Bennetts Willow Barn Wedding
Fi & Tim
Worcester Glamping (now called Bennetts Willow Barn) is a relatively-newly established luxury camping site on Manor Farm in Lower Wick, Worcestershire. The site is owned by Bennetts Farm who have been there since 1918 and 240 Holstein Friesian cows are resident today (although not in the actual campsite, you'll be pleased to hear.)
I understand that, perhaps, from an outside perspective, a glamorous-camping (glam-ping) site might not be the best place to host a wedding reception, but hopefully this article and the photos within it can change your mind!
The main draw to a glamping site over a tradition campsite is that there are 5 permanently yurts on site meaning there's no faffing about putting up tents in the rain. For me though, one of the biggest reasons to host your wedding reception at a place like Worcester Glamping is that it's hard to get any closer to nature than this. Of course the other big benefit over a do it yourself wedding is that you can do literally that - you can tailor the wedding to you and your requirements. Worcester Glamping has running water, flushing loos and an electric supply, but it doesn't have a bar for example - this gives you choice over your drinks that you wouldn't get at a dedicated wedding venue.
There is a central building at the site that houses the loos, showers, wash basins, kitchen and communal sitting space with a few sofas. It was here that Fi and her bridesmaids decided to get ready in the morning, as there was plenty of space for all of the girls, and it was pretty warm inside the yurts!
I should perhaps mention that there is also a herd of goats at the venue, who live near the lake. They're penned in, behind a fence and are quiet and well behaved (apart from feeding time which is around 9am)
Also on site is a permanent marquee which the wedding couple were able to again put their own personal touch on. For Fi & Tim, this came in the form of colourful patterned bunting and lanterns hanging from the ceiling. When I had my final pre-wedding meeting with the couple the day before the wedding, I discovered Tim at the top of the ladder doing the final prep-work to the venue.
The wedding cake was home made by the mother of the groom - it was a delicious sponge cake that was dressed that morning with fresh fruit.
With Worcester Glamping being a unique and fairly-new wedding reception venue, there were many new opportunities to explore. The outdoor seating area made a great place to hang the wedding dress and allow it to breathe before the bride had to put it on later in the day. Of course it made for some awesome photos too!
With hair and makeup complete, the bridesmaids all returned to their yurts in order to get changed into their bridesmaids dresses, whilst the bride made a few finishing touches. Once she was ready, she too moved into a yurt to get into her wedding dress. There was little space inside the yurt with the bride and the bridesmaids, but with an open door I was actually able to stand outside of the room and shoot back in. This was also a lot cooler too, with the summer sun bearing down despite it still being early in the day.
Fi's wedding dress which was supplied by Gatehouse Brides featured a full netted back with diamanté patterning. The detail really was exquisite. The dress was fastened with buttons and elasticated hoops, which proved took all three bridesmaids to help with as we were running a little short of time before we all needed to leave for the church.
Before I left for the church there was however a little time to grab a few frames of the bride with her wedding flowers. I should add at this point that the wedding flowers as well as most of the decorations in and around the venue were homemade by Fi herself. I think these touches mean so much personally, as you're really putting your own individual stamp on your wedding day, as well as saving hugely on costs too.
The wedding took place at Claine's church, which is somewhere I'm very familiar with having photographed there many times. The vicar, Jo, is an absolute star and always a joy to work with. I had a quick conversation with her beforehand to make sure she was happy for me to stand in my usual place and do my usual thing, before I took a couple of images of the groom, best man and the wedding rings. The wedding rings that Fi and Tim had chosen were very unique to the couple, with both rings featuring their initials as well as those of their two children.
The brides grandfather had the honour of giving her away, and it was absolutely lovely seeing the two of them greet and then walk up the church path together arm-in-arm. I absolutely adore the photo a little way down the page with the two of them looking at each other and laughing.
Inside the church I was able to stand directly behind Jo the vicar as the bride and groom walked in. Claines is a great venue to shoot in, as there's a well-hidden side passageway that photographers are able to stand in for the duration of the service. This location enables you to capture some really intimate images with the bride and groom without anyone really knowing that you're there.
The light inside Claines Church is also excellent for when it comes to wedding photography - there's plenty of natural light from both sides thanks to the large stained glass windows, but the artificial light that illuminates the area where the vows are exchanged is bright, even and doesn't flicker like so many lights in churches do.
There were smiles and laughs a-plenty during the wedding and I honestly don't think that I took a single photo with either the bride or groom not looking as happy as they do here.
At a Claines Church wedding, the blessing happens at the very front of the church, which you're still able to capture from the hidden position to the side. These stolen moments always feel so much more authentic when it comes to telling the story of a wedding which is my ultimate goal, and you can really be a fly-on-the-wall without getting in anyone's way or being distracting.
I love their youngest daughter's reaction to the brides' bouquet here, there's a look of pure wonderment on her face!
For the confetti shot we had to make sure that we were outside of the church grounds and past the lychgate before the wedding guests could really let rip. Coloured confetti was provided by the bride and groom and from a photographer's perspective, it's really nice to see such a spread of bright colours; wedding confetti these days is usually white or cream, but there's nothing stopping you from going all out!
Wedding tip: These days not many people bring their own confetti to a wedding. If you're after an awesome confetti photo at your wedding, supply your own confetti and have the ushers and/or bridesmaids hand it out when you're ready for it. Confetti is cheap and it's always better to have too much, and 4 litres will cover you for pretty much any confetti-throwing-eventuality.
Once the confetti had been thrown it was time to make our way back to Worcester Glamping for the wedding reception. It was a short drive across the town, and ice cold drinks were served on arrival.
For Fi & Tim's wedding reception, they had decided that they didn't want a formal sit down meal, and instead opted for a more festival-feel approach, with a BBQ being served for the wedding breakfast, and a huge array of cakes being provided for dessert. One of the benefits of this style of eating at this particular wedding, is that the wedding guests were free to sit down, walk around or go for more food and drink when they pleased - which was of big benefit as England were playing Sweden in the World Cup, which many of the guests wanted to watch.
For afternoon entertainment the bride and groom had arranged for a bouncy castle, outdoor games and four fair-ground stalls to be set up. These proved to be more popular with the adults than the kids!
The day before the wedding, I had my final pre-wedding meeting with the couple, and after I left them to finish dressing the venue, I went for a little walk in order to scope out locations for photos on the big day itself. I always visit a new venue before working there for the first time, as I'd hate to waste any time during a wedding looking for places to shoot. I discovered at the very back of the venue a small overgrown meadow area, not that large, but just big enough that I knew I could get some lovely images of the bride and groom.
As it was so hot as it has been for the last month or so, I decided to take the photos of the couple after the wedding breakfast. At this time it was a few degrees cooler, and the sun was a little lower in the sky which gave much nicer light. Oh, and the World Cup game had finished with England beating Sweden 2-0.
A big store of logs made for a cracking setting for some more photos, I love how the reddish-orange of the stumps brings out the colours in the wedding dress and the groom's suit.
Some of my favourite photos from the Worcester Glamping site are these, immediately above and below. Opportunities like this are easy to over look - This willow tree is actually in the car park, and largely had gravel underfoot. I initially took a few images with the bride and groom on the inside of the tree's canopy, with the sun lighting the leaves overhead, but it wasn't until we were walking away from the tree that I had the idea for the images below. With the dark background and bright leaves I knew exactly how I wanted to shoot; something quite intimate with the couple, using the natural light and dark to frame them. I told them where to stand and as I so often do these days, just asked the newlyweds to act as if I wasn't there. The resulting images are truly magical.
I spent the remainder of the late afternoon capturing candids of the wedding guests enjoying themselves in and around the site. The light was prefect and a few scattered clouds in the sky gave some much needed shade.
Earlier in the day I had mentioned to the couple that I would like to take a few photos in the field next to the glamping site later on, providing we had the right light for the image I had in mind - There's no point dragging a bride and groom on a 10 minute walk if you don't get anything worth while at the other end.
Much to my delight, there was a gorgeous golden sunset, and the bride and groom agreed to have a few final photos taken in the last of the light. As they had chosen a glamping site in which to host their reception, I chose to include a couple of the venue's yurts in the photos as it helps tell the story of the day. The light was incredible, and gave a rich, warm glow that I've not often seen before.
After a couple of images with the yurts in the background, I decided to shift my position slightly in order to get something with more of a countryside feel to it. The resident cows had other ideas about leaving me with a 'clean' background and there's no way I was moving them!
I took a few photos of the bride and groom walking back towards their wedding guests and the evening reception that was already underway. On the way back I quickly organised a few bridal portraits with Fi, as the light couldn't be better and I really wanted to show off the back of her amazing wedding dress.
The rope swing inside the venue gave the final location for photography in my time at Worcester Glamping. We had waited all day for the swing to be free as the kids were really enjoying themselves and keeping very occupied whilst on it. When it was eventually available, it was dark! Not to worry though, I popped back to the car and got a few bits of lighting equipment out in order to get the very best from the situation. There was almost enough natural light to make it work, but the specialised lighting gives it a little more dazzle!
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