Birtsmorton Court Wedding Photography
Deborah & KevanDeb and Kevan had their amazing Birtsmorton Court wedding in the middle of summer. Birtsmorton Court is a stunning privately owned country estate with an original house that dates back to the year 1241. It even has it’s own church, at which this lovely couple got married.
Birtsmorton Court is a Grade 1 listed building offering an exclusive-use wedding venue, nestled in the foothills of the Malverns and set in 350 acres of privately estate. The venue offers overnight accommodation for the newlyweds in the luxurious Bridal Suite, and can also cater for up to 16 overnight guests in two on-site cottages.
Deb and her bridal party got ready in the Garden House, which is a huge house buried within the venue, large enough to house a bride, bridesmaids and as many make-up artists and hair-dressers as are necessary! The house itself is the ideal location for bridal prep, with the large overhead beams being perfect to hang wedding gowns from, which makes for some beautiful photos as you can see below.
Deborah’s dad came to visit mid-morning, and he took this opportunity to run through his speech with his daughter. I think the expression on her face says it all!
With hair and make-up complete, it was time for the bridal party to get dressed. For this, they moved from the Garden House to the Bridal Suite, a beautifully appointed bedroom in the west wing of the main house itself. This secluded hideaway features an ornate four-poster bed and a vintage mirror. The room also has a stunning view over the terrace and gardens below, but more about that later…
I absolutely love these black and white images of Deb having her wedding dress tied. She has a look of serenity that’s seldom seen in brides this close to their wedding! With Deb dressed and the bridesmaids ready to go, I took the opportunity to head to the church and take a few photos of groom with the best man, as well as some candid photos of the guests arriving.
The Birtsmorton Court church is found in the grounds of the Court itself, making Birtsmorton Court one of only a handful of wedding venues in the West Midlands to have a church on site. Birtsmorton Church serves the local village as well as being used for weddings and is immaculately maintained, with an organ, stained glass windows and a red carpet aisle. Despite appearing small on the outside, the church is rather spacious on the inside and has pew seating enough for 115 guests.
Having met with the boys and the vicar too (which I always do before a wedding to see where they want me to stand during the service) I decided to head back towards the brides dressing room in order to capture photos of Deb and her dad walking to the church. As I arrived back with the bride, she was opening a card that had been given to her by her dad, from her very soon to be husband.
Deb walked the 200 metres to the church escorted by her father, with the bridesmaids following close behind. One of my favourite moments from the day was when the bride met her young flower-girl on the way. I chose to shoot this sequence from as far away as I could, using a long lens. Any good wedding photographer will be very mindful of how they are capturing their subjects, especially when it comes to photographing children. A photographer can very easily change the nature of a photograph just by being there. In order to get the most natural photos of a wedding day, I spend most of it staying out of the way!
Both the bride and groom looked absolutely calm before the wedding, which isn't something I get to say often. After a very short wait and a few words from the vicar, Deb made her grand entrance and walked down the aisle to meet Kev at the far end.
Having photographed the entire wedding from the front of the church, beside the vicar, after the signing of the register I made my way back towards the entrance, ready for the wedding procession. As the newlyweds started their walk back down the aisle towards me, one of the wedding guests out-stretched his hand in order to shake the hand of the groom, whilst at the same time, the flower girl ran out to greet the bride. Deb stopped in her tracks, and knelt down to give the young girl a kiss on the cheek. These two images became an instant favourite of mine, and I still look back on them today and smile. They are absolutely priceless.
If you look closely, the flower girl is giving the bride a big thumbs-up in the background!
At Birtsmorton Court Church, the confetti must be thrown on the church path outside of the venue, preventing any confetti from being blown back inside. Once the confetti throwing had finished, it was time for the entire wedding party to take the short walk back to Birtsmorton Court for the rest of the festivities.
The terrace was used for the drinks reception, and I took the opportunity to take some of the smaller group photos here. The background here for wedding photos is perfect, with the luscious green background of the garden and trees providing the perfect background and contrast for the suits and dresses of the groom, ushers/bride & bridesmaids respectively.
After 45 minutes or so, the entire wedding party moved to the White Garden in order to continue the festivities there. The White Garden is a well maintained formal garden with a fountain as the centrepiece. The fountain contained colourful rubber ducks and fishing rods were provided to keep the kids (and some adults) entertained.
Birtsmorton Court's White Garden is a very secluded space away from the main house, and surrounded on all sides by perfectly maintained bushes and shrubs. There's a central water fountain with stone pathways leading off in several directions. As well as being used for drinks receptions, the White Garden is also licensed to hold civil ceremonies with 60 seated guests and unlimited standing guests. As the Great British weather is far from predictable however, the inside ceremony room is also set up and ready for a wedding incase the weather is inclement. Deb & Kev's wedding day weather was far from wet and cold however, and the guests soaked up the sun.
A lot of photographers will take the large group photo from the far side of the lake, looking back towards the terrace, but my personally preferred method of taking the very largest group photos (and I've taken a wedding photo here containing 350 guests) is to use the same room that the bride was getting ready in, earlier in the day. One window opens wide enough for me to get a lens out, and I arrange the wedding guests so they're facing back towards Birtsmorton Court and looking over the very edge of the moat. The reason I prefer taking photos from here is for two reasons: Firstly, there is a stunning vista of the Malvern Hills in the far background and in the mid-distance is the maze entrance to the White Garden. Secondly, and rather importantly, the guests have the sun to their back, which is both a lot more flattering but also means they're not looking into the sun and squinting.
Once the large group photo was taken, the wedding guests were called to dinner which took place on the far side of the venue from where we were, and I knew that realistically it would take a good twenty five minutes or more for all of the guests to make their way over, and to find their seats. With peace and quiet, and the whole venue to ourselves, this was the ideal time to take some stunning photos of the bride and groom together. If you exclude my presence, this is also the first real time that the bride and groom have really been together and alone thus far during their wedding day.
I started taking photos with the bride and groom standing in the entrance to the White Garden before moving in towards it's heart. Deb and Kev were very natural in front of the camera, and I barely gave them more direction than 'stand there and pretend I'm not here!'
The bride, groom and myself walked from the White Garden to the far end of one of the lakes at Birtsmorton Court, stopping at this rustic brick wall along the way. There’s a small white bridge over the stream that feeds the pool, and this was the focal point for many photos. A storm was brewing overhead, and the dark cloud combined with the late evening sun to give a stunning golden colour to the top of the trees. Using a long lens and a wide aperture I was able to blow the background out of focus, giving a magical and very romantic feel to the images.
With the bridge photos in the bag it was time to start slowly walking back towards the wedding reception. I usually let the bride and groom walk back relatively on their own (after all a good wedding photographer is never too far from the action) as it's a great time to get some really natural interaction between the couple. As they started walking however, a stiff breeze blew Deborah's veil back over her face. Ever the gentleman, Kev came to her rescue on more than one occasion.
The wedding reception was held in Birtsmorton Court’s Garden Room marquee, and was dressed beautifully with flowers on each table, as well as hand-cuffs; The groom is a police officer, and the bride also works for the police. The tables were each named after memorable places that the bride and groom had travelled to in their time together.
There are many ways to remember the people who attended your wedding, with perhaps a singing or guest-book being the most obvious and traditional choice. Many other couples choose to remember their day by asking their wedding guests to leave a thumbprint and a signature on a picture or painting. The bride and groom decided that for their wedding, they would ask each guest to sign a small wooden heart and place it inside a photo frame, where a slit had been cut in the top. The hearts would fall through the frame and land randomly, leaving them with a very personal keepsake and memory of their guests. It also makes for a great piece of art to display in your home afterwards.
The wedding cake was three tiers and nude apart from a very light dusting of icing sugar. The cake was further decorated with flowers from the bridal bouquet as well as fresh summer fruits of strawberry and blueberries. A knitted cake topper added the finishing touch.
In traditional style the father of the bride kicked off the wedding speeches. Depending on the time of year, and the aforementioned British summer weather, it's sometimes necessary to use off-camera lighting in order to get the best results from photos of the speeches, but for Deb and Kev's wedding, there was luckily just enough ambient light that I could shoot without any additional help.
After the father of the bride it was the turn of the groom, who found the right balance between humour and loving sentiment for his speech. Even the best man, a police officer with years on the force was moved to tears.
Finally it was the turn of the best man, so the character-assassination of the groom could begin with hilarious results. As you can see in the following photos, there was no love lost between the two.
At Birtsmorton Court, the marquee is used for the wedding breakfast to be served and the wedding speeches to be given, but afterwards the party really begins in the Garden Room. The Garden Room is a very long building which orignally looked out onto the garden with full length and full heigh glazing, before the addition of the marquee was made (hence the name!)
At one end of the Garden Room is the entrance, with the Pitt Stop Bar on the other side. At the opposite end of the room is the dance floor and area where the DJ or band set up. When the bride and groom were ready to take their first dance, I positioned myself in front of the DJ's booth and lights, so I could shoot back into the room and see the couple making their way through their wedding guests. I had already set up my own lights which were controlled from my camera, giving me exactly the look I wanted, when I was taking photos with the lights to my back, or shooting directly into them.
If you would like to see Deborah & Kevan’s wedding album design, please click here.