Rae and Tom

A winter wedding with a first look, Orangery reception, and sparkling sunlight

My first wedding of 2022. And what a way to start! Metaphoric and literal magic! If you’re planning a winter wedding, have a read of this post because it’s full of tips on how to make the most of the shorter daylight hours and still get all the photos you want.

Rae and Tom’s winter wedding in the Orangery at Rushton Hall was my first wedding of 2022. And it meant starting at the crack of dawn to make the most of the shorter daylight hours in January. Now, I’m not gonna lie … I’m not a morning person. So through sheer dedication to the cause, I hauled myself out of bed to arrive at the venue at 7.30am. Even the sun didn’t get up that early!

Once I’d downed a cuppa and scoffed a few biscuits (my blood type is custard cream, fyi) I was ready to seize the day, unload my kit, and say hello to some of the other early-to-rise suppliers. And photographing the crisp frosty morning as the sun rose over the venue was a great reward for the early start. The morning may not be my friend, but she’s certainly pretty!

Morning light and a Cinderella gown

Rae used to be a wedding photographer herself, so she knew right from the start that she wanted mostly documentary wedding photos but also some gorgeous couple shots and all the little details. So happily, we were a great match!

After capturing the sun rising over the venue, I joined Rae and her wedding party who were getting ready in the Oak Suite. The Oak is my fave room at this venue. Not least because of the rich wood panelling, which made a great backdrop for Rae’s ball gown to patiently wait for its big moment, looking super Cinderella-ey (new word entering the Oxford English dictionary today!).

The windows and light in the Oak Suite are dreamy. And starting early meant we got the best of the daylight – and that the windows were steamed up enough for me to draw a little heart (couldn’t resist!).

And proving you can take the camera away from the girl, but you can’t take the … Rae allowed loads of time to get ready and planned plenty of time for me to capture portraits, so neither of us had to rush.

Drinks and getting ready with the boys

While I was with Rae, my second shooter Tom was with the boys. Now, the groom is also called Tom… which might get confusing, so let’s call him ‘Camera Tom’. Camera Tom works alongside me regularly, so he knows the venue really well too, and worked his magic in the meeting room where Tom was getting ready. 

You wouldn’t believe it was a meeting room from the photos. As a photographer, the rule is to look for the light first and the background second. Camera Tom blew me away. (This is why I only use experienced photographers as my seconds!) He captured the light and room features in a way that makes it look interesting and homely. If you walked into that room you wouldn’t believe it was the same space. And in editing, I opted for a lot of black and white, to disguise the getting ready clutter and keep the focus on the moment.

Now, let’s talk about a little star from the day – Rae and Tom’s little boy, Jude. He shamelessly stole the show with his expressive little face! One of my favourite moments was right after the boys had a cheeky chaser … when Jude and Tom toasted with fruit shoots. So cute! Can’t leave the little man out!

The first look – in the January sunshine

In a break from UK tradition, Rae and Tom did a first look and portrait session before their ceremony. This is such a great idea – especially for winter weddings. It means you can make the most of the limited daylight and get all your formal photos done before it gets dark. And Rae and Tom were really lucky to have a clear sunny day, which gave us the chance to play with the sunlight in their portraits. Because the sun is so low in the winter, we were able to play with backlighting, long shadows and starbursts. So much fun!

Wedding ceremony in the Orangery

Rae and Tom chose to have their ceremony in the Orangery as it’s flooded with light all year round. And the room had been decorated with faux autumnal trees, which created a dramatic focal point and added warmth to the room.

Looking around the room, there were still a few masks and face shields being worn. Who knows, maybe in a few months’ time, I’ll look back on this as one of the last weddings where masks were worn … 

With both me and Camera Tom capturing the ceremony, we could document everything from multiple viewpoints. Seeing things from both angles really adds to the atmosphere in the final set of photos.

And my favourite moment? Tom pulling funny faces while trying to persuade his wedding ring to go over his knuckle! I couldn’t actually see this as it happened because I was focused on Rae. But Camera Tom had that in hand and when I saw Tom’s expressions in his photos, it reminded me of how much laughter was in the room. Honestly, folks … second photographers bring so much.

A winter wedding reception full of sparkle

Their drinks reception followed, with a magician entertaining the guests with some of his best tricks. We captured group photos in a pretty corner of the grounds, where the last of the sun peeked through the bare trees. And then returned to the Orangery to celebrate. 

Meanwhile, the amazing venue team transformed the Orangery for their wedding breakfast. The tables were now adorned with romantic candelabra and the trees that framed the ceremony. The speeches brought lots of laughter and amusing expressions from the kiddies again. You can always rely on the kids to give you their honest feedback!

After cutting their cake, surrounded by their friends and family, Rae and Tom had their first dance under a chandelier. The chandeliers in the Orangery add an extra touch of luxury – and look fab in photos!

And to finish the day, everyone gathered outside with sparklers. The warm glow coming from inside the Orangery made the ideal background.

What a way to start the year!

Planning a winter Orangery wedding?

Even though there are fewer hours of daylight, you can make the most of every second by having a winter wedding in the Orangery at Rushton Hall. Please do get in touch – I’d love to hear about your plans, and I can send you some more winter weddings for inspiration.