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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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