A springtime Ladywood Estate wedding.
Walking my youngest to school yesterday I noticed some blossom emerging from trees, goodbye winter! Here’s a spring wedding to get us all in the mood!
I had an initial meeting with Emma & Scott to discuss their plans & expectations for their springtime wedding at Ladywood Estate. Nothing unusual there, I always like to meet my couples BEFORE they book to check that we’re all on the same wavelength, that my style & ethos is exactly what they are looking for and to confirm that I’m not an axe-wielding psychopath and that the couple isn’t either!
There was a comment that came from Scott during that meeting that struck a chord and to this day really stands out to me. I remember it vividly because no-one has ever made the comment before and it was a heartfelt, honest comment from Scott that highlighted the strength of my narration of a wedding day and how some photographers display their work in sample albums.
Scott and Emma were flicking through a sample album of mine. It was the wedding of Waleed & Catherine at Prestwold Hall in 2012. Rather than show only my hero (or best) shots in a sample album, I’d decided to show a real wedding from start to finish.
Scott got halfway through the album and said “Are these images all from the same wedding?”, to which I replied “Yes”.
“Wow!” was the reply that came back from Scott. He seemed genuinely surprised that this was the case. “Bloody hell, they’re all so good!”
It then struck me that all of the sample albums I’ve seen from other photographers at wedding fairs and at the venues I’m recommended contain their ‘greatest hits’ and not just one wedding in full. To get that kind of response was great and totally reinforced my images, the strength of my storytelling, how I display my work and my ethos and approach to wedding photography.
Which then brings me to the ceremony at Edith Weston church & the vicar. I’d been warned by Scott & Emma that the vicar would only allow me to get a picture of the processional, the signing of the register and the recessional. Obviously, for a storyteller photographer, this wasn’t the ideal situation for me OR Scott & Emma for that matter. Heck, you only get married once (if you’re lucky) and to have photography severely limited during the most important part of the day is a bit of a bummer.
As per usual, one arriving at the church, I immediately sought out the vicar to introduce myself. I didn’t quite know who or what to expect. You get visions of some kind of stern, authoritative figure unwilling to budge on his strict rules. We hit it off straight away.
“Are those cameras you’ve got noisy?” he said. “I’ve got to be honest, holding up the pair of Nikons’ on my shoulder straps, you’ll hear the shutter on these. But – you won’t hear a thing from this (holding up the Fuji X-T1 which has a completely silent electronic shutter)”. I quickly took a shot to show him how silent it was.
“Ah, in that case, take a place right behind me in the choir stalls and shoot away!” – great stuff!
Our venues and why we chose them.
“We got married in my parents’ village church in Edith Weston, Rutland. Our reception followed at Ladywood Estate, near Braunston, Rutland.
We’d looked at a couple of other venues, which we had discounted for various reasons before we visited Ladywood Estate. The fact that the venue was a blank canvas that we could make our own and really put our stamp on the whole day completely sold us.
We were keen on having the two families all together for the weekend surrounding the wedding because they would be travelling from southern England, Scotland and the USA. Ladywood had everything we wanted.
We booked the pavilion (the function space at the venue that included a function area, professional kitchen, toilets and cloakroom) for the day of the wedding, and the house and stables accommodation for the family to enjoy from the Friday to the Monday.
The key elements that attracted us to the venue for us were: The owner’s (Mike) ‘can do’ attitude to all of our ideas, basically, anything was possible; and most importantly to us was that the venue only hosted one wedding per weekend. This meant that we weren’t made to feel part of the conveyer-belt of weddings at hotels. One venue promised us exclusivity, but all guests had to vacate by 10 am the following day – not our idea of a relaxing start to married life!”
Our wedding theme.
“I am English and my husband is Scottish so we wanted to achieve a blend of the two with a ‘rose and thistle’ theme.
We used my husband’s tartan as a basis for our colours, which made life easy for bridesmaids dress shopping because his tartan is mainly navy. We also wanted the day to be all about our guests as a ‘thank you’ for all of their support they have given to us both, so we wanted it to be relaxed.
As well as the rose and thistle theme – which was included in our stationery, flowers and centrepieces – we went with a rustic theme, which we achieved in many ways.
We hired a venue decorating company who were fantastic and made the blank canvas of the pavilion into a fantastic venue. They built furniture and displays out of old crates, built a stage for the band dressed in hessian and zoned each area in the vast space of the pavilion using drapes and lighting.
And the best bit that all guests commented on was the bespoke bar. They made it out of massive planks of oak from an old barn and barrels with a back bar area made out of crates. It was exactly as we had described to them.
We also tried to include personal touches with photos taken on the wedding day of our siblings, parents and grandparents and even managed to persuade my parents to make hessian table runners for 20 tables.”
Any tips for other couples who are planning their weddings?
- “Always start the day with a glass of bubbly!”
- “Don’t underestimate how long things will take to do, especially when most things have to be done the same number of times as you have guests attending.”
- “Try not to take too much on as DIY projects. We aimed to only do things that would not matter if they were not there to reduce the self-induced pressure.”
- “Just try and enjoy the planning as much as you can, the little details help to bring the day together and make it yours. However, no one else will know if something is missing or did not quite go to plan on the day itself so don’t stress over the details too much.”
“Ian was recommended to us by Mike at Ladywood. They refer a couple of photographers, and after looking at their websites we decided to meet Ian as his photos really captured our imagination, some of his humorous moments making us giggle.
We were really keen on spending as much time as possible with our guests so we didn’t want to spend ages on formal photos and really wanted Ian to capture the moments of the day with our guests instead. When we met Ian at his studio in Loughborough to discuss options and the day, we automatically felt relaxed and at ease, so knew straight away that we did not need to meet another photographer and booked him.
Ian sent us a link to our photos within two weeks of the wedding, which was an amazing surprise to receive at the end of our honeymoon. We were delighted with the images and he really did capture the day and many moments that we were not even aware had taken place, which gave us more giggles when we saw them. My husband does not enjoy having his photo taken, so we appreciated that fact that Ian focused mainly on the spur of the moment shots rather than staged ones.
We really would recommend Ian, especially if you want a true reflection of your day captured by photos, we didn’t have a videographer, and with Ian’s photos, we do not feel like we missed out. Also, he was brilliant on the morning of the wedding whilst we were getting ready and even ran around opening windows etc to make sure us girls were comfortable.”
Other suppliers we used.
“We used local suppliers that came through recommendations.
Our caterer was Tom’s Kitchen, again a recommendation by Ladywood Estate. They were able to create a completely unique menu that reflected our English and Scottish theme. Tom’s Kitchen provided the table linen, table settings and glassware as well as waiting and bar staff.
Another perk of a Ladywood Estate wedding is that they do not charge corkage. We were able to provide a free bar for our guests, so we made a Waitrose order, who offered a ‘sale or return’ option for any unused drinks purchased.
As previously mentioned, we hired a brilliant venue decorating company called More Weddings. They brought our theme to life and could not have been more patient or helpful.
There were various elements of the day that we made with the help of friends and family. This included collecting 250 jam jars that were used to serve arrival cocktails in. The rest were wrapped in hessian for centrepieces. Some of the jam jar centrepieces contained battery operated tealight candles and others contained small rose and thistle posies. We served our arrival cocktails in the jam jars and ensured that there were Kilner drinks dispensers stocked on the bar for guests to top themselves up with rather than queuing at the bar.
A big highlight of the evening was the amazing Ceilidh band that we hired from London, Licence to Ceilidh. The band and the caller were incredibly professional, easy to understand and good fun. They were also able to provide an iPod disco for us for between and after their sets (the playlist for this was provided by one of my bridesmaids).
We decided that we didn’t want the celebrations to stop at midnight, so we decided we wanted something different and hired silent disco equipment to see the night out for us (again playlists provided by one of the bridesmaids).
As a wedding gift, one of our close friends made the wedding cake for us, which was perfect. We only wanted a very simple and elegant looking cake, so he made our choice of cakes for each of the three tiers. The cake was decorated with white icing, a ribbon of my husband’s tartan and a thistle and rose.
We used a small printing business for our stationery, a local hairdresser to do my hair in the morning of the wedding and a florist based in Stamford for flowers.”