Gabi called me up to say she’d seen my work online and that she and Peter loved how inclusive my website felt, and how did I fancy a jolly across Surrey to photograph their relaxed wedding? I mostly chatted with Gabi over the next few months as Peter was working abroad for large unpredictable chunks of time, and it meant that some elements could end up changing last minute, but their date was set!
Gabi told me that she was going to make her own wedding dress, and I was like “Oh I am SO here for this!” I couldn’t wait to see. She arrived at Leatherhead Register Office with her dad in the pouring rain giggling away, and very excited to see Peter. Peter was waiting, looking a little nervous, but very smart in his military uniform, chatting with their close family and pacing up and down.
Their ceremony was sweet, and both Gabi and Peter were beaming. They made their way out into the conservatory for congratulatory hugs, a few quick and relaxed group photos and then we stole a moment in a gap in the clouds and downpour for some natural and romantic couple portraits of the bride and groom outside together. Honestly, it’s amazing what you can do in less than 10 minutes!
All of their family were so lovely, and Gabi was telling us all about how she had found her dress in a charity shop and altered it, and made a last minute at 10pm decision the night before that actually she did want a veil and made it with a leftover piece of tulle! She then told me “I’ve got another outfit that I’ve made for later, I’ll have to do a quick change... but I’ve not made anything before so please don’t look too closely at the hemline!” I was more than a bit impressed by her resourcefulness, and am always appreciative of an outfit change on a wedding day, especially when it’s sustainable and eco-friendly!
We all made our way to The Queen’s Head, Clandon. It’s a lovely old pub with lots of little rooms and it was buzzing - and for good reason, the food is delicious and the staff were lovely. This was where Gabi surprised everyone with her spectacular outfit change - a gorgeous set of separates of a silky skirt and a lace applique overlay top. You would never have known she’d not made anything before!
Peter and Gabi had 2 small banqueting tables, and no seating plan - it was as relaxed as it could be, which is one of the many blessings of a small and intimate wedding reception. They had their food ordered in advance so it still felt very much like any other wedding, with people free to get up and move around to chat as an when they liked and in their own space.
What’s also lovely about a small wedding is the opportunity it gives you to properly talk to every single one of your guests, without feeling rushed or on a schedule. As a photographer, I also enjoy the extended opportunity I have to capture each one of your guests candidly, in detail, especially if you have some more self-conscious guests. Whilst I can’t necessarily hide myself away as easily as in a large crowd, I can take the time to chat with your guests, to enable them to all feel comfortable with me, and to take notice of their characters and take the time to capture their mannerisms and relationships with each other a little more deeply.
When photographing a wedding, I always like to keep a list in my head, of noting who I have captured, who I have yet to capture and who I would like to capture a little better later on. This goes across all age groups - not just the wild ones on the dance floor, or the loud group of friends, or just the cute children or the bridal party, but the older generations too, the quieter guests who like to sit down and observe, those who are sat to the back or the side, or pacing up and down with a buggy! I document you, your day and each of your guests, because it’s not a whole story without all of them.
Usually, the one part of the day that I don’t capture in detail is the wedding breakfast whilst everyone is eating (because a mouth full isn’t flattering on anyone!) and I use that time to have my break, back up images and sort a few sneak peeks out for you. But with Peter and Gabi’s wedding, I was in the room with them, sharing food, using the time to natter and capture things as they unfurled (but no full mouths!!)
This meant that I was there for all the little conversations, to share the sense of atmosphere that comes with sharing food and love with others, and it was wonderfully relaxed. I have to say I felt extremely welcome.
We also were able to take a few minutes out, just outside the room in a mini corridor by a window, to capture some calm and intimate portraits of Peter and Gabi in their reception venue. Their family were only a few feet away so they didn’t miss out on any conversation (or banter!) and they got to enjoy every moment of their day.
Later on they were planning on heading to a village hall to decorate it, and to get baking many many picnic items ready for a celebration with friends the next day. Their focus was really on the important elements of love, friendship and memories - memories of being together, working together and celebrating the good times in life - and, Gabi and Peter, thank you so much for having me as part of that.
All my love, C x
Peter and Gabi were married a few short weeks before the Coronavirus lockdown happened. I think we are likely to see more sweet, tiny weddings over the next year or so Whilst the world recovers. If you’d like to book me for a half or full day coverage (or even bespoke hours), you can find out more here or send me a message here. I look forward to chatting with you and capturing you, your story and your day.
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