Tom & Jo’s winter wedding at Woburn Abbey

It’s funny how the coldest, wettest, greyest mornings can turn into such beautiful days. This is Tom & Jo’s wedding. They got married at the beginning of January at The Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey. Our first wedding of the year!

About Tom & Jo

Jo was merrily pinning photos to her wedding planning board on pinterest when she came across some of my work for Ryan & Laura, who had their wedding at Woburn Abbey a few years ago. An email and a meeting later we were straight into planning mode with her and Tom, with just a couple of months to go to their wedding day.

There was something extra special about Tom & Jo getting married right at the start of January. There was extra anticipation for Christmas and what a great way to start the new year. Tom and Jo embraced the winter with stylish fur wraps, cosy velvet capes, a sprinkle of glitter and twinkly candlelight. The lack of daylight makes photographing winter weddings difficult but they thought about the practical things too; choosing a venue with lots of big windows and having an early ceremony so that their portraits could be done before it got dark.

Tom & Jo are considered and naturally organised but that’s no surprise because Jo works as a Project Manager and Tom runs his own business. Needless to say between them they made light work of planning their wedding. They pulled together a stellar team of suppliers which made the preparations easy and meant all they had to do on their wedding day was enjoy it. Judging by their smiles, I think they might have done!

Jo loves to pore over the pages of Vogue and enjoys its’ editorial fashion imagery. That style was a big influence in choosing her wedding photographer; she wanted beautifully crafted and ‘in the moment’ photos that would show everything off at its’ best. A rose-tinted rather than purist version of documentary wedding photography. And we took a slightly different approach with the group photos to make them fit with the feel of the rest of the photos. Rather than everyone standing in line looking at the camera, we used chairs to create different levels and had people interacting together which helps to break the formality.

Social butterflies and thoughtful to the core, Tom & Jo are all about their friends and family. You only had to look at their inspired choice of thank you gifts to understand. Engraved scissors for Jo’s dress-maker mum, activity packs to keep the kids entertained and an engraved tankard for Jo’s Dad to add to his collection. So it was important to them to take the time to have photos with all their guests. That made their list of group photos quite long and it took a good chunk of time to get through, especially with the extra setting up of chairs etc. By being organised with lists beforehand and having Ushers gathering guests on the day, we got through them all in exactly the amount of time we’d planned. Woohoo!

Tom & Jo’s wedding style

Tom & Jo planned a very proper, elegant occasion which felt totally right in the grand setting of Woburn Abbey. The Sculpture Gallery provided all the style they wanted; classic and stately. So they kept everything else simple with a navy and cream colour scheme. Roses and gypsophilia added a soft, romantic feel and just a hint of sparkle in the stationery and from the candles made it feel wintery and cosy too. The favours were thoughtful touches – shawls for the ladies to keep warm in the evening and cuddly toys (Woburn animals of course) to keep the kids entertained during dinner.

Tom & Jo’s wedding photography

Jo got ready at home with her family, bridesmaids and flower girls. It was a whirlwind morning but somehow the photos feel calm and stop time. I love that documentary wedding photography can save moments like that and allow you to relive them.

Jo’s Mum made the flower girls’ dresses and capes. She’s a clever cookie. They looked great and the girls loved wearing them. While Jo was getting into her dress, they were busy waving their wands and singing ‘Let It Go’ like Disney Princesses! They were great fun to photograph all morning actually; with a kitchen floor picnic, cheekily checking out all the make-up and watching Jo’s Dad put the finishing touches to his speech.

Georgi photographed Tom and the boys making their final preparations at The Woburn Hotel. I always giggle when I look through the photos of the boys getting ready. I thought girls had it harder with hair and make-up but apparently cravats and buttonholes are rather tricky!

Tom and Jo had both their civil ceremony and reception at The Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey. It’s one of my favourite venues for a winter wedding because it’s so full of natural daylight.

It was raining hard when Jo arrived so I darted around quickly to get photos of the car arriving. It’s just a bit of wet after all and I’m not going to shrink any time soon! As I ran back towards the door to photograph Jo getting out of the car I spotted the Flower Girls excitedly peering out. So sweet!

The ceremony room at The Sculpture Gallery is great for wedding photography with amazing architecture, imposing paintings & sculptures and lovely light. It’s a dream to work with. Jo’s entrance was tricky to photograph though with guests stepping into the aisle to take photos, making clean pictures difficult. All you can do is work with a challenge like that and include them in the photo. But once Jo reached Tom we had pretty much the best seats in the house and felt like we were getting married with them!

After the formalities, there was champagne and canapes and time to chat. After my own experience of missing out on our drinks reception, I make it a rule to leave a couple alone as long as possible during the drinks reception. You’ll probably be thirsty and want to put on some more lippy ready for your photos as well as spend a bit of time with your guests. This is when I’ll photograph your dinner details and get some relaxed photos of everyone enjoying themselves.

Then it will be on to group photos and portraits of the two of you. Tom and Jo wanted their group photos to have a relaxed, editorial feel rather than people standing in a line and looking at the camera. Something as simple as getting people to look at each other and laugh together can bring life and energy to group photos. We also used chairs to create a bit more shape and had a fun game of chinese whispers for the little ones!

The speeches are one of my favourite parts of a wedding to photograph. I love hearing all the funny stories and capturing people’s reactions! Tom and Jo’s speeches were a highlight for their guests too. You could feel an extra buzz in the air as everyone left their seats ready to party.

Tips for couples planning a similar wedding

  1. Work some time into your day, throughout the day, to be with your guests. They’ve come to see you after all.
  2. Be realistic about winter weather. It will be cold. It could be wet. It gets dark early. Planning for those things and being prepared will help you make the best of it.
  3. Ask your Ushers to help organise guests for your group photos. It will be much quicker if they get people together while your photographer takes the photos.
  4. When choosing your venue, consider how much natural light there is. A good guide is to look at the size of the windows relative to the room. Light can make or break wedding photos.
  5. The Groomsmen often get much less attention than the girls in wedding photography. It’s worth having a second photographer who can tag along with the boys in the morning. That way you’ll have photos of both of you getting ready. It’s lovely to see each others’ preparations.

Are you having your wedding at Woburn’s Sculpture Gallery?

If you are, you’ve made an excellent choice! Of all the venues I’ve worked at across the UK (and abroad!), Woburn Abbey is one of the best.

Head over here to find out why I think Woburn is the bee’s knees for wedding photography. If you fancy a nose, there are links to other weddings I’ve photographed at the Sculpture Gallery on that page too.

And please drop me a message if you have a question or want to see my wedding photography brochure :)