Mill Barns Wedding Photography
Jemma & Seam
Jemma and Sean hosted their wedding reception at the Mill Barns in Bridgnorth as well as Jemma using the venue to get ready in the morning with her bridesmaids. The couple had their wedding at the Holy Innocents Church, a few miles up the road. Conditions for the day itself weren’t ideal to be honest – when I arrived at 9am to capture images of the bridal party arriving it was snowing, and the temperature was hovering around the -2c mark. The week leading up to their wedding had been cold and wet too, but that didn’t stop the young couple from making the most of their day as you’ll see in this article
Jemma and her bridesmaids made use of the Mill Barns’ dedicated bridal preparation room which is in the basement of the venue. Custom designed and built to make a bride’s life as easy as possible, the room features a full width mirror with vanity lights at one end, with a large seating area and vintage style lighting to the rear of the room. There are even hooks placed at high level along the wall in order to enable dresses to be hung without touching the floor.
As per usual I spent much of the morning covering the wedding in a very natural way, allowing moments to simply happen whilst making sure I was in the right place at the right time to capture it. The strong, directional lighting at the one end of the bridal preparation room made it very easy to get some beautiful images like these. The back-lighting wraps around the bride and her bridesmaids wonderfully in the images below.
Once I heard that the wedding cake was in place and assembled, the bride wanted to take a look before anyone else got to see it. I raced ahead of Jemma in order that I was in the best location to capture her reaction to the cake on film. The venue was dressed by the Weddings and Events Lounge who also supplied the amazing wedding cake. You can view the Wedding & Events Lounge's website by clicking here.
With the bride's hair and makeup complete, and with her in the wedding dress, it was time for the big reveal with her father and grandfather. The long entrance to the room made this difficult, and as we were running slightly behind time at this point the easiest option was for the bridesmaids to walk both gentlemen into the room with their eyes closed one at a time. They stopped a short distance before the bride and on the count of three they'd open their eyes. I love these moments at weddings as you never know what you're going to get when it comes to the father of the brides reaction.
I left the bridal party early in order to capture some images of the groom before the wedding, also making sure that I was in position to get the all-important images of the bride arriving, which proved easier said than done. The church was at the top of a small, muddy lane and the wedding car struggled to make it to the top. Once the bride was out of the car, she had to carry her dress in order to keep it from getting dirty before anyone had the chance to see it.
The inside of the Holy Innocents church was fairly well lit, but importantly the lighting was pretty even from the back of the aisle to the front. The church did however have some spotlighting towards the front, which meant that the bride and groom were illuminated a little more than the remainder of the wedding guests.
The singing of the hymns proved to be rather interesting, as someone had forgotten to supply the required music on CD - instead the wedding guests sang the hymns A cappella. I'd like to say that this added to the magic of the wedding day, but unfortunately it didn't seem like there were too many singers amongst the guests!
After the wedding we returned to the Mill Barns for the wedding reception. As it was still freezing outside, the drinks reception took place in the cavernous entrance hall, with canapés served at the same time.
The wedding reception room was beautifully dressed, again by The Weddings and Events Lounge. The colour scheme featured rose golds and warm pinks, which made the cold winters day feel much more like summer inside. Each wedding guests place name was laser cut from a single piece of wood.
The snow had started to turn to rain, which would usually hamper any formal photos being taken outside, but in the design of the Mill Barns they had come up with an answer – there’s a large veranda that overlooks the lake, with a double height covering above. This meant that if people were brave enough to venture outside for a photo, they wouldn’t get wet for their trouble. A mezzanine balcony above also made the perfect place to take the large group photo.
As the guests were being seated for the wedding breakfast, the bride and groom braved the atrocious conditions to have some photos of the two of them taken outside. I had visited the venue the week before so I knew exactly where I wanted to take each photo, meaning the amount of time the couple were exposed to the elements was minimised, but it was still very cold to sat the least. Jemma and Sean were absolute stars though, and it was easy to see how important their wedding photos were to them. Nothing would stop them from getting outside for their wedding photos!
The grounds at Mills Barn aren't enormous, but they are varied which is perhaps more important than having acre upon acre of space. You can really tell that from the outset the venue was specifically designed to cater for weddings.
Before long though it was time for the wedding breakfast to begin, which is usually when I start to think about taking a short break of 20 minutes or so and grabbing a sandwich and a cup (a pint) of coffee. The bride and groom however had planned something wholly un-traditional for their wedding breakfast food, which you'll see in a few photos time... It's certainly nothing that I've seen before, or since!
The starter which was soup was prepared in the kitchen and served in the traditional sense, however when it came to the main course, to begin with, all that was brought out by the service staff were chef's hats, and carving knives. It soon became apparent to everyone sitting that, one person from each table was to be the designated person for cutting and serving the meat. I usually don't take too many photos of people during this time of the wedding day as photos of people eating are far from flattering, but there was so much to see and do at the time I couldn't resist!
Some wedding guests were really keen to impress with their cheffing skills, whilst others, like the father of the bride, weren't quite so keen...
As this wedding took place on valentines day, one of the themes of the day, was love itself. Because of this significant date, both the starters and the desserts featured hearts in their design.
By the time the wedding breakfast was finished and the speeches were about to begin, it had long gone dark outside. This meant that I couldn't use my preferred medium of natural light - but not to worry, I was able to light the reception hall perfectly with a couple of remotely controlled flashguns. This meant that there was ample light for photography, but without it appearing in any way unnatural. As I was setting up the lights, I saw the groom and his young daughter enjoying themselves [image below.] One of the downsides about needing to use flash is that you can't shoot at 10 or 12 frames per second like you can do when you're using ambient light; you need to wait for the flashes to recycle before your next shot, meaning you really have to time your exposures well. I could see the groom throwing his daughter into the air, before catching her safely again. I knew I only had one chance to get this photo so had to time it perfectly.
If you're a fan of the BBC rom-com Gavin and Stacey, you may well already be familiar with the father of the bride's joke about making a toast:
After the wedding breakfast I asked the bride and groom if they fancied venturing into the cold night for some stunning wedding photos, and luckily they agreed. I really enjoy this type of environmental portraiture that you can see below. Rain or snow on your wedding day certainly isn't what the vast majority of my wedding clients dream of, but without it, the photo below wouldn't work anywhere nearly as well as it does, with the bride and groom's reflections in the soaking-wet wooden decking.
These first two photos [above and below] were created very much in a similar way, with a powerful flashlight placed behind the happy couple, and the exposure in camera set to match whatever light there was coming from the venue. The light behind the bride and groom creates what's called a 'rim light' - a thin slither of light that illuminates the edges or rims of your subject, seemingly lighting them from the background and making them stand out much more.
Always trying to create a stunning work of art from a wedding that the couple can hang on their wall for everyone to admire, I had been scoping out possible locations for a 'big photo' all day. It wasn't until it got dark however that I knew what I was going to do. In the garden on the far side of the pond and looking away from the wedding venue, there were some tall trees that looked rather eery from the right angle. A small collection of fairy-lights threw a little light onto a path, but no where near enough light was hitting the trees that would make the photo work in the way I wanted. Instead of relying on only what was available to me, I placed a remotely controlled flash under each of the trees, and placed it pointing vertically upward. Just enough light bounced off the trees and make it back to the bride and groom who I had placed between them. I love this photo (it appears in my portfolio) and it's unlike anything else I've currently seen that's been taken at the venue - and that's ultimately my goal.
With the after-dark photos that I had been aiming for in-the-bag so to speak, it was time once again to head inside, into the warmth. The bride and groom kicked off their evening reception with the cutting of the wedding cake. I moved my lights inside, and positioned them ready for the bride and groom to take their first dance as husband and wife.
The dance floor was located at the far end of the reception barn, meaning there was still plenty of seating available for guests who hadn't brought their dancing shoes with them. One person who had clearly remembered their dancing shoes however was the bride and groom's youngest daughter, who absolutely stole the limelight from the newlyweds. The little flower girl was transfixed with the music and disco lights, and kept running forward to strut her moves!
If you're planning a Mill Barns wedding and are looking for a wedding photographer, why not get in touch.