Dan & Portia’s wedding at Rushton church & Hall

November 5, 2014

Things have been a bit busy lately. You may have guessed from the lack of blog posts! The summer and autumn are always hectic and I’ve thought to myself ‘I’ll blog that when things are quieter’ so many times. So hold on to your hats because there’s lots to come! First up, Dan and Portia’s wedding at Rushton Hall.

About Dan & Portia

Dan & Portia are a very sociable couple and have lots of mutual friends but it took a chance meeting at a BP petrol station for them to get together. They’re as much about romance as they are having fun and obviously adore being in each other’s company, laughing one minute and being loving the next.

Their family are their friends and their friends their family. Both are a big part of their lives and so naturally a big part of their wedding too. The space and flexibility that comes with exclusive use of Rushton Hall suited that perfectly and made their wedding feel like a big house party with all the people they love most.

They planned a smart and traditional day with a church ceremony, a luxe & romantic country house reception, top hats and pretty flowers. It was laid back too with fabulous music, drinks aplenty, a photo booth and a big party in the evening. The emphasis was on everyone enjoying themselves and they (I think I credit Portia here!) chose a great team of suppliers to achieve that.

Dan & Portia booked their wedding photography after being recommended to us by Rushton Hall.  They booked over the phone so I didn’t know much about them until we met for their pre-wedding shoot but right from the start it was laid-back and fun working with them. They knew they wanted a relaxed approach and look to their photos, and had a list of group photos too, but were open-minded about the details and happy for Abby and I to just do our thing. That’s exactly how it works best; as it allows plenty of time for the spontaneous photos to unfold.

Dan & Portia’s wedding style

Dan & Portia combined grey with grape accents. It was a feminine yet strong look which worked brilliantly with the rich, deep colours of Rushton Hall. The greys gave it a thoroughly modern feel too.

The dessert table was a genius way to show the cake off. The apothecary jars of bonbons, marshmallow and meringues helped the cake command some presence in the big bay window of the Great Hall. It’s an imposing space but the cake held its’ own..

Dan & Portia’s wedding photography

There was a zen like calm when I arrived to photograph Portia and the girls getting ready. They’d allowed plenty of time for champagne, croissants and chatting alongside their hair and make-up. So even though Portia’s hair was done twice (it was a little tight the first time) there was no panic and still time to spare.

Not your average bus stop!

I travelled on the bus with the guests to the church. The bus juddered and shook over what seemed like endless speed bumps so I had to hold on tight and brace myself in the staircase to keep the camera steady! I was conscious that things would happen very quickly with all the guests arriving at church at the same time. We had to work very quickly to get thorough coverage of that part of the day. Abby started at the church before me to photograph Dan and the boys as they arrived and, as luck would have it, the bus had to stop near the church for a car to pass so I was able to hop off and run ahead.

The Vicar was very welcoming but also very strict about not allowing photographs during the vows or ring exchange. Abby and I worked discreetly from the front and back of the church to get as much variety as possible from the rest of the service.

Dan & Portia booked Murray Hockridge to sing while they signed the registers. You might recognise Murray from The BBC’s ‘The Voice’. His version of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was a goosebumps type of incredible.

It’s very rare to get permission to photograph the signing of the register as it actually happens so you’ll often spot me hiding somewhere at the back ;)

Everyone headed back to Rushton Hall fairly quickly after the ceremony. There were drinks to be had!

Dan & Portia took some time to be with their guests while Abby and I got some relaxed photos of people enjoying themselves, photographed the dinner set up and prepared for the group photos.

Gathering guests for group photos can often take a long time but fortunately Dan & Portia had booked Alan Hodge as their Toastmaster. I’ve worked with Alan so often that we don’t even have to speak to get things done now. And it was just as well today because the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and there was a big black cloud steaming towards us as we started the group photos. We stepped up the pace, with Alan calling the next group while I used silent movie arm motions and inane grins to direct the group I was photographing. It was fast and furious but we won! I couldn’t stop laughing it was so quick. Even Portia asked a surprised ‘is that it?’ when we got to the end! Best of all, for Dan & Portia, it meant they had more time to enjoy themselves.

After taking a wander for some photos with Dan & Portia, and a bit more time for the guests to relax in the Library, it was into the Great Hall for dinner and speeches before heading down to the cellar bar for the evening party.

Tips for couples planning a similar wedding:

  1. Allow plenty of time to get ready. If you’re prepared for things to take longer than planned it won’t set the rest of your day back. The day will fly; you don’t want to be chasing time from being late at the start. And if you end up with spare time, relax and enjoy it.
  2. Ask your photographer to recommend a toastmaster who is good at helping with group photos, to make them as quick as possible and free up time for you to be with your guests. A good one is worth their fee for that alone.
  3. Pay attention to where and how your cake will be displayed. A dessert table might work well for a large space and stop a cake looking lost. Think about the cloth and even the table itself. Who says it has to be on a table?! I’ve seen some wonderful pedestals, chimney pots and even hanging cakes.
  4. Enjoy yourselves. Smile. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your guests will take their lead from you. If you’re having a great time, they will too. And that will result in happy photos.
  5. Think of your suppliers as a team. Ask one supplier for recommendations of others. You may be booking individual companies but they will work together to make your day what it is.

Are you planning a wedding at Rushton Hall?

If that’s a “hell yes”, you might like to read more about my wedding photography at Rushton Hall. You’ll find links to some more weddings I’ve captured at Rushton on that page too.


  1. Angela on November 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Brilliant pictures Sarah, well worth the wait to see them. A lovely wedding indeed. Those flowers took my breath away.

  2. Sarah Vivienne on November 21, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you! Anna always does such beautiful flowers; but I especially loved these colours.

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