek

Best man


Ushers getting ready

Polishing shoes


Getting ready


Best man drink

Nerves Groom

Joking around

Joking around funny

It’s actually a minor miracle that Sarah managed to make it to the ceremony as during the bridal prep I had to save her from an invasion of killer wasps that had somehow managed to sneak into the bridal suite via an open window. It was a chaotic scene if you can imagine; two wasps buzzing around the windowsill, girls screaming, makeup and hairspray flying all over the place…luckily I was on hand to capture the wasps using a plastic cup and a piece of cardboard before forcibly ejecting them back into the wild. Panic over…Sarah was safe and ready to marry Darren. Phew!


Group Hug

Flower girl

Flower girl and boy

Father and the bride

Groom tears

First sight


Loving glance

More tears

Ceremony laughs

Ceremony tears

Ceremony smiles

Bridesmaid cry


You may now kiss the bride

Bridal party laughs


Family group

Just married

After the ceremony


We were so lucky with the weather on the day, it was as if we’d plugged the holes in the clouds to stop the rain falling just when we needed it to be dry. It was raining when I arrived at the venue, it rained during the bridal preparation but stopped just in time for the ceremony and the group/couple shots; and then it started raining again as everyone sat down for the wedding breakfast and continued until I left at midnight. Perfectly timed!

Post ceremony drinks


Thumbs up

Group little girls

Group kiss

Big group

Family group


More groups

Even more groups

Bridal party group



Another swing pic

Owner hug

Happy couple


Bride and groom laughing

Wedding breakfast

welcome bride and groom

Whilst everyone was eating it was time for a break. Darren & Sarah had kindly provided a meal for me and I was invited by the owners of the venue into their home to have a drink, a bite to eat and take a little break. It really was wonderful hospitality and my heartfelt thanks go to Clare and Martin for being so welcoming to me on the day.

The speeches are one of my favourite parts of the wedding day; I find that by now people are a lot more relaxed as the wedding day nerves have passed and they’ve had a few drinks, this is where the party really starts. Then came a big surprise…towards the end of Darren’s speech when he was handing out gifts to the parents, best man, bridesmaids etc; he called me up to the top table – Sarah and Darren had bought me a present too…they’d bought me a Pear tree as a special thank you for the work I’d put in as their wedding photographer. It was such a kind thing to do, they knew that I love plants and flowers, I’ve called my pear tree Sarah in honour of the bride and it’s now planted in my back Garden. Google tells me it’ll start to bear fruit in around two years time and I’ll be sure to present Darren & Sarah with the first two pears!


Top table

Wild table

Bride wine

Father speech

More father speech

Father and daughter


Groom speech

Best man speech

Best man speech funny


Darren and Sarah like to party and the evening reception was evidence of this with all sorts of crazy antics on the dance floor. As usual, when I’m shooting a wedding reception I always immerse myself into the the action on the dance floor. It’s quite a strange feeling being surrounded by people who’ve generally had a few drinks (whilst I’m obviously stone cold sober) but getting in among the guests leads to some really memorable shots of the party in full swing.

Cutting the cake

First dance

Party dance

Family dance

Dance hug

Cuddle on the dance floor

At the bar

Boogie room

Glitter ball

Best man kiss

Drinks at bar

Hot dance floor

Grandma dance

Bride and groom dance

Best man tie

So, after a very long but thoroughly enjoyable day I said my goodbyes and headed to my car. During the short walk to the car park I stopped to get a final shot of the exterior of the venue after dark.

Hilltop Country House night

The happy couple have since left me a wonderful review on my business Facebook page which you can read below.

Steve, what can we say…I don’t think there are any words that would truly show how amazing you’ve been throughout the planning of the day as well as the day itself! You’ve been a true pro from start to finish whilst also providing stunning pictures, you were not just a photographer on the big day but a waiter, bee catcher, cleaner and drinks holder and we cannot thank you enough for everything you did. The photos are superb, we can’t believe how beautiful they are and we can’t wait to show them off to everyone now! Definitely wouldn’t think twice about recommending you to anyone and we know who’ll be top of our list if we need pictures doing for anything in the future! Thanks again Steve, much love Darren and Sarah Lockwood xx

More kind words from my customers can be found by clicking here.

Thanks again to Clare and Martin for being so welcoming and a million kisses go to Darren and Sarah for booking me to shoot their day. I had a fantastic time.

Peace and love

Steve x


  • What a beautiful wedding! The candid shots are my favorite, but I love that picture of the bride’s group drinking champagne. You really captured all the fun and beauty of the day.

    • Steve Grogan says:

      Thank you Meredith, it was an amazing day. One of my favourite weddings of this year. So much fun! 🙂

  • Mary Jo says:

    What a beautiful wedding! Nice jobs on all the pics. I felt like I was there right there with them. I really love the pic of stand with all the family members who passed away. What a great memorial to them. BEAUTIFUL pictures!

  • You never fail to amaze me with the feelings that you are able to evoke with your photography! It’s art…true art. I love seeing them and thanks for sharing them.

    • Steve Grogan says:

      You are too kind, Jacqueline. Thank you so much for the lovely comments, they mean a lot. In my wedding photography I always look for emotion and my job is to tell a story of the day. Darren & Sarah were the perfect couple to shoot, it was a perfect wedding. 🙂

  • Jeri says:

    The black and white picture of the women all dressed in their robes and raising their bottles is fantastic. Very evocative.

  • Great photos. Early on in the post, you did bring up an interesting fact. You mentioned about never seeing the place before and scouting it out couple weeks before. How important is it for you to see a place, does it let you figure out how to frame a picture? Also, after you have seen a place, do the decorations sometimes throw off what you had planned?

    • Steve Grogan says:

      Thanks William, I find it very important to visit the venue before the wedding day. I always go with the couple too, even if I’ve photographed there before. The main reason is that it helps me to know if there are any particular places that the couple would like their photo taken on the day. Also, the visit enables me to familiarise myself with the layout of the venue and the available light.

  • andleeb says:

    All the pictures are very nice. You have given life to every picture as all of them were telling the story of a happy and lovely wedding. I am happy to see a beautiful and happy couple .

    I love the picture of stand with memory of left ones. It shows how much they care about their family.

    Thanks for sharing lovely moments with us. All the best.

    • Steve Grogan says:

      Thank you very much for the kind words, they are very much appreciated. I must also thank you for taking the time to look at the story of Darren & Sarah’s wedding.

  • Very nice and complete wedding photographic report. I enjoyed watching it. Regards.