Will & Louisa’s Spring Wedding At Woburn Abbey
Will and Louisa got married at The Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. It’s one of my favourite venues for wedding photography because it has amazing backgrounds, great light and a first class team who make sure everything runs like clockwork.
Louisa got ready at her parents’ house and Will got ready at home. Then it was onto Woburn for the civil ceremony and reception. They were blessed with a wonderfully sunny Spring day but the day would have been just as good if it had been cold or raining; The Sculpture Gallery has lots of great indoor options for photos if you can’t be outside.
They planned a classic wedding that was fitting of the venue and chose pretty pale pink for things like flowers, stationery and bridesmaids’ dresses which contrasted really nicely with the Sculpture Gallery’s stonework and decor. It was a relaxed day too with an outdoor drinks reception on the lawn – everyone was enjoying the sun, champagne, taking selfies with the statues and a magician had everyone mesmerised with magic.
Below are some of my favourite photos and a bit about how they were created. And there’s more photos at the end of the post if you need a bigger dose of pretty.
A helping hand and all the good light
Whilst there are parts of a wedding where I work strictly hands off, there are other parts of the story, like details, which I think can sometimes benefit from a helping hand if they’re not already in a good spot, and more specifically, in good light.
Louisa’s wedding dress was hanging on a bedroom wardrobe (she got ready at her parents’ house) when I arrived and there wasn’t room for me to get far enough back to include the whole dress in the photo. Louisa’s Mum was really helpful and offered the lounge. The curtain rail was the perfect height and I thought the window would make a great frame around the dress so that’s what we did.
We moved a chair, the telephone and various bits of wedding paperwork out of the way so that the scene looked tidy. We turned all the lamps on to add a warm glow. And then laid out the train and veil so they hung nicely, with no unsightly creases.
I decided to shoot this as a wide photo showing the setting. Partly because I like the mix of ambient light from the lamps with the natural light from the window but also because the location is meaningful so I think it’s important to show where it is.
It took quite a bit of time to set-up but for me, it’s time well spent.
As I’m photographing a wedding I like to consider how the photos will look in an album
If you think about one page in an album, that page will be more visually pleasing if the photos look consistent and work together. So for example, when I’m photographing a bride’s outfit details I like to shoot them all in the same room so that the colours and lighting style are the same.
These details were shot in the lounge after I’d photographed Louisa’s dress. I loved the texture and colours in the chair for the shoes, perfume and clutch but didn’t want everything in exactly the same spot so picked the chess board and table top to get some variety and keep it interesting.
It’s not just about the couple
A couple’s friends and family are an important part of my wedding photography coverage. They’re a big part of the day, after all. So for example, when the bride is getting ready, I’ll be looking for shots that include the bridesmaids, her parents and siblings.
Louisa’s brothers were getting ready at the house too and I love this photo of the two of them putting cufflinks on, which were a wedding day gift from Louisa.
No-one is safe from the camera! You’ve been warned!
A tight space and a bit of clutter can be a good thing, sometimes!
There are no two ways about it. This was a small room for a Bride, her Mum, three bridesmaids, a photographer and a videographer! Oh, and a long train too! You can see the full width of the room in the photo and the videographer & I are wedged in between the edge of the bed and the wall. There was no room to move around and get different angles but the light was lovely (there’s a big window behind me) and this was Louisa’s bedroom when she lived at home so it felt very meaningful for her to get ready in there.
I took a few frames but this moment when Louisa leaned back so that her bridesmaid could reach to put the veil on is a favourite.
I framed the photo with Louisa on the right-hand side to allow plenty of breathing space on the left for the veil. I love that everything leads your eye around the picture in a loop starting with Louisa’s arched back and raised hands physically pointing you to the bridesmaids. Having the bed between us was a blessing in a way because the line of the throw echoed the other curves in the photo and added a natural frame at the bottom. The paraphernalia on the dressing table that tells you it was Louisa’s room is a nice added extra too.
It’s all about the good light
This shot was taken at Woburn as the guests started arriving for the ceremony. I’m not sure who the gentleman is, but you can tell from the way he’s hugging Will that they’re close or haven’t seen each other for a while. Maybe both.
It’s likely that he was one of the first to arrive and there weren’t many other people around at this point because it’s not often that you can get such a clean photo at a wedding. There’s usually someone or something unavoidable in the photo. This can add layers and great context to the story but I love how striking the simplicity is here.
The clean background combined with the strong directional window light falling on the gentleman’s face draws your attention straight to his expression and hand. The black and white enhances that and helps the emotion shine.
I like to shoot the Bride’s arrival just as it happens
… but for me, it’s one of the most difficult parts of a wedding to shoot. There’s a massive time pressure as the bride is generally late & the clergy/registrar/wedding planner want to get the bride in as quickly as possible. There’s also lots of unintentional photobombing as everyone closes in to help the Bride get out of the car, which makes it really hard to stand back and be discreet; you just have to get in there and stake your claim! But there are some great moments to be caught by visualising them before the car arrives.
I can’t tell you how quick Louisa’s arrival was! It was just seconds from her stepping out of the car to dashing inside to meet the Registrar; so I had to think and work crazy quick.
There wasn’t much room to work with either. Louisa was dropped at the doorstep (no luxury of a lovely long church path today!) so there was very little room to get back far enough for a wide shot but I wanted to show the setting of where Louisa was, rather than just a close up that could have been taken anywhere. It was a one-shot moment because Louisa was pretty much on top of me as soon as I took this shot. No room or time for error.
Then Louisa smiled and the shot came together.
A second photographer adds another point of view
I was positioned at the front of the room photographing Louisa and her Dad walking down the aisle whilst my second photographer was at the back of the room and able to capture this photo of Louisa’s Mum and one of her bridesmaids watching the procession.
It’s unusual to have time to get photos of anyone other than the Bride and Groom during the bride’s entrance but the aisle is so long at Woburn that it’s one of the few places I’ve come across so far where it’s possible. It’s also made easier because there’s plenty of space (and plentiful window light!) to see them.
The bridesmaid’s smile is wonderfully pretty but I love Louisa’s Mum’s reaction really hard. She looks as though she’s cherishing watching her daughter and husband walk down the aisle. And likely feeling a lump in her throat too judging by her hand clasped to her chest. It’s every bit a proud Mum moment as it is a proud Dad moment so I’m delighted to have caught this for the family.
Kids being kids
Children at weddings are one of the greatest subjects to photograph. You never know what’s going to happen but you always know it’s going to happen quickly and you’ve got to be fast to catch it! It’s highly rewarding though.
At this moment, I was chatting with one of the wedding guests who asked for a photo when I saw Louisa’s flower girl running towards me out of the corner of my eye. So I quickly excused myself from chatting for a moment so I could grab a photo.
She was laughing and twirling her dress as she ran; then I spotted the little boy wanting to join in on the fun and walking along the stone bench behind her as if it was a balance beam. They were both moving really quickly so I had to just go with the camera that was already in my hand – luckily a long zoom lens, which was great because they were quite far away and it meant I could get a reasonably close photo. I’ve learned to let go of trying to craft the perfect shot at moments like this and just capture it before it’s over!
I continued shooting as the little girl was running and took a few shots but this moment when the wind took the top layer of her dress giving her her own veil was my winner!
Interactive entertainment is great photographer fodder!
Garden games, celebrity impersonators, ice cream carts… whatever floats your boat but it’s definitely worth considering something if you want to add more energy to the day.
Will & Louisa booked a magician, Dean Maudsley, who had everyone transfixed.
Magic tricks take a bit of time to unfold which is great because it gives me time to explore different angles and get a variety of shots to tell the story; from wide shots to show the enjoyment and bemusement of lots of people to close-up details that embellish the story. By the time it comes to the final reaction, I’ve had time to get into the best place to capture it. The gobsmacked expressions at the end are always winners.
But really, I just love the magic!
The things you leave out of a photo, are as important as what you leave in
I used a low angle for this photo of Will and Louisa’s cake to protect Apollo’s dignity ;)
If you don’t want to see him in all his glory in your photos you’ll still need a tall cake though (this one was four tiers and a topper) because I was pretty much as low as I could get without hiding the cake and making it look too distorted.
The big doors were a saving grace too; I pulled those inwards to hide various bits of wedding day clutter behind them.
I could have photographed the cake close-up, of course, to cut all the background distractions out. That would have been much quicker and easier. And actually, I did take that photo. But there was an opportunity here to show off the venue; that amazing floor, stunning gold leaf detail in the ceiling and fabulously detailed heavy oak doors… time and TLC can lift a photo.
It’s by Hockleys Cakes, in case you’re wondering.
Are you planning a wedding at The Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey?
I’m guessing that’s a “yes” if you’ve made it this far! Fab choice!
If you’re looking for a fab wedding photographer to go with your fab venue then wander over here and read more about my work at Woburn. You’ll find links to other Woburn weddings there too.
And if you have any questions, then please give me a yell. I’d love to hear from you!