Terry & Alison’s music-filled wedding at Fawsley Hall
The majestic Fawsley Hall
Terry and Alison got married at one of my very favourite country house wedding venues in Northamptonshire, Fawsley Hall.
My day started with a few relaxed shots of Terry and his Best Men chilling before getting ready. It was a rather long commute for me; down the garden path and up the one next door! Terry and Alison are my next-door neighbours so it was particularly lovely to be a part of their wedding. But not without a little pressure; they know where I live!
Then it was on to Fawsley Hall for everything else: Alison getting ready, a civil ceremony in The Salvin Suite and a drinks reception in the spectacular Great Hall, followed by a candlelit dinner, speeches and a laid-back evening of chatter and champagne.
Live music was an important part of the day. Alison’s nephews performed a short acoustic set before dinner, with Alison joining in herself for a bit. This is a family full of talented musicians!
The thing I loved most about photographing this wedding was capturing the energy of the day. Terry and Alison planned an intimate wedding with their closest family and friends which allowed them to spend quality time with everyone. It also felt inclusive with lots of guests being involved in the day somehow; such as with hair styling, readings, MCing, Ushering, music, managing the tech… which made it really relaxed. Everyone was super chatty; there were big hugs, three-mile smiles, lots of personality and my favourite thing, hearts on sleeves. That gave me some great moments and expressions to capture.
So onto my favourite 10 from the day, and if you need a bigger dose there’s more at the end of the post…
The little things matter
After arriving and saying hello to everyone on the wedding morning, I like to ease in gently and photograph the outfit details. It sets me up for the day if I can take my time over doing these really nicely; it’s good for settling nerves! Outfit details make a great start in a wedding album too; helping to set the scene and introduce the elements of the story.
I also like to make the colours and tones of a set of photos as cohesive as possible so I’ll often use things like the Groom’s tie, pocket square or waistcoat to bring in a couple’s colour scheme right from the start. (Accessories by Mrs Bow Tie.)
Having been honoured to photograph Alison’s dress fitting, I knew that the colour mauve would be a big feature so I included Terry’s pocket square for an extra burst of colour in this photo of his cufflinks. It took a bit of time to style the photo and get a good angle for the reflection, but I think it’s time well spent and always try to plan things so I can dedicate time to do this.
Where there’s light, there’s a photograph
Another outfit detail: Alison’s dress. Isn’t it fabulous? Matt gold sequins and masses of layers of grey, lilac and ivory tulle. (It was made by Mandy Lazenby in Onley.)
When I arrived at Fawsley Hall, Alison’s dress was hanging on the wardrobe.
I took a photo of it there and (although the wardrobe was mighty fine) I really wasn’t happy with it. There wasn’t quite enough light reaching the dress to make the sequins sparkle or show the depth of colour in the skirt.
So, it was back to basics: find the good light and work from there.
That led me to this door. Sooooo good! I’m mildly obsessed with doors so was rather pleased, despite the fact it’s the bathroom door! I love how the vertical beams echo the folds in the skirt and the colours work so well together.
The first 7 things I learned about taking flattering portraits
1. Turn the subject 45° to the camera. It’s more slimming than being square on.
2. Position the arms away from the body. This shows off the waist and makes the arms look toned.
3. Shoot into the unlit side of the face. This accentuates the cheekbone and makes the face look slimmer.
4. Never shoot from below the eye-line; nostrils aren’t photogenic.
5. The eyes should follow the direction of the nose; seeing too much white of the eye looks awkward.
6. Make sure the nose doesn’t point out past the cheek, or it will look big.
7. If it bends, bend it. (I couldn’t do much about that with this little fella though.)
I hope Sid, Alison’s ‘something blue’, was pleased with his portrait!
Relationships, not people
As an only child, I’m endlessly curious about what it would be like to have a brother or sister. Someone who’s seen you grow into who you are today. Someone who keeps your childhood alive because you shared yours together. Someone who knows of all the silly things you’ve done, probably even more than your parents know! Although there’s part of me that’s glad there’s no-one who can take pleasure in telling on me!
I love seeing and capturing that relationship between siblings at weddings. It was so nice to see the close bond between Alison and her sister, Karen. Karen was incredibly supportive of Alison and was so excited to be there for her; she was enthusiastic about everything and nothing was too much trouble. The morning was a special time for them; getting their hair done, painting nails, lacing dresses and helping with shoes, giggling like I imagine they did when they were little girls… I felt so lucky to get this glimpse into their relationship.
The bits in-between that can only be yours
This photo is neither one moment nor another. It can’t be categorised in the same way as ‘exchanging rings’ or ‘the first kiss’. Terry and Alison have exchanged rings but the Registrar hasn’t quite moved on to pronounce them husband and wife.
But their hands and expressions tell a different story; one of how they’re feeling rather than what they’re doing.
Even though we can’t see his face clearly, we can tell Terry is happy by the way his smile is making his eye crinkle. I love that he’s making sure his ring is firmly on. And Alison, she looks like the cat that got the cream! But maybe, and understandably, a little nervous (hands always give it away!).
This is a favourite of mine because it tells you so much more than a photo of rings being exchanged or of a couple looking at the Registrar. It tells you how Terry and Alison felt in that moment. And it’s unique. That’s why authentic documentary wedding photography can’t be done by ticking photos off a list.
People watching at weddings is one of my favourite things!
To me, taking pictures of guests is as important as photographing the couple and I like to do this when people are doing what they do best; being themselves. The drinks reception is a great opportunity to capture people’s characters.
I’d been watching this conversation build from a distance and could tell a good reaction was coming. I just had to wait it out, discreetly, until the moment came! I love the contrast between the big, slightly shocked reaction on the right and the more composed conversation on the left! It’s like two pictures for the price of one!
You can’t have the rainbow without the rain
We completely missed the rain though, which was lucky. It was a little cold and blustery outside so everyone was cosied up in the Great Hall for the drinks reception.
Terry, Alison and I decided to brave it for a few portraits outside and we came out the front door to this wonderful sight! What a magical moment.
This is the kind of spot I make a bee-line for
This is what country houses and estates are all about to me: architecture.
Finding a venue’s defining features and showing them off is what gives wedding photos a sense of place. I always take closer up portraits as well, of course, but the big wide ones like this set the scene first.
I think it’s important to make sure a couple’s outfits are shown off in portraits too, and especially the dress. I wanted to highlight the depth of colour in Alison’s skirt, so I asked Alison to swish it about and I love that the movement breaks the formality a bit. I asked Terry to lean against the pillar to give Alison swirling room; the unexpected bonus of which is the flash of a violet sock!
At every wedding, there’s one that gets away
There’s always a photo that there isn’t time to take, or that I only think of afterwards. It’s one of the most frustrating things about photographing weddings! And that photo often becomes the one I seek out first the next time I shoot at that venue.
This is the one that got away last time!
Wedding photography is a lesson in letting go of ‘perfect’!
The placement of the mirror is a somewhat disctracting but a different angle wouldn’t have caught Terry and Alison in frame at the same time. The backs of a few heads at the bottom rile me a bit but I can’t very well ask them to move!
But then Alison’s expression lights up the photo and totally makes it. Terry is in the foreground, making his speech, but it’s Alison that I see first and keep going back to. It’s all about that smirk!
Are you planning a wedding at Fawsley Hall?
Please get in touch if you are! I’d love to hear from you.
In the meantime, you can see more from Terry & Alison’s wedding below (click on the photo to see it full size) and if you like what you see, feel free to read more about my wedding photography at Fawlsey Hall