Sam and Pete

Rutland countryside, a pew-full of confetti, and a hanging cake

Summer 2020. Nope. Autumn 2020. Nope. When Covid decided to stick around, Sam and Pete had to postpone their wedding to Autumn 2021. But after multiple postponements, a long wait, and lots of heartache, their wedding was EXTRA.

“Thank you so much not only for the photos but for giving me comfort and hope when I was at my lowest point when we couldn’t see this day happening. Your kind (not to mention funny) poem makes what you do more personal and I really didn’t feel alone on the journey 2020 took us on. As they say ‘everything happens for a reason’ and we were always supposed to be married that day. Thank you for being a pivotal part of it.”

The Rutland run

Sam and Pete’s wedding took Ian (my second shooter for the day) and me on a tour of Rutland …

Pete got ready at their cottage followed by drinks at The Fox and Hounds in Exton. Sam got ready at The Finches Arms in Hambleton, a boutique hotel on the shore of Rutland Water. And they had their ceremony at St Peter and Paul’s church in Exton, followed by a short walk to Exton Park for their marquee reception.

Planning a wedding – Sam and Pete style

Sam and Pete know their own style and were clear about what they wanted from their wedding. Which is an absolute joy for me because it means you’ll see ‘you’ when you look at the photos.

The day was meticulously planned. Sam’s organising skills are HOT! If I needed a wedding planner, I definitely try to twist her arm. But jokes aside, this meant that when the day finally arrived, Sam and Pete could just relax and enjoy themselves. They trusted their plans, decisions and choices, and left their suppliers to do their thing. Which makes a huge difference in wedding photos … because you look your best when you truly let go and enjoy the day.

The styling played a large part in making the day ‘Sam and Pete’. More on that later but I can’t not mention the amazing florals (‘cos this girl loves flowers!). Also the outfits – sharp Savile Row for Pete, romantic statement dress for Sam, and classic black high-low hemline dresses for the bridesmaids. And the hanging cake. THE HANGING CAKE, Y’ALL!

A day of dreamy details AND meaningful moments to capture. Was this real?! Pinch me!

Getting ready

Sam and Pete bought a ‘project house’ during the pandemic (as if planning a wedding wasn’t enough!) which is where Pete got ready with his best man and ushers. Many couples worry about what their house looks like when it comes to their photos … but Sam and Pete loved the idea that in years to come they’ll fondly say “Remember that wallpaper?!”

Sam and her family took over The Finches Arms, and there was a real buzz with people popping in and out as they pleased. Sam’s Dad and Stepdad get on really well (so lovely to witness) and when it was time for them to see her in her dress, they burst into the room together. Their banter settled Sam’s growing nerves as they fixed each other’s buttonholes.

Meanwhile, Pete joined friends and family at Exton pub for a pre-ceremony pint, before walking down the lane to the church. As their guests arrived, it was plain to see how pleased everyone was to see each other, with loads of hugs, chatting and laughter. This is one of my favourite parts of a wedding to capture because the atmosphere is palpable.

Oh, and as we waited for Sam to arrive, I spotted the confetti had a pew all of its own at the back of the church. Loved that! Also, a pew-full of confetti – I’m making that an official metric!

Uncle Pete, here comes Aunty Sammy!

The ceremony was just lovely and full of memorable moments …

One of my favourites came (actually three moments in one!) as Sam made her entrance. Look out for Pete holding it together + page boy having a meltdown + Sam serenely walking down the aisle the calmest of them all!

Then came ‘small flower girl, huge church’. Spot the very brave three-year-old walking into that huge church all on her own. A round of applause to my second shooter Ian for his vision in capturing the moment. I love the contrast in scale in that image – and the adorable sign she was carrying!

And just as things get going … the vicar drops the rings!

One thing’s for sure: Sam and Pete will dine out on this day for decades!

I’m not sure they could believe they were actually married after such a long wait. Their happy expressions in the shots just after their first kiss say it all. Equal parts elation, ‘I love you’, and ‘OMG we actually did it!’.

But in fact, there were many loving glances between them. It was pretty magical to experience the bond they have. Check out how tightly they held hands during the signing of the register!

Speaking of which, being able to capture Sam and Pete, and their eight parents united in support, during the signing of the register was really quite special. Not least because it’s unusual to be able to shoot that as it actually happens.

More hugs, cheers and laughter followed as Sam and Pete exited the church and everyone congratulated them – and launched the pew-full of confetti skywards!

Informal formals

Keeping the formal photos low key and to a minimum was important to Sam and Pete. So while the guests headed across the field to the reception, we held back for a few quick group shots with their immediate family at the church. So once Sam and Pete joined their guests, everything flowed – including the Landrover bar!

The drinks reception took place on the back lawn of Exton Hall. (This area has been restored to its original design since my last visit, so it was lovely to see everyone enjoying the warm autumn sun around the fountain.) And the wedding breakfast was served in one of Events And Tents marvellous marquees.

As the guests headed to find their seats for dinner, I took Sam and Pete off to capture some portraits in Exton’s grounds. One of my favourite shots is of them cuddling up on the terrace, with their guests and the church spire in the background – their whole wedding in one picture. We also snuck to the back of the house to find some soft shaded light; which is excellent for flattering close-up photos!

Mountains, skis and more confetti

The marquee was beautifully styled by Sophie’s Flower Co with deconstructed floral pillars at the entrance and fabulous flower chandeliers over the tables. And Sam and Pete incorporated their love of skiing into ‘Sign the Skis’ instead of a guest book, a mountain monogram, and Toblerone wedding favours. I love photographing details like this because of the meaning they hold.

As the sun set, we made the most of the gorgeous light and beautiful surroundings of Exton Park with a few more shots of Sam and Pete. This is my favourite time of day to do portraits – not just because the light is so good, but also because everything is just so much more relaxed.

Next, it was time to cut their cake (that beauty is by The Ruddington Cake Company) and have their first dance. A confetti cannon called the guests to join them on the dancefloor, which covered everyone and everywhere with flakes of gold. The live music got everyone up on their feet (some excellent shapes thrown!). And one of their guests even got up on stage and sang a few songs for them (his party trick, apparently, and well, you can’t break tradition!).

Congratulations, Sam and Pete!

We waited, hoped and kept our fingers crossed. And finally, we got to your wedding! All the planning you put into everything made for a really unique and personal day. It had ‘Sam and Pete’ written all over it. A couple who, quite literally, scaled mountains. Congratulations and thank you again, for letting me be part of your story.

And the final word from Sam and Pete:

“We have no words that can express how brilliantly wonderful and spectacular our photos are. You have truly captured every single bit of our long-awaited special day and every bit of detail. You are extremely talented and it must be so rewarding to be able to do what you do.”

Planning a wedding in Exton?

There’s nothing I’d love to photograph more! If you’d love relaxed photos like Sam and Pete’s for yourself, I’d love to hear from you.

Psst! Looking for a Rutland wedding videographer to go with your Exton Park wedding? Check out Mark at The Big Day Productions. (Not to be confused with ‘Big Day Productions’, please!) He’s amazing to work with (for you and me!), is a great guy to have around – and he created this absolutely stonking film for Sam and Pete …