Stanbrook Abbey Wedding Photography
Heather and Craig
Stanbrook Abbey, as the name suggests, was a monastery that can trace it's origins back to the 16th Century. The nuns have long gone, but the stunning architecture and breathtaking vistas still remain. Stanbrook Abbey is a fantastic place to get married, especially as the abbey-turned-hotel now boasts 55 beautifully appointed bedrooms; more than enough room to house the guests from even the biggest wedding.
One of the highlights of the venue is the Callow Great Hall, which is registered for civil ceremonies for up to 190 guests. Referred to as one of Worcestershire's 'best kept secrets' the Abbey, and the 26th acres of grounds and gardens it's set in, has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
Heather and Craig spent their entire day at Stanbrook Abbey, with Heather getting ready in the Bride's Manor, and Craig getting ready in the Groom's Room. I had my associate photographer, Aaron, on hand to capture the groom and his ushers getting ready whilst I covered the bride and the bridesmaids.
I absolutely love the following photos of Heather reacting to seeing her wedding flowers being delivered. So many of my wedding clients, after their weddings, speak of how the wedding day all of a sudden began to feel real with the delivery of their bouquet. This is a great example of how documentary wedding photography is really worth it's weight in gold. This raw, real emotion just cannot be captured in posed or staged photos. Being the fly-on-the-wall, in the right place at exactly the right time is the only way to guarantee you receive amazing wedding photos that are a genuine reflection of your day, that you can look back at and treasure forever.
Bride's Manor is an elegant Manor House that's located at the far end of Stanbrook Abbey, at the furthest point away from reception. It features it's own private drive with ample parking, 4 double bedrooms, a kitchen, massive living room and much more. It's really the ideal place for a bride to get ready on the morning of her wedding, with space enough to absorb the whole bridal party in splendid surroundings. The majority of brides I've worked with at Stanbrook Abbey have chosen to get ready upstairs and utilise the bride's bedroom and adjoining dressing room in order to have their hair and makeup done. Heather and her bridal party did things a little differently and got ready downstairs, which was actually a great idea as you have so much more space! Having the freedom to move around with doors on both ends of the room also made my life a lot easier too.
Heather gave each of her bridesmaids a personalised gift on the morning of her wedding. A really popular choice for a bridesmaid's gift is jewellery that can be worn on the day itself. I always really enjoy photographing these moments as you can get some great, emotion-packed images.
This is the Callow Great Hall, and it's the part of Stanbrook Abbey that's licensed for wedding ceremonies. It's a beautiful space in which to say your vows, and the inward facing seating means all of your guests are treated to a great view! At the far end of the hall, through the red curtain you might just be able to see slightly to the right-of-centre is the entrance to the tower which can be seen for miles around (I can actually see the Callow Great Hall and the flag-tower from my house!)
My associate photographer, Aaron, spent the morning with Craig and his groomsmen/ushers. Their day started watching a game of football on their phones whilst getting ready in the Groom's Room which is also inside Stanbrook Abbey, and only a couple of minutes walk from the Manor House. With careful planning, it's easily possible for a single photographer to capture both the bride and groom getting ready on-location, but if you think you might like the idea of having two wedding photographers, have a read of the article I wrote here: Do we need two wedding photographers?
Groom's Room at Stanbrook Abbey is a fantastic hideaway (think man-cave) just off one of the main corridors, and a stone's throw from the Callow Great Hall. The Groom's Room has parquet flooring and a full-width built-in wardrobe that can be used to store suits and other items before you need them. Also to be found in the wardrobes are monk costumes (Stanbrook Abbey was, after all, exactly that - an abbey!) and on the walls is a collection of top hats. The wood panelling around the walls is a rich, warm colour that looks great in the back of colour photos although, as you can probably tell, I'm quite partial to black and white!
The groom and his ushers used the Callow Great Hall in which to put their buttonhole flowers on each other. Once they were suitably dressed, they made their way to the Piano Bar to wait for the remainder of the wedding guests.
This is always a favourite image from inside the Manor House, taken as the bride makes her way down the main staircase, ready for her interview with the registrars. The way the bridesmaids are all waiting to catch a glimpse of the bride really makes for a stunning wedding photo.
Two of my all time favourite wedding photos are below - It's for moments and images like these that I choose to shoot in the way that I do; being in the right place at the right time. It's something you get from experience from shooting hundreds of weddings, and it produces timeless images that are packed with real emotion, and you can't get that any other way. These photos show the father of the bride seeing his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress.
One of the best reasons for having two wedding photographers is below - I was at the top end of the hall shooting back towards the people entering, and I made sure Aaron was positioned to capture Craig's reaction. My associate really earned his money that day with these photos!
Immediately after the ceremony had finished the wedding guests were ushered outside in preparation for the confetti throwing photo. Whilst this is happening, the bride and groom are taken to a side room where they can have 5 minutes peace and quiet after the stress and emotion leading up to the service. When it was time for the confetti photo, the bride and groom made their way down the long corridor towards the Piano Bar and the old front entrance to the Abbey. As they did so, I grabbed this stunning black and white image.
After the confetti had been thrown the guests were free to talk to and congratulate the newlyweds. This is always a favourite time as you're able to capture such a wide range of emotions in a short timespan, and get photographs of so many different wedding guests.
The gardens at the back of Stanbrook Abbey (which used to be the front entrance until George's Bar was completed a few years back) was used for the formal family photos. Canapes were served to the wedding guests at the same time.
As the wedding party was relatively small, the easiest place to take the 'big group photo' was in the same location as the other images - the old front entrance as I call it for lack of a better term! I was stood on a terraced piece of lawn in order to get this image. The Abbey provided shade for the guests to stand in, meaning they weren't looking directly into the sun.
Once the formal part of the day was over, when it came to the photos at least, Aaron and I took Heather and Craig for a walk around the venue in order to get some beautiful photos of the two of them on their own. We started on the opposite side of the Abbey in what's now known as the 'Smoking Shed.'
Autumn was in full swing, and the yellow-orange trees made a stunning contrast to those who had kept their leaves green. I really like how the gold/green trees in the background echo the bride/groom in the fore.
The rope swing and weeping willow are a hidden gem at Stanbrook Abbey, set off to one side next to a small pond, it's easy to miss if you don't know it's there as it's tucked away behind a couple of outbuildings.
The willow itself provided some much needed shade when the sun came out. In order to really make these images 'pop' I used a portable studio light to give the image some fill-light.
As the bride and groom were starting to make their way back towards the Abbey in time for the wedding breakfast and speeches, I grabbed a few frames of the couple in the most amazing golden light.
The bride and groom had prepared confetti-filled balloons and said that they'd really like a photo with them included. The only problem being that in order to see the confetti and get the full effect, the balloons needed to be popped. The maid of honour and best man volunteered and were positioned in such a way that would create the very best photos. I counted down from three, two very loud bangs were heard and the confetti was freed!
I absolutely adore these two images, again of Heather and her father. You can really tell how close the pair are when you see them like this.
After the wedding breakfast and speeches were complete, I took the bride and groom off around the interior of Stanbrook Abbey for some more intimate couples photos. For me, Stanbrook really comes alive at night and I really enjoy shooting after dark. The first stop on our photographic tour was the cloisters, which you don't often see from the angle below.
The bride decided that she wanted to throw her bouquet in time-honoured tradition. but there wasn't space to do it inside and it was dark outside. The solution came when I suggested we could use the venue's exterior lighting to make sure the guests could see where the flowers were in the air, and I could use my flashes in order to capture the action.
Stanbrook Abbey really comes alive at night, and transforms info a really awesome place to take some stunning wedding photos. The abbey is so grand and so vast that the little nuances of architecture are sometimes lost during the day, easily overlooked in favour of more dramatic elements like the cloisters or Callow Great Hall.
When the sun goes down I always try to spend another 20 minutes with the bride and groom, taking some photos around the abbey in the dark, often using off-camera flash to really bring the images to life.
Of course, taking photos after-dark is a lot easier at an Autumn or Winter wedding as it's dark a lot earlier, but even at summer weddings I'll happily stay until long after the sun has set in order to capture images like these and really do the venue justice.
I really love these old lamps that are dotted around the outside of Stanbrook Abbey. The premise for the photo was simple - Stand under the light together and pretend I'm not there! What was captured was this lovely intimate image between the couple.
Another great location for after-dark photos at Stanbrook Abbey is the outer wall of the new reception and dining hall where wedding receptions are held. The colour of the uplighting can be changed, and when I arrived it was set to lime green. I asked that the colour be changed to something that looked less like the Incredible Hulk, and eventually we settled on this fuschia-pink which was much more pleasing.
During the first dance, the wedding coordinator popped one of the confetti filled balloons much to everyone's surprise, and I was luckily in just the right place to capture the bride and groom's reaction! This is the only photo I took all day where you can see my associate photographer in the background, which is something I always try to avoid. That being said, this moment was just too good to not include in the final collection of wedding photos. I don't add things in or photoshop things out of my wedding photos, it feels too dishonest and it's not a true representation of the wedding day - so whilst Aaron is visible here, it only serves as a reminder that they had two wedding photographers and not just me!
After a good time spent dancing, the bride and groom announced that they had sparklers enough for everyone and that people who wanted to have some fun with them should join the couple outside. Sparklers photos are always a great way to round-off the wedding day photos and also make for great finishing pages in wedding albums too, but this isn't where my day with Heather and Craig finished...
Craig really wanted a photo of the bride and groom retiring for the evening, and I was more than happy to oblige. Their room was on the second floor and with feet that were tired from dancing, the bride and groom decided to make their way up on the lift instead of the stairs. As I was following the couple, Heather stopped to speak to a guest and Craig was left holding the door to the elevator - Not one to miss a moment, I took a few simple photos of the groom in the doorway looking rather relaxed.
When Heather re-joined they shared an intimate moment together before the lift doors closed and I met them on the second floor.
As you can hopefully see, Stanbrook Abbey is an incredible Worcestershire wedding venue and one that I always love working at. There are so many places for photos, both day and night, and the venue is so large that you can have some truly individual photos that you won't see at every-other wedding. Stanbrook Abbey is also one of those rare wedding venues that should it rain, there's not only enough space inside to take your group photos but there are so many fascinating places inside that you can quite easily fill a wedding album without having to venture outside.
If you're planning a Stanbrook Abbey Wedding and would like to have a chat with me about your big day and the photography of it, please get in touch by filling out my contact form.