As with any profession, you sometimes find yourself visiting familiar places with familiar scenes. None more familiar than Tithe Barn for me. Being a professional means that you look past the familiar, look for the underlying story and accent the unique qualities that made the day unique. To see a wedding as being more than just a sequence of events but a narrative in a couple’s most important day.
In my time as a Hampshire wedding photographer I’ve had the pleasure of working a number of Asian weddings. The colour, the ceremony, the traditions all detailing a magic day. For these weddings I’ve worked in large London hotels, sprawling country estates and even in India itself. So when the opportunity to blend a bit of the East into Hampshire came up I was keen to get involved.
This was not a full Asian wedding. It was a English Civil Ceremony with an Eastern flair. A delight to see and exciting to see how Hardip’s dress became of focal point for the Asian vibe.
I got my first taste of this when I arrived to find her and her Bridesmaids in the Bride’s Room at Tithe Barn. Hardip was already in half of her dress (those that know what these amazing dresses are comprised of will know that being only half in is in many ways equal to being in more than a English white wedding dress). This was a great opportunity for me to capture those little details that made this wedding unique.
Whilst I’m sharing its worth seeing some handy work of my good friend and colleague DJ Ashley Riggs. It’s not often I ever get to do a Bridal prep at Tithe Barn so when I arrived nice and early I was greeted by a ceremony space ready to roll and the couples names projected. Shoes? Where are the shoes?!?!
Of course this also made for a dramatic setting with accented arches (up, not down) that transforms a large space into something altogether more intimate. The combination of expertly placed spotlights (that’s me) with Ash’s uplighter accents is a winning combination.
One of the most amazing facets of the uplighter system is their ability to change throughout the day in tandem with the mood and themes that evolve throughout. Blending in the rich hues of purple added to the beauty of the dancing. As an aside, the photos of the dancing below are all done by Darren.
Many thanks to David and Hardip for allowing us to take part in their incredible day. If you would like to know more about weddings at the venue be sure to visit my Tithe Barn Wedding Photographer page.
This is Emily and Adam. A completely mad couple who I got the incredible honour to photograph their wedding at Tithe Barn near Petersfield in Hampshire. I know. You are already know I’m a recommended photographer at Tithe Barn.
I always love something new so to get the chance to work with Emily at the amazing Downlands Farm was brilliant. Tucked away in the hills between Petersfield and East Tisted its an oasis of the Hampshire countryside with gorgeous views of rolling hills and farms. A nice treat on a beautiful day.
Something unique that Downlands gave me was the chance to work with horses. Not quite one of the Lloyds TSB adverts but when I collected the Bride’s shoes for my weekly wander I found myself in a stable (as you do). I was pretty sure heeled shoes weren’t a dietary staple of horses so I figured I was safe. This didn’t stop him/her from being quite interested in what I had to bring. On one occasion ‘Trigger’ even knocked the shoe from where I had balanced it.
It didn’t take long to figure out that a staple diet of Emily and Co wasn’t just the incredible French cheese that was brought over by relatives but the sarcasm that accompanied it. Lots of jokes. ‘In’ jokes about things I couldn’t figure out and ‘Out’ jokes about things all too obvious. I love a relaxed and happy prep and today I got one. I even joined in immersing myself in the vibe that everyone was in on. Great fun!
After an hour I realised something. A running constant more obvious than sarcasm. It was, in fact, Emily’s sister, who was always in the process of getting ready. I have ‘make up’ shots from all angles of the cottage. This way. That way. Here. There. Everywhere. Like a Dr Seuss poem. It became a running joke.
Meanwhile…at Tithe Barn
Once the family bus (relatives seemed to take over all of Downlands Farm) finally left for the venue it was time for a final fling of activity and a chance to meet the most gorgeous classic Citroen DS. A beauty of a car and a perfect companion to bring Emily and her Father to Tithe Barn (expertly driven by its owner who also happens to be Emily’s boss).
A gentle ceremony with heartfelt readings expertly officiated by the team at Hampshire Registrars soon gave way to the sunshine and warm breezes of the South Downs on the open spaces of Tithe Barn. There were garden games and Jenga crashes. The shade made by the trees in front of the barn kept everyone from overheating and quite possibly the homemade chocolate which awaits inside from melting. Emily’s mother runs her own chocolate shop in Cambridge. One interesting anecdote…what do you put on the sweet cart (hireable from Tithe Barn for a donation to charity) when you already have a table of homemade chocolates? The answer is obvious. Wiglets, Pork Scratchings, Savoury crackers. Well played!
They wouldn’t be short of sweet treats however. Their cake — one of those amazing ‘naked’ cakes — with all its fruit and adornments was accompanied by a donut ring board. The cake itself was made and assembled by a friend. A very pregnant friend who never ceased to have a smile on her face.
With the donut board getting a mention its now worth pointing out just how many handmade items came courtesy of the hands on talent of the Groom, Adam. He made the table plan ‘heart’, many of the table decorations including the incredible metal rose candelabras, the donut board, the pallet day plan and even a metal rose in Emily’s bouquet. What an incredibly talented guy.
I have two. I couldn’t decide and, as always, you have to know that what makes my favourite moment may well be the less obvious or even the quirky. Such is the life of a photographer who sees lots of weddings. The first is the nephew. Small and sweet. But when placed in the hands of Emily decided that having a photo with these two would be the last thing on his agenda. He went as far as delivering the toddler ‘poo’ face. I have no idea if that’s what happened. We all laughed.
The second came when Emily and Adam were walking away from the camera for the start of the couple photo session. I was on the ground photographing them as they made their way down the lane. I had no idea what he was about to do. So when a sudden heel kick happened I was grateful to get a perfectly timed shot. He even gave me a thumbs up when I announced, quite proudly, that I got it!
This Week’s Dream Team
I’m a cog in a giant wedding wheel. That’s why its awesome to work with so many talented suppliers, most of which I’ve worked with countless times over the years. Here are some of the best in the business:
With a 2pm ceremony its not often I’m heading out the door at 08:30am. I do have to admit that I did have a prospective wedding consult before meeting up with Sarah so that’s my excuse. Even so an 11am kick off for a 2pm ceremony can mean only one thing. A bit of a journey was ahead of us. Sarah opted to get ready at home near Winchester. An awesome choice knowing that you have everything you could possibly need for a wedding prep. Hair pins, the perfect lip colour, access to a medicine cabinet and a mankini. Ok. The mankini is imaginary. At least that’s the story we are all sticking to. This decision did mean a bit of an earlier depart to make it back to Tithe Barn.
I enjoy meeting people at home. I get a real sense of who they are. Their style and psyche. The fact that despite having a 2 year old they still have more Prosecco than whole milk in the fridge. NOT fake news. I also learned very quickly how Sarah is pretty handy with a camera (as evidenced by all the great photography on the walls) and that Simon used to be a ski bum (again evidenced by some pretty intense images of him doing his best Jonny Knoxville careering down the Alps). I even got to add some of my parental wisdom in helping the Grandparents fit a child seat into their car. It was like riding a bike I tell you.
A Ceremony to Remember
Right. So the ceremony. It was good. Like real good. Awesome is not an overstatement. There’s only one problem. I can’t really show you ALL the good bits (just some). Mainly because one of the stars of the show wasn’t Sarah or Simon. No Best Man dropping rings or an owl that refused to fly down the aisle. Nothing as sanguine as that. It was, in fact, Simon and Sarah’s 2year old. When she screams out, “Mummy!!!! NO!!!!” at just the right moment. Decides she ready to have a sit down between the Registar and the couple. Has a sudden realisation that wedding shoes do, in fact, taste better than normal shoes. Adorable. In the interest of internet safety and at the request of Simon and Sarah, the images of the aforementioned star have not been included. Privacy is important. Child privacy even more so. I’m 100% behind the decisions my clients make. But I still had to share 🙂 It was too good of a story not to.
There was another reason too. The amazing vocal ensemble that performed during the ceremony and for Sarah to walk down the aisle sent shivers down my spine. Literally. I see a lot of weddings. So too (and more so) do the Registrars. Alan, the officiant this day, agreed with me. What an amazing performance. Sarah is a singer herself. Part of the ensemble. A few of them were literally crying as she walked down the aisle. That’s how important it was for them. They also performed during the drinks reception and with some funky backup they transformed into the most divine soul band belting out an hours set before letting the exquisite DJ Ashley Riggs round the evening off.
Down in One
The afternoon, warm and relaxed, played out like many weddings. Confetti and canapes, Pimms and Prosecco. What was striking was the love. The gentle nature of the afternoon with everyone blending so well. Sarah laughing with friends and family and Simon doing the same. So free. So easy. As free and easy as things were, they were about to get a bit more ‘interesting’. Simon’s parents had a wee surprise for everyone during the speeches. A home made brew of something very clear and VERY strong. Having egged on their ‘ski bum’ son to get back to Britain and get on with life, they retired to France to be, well, ski bums, and with it discovered a French alcoholic delicacy. This was no Sloe Gin I can assure you. Simon’s mum went to each table to explain that at some point in Simon’s speech there would be an opportunity to open the hand labelled bottle and pour a shot for all. When the time came….oh my. The look on Sarah’s face (and the many actions and looks that followed) told a story worth hearing. I didn’t get the luxury of trying. I’m not entirely sure I would want to. If the reaction that Sarah had was one to go by. A memory for sure.
That’s All Folks
In short. What a wonderful day. Full of love, laughter, amazing music and tasty shoes. I was honoured to be a part of their day. To see it, photograph it and be a part of it. As I author this the couple have just now received their USB. Here’s what they said:
As I am sure you get told after each wedding, we honestly cannot thank you enough.
I have just watched the slide show for the second time in tears happiness. You have our memories captured and history made, and they are just beautiful. It has almost been the most precious part of the day – documenting every feeling – nerves, excitement and joy with all our absolute favourite people in the world.
You ask someone… “Give my 3 of your favourite images” and I suspect they think “wow…just three…how can I do that?”. I think Nicola has the answer. You don’t. You pick 8 and then reckon you could probably pick 50 more but that might be pushing it. To be fair I would have been happy with that.
This is a few favourites from Nicola and Dan’s wedding at the Walled Gardens at Cowdray. A stunning location with so many beautiful flowers and plants not only to look at but the smell as well.
Great weddings start with great people. If the couple can relax, take it all in, have fun and wear their heart on their sleeve then whatever happens external to that is irrelevant. I’m pleased for them that this is exactly how they played it meaning the rain that came with their day had no impact on the spirit of their wedding day.
When I say rain. I really mean it. I have a wee statistic that in the over 450 weddings I’ve shot to date only 4 had rain all day. We can make that number 5. Within 5 minutes of arriving the sprinkling started. This coming after a glorious morning of sunshine too.
Dan was decked out in velvet and monogrammed slippers. Yes. You read that right. Brilliant. It was class crossed with irreverence. Since Nicola opted not to have me for her preparations I got the explore the pre-wedding routine of the British Groom (say that like Attenborough). It was a nice change.
The theme was based around lemons. Ironic really. The old saying if life deals you lemons, make lemonade. I guess you could say the weather was lemon like. They just used it to make really fresh lemonade. It was a construct I hadn’t seen before and I’m not really sure why they opted for it. I can also say why the heck aren’t more people doing it. It was brilliant, refreshing (no pun intended) and unique. I’ll make sure to add a few of my own images of the lemons to illustrate the point. You can certainly see them in the context of the wedding in some of the images they selected.
Spring tried its best to make a quiet appearance for Harriet and Joshua’s heart warming wedding in at St Saviour’s in Guildford and Bury Court Barn. When I arrived with Harriet the talk was about the rain. A damp start had given way to some brighter skies. Optimism was the word of the day. With so much of a wedding taking place indoors its really on a few crucial hours that make the difference. There was still time for everything to work out brilliantly. The morning with the girls (and Dad) was all about hot cross buns (it was, after all, the day before Easter) and keeping a dry eye. Harriet gave the Bridesmaids a hand written card (tear jerker number 1) and they in turn gave her a keepsake book (tear jerker number 2). It all descends into hugs and smiles from there. I arrived at St Saviour’s in Guildford and found a familiar scene. The beautiful glass front and classic stained glass windows throwing light everywhere. Similar to my last experience at St Saviour’s the back of the church was ready to host a post wedding ‘cafe’ of cakes, coffee and tea. Joshua was busying himself at the front, staying calm (or pretending) and greeting guests. You’ll certainly find an image of Josh, cheeks puffed and heart racing, to show you how he was feeling just before Harriet walked down the aisle. So many personal touches took center stage during the ceremony. A sermon delivered by family friends, a band of friends (no, really…a band), an iPad streaming the ceremony for a grand mother who wasn’t able to attend and uplifting songs of praise. These guys had the ceremony THEY wanted. Nice. After the ceremony the ‘cafe’ opened and I got to enjoy the lush light and good times as guests mingled. Later, before Harriet and Josh exited the church I was able to catch an image I simply loved. Them in the church, bathed in light, calm and at peace, with everyone else outside, going about their busy routine. Love it. We were off to Bury Court. Always an oasis of amazing on the Surrey and Hampshire borders I love working there. The weather, so important as previously discussed, did us proud keeping dry and sunny enough to get through the family groups outside. A feat for an early spring wedding. Jacaranda, the incredible caterer at Bury Court, had done their usual in making the barn look amazing. Easy pickings for me as a photographer. The rain only started to drizzle at the very end of our couple session. Good timing. Now it was time to wait for the speeches. A wait worth, well, waiting for. Harriet’s father was busy preparing for a presentation. You never know how there are going to go. But I need not have worried. Perfectly was the answer. Old photographs of Harriet. Pictures of important people from the past (some who were there) and even messages from sky divers in New Zealand. A lot of work went into a great presentation. After the cake was cut, the band (yep…the same one) was ready to kick the evening off. I enjoyed a few dances (photographically mind you) before I said my goodbyes. A brilliant day of loving people.
Laurel and Alex. Oh wow. I mean. Where do I start? This was never going to be a ‘normal’ wedding (whatever that is). I was full expecting so emotion. Perhaps a bit of fun. A dabble of laughter. Maybe a tear or two. Crikey! I was blown away. This group were intense. For clarity, that’s intense in a WONDERFUL way. I’m not just talking about the rowdy rugby guys. This was right from the couple down to all the guests. No need to hold back. Love it. For me it was one of those easy days. I get to stay in one location (all at Gate Street), see the new changes to the barn (amazing), photograph a gorgeous Bride (her soul simply shines) and see a day evolve from the hesitant moments of people arriving to the crazy dancing on a packed dance floor. I was so distracted with all the fun and good times when I left, I forgot all of my flashes (thank you Chris at Chess for saving me). A big thanks to Tandem Catering who, once again, knocked it out of the park (Ohh..I went all American on you there).
In the grip of the winter’s cold comes the warm love and gorgeous wedding of Jen and Tom in Lavant with a reception at Tithe Barn in Hampshire. Having met these two back in the late summer I knew this was going to be a constant giggle fest. Tom’s dry British humour and Jen’s playful spirit were a great springboard for a wedding that, whilst a solemn ceremony as its supposed to be, was all laughs ahead. An Olympics of laughter of love. I met up with Jen and the girls in Lavant and on this day I was joined by my good friend Simon Kemp from Hyde End Studios. He met up with the guys in Chichester. I was blessed with a chorister stall view of the ceremony. Thank you Vicar! Once complete we all made our way to Tithe Barn, the jewel of Hampshire wedding venues where I settled in for a long winters….no, not nap, but an evening. Tonight I would be staying right up the last dance. The big goodbye. But before we could do that there was the small matter of heartfelt speeches, a fantastic meal and even a good round of Mr and Mrs. I’m particularly pleased with the images we got at dusk with both the venue and the hut. Good times with great people.
Time for round two of ‘Their Favourites’. I’ve done this the past few years although I’m sure I call it something different each time. It’s a great way to see into the mind of real couple and not just one of a wedding photographer. Mind you, if you could see into my mind you’d currently see a mind occupied by ski tutorials and the Super Bowl such is the time of year.
Lucy and Ian were married this past December at the amazing Gate Street Barn. It’s such a wonderful venue and one that I’m proud to be a recommended wedding photographer for. Exciting times await at the Barn with some major and totally impressive structural changes being made. I’m super excited and can’t wait to see the final outcome. I’ll make my first trip back post changes in February. Can’t wait.
So. On to Lucy and Ian’s favourite three images:
Picture 1 : Lucy’s nephews were star performers on the day not only looking as cute as possible but devilishly handsome at the same time.
Lucy says: “First is my nephew walking down the aisle. There are a series of these but this one is the moment where he truly realises everyone is looking at him and he’s a little rock star! Makes my heart melt!”
Picture 2 : I could have predicted at least one of the images would come from this. Lucy’s Father never waited to agree to give her away. He rushed head on into giving that permission even before being asked. A funny moment for everyone, including me.
Lucy says: “Second is the moment my dad was a little over keen in his declaration he was giving me away! A total icebreaker and a moment I thought I might tip over into the complete giggles.” (don’t worry Lucy, I think we all did that for you)
Picture 3 : I wouldn’t say I expected a ‘family group’ to be included. But I guess when you see how its all put together then perhaps I should never have doubted it.
Lucy says : “The last is our new slightly blended family. What could be better?”
Finally, a few of my favourite images. Certainly more ‘photographer’ minded but that’s a criticism I’ll take 🙂
(can I like an image that has me in it? This is Alex. Part of Nat and Alex. One of the two previous couples who were there that day. I love that!)
Ok, ok. I know what you’re thinking. Rob…look back in your blog history and its not exactly that many posts ago that you posted a story about Sarah and James at Tithe Barn. Can I defend myself? It’s been a long summer and fall. I’ve had loads of weddings in between, got married myself and went on honeymoon. We even hosted Christmas for the family at our house this year. So don’t be thinking its been a quiet year. On the contrary. The story behind why you’re seeing a bit on a wedding that wasn’t that long ago featured. Well, in the New Year I started to contact couples from last year to ask about their favourite three images. Sarah, bless her, was the first to reply and as such the first to be featured. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Picture 1 – Here’s an image of it all overcoming Sarah’s sister and Bridesmaid. Trying to keep back not only the tears but at the same time trying to let the happiness shine through. Sarah had to step in to be her sister’s rock. Bless.
Sarah says “the ability to capture so much emotion in one photo is a true talent!”. My only reply would be that when a moment like that happens its all kind of set up for you (in my most humble of voices).
Picture 2 – James was never short of a smile or a classic comic expression. So it stands to reason that in the moments before the ‘crunch’ it makes sense he should be himself. So that’s exactly what I managed to capture. Sure, it was likely for my indulgence but hey, I’ll take it.
Sarah says “Obviously not seeing James before the wedding meant that I didn’t get to see how he was when he was standing at the front. This photo allows me to get a sense for how he was feeling at this very moment!”. A word of advice to the newly engaged. It takes two to make a couple. Get them covered!
Picture 3 – If you’re paying attention you’ll realise that I can’t be in two places at once. OK. I’ll let you off. Unless you’ve seen more images from this amazing Tithe Barn in Hampshire wedding then you won’t know that I took up my station at the front. So for this image to exist you have to know that the uber talented Darren took this one.
Sarah says “My favourite photo of all time. We weren’t sure if you were going to be able to capture one from the back of the venue so to see this in the collection of photos was a lovely surprise. The expression on the registrar’s face as well helps capture how happy that day was.” That’s the benefit of the second photographer guys. Excellent choice.
Of course in writing this post it gave me a chance to review the day that Sarah and James had. A chance to reflect on a few images that I really loved. So in that spirit, here are a few of mine.