Tom & Olivia’s autumn wedding at Kelmarsh Hall

February 17, 2018
Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (57)

Tom & Olivia’s wedding photos had pretty much everything in their favour

Two welcoming families, the high energy of lots of friends, a beautiful village church (St Catharine’s in Houghton on the Hill in Leicestershire), a laid-back and light-hearted Vicar who likened marriage to burgers (he had everyone wondering where he was going with that one!), beautiful autumn sunshine and an amazing reception venue (Kelmarsh Hall)…

These things don’t make a wedding of course, but they do mean I can spend less time thinking about logistics and technical things, and concentrate more on capturing the moments and feeling of the day. Because that’s what it’s all about it.

When I say “pretty much everything”, I mean everything apart from the getting ready location!

Don’t get me wrong. It was a super hotel and the suites are lovely to stay in, but the light is awful! There’s just one small window in each room, which of course, no one was within reach of. It’s not my style to ask everyone to move, because that would completely change the atmosphere. So this was one of those ‘it is what it is’ occasions when we had to just roll with it.

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (56)

There was plenty of action to make up for it though. The banter in this shot of Tom helping his Usher with his tie makes it one of my favourites from the day.

I love that it shows the banter that inevitably arises as the Groomsmen are getting ready. Tying ties and putting on cufflinks make great action shots but capturing personalities and relationships adds something extra. Abby has an impeccable sense of timing and caught this at exactly the right moment.

A few years ago I would have thought this photo had been taken too soon

I was more about perfectionism back then and not being able to see all of Olivia would have bugged me. But now I see it differently. Beyond the aesthetics, it’s full of feeling.

This is the moment when the church door is just being opened. Everyone is craning their necks to get their first glimpse of Olivia. How exciting is that?!

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (55)

This photo reminds me of the anticipation that’s so palpable at that moment. And I hope it reminds Olivia of how she felt when that church door opened and she stepped inside. A mix of nerves and excitement, I imagine.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone planning a church wedding

…is to savour the time immediately after your ceremony. (Weather allowing, of course!) Take your time and enjoy every minute.

It’s wonderful to receive all those hugs, kisses and words of congratulations.

And it’s a brilliant way to turn the traditional ‘receiving line’ on its head. You get to say hello to everyone early on in the day. Which makes much more sense than doing it towards the end, IMO. And it’s fun, leisurely and informal.

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (54)

And for me, with smiles aplenty, it’s often the best time of the day to capture reactions and expressions. And if I can get two hugs for the price of one, then I’m a really happy girl!

There’s one rule with confetti…

More is more!

I actually couldn’t see Tom & Olivia for most of their walk to the car. There was so much confetti being thrown! It was fantastic fun and Tom & Olivia delightfully cheered their way through it.

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (53)

Very often, confetti can only be thrown outside of the church grounds. And with most village churches being right on the roadside this usually means there isn’t much room to move by the time your guests are lined up. However the path outside St. Catharine’s in Houghton on the Hill is quite deep and it was brilliant to have plenty of space to work in. That meant I could include the arched iron gate and lantern, as well as lots of guests to frame the image. It would look great as a full page in an album.

Top Tip! If you want a good confetti photo, it’s best to provide your guests with confetti. In my experience, most people don’t bring it.

Weddings are fun and happy, first & foremost

But without wanting to sound morbid, there are often moments tinged with sadness and the memory of people that can’t be there to celebrate. It’s good to be aware of these things so I can be alert for the moments when loved ones are in a couple’s thoughts. I think it’s important to capture that love somehow.

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (20)

I knew Tom & Olivia planned to put some flowers on Olivia’s Grandparents’ grave before they left the church so I had my eye out for it to happen.

This isn’t a moment when you want to spot your wedding photographer so I moved slowly and kept my distance.

It was a tricky angle to shoot from because Olivia was hidden behind Tom. But as Tom bent down to rest the flowers the moment was perfect, I grabbed one shot and slipped away.

Being able to drive like a demon is an important skill for a wedding photographer

A photo of the wedding car arriving at Kelmarsh Hall was on my radar. With some sneaky overtaking and a bit of luck, I arrived at Kelmarsh well ahead of Tom & Olivia.

In my mind, I saw a photo of the wedding car coming down the lane into the Hall, flanked by old oak trees full of golden leaves either side.

So I waited.

And waited.

There was no way I was going to miss this shot.

And then at the last minute, just as the car was coming down the drive, a car park attendant put two traffic cones out that blocked the car from my view.

Talk about bad timing!

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (52)

So I had just a few seconds to rethink and come up with an alternative. As I spun around, I spotted the arched branch in this tree. What a great natural frame! So I waited until the car was in exactly the right spot and there was my shot.

Kelmarsh Hall is famous for its dahlias

Tom & Olivia love the rustic feel of the walled garden at Kelmarsh. So they asked to do their portrait session in there. And I had everything crossed that the dahlias would be in full bloom!

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (51)

We opened the door to the walled garden and woah! What a sight!

Not only were the dahlias putting on an amazing show but we were treated to the most wonderful glow of low autumn sunshine too, lighting everything up from just the right angle. Best of all, we had the garden to ourselves; a secret and serene world of incredible beauty.

It was magical to be in there. As I was working I could only hope that I was doing it justice.

The unplanned, unexpected photos are often the most unique

I was finishing Tom & Olivia’s portraits, gathering up my gear and, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the wind blowing Olivia’s veil over her head.

Sometimes it’s about anticipating and waiting for the right moment. Other times … you’ve just gotta be quick and grab the shot! I had to react quickly to this one, otherwise, the movement in the veil would be gone and Tom & Olivia would realise I was shooting again.

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (49)

It’s not your typical wedding portrait and that’s what I like about it. They’re simply in the moment, unaware of the camera. Olivia’s veil is the obvious interest but I also love that Tom is adjusting his watch; it’s a subtle nuance because it was a wedding gift from Olivia.

This photo was a wonderful stroke of serendipity

I didn’t remember seeing this stolen kiss happen. So I was thrilled to see it when I downloaded the photos at the end of the day. My non-camera eye was most likely wandering around the room looking for the next photo at the time it happened. I like to think ahead and am often onto the next shot before having finished taking the previous one.

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (45)

With speeches, I try to ‘listen for the photos’ as much as watch for them. The best reactions and expressions are usually after punchlines and following particularly sentimental words. I like to be ready and waiting with my camera to my eye for those moments. That way, all I have to do is press the shutter when I anticipate a reaction. I also like to try and get images that show both the speaker and the Bride & Groom; so whilst I can’t claim lighting speed reactions for this one, preparation definitely helped!

I adore how full of romance this photo is. I’m sure every bride would love her Groom to do that.

It’s always a relief when the fireworks shot turns out okay!

I have a Sarah-proof plan for photographing fireworks! But there’s always a need to adjust things as the fireworks go off and I see the result on the back of the camera.

Different types of fireworks, varying speeds and the number of concurrent bursts require different shutter speeds to make them look good. The trickiest part is listening for when the firework is set off, predicting how long it will be before it bursts in the sky and setting the right shutter speed to cover that time range.

And with usually just 2-3 minutes it’s fast and furious! Not to mention the difficulty of seeing to change settings in the dark. Thank goodness for the iPhone torch!

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (44)

Are you planning a wedding at Kelmarsh Hall?

Good choice, if you are! I love it there!

You can see more of Tom & Olivia’s wedding photos below.

And then if you’d like to find out more about my wedding photography at Kelmarsh Hall, have a look through some other weddings I’ve photographed at Kelmarsh here. It’s one of my regular venues so you might need a big mug of tea to keep you going!

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