If you've spent any time reading the captions to the images on my website, you'll likely already know how much I love photographing weddings at Stanbrook Abbey.
I'm very lucky in that it's a local venue to me - so much so I can see it from my office window in winter, when the trees don't obscure the view.
The image above was taken at Parastou and Neil's Stanbrook Abbey wedding in November. Normally when I book weddings in November, I always worry a little as the weather can be so hit-and-miss. For this wedding however, the weather could not have been any better and the couple were blessed with bright sunshine all day.
Parastou and Neil had chosen to do their wedding a little differently, with a little bit of help and input from myself, and had decided to do a first-look (whereby the bride and groom see each other in a set-up action before the wedding.) From there, they decided to have their couple's photos taken, followed by their formal group photos, then get married, and have a drinks reception afterwards. The idea behind this was that it would allow the bride and groom's reactions to each other to be captured in a way that's not otherwise possible with one photographer. It also meant that anything that might be the slightest bit stressful, like the formal photos, was out of the way before the wedding, allowing everyone to sit back and relax for the remainder of the day once the ceremony was complete.
I started my day early, with Parastou and her bridal party in the Bride's Manor House at Stanbrook Abbey. This amazing building is away from the rest of the venue and allows brides to get ready in peace and quiet, without the worry of bumping into any of their wedding guests too early. For me, one of the best parts of the Brides Manor at Stanbrook is the grand central staircase you can see here. I took this photo as Parastou was making her way downstairs before her big reveal to Neil who was waiting outside. When Parastou went to buy her veil, the owner of the wedding dress shop suggested a cathedral length veil to match the grandeur of the venue in which she was to marry. Because of this, Parastou ended up with a veil that was some 20+ feet in length. I'm not complaining - it made for some truly stunning photos.
Now, back to the main image for this article. Parastou and Neil had opted to have a traditional style receiving line as their wedding guests made their way back into the Callow Great Hall for the wedding breakfast. In the line-up were the parents of the bride and groom as well as the newlyweds themselves. Documentary wedding photography is at the heart of everything that I do, and always has been. For the receiving line, I sat back and watched things unfold before me, snapping away as I saw fit. The image you see at the top of this article shows the father of the groom talking with one of the couple's wedding guests. I have no idea what was being said, but the look on their faces shows how much they were both enjoying the conversation. For me this is one of the gifts that wedding photography keeps on giving - I don't know what had been said here, and there's every chance that the people in the photos don't remember either, but as the viewer of this image you get to guess as to what might have been going on. It's the 'who/what/where/why/when/how' that keeps the magic in photography.
Location: Stanbrook Abbey, Worcestershire.Keywords: Documentary wedding photography (129). 1/200; f/2.8; ISO 3200; 35.0 mm.