Oldcastle Weddings Colwall
Amy & Pete
Oldcastle in Colwall is one amazing wedding venue, and one that I knew I would love working at from the second I first visited for Amy & Pete's (or 'Jacko' to his friends) pre-wedding meeting. Oldcastle is a privately owned home, but one on a truly epic scale - the grounds stretch for over 50 acres, with the whole estate being nestled right in the middle of the Malvern Hills. The venue can host weddings from 20-200 people and has onsite accommodation for 22 guests, in a number of cottages that are well secluded.
My morning started in the Hot Tub Cottage, which is where Amy and the bridal party got ready. Despite what the name might suggest, some of the other cottages also now have hot-tubs too!
I actually arrived a little earlier than the hair and makeup artists so chose to follow the mother and parents of the bride to the marquee where they were applying the finishing touches and setting up the wedding cake too.
The wedding cake had been made by one of the bride's sisters!
The Orangery was already set up for the wedding, with the gold colour of the chairs really bringing a lovely warmth to the ceremony room.
These pictures go some way to showing how bright the Orangery is at Oldcastle. Glazed on two sides, the double-aspect room gives unparalleled views of the Malvern Hills in which the venue sits.
The cottages are absolutely vast, and are on a similar scale to the rest of the venue. The Hot Tub Cottage for example featured a large living area with kitchen, dining area and separate bedrooms. It provided all the necessary space for the bride, three bridesmaids, hair and makeup artists as well as the many visitors that Amy received in the morning!
The upstairs bedroom featured wooden beams which were used to hang the wedding dress from. Amy's dress was absolutely stunning, with a hook-and-eye closure and buttons running the full length of the gown and train.
The entire back wall of the cottage was glazed, which flooded the entire lower-floor of the building with light. This made it perfect for not only myself in taking photos, but also the hair and makeup artists too.
In the cottage next door to where the bridal party was getting ready, the groom and his ushers could be found. I had actually made a visit to the boys three times in the morning before I started taking any photos - each time I found them in various states of undress (and consciousness) on the sofas in the living room. A little later in the day the groomsmen were finally up and about so I could start taking photos of their preparations. Jacko had 7 people getting ready with him that morning, yet you'd hardly know it - the cottage accommodating them all with great ease.
Amy presented her bridesmaids with jewellery as a way of thanking them for all of the assistance they had provided in the run up to the wedding and on the day itself.
With their hair styled and makeup applied, it was time for the bridal party to move into the main house in order to apply their finishing touches and to get dressed. Before this could happen though, we needed to get the groom and ushers to where they needed to be in the Orangery, the whole time making sure no members of either party laid eyes on their counterparts!
After I had taken a few snaps of the boys, the coast was clear for the bridal party to make their way inside. The front steps to Oldcastle made a great location for these photos. I used the same set of steps later in the day for the group photo containing all of the wedding guests.
The room in which the bride and bridesmaids were able to get dressed in was on the upper floor, with a mezzanine that looked down towards where the ceremony was due to take place. It was from here that I took the following photo of the groom with his best men, awaiting the arrival of the registrars.
I left the bridal party to get dressed and in the mean time, went outside to take photos of the guests who had now started to arrive. The image below shows the view from the front of the ceremony room, looking out towards the lake at the bottom of the garden. To the right, just out of shot, are the Malvern Hills in all their glory.
With Amy now in the wedding dress it was time to get the classic photos of the wedding gown being done-up; the huge number of buttons down the back meant I had ample time to get the photos that I wanted. I was able to compose these images with the bride between her mother and her maid of honour - doing up this dress was certainly a job for two people! The loft-space at Oldcastle in itself is again huge, and as you can see from the photos above, contains a gorgeous free-standing bath tub that's big enough to fit a bride and three bridesmaids! The light in this room was also to die for, and made for some very pleasing photos.
I could hear Amy's father anxiously pacing outside on the wooden floor, and when she was fully dressed and ready to go, we invited him in. The reaction on his face was priceless. With these photos in the bag, it was time for Amy to meet with the registrars before the ceremony. I decided to head downstairs and take a few more photos of guests arriving before heading into the Orangery where I met with Jacko, looking suitably nervous.
The layout of the Orangery at Oldcastle is unique - the walk from the bridal preparation room to the front of the Orangery takes the bride over the mezzanine, behind the groom as he looks forwards towards the registrars, but allowing the bride a full view down over her guests and soon-to-be husband.
The wedding, and in particular the exchanging of the wedding rings was filled with laughter. Jacko got his words mixed up, and then Amy dropped his wedding ring which had everyone in hysterics. The ring was found and the ceremony concluded with no harm done, but it did mean the couple received a lovely set of photos of them smiling and laughing. A lot!
Once the ceremony had finished, the drinks reception started immediately on the terrace to the front of the house.
The Master of Ceremonies, provided by the venue, was instrumental in getting the guests in the right place for a large group photo as well as the confetti photo which took place immediately afterwards.
For the more formal photos I chose to shoot with the house behind the people in the photo. It was very hot during this summer wedding and the sun was out in full force at times, being far too bright to have the subjects of the image looking directly into it. To save them from looking directly at the sun, I took the photos with the sun behind them at all times.
During a quick break from the direct sunlight, with the sun behind a cloud I took a couple of group photos with the lake and grounds as the background. The lawn here also afforded me more space for some of the larger groups.
With the formal photos complete, it was time to take the all important photos of the bride and groom on their own. As there was 50 acres of gardens to explore (and an additional 120 acres surrounding Oldcastle) it would have been impossible to know where to begin, however during the pre-wedding meeting I knew exactly where I wanted to go and how I wanted to shoot too!
Some locations at Oldcastle just screamed out to me, with one of these being the driveway to the cottages that provide the wedding venue's accommodation. The gently curving drive, flanked on both sides by well maintained hedgerows framed the couple perfectly, and provided a richly coloured and nicely textured backdrop on which to photograph them.
The pond that helps breakup the space between the cottages was also a favourite location of mine, with so many different avenues to shoot through and such a mix of foliage on offer, there were so many opportunities to take photos in this one space. The small pond itself would give you all the scope you needed for a stunning set of couple's photos, but the venue has so much more to offer as you'll see throughout this gallery.
Before the guests were called in for the wedding breakfast, I took a few minutes to grab a few frames of the inside of the marquee. Once again the marquee proved to be as big and as grand as the rest of the venue, easily taking the couple's 100 or so wedding guests without ever feeling too big or the space under-used.
As it was a rather toasty 30 degrees centigrade, we made the decision to break from tradition and cut the wedding cake (albeit it very traditionally with a sword) before the wedding breakfast was served. This meant that the catering staff could keep the wedding cake cool and get it ready for serving later in the day.
Another favourite location to use at Oldcastle was the large algae-covered lake about 150 metres from the main house. I chose not to use this location earlier in the day for a few reasons, namely that it was very bright and also that I didn't want the couple to be late for their own wedding reception. Instead we chose to visit the lake a little later in the day when the sun was lower in the sky and the light more flattering. The photo that I captured however wasn't quite what I expected. I asked the couple to walk around to the far side of the lake from myelf, and that I'd shout for them when I wanted them to stop walking. Just as Amy and Jacko came into view, they were picked out by a beam of light that literally only seemed to be illuminating the two of them. I haven't seen anything like it before, and the result, as you can see below is superb.
Walking back towards Oldcastle I thought it would be the perfect time to make use of the golden evening light, and we walked to the main drive in to the venue. I knew that the trees that lined either side of the drive would be useful to focus your attention on the couple as you view the photos, with the warm colours being shown only adding to the framing effect.
This location and the splendid sunlight also produced a stunning photo of Amy on her own. My aim here was to show off her wedding dress as best I could, and I chose to shoot Amy against a dark background of shaded trees in order to really make the image pop.
Before long it was time for the newlyweds to take their first dance. For this, the guests were invited back into the Orangery which had been transformed into a disco. The DJ set-up at the opposite end to that which the bride and groom had exchanged their vows only hours before.
Oldcastle's unique architecture allowed for some equally unique photos of the first dance. I stood up high on one of the walkways over the Orangery and shot down, framing the couple between their guests and the mezzanine above. To enhance the visual effect, I placed a couple of flashed behind the DJ's booth looking back towards me.
Oldcastle is a dog-friendly wedding venue which came as music to my ears as I adore dogs! The good news is, there's a resident dog who is rather friendly and who wasted no time in befriending a couple of the ushers.
For the final image of Amy and Jacko's Old Castle wedding, I took them to the light-up steps to the front of the venue. I always knew that I would love photographing weddings here, and I'm so happy that the venue have chosen to include me as one of their recommended suppliers.
To view Oldcastle's website, please follow this link.