Wood Norton Wedding Photography
Wood Norton Weddings
The Wood Norton Hotel near Evesham is a Grade II listed mansion, which was completed in 1897 as a getaway for exiled European royalty. A stunning example of Victorian opulence, there are stunning terraces and vistas taking in the views from the local countryside. A new formal garden was created in 2013 in French Renaissance Parterre style making this stunning Worcestershire wedding venue as grand on the outside as it is on the inside. The venue describes itself as 'A real oasis; room after room is much as Royalty left it in 1912, but with a twist of the 21st Century'
Laura & David
Laura and David got married at Fladbury Church, and held their wedding reception at the Wood Norton - A venue which I am very familiar with and am one of only three recommended wedding photographers.
Laura used the bridal suite, named the Princess Louise Suite at the Wood Norton in order to get ready along with her bridesmaids. At the same time, my associate photographer, Aaron, was with David and the groomsmen to cover things from their perspective.
David and his groomsmen got ready at home and travelled from there straight to the church. My associate photographer was with them, every step of the way. If you're considering having a second wedding photography, why not take a look at the article I wrote on the subject by clicking here.
The Princess Louise Suite at the Wood Norton is a gorgeous location, with lots of space and natural lighting, and wood panelling that gives a lovely warmth. Directional lighting is provided by a large bay window at the one end of the room, which is stunning for both picking out details as well as portraiture.
Laura's wedding dress was beautiful, with detailed diamanté beading on the back and embroidered lace patterns on the body and train.
Myself and my associate photographers synchronise our cameras, so once delivered to the couple, they can look back through the images in perfect chronological order, allowing each to see what the other was doing at the same time! It is for this reason that the images between the bride and groom getting ready can jump to-and-fro. As you can see, the groom and his groomsmen were already at the church before Laura or any of her bridesmaids were dressed.
This is one of my favourite photos from the morning of Laura and David's wedding. I was busy photographing the maid of honour doing up the buttons on Laura's dress, when I heard the door directly behind me opening. I turned around, and took a single frame of this angelic flower girl standing in the perfect light, and in a perfect pose. I didn't have chance to change my camera settings or anything, but the outcome is a photo that the bride and groom cherish.
After this last photo of the bridal prep at the Wood Norton, I drove the short distance to photograph David making his way to Fladbury Church. For me, it's really important that I photograph the groom arriving at church, or at least get photos of him meeting and greeting his wedding guests as it's such an integral part of the day.
David didn't seem nervous before the wedding ceremony at all - he even took to greeting each one of his guests with open arms, most of whom seemed as excited about the wedding as he was!
Fladbury Church was actually a great place to photograph a wedding, with so many different vantage points to take advantage of. The church is also vast, and very well lit compared to most churches I've worked in over the years.
What bride could hope for a better reaction from their husband-to-be?!
As I always do, before the wedding I met with the vicar in order to discuss her requirements and to check things such as where she wanted me to stand during the service, and her policy on photographing the signing of the register - It's much less stressful on everyone involved if I have this conversation before the ceremony, the last thing I want is to be finding these things out the hard way! The vicar informed me that I could stand at the front of the church as the bridal party made their entrance, but as soon as they were at the front, I'd have to make my way outside, to the back of the church and photograph the rest of the ceremony from there.
Wedding tip: It is always worth checking, if you're a bride or groom and you're planning a wedding, that the church in which you're getting married will allow you to have your wedding photographs taken the way you want them to be. I've had experiences in churches recently where the clergy have not allowed any photography of the wedding service owing to having had bad experiences with others in the past. This is not something you want to be hearing for the first time on the morning of your wedding, as happened with one of my clients - so please, check the photographic arrangements with the church before you get married!
After the church ceremony in Fladbury, I took a few quick formal photos outside the church (as some relatives weren't able to attend the reception) before setting up for the confetti photo. For this, I simply asked the wedding guests to stand either side of the church path with confetti in hand and wait for the bride and groom to pass before letting loose!
As the Wood Norton has masses of grounds and gardens, I decided with the bride and groom that the vast majority of formal photos would be taken there. I also took into consideration that it was a rather hot and humid day, and that, as nice as the church was, the wedding guests might appreciate a nice cold drink sooner rather than later.
The Wood Norton has a huge front lawn which gives more than enough space for formal group photos of almost any size. For the biggest formal photos (usually the photo containing all of the wedding guests) I usually head back inside and utilise the balcony of the bridal suite as can be seen in one of the images below. Shooting from above, you're able to arrange guests in such a way that they fit the 3:2 ratio of a photo better. As odd as it sounds, picture it this way; if you have 100 wedding guests and the photographer is on the same level as them, you'll need to stand all 100 guests side to side, having a row that's 100 people wide and one person deep (or 50 wide and two people-deep if you stand the taller ones at the back) but with an elevated position, you're able to have a photo that's 10 people wide and 10 rows back. You're able to see everyone much better, and you're not left with a photo that's incredibly wide and short.
At the Wood Norton, the bride and groom are taken to view the reception room (usually the Orangery) to make sure they're happy with everything before the guests are asked to take their seats. I used this same opportunity to take photos of the room, free from wedding guests.
The Orangery is a relatively new addition to the Wood Norton having only been completed in the last 5 years or so. Built on top of a small hill, the Orangery is glazed along it's entire length, allowing for a panoramic view back over the hotel, and to the countryside beyond. The Orangery at the Wood Norton is large enough to host 120 people for a formal wedding breakfast and 180 people for an evening reception.
The bride and groom chose to name their tables after various cities from around the world that they had visited together, which is a lovely personalised touch. It's almost too easy to just number the tables one to whatever - Name the tables after something that means something to you, and if as a groom you're struggling for words to pad-out your speech, explain why each table name is of significance.
I thought that the centrepieces were particularly well thought out - A large display of flowers on the table tops themselves often means that people sitting directly opposite can't see or talk to each other. These thin-stemmed vases raised the flowers up by 40cm meaning that everyone around the table had an unobstructed view. This approach also proved successful when it came to the speeches, and made my job of photographing wedding guests and their reactions a whole lot easier.
Once the bride and groom had given their approval of the Orangery's appearance, I took them back into the gardens to have their couples photos taken. At the same time the wedding guests were moved from the lawn into the reception room, to be seated for the wedding breakfast. The 20 minutes this takes is the best time for couple's photos as the guests are occupied and the bride and groom are free to have some more intimate photos taken in relative quiet. It's also quite nice for the bride and groom to have a little time together (if you ignore the fact I'm there with a camera!) - wedding days are long, and they're getting longer, but amazingly the bride and groom spend next to no time alone together on their big day.
The weather for Laura and David's wedding day was hot. Really, really hot! I worried for David in his heavy black morning suit so as best I could, I tried to work whilst keeping them both in the shade. This was much more comfortable for both the bride and groom, and actually produces much more flattering wedding photos. Direct sunlight, as well as being physically warm, is very harsh and gives your photos a lot of contrast. Standing a bride and groom in the shade means that the light hitting them isn't direct, and is therefore a lot softer. You also have the added benefit that there aren't long shadows drawn across their faces and they're not squinting for looking into the sun.
David and Laura had had a pre-wedding or 'engagement' photoshoot with me, at the Wood Norton a few months before the wedding, so I was keen to re-shoot some of the same images as I had taken during the previous photo shoot. Engagement photoshoots are a great idea, especially if you're slightly nervous in front of the camera, or just want to see how you'll look in your wedding photos.
Another tip I'm keen to share is that, if you're going to have an engagement photoshoot, and you're also having a hair and makeup trial before your wedding, try and book them all to happen on the same day. Have your hair done first, then your makeup, and finally, rock up to your engagement shoot looking flawless - and you'll get to see exactly how you will on your wedding, apart from the wedding dress of course.
Once the couple's photos were complete, for now at least, it was time to move them to the Orangery to rejoin their wedding guests. A lot of wedding photographers will go home at this point, but for me this is only half way through the day, and an amazing time that you're going to want a record of.
I don't photograph people when they're eating because, after all, who wants to see that? Instead, I carefully pick my moments, usually between courses where people are laughing, joking and generally enjoying themselves. Of course another great time to take some candid wedding photos is during the speeches. I concentrate on covering the people giving the speeches first, before turning my camera to the guests.
After the wedding breakfast and speeches were complete, the bride and groom headed back to the bridal/honeymoon suite whilst the guests moved to the terrace to enjoy the evening sun. Lawn games were provided to keep the guests, both young and old, thoroughly entertained. Giant Jenga always proves to be very popular, and hilarious to watch as people lose their hand-eye coordination more and more with every cocktail.
Laura really wanted some photos to be taken on the staircase, and I knew that I wanted to shoot these images in what little light there was - I didn't want to kill the ambiance using flash, and using flash in a room with a reddish-wood panelling is fraught with difficulties. In order to shoot using only the available light I used a Pentax digital medium format camera, which, with it's massive sensor, allowed me to shoot using nothing but the light inside the hotel.
After a couple of hours enjoying the evening sun on the terrace, the wedding guests moved back to the Orangery for the evening reception which kicked off with the cutting of the cake and then the first dance immediately after.
Wedding tip: Try to time the cutting of the wedding cake and your first dance for after the time your evening guests are due to arrive. These two traditional moments are the last opportunity to tie your evening guests into the wedding. If guests turn up after the first dance, it can seem like the day is already starting to die down. Allowing them to witness the cake being cut for example, can really make them feel part of your day, not just an addition.
The wedding photo below was inspired by one I took in exactly the same location a couple of years ago, late in the night and in a dense bank of fog. For Laura and David's wedding, I knew that I wanted to recreate this well-received image which meant staying later into the night, as it would only start to get dark enough for this type of image after 9pm.
In order to get this wedding photo I placed a powerful light behind the bride and groom, and made sure that it's beam was wide enough to light the trees as well as the couple themselves. Images like this really work best with more intimate poses between the bride and groom, as the images, more artistic in nature, become as much about the shape of the rim-light or the silhouette as they are about the bride and groom themselves.
If you'd like to have a look at Laura and David's wedding album design, please click here.