Laura & Matt – Caswell House
I love exploring the UK and the wedding venues that it has to offer. I had the privilege of photographing Laura and Matt’s wedding at the beautiful Caswell House in Oxfordshire just before Christmas and it did not disappoint. The house, barns and grounds sit far back from the main road and are surrounded by parkland, rolling fields and even a moat so you feel like there’s no one really around. It definitely feels ‘exclusive’ as the website describes. And the winter sunshine showed it off perfectly with its landscaped gardens and Cotswold stone; I hope you agree with me that it’s a stunning venue and quintessentially English.
The ladies got ready in the Coach House and the atmosphere was cheery and upbeat which helped relax everybody into the day. Matt earned himself some serious brownie points with the gifts that were presented to Laura as she was getting ready – from a handmade bauble with a mini Lego Laura and Matt inside it to a large customised bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk with Laura’s married name emblazoned on it. Brilliant! I was impressed when Laura told me a month after the wedding that she still hasn’t tucked into it – that’s some serious self-control.
The wedding service was held at the very old (dating back to the 1100s), very grand and very beautiful Burford Church which looked lovely with its Christmas trees, fairy lights and the winter sun pouring through its windows. I love church weddings at Christmas as often the hymns chosen tend to be carols which are my absolute favourite and yes, I do sing loudly behind the viewfinder of my camera! After some brisk family photos (it was rather chilly) and the confetti tunnel, we sped off to Caswell House to meet the newly weds for their couple photos in the garden. As the sun was beginning to set, the light was to die for and we managed to make the most of it before it was time to join the rest of the wedding party inside for drinks and canapés.
Laura and Matt were very good at including their guests to be pro-active in making the wedding a fun event. They welcomed everyone to their wedding breakfast seat with a shot of Baileys which went down a treat. The kids at the wedding had Christmas chocolate reindeer favours which were definitely a highlight for them and even the babies got cuddly reindeer teddies. Everyone was encouraged to write their ‘guest book message’ on a white bauble and hang it on the Christmas tree so that in years to come, Matt and Laura’s own Christmas tree would be decorated with wedding wishes from their loved ones. And to add some hilarity to dinner, they appointed a Pie Master at each table whose responsibility it was to dish out the main meal (obviously pie) and wear a rather fetching customised apron all evening. All of these things got everyone in the party mood and it wasn’t long before crazy shapes were being thrown on the dance floor to celebrate the happy couple. What a gorgeous, fun and festive wedding to capture, enjoy!
Photographing a friend’s wedding is a huge honour, especially when they book their wedding around your availability! You’d think that would add a different sort of pressure compared to photographing someone’s wedding who you’ve only met a few times beforehand, and sometimes it does, but not this time. The whole Rootham wedding experience was pretty incredible and one of the most organised, well thought out DIY weddings I’ve been to. Being the youngest of four siblings who had already been married, Matt had the help and support of the amazing Rootham family who hosted and cooked for 60-70 guests at Letton Hall (reception venue, Christian conference centre and Matt’s old home!) including 20-30 of Ida’s German family who had flown over especially. Matt’s Dad held the church service, his two brothers were his best men, his sister led the prayers, his nieces were the flower girls and everyone knew what they were doing – a photographer’s dream! The list was endless but the family managed to do all of this whilst including and welcoming Ida’s German family and all of the friends who made the trip to Norwich. There was such a lovely atmosphere throughout the whole weekend as the two cultures mingled and the two families came together in support of Matt and Ida. The bride’s dress was actually bought from a friend which helped hugely on the cost side of things but also had sentimental value as Matt had commented at the time of the friend’s wedding that it was one the best wedding dresses he’d ever seen. So when Ida and her friend met for a catch up and it was mentioned that she was thinking of selling it, Ida went ahead and bought the dress. It was perfect for her and Matt loved that she had remembered what he had said about it.
The venues that were chosen for the wedding held a special place in Matt and Ida’s hearts; the service at All Saints Church in Mattishall was led by Matt’s Dad, hosted by regulars of the congregation who had seen Matt grow up, and led by folks from their church in High Wycombe where the newlyweds met. And Letton Hall Conference Centre which Matt’s parents used to manage and live in so the family knew it inside out. Everything was definitely a team effort with family decorating the venue the night before, Matt’s work mates looking after the sound and video, Ida’s uncle making the wedding cake, friends and family setting up the day before and cleaning up the day after, and friends from Matt and Ida’s home church partaking in the service. And after all the effort put in by literally everyone there, we all let our hair down after the speeches and danced along to a band made up of Matt and Ida’s friends. Even then, after a such a full on day, the groom made a guest appearance by delighting us all and the playing the drums to Bruno Mars ‘Locked out of Heaven’! I hope you get a sense of the love, support and joy that was felt by everyone at Matt and Ida’s wedding. Zoë and I certainly felt it and it was wonderful to be a part of – so thank you, Matt and Ida!
I don’t believe in fate but I do believe that you meet people in certain places for particular reasons. I just so happened to be working, but not exhibiting, at one of the National Wedding Shows and ended up photographing Faye in a bridal makeover experience. We got chatting, she liked the shots I took of her and here we are with a beautiful blog post of their wedding photos! And what a lovely wedding it was. Full of excitement, anticipation, laughter, fun and so much love. Yes, I know, it sounds soppy but it’s true. Faye was just so excited about marrying Duncan she could hardly contain herself walking down the aisle. Even the registrar got a bit teary at one point.
The venue, Rivervale Barn in Hampshire, looked stunning. The colours of the trees, as you’ll see for yourself, had just reached the peak of their autumnal finale, the ceremony room was full of beautiful, natural light and the styling and decor of the barn itself was just enough for an elegant, no fuss sort of wedding. The staff at Rivervale are second to none. Big shout out must go out to Lyndsay H and her team who ran the whole day so effortlessly. Nothing was too much and she did it all with the biggest smile on her face. It makes my job so much easier and way more enjoyable when events teams truly care about their couples and their guests. Everybody relaxes as they know they are in good hands and therefore can let their hair down a bit and enjoy themselves.
Also credit goes to Galloping Gourmet for a fantastic ‘roast feast’, Sonning Flowers for their beautiful bouquets (the bride said that they were perfect!) and the gorgeous wedding dress by Justin Alexander which was flawless on Faye. So grab that hot cup of tea or something stronger, put your feet up and have a happy scroll through this happy, autumnal wedding that was an absolute pleasure to be a part of as well as capture.