In December 2016 I photographed one of my first Christmas themed winter weddings. Rachel and Martin both love the festive time of year and it seemed fitting that they would choose their date around this magical time. When I first met them in their cosy local pub, they told me about their love of all things Christmas. They had booked a pub venue not far from the town Martin grew up in. It had a reputation for being incredible at Christmas. I loved how their day was planned as a beautiful reflection of them as a couple. I must admit, I had some minor doubts about the cold weather though!
Winter Weddings Aren’t Always Cold
On the day of the wedding I was pleasantly surprised at how mild the weather was. It was the 9th of December and it was so warm I did not need a jacket the entire day. Rachel and her bridesmaids were getting ready at the reception venue. It was a simple room but beautiful. It had a giant free standing bath tub in the room for added wow factor and plenty of space for all the morning activity. The girls were relaxed and having a great time. I found my inspiration for the detail shots and got those before the dress was put on. The sky light provided some gorgeous light for the dress shots. Once the dress was on I made my way to the church.
Martin grew up just around the corner from the church and it is steeped in interesting history which he explained at our venue visit before the wedding. It was the perfect choice for their day as it held a lot of sentimental value. Small and quaint and the light shining through the stained windows was just breath taking. The wind was a little blustery but provided a beautiful series of photographs as Rachel waited outside the church. As she walked up the isle for that first look the emotion was running high. They were both beaming and so happy.
The Joy of Christmas
As the service began it started to sink in just how beautiful winter weddings are. They chose songs such as ding dong merrily on high and the entire church was full of joyous singing. It seemed that the general excitement and anticipation of Christmas was spilling out of people more abundantly than usual. Seeing the candles amidst beautiful holly and the festive arrangements on the pews made Christmas seem closer and even more exciting. Some people find it difficult when their wedding is over having spent so long planning. Rachel and Martin had a beautiful wedding but then had Christmas to look forward to as well.
After the service there were some very quick formal photos outside the church as timing was limited with the light. We worked through quickly and then the three of us went onto Leiston Priory. We had roughly 20 minutes to get some portraits. As we had already worked together for the engagement session Rachel and Martin knew exactly what to expect. They instantly knew my vision for each image and how I steer people to more natural posing with varied eye contact. We got some beautiful shots in record time and then made our way to the reception venue in time to hear the carol singers!
The Westleton Crown far exceeded my expectations as a wedding venue. It really is perfect for winter weddings. There were various Christmas decorations and trees already provided by the venue as well as those made by Rachel and Martin. The decor was stunning. In total there were 350 jars with ribbon and candles! Rachel and Martin had also sprayed pine cones to use as place names and used wooden plaques for the table numbers. In total the whole place looked spectacular. Warm, cosy and full of love, laughter and happy people! There was a fire pit ready outside for the evening and we had also pre arranged to do some fun sparkler shots.
The Westleton certainly did not disappoint on the food either! Rachel and Martin had kindly paid for me to have a meal so I took a break whilst everyone else was eating. It was delicious. Whilst I was sitting in the bar area I also took more detail shots of the flowers in front of the christmas tree and also the rings. This shot took some time as I had to balance them perfectly and wanted to get a beautiful background blur with bokeh from the candles. So the spots of light that can be seen on the image are carefully positioned candles set behind the rings. It adds some warmth and colour to the image. To achieve that amount of blur in the background I had open up my aperture so that only a tiny section of the shot was in sharp focus. Focussing had to be incredibly precise.
Let Love Sparkle
After the meal and wonderful speeches we had time to head outside and have some fun with the sparklers. I explained to their guests that we could create shapes with the light and so after a couple of practises we took some shots. I loved their reactions when I showed them the shot on the back of my camera! This is another reason winter weddings can work so well. As it gets darker earlier you can head outside to do either a sparkler arch or make fun shapes or even the date of the wedding. It also means golden hour is much earlier in the day so the bride and groom can get those shots in the beautiful light before the evening guests all arrive.
This was definitely one of my favourite weddings last year. I loved how the atmosphere was even happier than usual and how warm and cosy everything seemed. It added that feeling of intimacy to the day even though there were a lot of guests. So I would definitely recommend a wedding out of summer! Please see the suppliers below if you want more information.
Best Buds Flowers
Walker Slater for the grooms suit
Groomsmen suits hired from Coes in Ipswich
Make up by Abi from The Retreat in Southward
Hair by Debbie from Room2 near Stowmarket