Casa Hotel Wedding - Liss and Chris
It's been a constant theme this year with my weddings. "So this wedding was originally going to be in 2020." Well here we have a landmark wedding in 2021. Liss and Chris' wedding was the final rescheduled wedding as a result of the Covid 19 Pandemic. I sit here typing this blog out on a chilly autumn afternoon with one wedding of 2021 left reflecting on a hectic, worrying and at times desperate 20 months. But I have to be thankful as so many people have been left heartbroken and in a lot worse state than myself. I've used this time to refocus (excuse the pun) and go back to being the photographer I always wanted to be. The photographer from several years back. Pushing myself and having fun with it. And this Casa Hotel Wedding demonstrates the sort of fun I have again when shooting weddings.
So, here I was back on a former stomping ground on mine. When I finished university I lived and worked in Hampshire, living in Southampton and working in Fleet. I was heading from Kent to Yateley in Hampshire to The Casa Hotel. The big issue today was a mammoth storm that had enveloped the South of England. It was dark, it was foreboding, it was raining, it was raining, it was raining, it was raining some more and it was windy! Now, a couple of days earlier I had contacted a bride to be on Facebook who was panicking on a Facebook wedding group about the upcoming forecast for the weekend. I tried to put her mind at rest to reassure her that there should always be options no matter the weather and to contact her photographer.
Me? I was relishing this! As a pilot....would they rather do an instruments landing or would they like to use all their skills once in a while? Yeah....I love being tested. So when I arrived at The Casa Hotel, I popped my kit in the ceremony room and headed out to the grounds of the hotel. There are always options. And this venue was no different. I found a covered terrace to shoot family shots and then there behind some conifers was a gazebo. Ok, so the ground around it was absolutely waterlogged but I could see the image there and then! I was going to forego day time shots outside with Liss and Chris.....these would be evening shots. More of that later.
Back inside I made my way to Liss' room where she was getting ready. We chatted and she asked about the weather. I reassured her and said I had a plan. She was happy with that. From that point on it was time to settle in and relax for the day. I grabbed a cup of coffee, checked my notes and began working through my list of shots to cover.
Downstairs in the ceremony room everything was in place. A mixture of blacks and orange to provide an autumnal look and feel. There were pumpkins too which were lined up on the stairs. This was lovely. And really stood out against the dark moody weather outside.
I knew today would be a relaxed day. Liss and Chris didn't want fuss. They said they don't do ceremony. And on a day when, with the weather the way it was, I was potentially going to be tested to the limit, this was perfect for the day. Pressure off. After popping downstairs to get a few more shots I went back upstairs for the last time before the ceremony. Liss had her dress on but not done up. Those who were there were struggling to get the loops around the hoops due to finger nails. I had the perfect tool.....my car keys. Camera put to one side, fingers cracked and I was let loose on the dress and before you knew it Liss was in her dress!
So all that was left was to get married. Downstairs Chris was sat on the front row waiting for the celebrant to come back in. As I walked in, I was greeted by a familiar face. Hannah. My bestie. We've know each other for way too many years. One of my biggest supporters and not afraid to kick my bum when I need it. Due to lockdown we've not seen each other since February 2020. A sight for sore eyes. And her mum and dad were in tow too. Sal and Wal were like second parents to me when I was growing up!
With everyone in, the volume on the iPod went up a notch and the opening bars of The Knack's "My Sharona". What a tune to walk in to your wedding ceremony to. A high paced tune matched with a high paced entrance!
As with the case these days the ceremony was nice and quick. And before you knew it they were Mr and Mrs. After a few family shots we headed back upstairs. There was something about the carpet pattern and the lighting in the corridor outside Liss and Chris' room....it had a touch of The Shining about it. I couldn't resist. And this suited Liss. Just what she wanted. Something a little different. Something a little moody.
There wouldn't be any speeches today. Just straight into the wedding breakfast. The food was amazing!!!! I got the full three course meal and to be honest I was stuffed full! I could have done with a quick nap!!! But with the meal done and the DJ setting up I suggested the three of us head out.
It was still raining. It was still windy. But we weren't going to let that stop us! Over to the gazebo we went. I popped my kit under a covered area of seating and set up my lamps and tripod whilst Liss and Chris sheltered. After a few shots I shouted "fancy some smoke?" Ooooooh yes! Creativity. Fun. That's what I love about my job! And not once did we realise it was absolutely chucking it down with rain.
With my day done, I packed up, said goodbye to Liss and Chris and then went to see Hannah, Sal and Wal. After a bit of a catch up I made my way into the night and a deeply unpleasant drive on the M25 to Kent due to the torrential rain. Back at base I transferred the images to the Mac, poured a glass of wine, popped the heating on and put my feet up. What a day! Absolutely amazing!!!!