Roz & Arjan's Bredenbury Court Barns Wedding - the perfect wedding venue?
Bredenbury Court is an exclusive-use wedding venue, equidistant from Worcester and Hereford, and right in the middle of acres of prime English countryside giving absolutely unspoiled views. This incredible wedding venue is on the site of an old private school, lovingly restored and transformed into the perfect place to both get married and host your wedding reception. The venue only opened recently - 5 months ago at the time of writing, and this would be my first wedding here. Because of this, I had arranged to meet the bride and groom, Roz and Arjan, a couple of months before the wedding so I'd know where I was going on the big and and where I'd like to take their wedding photos. Immediately a few things caught my attention - the 1920s restored orangery is used for the wedding ceremonies, and it's perhaps the prettiest ceremony room I've seen in the Midlands. The orangery is bathed in the softest natural light and it's just a dream to photograph in. Once married, you can celebrate in Bredenbury's oak framed wedding barn, which again is just the most beautiful space. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so take a scroll through the images below to see what I'm talking about!
Bredenbury Court Barns has several rooms for accommodation, and this is where the bridal party and myself started the morning. The guest rooms are more like standalone houses, featuring bedrooms, bathrooms and open plan kitchen/dining/living rooms. In terms of photography, the open plan design is excellent, meaning there are fewer obstacles and wall to try and shoot through or around.
Before long, it was time to move into the 'beauty booth' - a private room adjoining the orangery where the bridal party can sit back and relax on their morning of the wedding, whilst being pampered by their hair and makeup teams. I really like the image below, as not only does it show off the bride's wedding gown, but also the venue in the background. To the left, and slightly out of frame is the oak barn which is used for wedding receptions, and in the centre of the image is the orangery, used for the wedding ceremonies. There is also a terrace on this side of the orangery where guests can enjoy a drink and canapés immediately following the service.
The flowers, provided by Floral Roundabout were perfect as always. Lydia (pictured below) worked so hard to dress the venue before the wedding and I'm sure you'll agree from the following pictures, she did a truly fantastic job!
There was still much to do on the morning of the wedding, and at various times, different people were needed to help put up lights or balloons or dress the wedding cake, meaning the bride got some quiet time to herself. As you can see, the beauty booth is much larger than the name suggest!
Fairy lights were widely used at the wedding which was a nice touch, especially as it would be dark around 5pm owing to the wedding taking place in October. I always say that getting married in late autumn or winter is an opportunity to shape the light and therefore the look of the venue as you wish - you'd have to wait until 10pm in June to have a candlelit dinner, but that becomes much more of a reality when you can do the same at 6pm later in the year.
Here you can see the orangery and just how incredible that light is - the huge windows to the side and the skylights allow it to pour in. On Roz & Arjan's wedding, it was fairly gloomy outside with unbroken cloud cover, but you can see it was warm and bright inside Bredenbury Court.
The orangery here is set up for 78 people not including the bride and groom, but you can have up to 180 guests seated, by adding an extra chair to each row and extending them further towards the back of the room.
Aside from the 'beauty booth' there is also the 'stag's retreat' for the groomsmen to get ready in. It's slightly smaller than the bride's room (but I think we can all agree that men are somewhat less excited about this part of the day) but still has enough space for the groom and his two ushers in this case, to get ready in. Below you can see Arjan working on his speech a couple of hours before the wedding is due to begin, which isn't as unusual as you may think!
As the bride and groom's respective rooms were relatively near each other, it took a little planning to enable the bride to take a look around the venue without being seen by the groom at the same time. Luckily the boys were pre-occupied by trying to work their cufflinks!
With the groom now dressed (aside from a few finishing touches) it was time to take some portraits. The hallway outside of the Orangery provided the perfect place for these photos, with the side-lighting and dark background giving the photos a great look.
The father of the bride was one of the surprise stars of the show - Roz informed me that he was emotional and likely to cry, but I could have made an entire portfolio of images of just him! I arranged a first-look where I would be able to capture his reaction as he entered the room, seeing his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time. To be honest I think he was crying even before he opened the door!
With the first-look out of the way it was time for the wedding! I took my position at the very front of the orangery and used the time before the bride entered to take a few snaps of Arjan and his groomsmen.
With one last look at his vows (above) it was time for the wedding to begin.
As a wedding photographer I must say that for ceremonies, this place is absolutely perfect as you can see. The aisle is long and wide, and the quality of light is just second to none. I just love these photos of the bride and her father walking down the aisle, shot over the groom's shoulder to add context.
Below: One of my favourite photos from the day and perhaps one of my favourites from the 2019 wedding season. That embrace between the bride and groom and the sheer emotion on her dad's face - priceless.
Just look at these two! This is why I love documentary wedding photography - just being a fly-on-the-wall and watching as things unfold enables you to tell the story of what really happened.
Mid way through the ceremony was a reading by two of the bride's friends. I was able to get this really interesting angle by sneaking behind the bride and groom.
Roz and Arjan just looked so happy, and so right for each other in every single image. They were an absolute joy to work with and their resulting wedding photos are just stunning.
I caught this little one making a break for the exit as the rest of the wedding guests were photographing the bride and groom with the register. As she got closer, she eventually stopped and then started crawling backwards once she knew she had no where else to go!
For the confetti photo, the bride and groom elected to have it inside the orangery which Bredenbury were perfectly happy with. I see this done at other wedding venues, but it's usually a tricky photo to get. A lot of venues are either slightly dark or use artificial lighting, resulting in the wedding photographer having to use a high camera sensitivity and a low shutter speed. In Bredenbury Court however that's not the case - even with the weather outside being dull and dreary, there was ample light to really capture the magic of this moment.
As it was chilly and unfortunately quite wet underfoot outside (I'm sure we'll all remember the summer of 2019 where it managed to rain almost non-stop for 5 months!) the initial drinks reception took place in the orangery. Again this was no bad thing, as there was ample space and light still. The initial 20 minutes after a wedding ceremony is one of my favourite times of the day for candid photos, getting loads of natural photos of the bride and groom interacting with their guests.
It was then time to take the formal group photos. I always worry about taking photos outside in the autumn/winter months as I don't like the idea of guests standing around and getting cold. I work really quickly with the group photos, as I understand it's everyone's most dreaded part of any wedding. The list of group photos that was provided by the bride and groom before the wedding was relatively simple, and each photo used a different iteration of the same 10 or so people. I thought the best thing to do was get all of the people into the area where I would be taking photos, and move through the list as quickly and as efficiently as I could.
As soon as the group photos were finished, I dismissed the remainder of the wedding party to the bar and took the bride and groom off for some photos on their own. My preferred method for couple's photos is using a long lens and standing as far back as I reasonably can. This allows the bride and groom to hopefully feel more like they're enjoying time together instead of being the subjects of a photoshoot. Roz and Arjan were completely natural in front of the camera, they just let their true selves shine through which always makes for the best possible images. The newlyweds were so happy and excited, and they really couldn't have been easier to work with.
Roz had said to me before the wedding that she really liked my photos which appeared as if they were in fields in the middle of no where, so on the drive out of Bredenbury Court after our pre-wedding meeting, I made sure to take a good look at areas I could use to make these photos a reality. The grass was wet and I was worried about dirtying the bride's dress, but Roz was of the opinion that we've only got one shot at this, so let's just go for it!
These photos, above and below, are some of my favourites from this part of the day. I found another patch of grass and wild flowers that I knew would produce just the type of photo that Roz had envisioned beforehand. In order to add the splash of yellow that you see in the colour image, I knelt down and got as low as I could, making sure to shoot with these yellow flowers right next to the lens. At a wide aperture, the flowers are rendered completely out of focus and end up being these large blobs of colour.
The old front door was another location that as soon as I saw it, I knew I'd want to use it for some photos. I really like the images above and below as they really show the true character of the bride and groom.
After finishing the couple's photos, we all made our way back inside and into the comfort of the warmth. As the bride and groom continued to relax with their wedding guests, I snuck into the oak barn where the wedding breakfast was soon to be served. It looked absolutely amazing! The white table linen and oaks beams and flooring really complimenting each other, and those autumnal-fern centrepieces were incredible.
The place settings were kept simple and classy, with pine cones and moss being used for decoration.
Take a look at the cake! As you may have noticed from earlier photos, it was finished by one of the bridesmaids and it's easy to see she's done a stunning job. Those deeps reds and greens once again contrasting against the crisp whiteness of the cake and the linen being used. The whole wedding had an autumn theme, which was perfectly times as it still felt like the end of summer only a week prior. Reading between the lines, I like to think the stark red roses on the cake are a nod to the groom's Albanian heritage.
Once the bride and groom had been welcomed into the room, the wedding breakfast was served. I tend not to photograph people whilst they're eating - people don't want to be disturbed and I'm sure the bride and groom aren't looking for pictures of people with their mouth's full! I find the best time to take photos during the wedding breakfast is the time between courses; after the plates from the previous course have been cleared but the next course is yet to be served.
I always like it when the bride and groom walk the room between courses and engage with their guests. Not only does it break up what's otherwise a long time sitting down, but for me, it provides a great opportunity for more documentary wedding photography.
After the deserts were finished and the plates cleared, it was time for the speeches! As per tradition, the father of the bride kicked off proceedings. As can be seen in the images below, it was a belter!
Following the father of the bride's speech, it was the turn of the groom. After that, breaking from tradition (which is no bad thing!) the bride decided to say a few words, with her maid of honour going afterwards.
Earlier in the day, I had mentioned how I was hoping for it to rain later in the evening. As you're probably well aware from spending any time on my website or instagram, I love taking photos at night, especially when it rains. Of course, saying 'I hope it rains on your wedding day' often gets a slightly puzzled look in return, which of course happened here - but having seen the lights hanging from the poles outside, I knew in my mind exactly the photo I wanted to take. I just needed a little rain. Or a torrential downpour, which is what we got...
Picture it being your wedding day; it's October, it's not warm, it's pitch black outside and pouring with rain, and your photographer says 'would you mind coming outside for some photos?' (which is something I do often!) I can understand why most people would say no, because it doesn't sound appetising at all, but the results are always worth getting a little damp for.
I'd found a white umbrella at the venue, and Arjan and myself tried to shelter the bride as best we could from the monsoon that was happening outside. When we were in position, they threw the umbrella aside and the resulting photos are exactly what I was looking for. I'd placed a remotely controlled flash about 10 metres behind the couple, pointing back towards myself, and framed the bride and groom between two posts for symmetry.
Another location that I knew I wanted to take photos in was the bandstand gazebo you can see in the image below. The setup again was relatively simple; with a single flash pointed straight up into the roof. If you look closely (which I know isn't easy on this small-scale photo) you can see where the rain is picked out by the light against the dark background.
In an email, sent a couple of weeks before the wedding, Roz had asked whether I could, if I had the time, take a photo of the groom smoking a cigar. I don't condone smoking, but I do really, really love shooting people smoking cigars at night. Of course here, I had the added benefit of the pouring rain to add into the image. Again the setup was simple - with a flash behind the groom and the father of the bride, pointing back towards the camera. For these images it's important that the flash isn't visible, as the amount of light produced by it overpowers everything else in the image.
Roz & Arjan finished the formal part of the evening with sparklers. As Bredenbury Court is right out in the middle of the countryside, there is no light pollution to deal with, which produced a rich blue-black colour in the sky. Perfect for fireworks or sparklers!
As can be seen in the images, I had the BEST time at Bredenbury Court. Is it the perfect wedding venue? To be honest, I can't think of anything I'd change about the venue. Everything is so well kept and perfectly presented. The food was incredible (thanks Phil for looking after me all day) and the staff are amazing too. I already have weddings booked here for 2020 and I cannot wait to go back there.
The hardest part about the whole experience, from first visiting the venue to writing this article, was picking out only 130 images to display here. Roz and Arjan received over 750 wedding photos from their amazing day, and I could honestly display every one of those here!