In a slight change from the usual wildlife content, I thought I’d do a semi guest blog about my wedding last year and the photographer who stepped up to the challenge of documenting it, especially as he’s a fellow Nikon user! You see, being that I’m a photographer myself, I knew I wanted the photos to be good. Actually, scrap that, I wanted them to be perfect! I had been asked many times in the lead up to the big day who was going to take them (many half jokingly asked if I’d be taking them myself If I could find a way) and the answer was always the same…there was only ever one person I was going to trust to take them. And even though I’d never met him in person, I had told him so, many years before I even met my wife! Well, the day finally came for me to send the ‘I’m getting married’ email, and Guy Collier well and truly exceeded my expectations.
So, below you’ll find a little bit of insight in to the big day from my perspective, as well as a little insight from Guy as the photographer. And of course it’s all illustrated by some of Guys simply breath taking photos (of course, I may be a little biased about the subjects…).
OVER TO YOU GUY
As Richard says, we didn’t actually meet until his wedding day. We knew each other from a shared interest in photography and he’d long joked that when he got married he’d ask me to shoot it. Well, I thought he was joking. Until I got that email…..
I’d a self-imposed rule that I wasn’t going to shoot any doubles last year (ie. 2 consecutive weddings) and I only broke it once. For this wedding. I couldn’t say no really could I?
It’s weird. Photographers often say they get worried when they’re shooting another photographer’s wedding. But I don’t. I look at it like this. They know me better than most clients who’ve just found me, they know exactly what they’re looking for, they’re photographically literate. If they ask me then they know what I’ll do and therefore that’s exactly what they want. I get very few clients who want to input into what I do. Mostly they just want to hire someone they like, they trust, and they can rely on to deliver. That means I’m left alone to do my bit.
That bit is mostly observing. My approach is that of a photojournalist, but I’m not a purist. I will engage with guests and I really don’t take myself very seriously, so I’m quite jokey and like to have a laugh. Not difficult on a wedding as they’re full of happy people. But that doesn’t mean I don’t take what I do seriously. I’m very serious about that, but I think the journey to that end destination can be fun, so I try and make it so.
Richard and Deba were a dream couple to work with. The wedding itself ticked all the boxes. Amazing location, gorgeous bride (and fairly good-looking groom 😉 ), great weather, superb guests and friendly families. But that’s a small part of the day really. They’re about 2 people coming together with a select group of people to commit to each other. I’m privileged to be part of that select group, albeit as an outsider looking in. It’s my job to capture the day. Not to be technically perfect at the expense of those emotional moments. I want to tell a story that someone who wasn’t there can view, and feel like they understand how the day flowed. About what these people mean to each other. With Richard and Deba I got that in spades and it made my job very simple indeed. For that I thank them both. Yes, what I do is a business and I’m doing it to make a living. But it’s also about coming into a couples’ life for a short period of time and giving them a way to relive that day.
After all, once the food is eaten, the flowers have died, the suits returned, and the dress packed away, the photographs are all that’s left. They reinforce the memories and freeze those moments forever.
Thank you again Mr and Mrs Peters.
NO, THANK YOU GUY!
I just want to say a few words about Guy before I recount my big day, mainly because if you only want to view the stunning photos you might miss this little bit if it’s at the bottom of the page. I’ve ‘ known’ Guy for many years, but until the day of my wedding I’d never met him. Our conversations had always taken place via several photography websites and via email. But I had built up a pretty good picture of him, and more importantly, watched his photography go from strength to strength over the years. So, when the time finally came to get him to take my images I was over the moon when he said he was available (he had almost 40 weddings out of the 52 weekends in 2011 – a year he had decided to only work Saturdays, of which my wedding was on a Sunday, what a champ for agreeing!!). So I finally got to meet Guy the day of my wedding, and he was the polite, funny and talented chap I’d always assumed him to be. My wife and I really bonded with him and he made the task of taking images on the day seamless with the rest of the events going on. This was important for me because, as a photographer myself, I didn’t want to be worried about what the photographer is doing and it was so refreshing and a weight off my mind to know I could sit back and let Guy do his thing and not have to stress. Not only did he work his fingers to the bone capturing the big day, he even managed to provide an online gallery of 80 processed images the NEXT DAY, plus, the morning after that, another 80 or so! That’s right, he provided over 160 images to show our guests by about 11am Tuesday morning and the full 400+ not long after that. Given he didn’t leave our wedding until about 930pm Sunday night, that’s a crazy fast turnaround. What more can you ask for!
TWO WEDDINGS IN ONE DAY
We knew from the word go our wedding was going to be big. With two cultures coming together, we had to squeeze in two ceremonies, which meant changing outfits and having over 150 guests entertained throughout the day, all within the stunning surroundings of the Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey. 8:30 Sunday morning and my alarm is going off. It didn’t wake me up though, as my eyes had already been open for over an hour with a mixture of excitement and nerves. It’s the big day we’ve been planning since I popped the question four months previous during a short break to New York. Today was the day my beautiful fiance was going to become my beautiful wife.
In typical ‘man’ style I spent my morning eating breakfast (well, half a slice of toast that took over 30 minutes to chew and swallow), getting the wedding car I’d hired for the weekend washed, and sitting around in the hotel bar with two of my three best men and my family. But, during this time, my fiance was of course frantically being made up, dressed up (but hopefully not wound up) along with her five bridesmaids. Of course this is something the groom never see’s but thanks to Guy, I feel like I was there when I look back at the pictures.
FUN AT THE GATE, FOLLOWED BY NERVES
The first hint to our guets that this was a fusion wedding was when the best men and myself had to gain entry to the venue by effectively paying my wife to be’s younger family members by way of bartering a price of admission. It was great fun with lots of banter and jokes which the guests all seemed to enjoy, before the wad of notes placed on the tray was deemed a sufficient enough amount to allow me in to marry my bride.
So, with the humour and fun of the Gate out the way, it was time to walk in to the Sculpture Gallery itself, and as I walked in and saw the huge aisle and stunning room all dressed and prepared for our ceremony my nerves truly kicked in. The sound of our harpist could be heard filing the room with beautiful ambience music and my dry mouth became a full blown desert and as I greeted the line of guests that walked past me, I started to really feel the emotion of the day. Before long the 150+ guests were all seated and it was time to face front and centre as my bride was about to make her grand entrance.
I tried to keep my composure and fight off the nerves as the music played and I knew the big moment was creeping ever closer. One of my best men leaned forward and said one word to me as he watched my bride reaching nearer, ‘wow’.
Nerves. Like. Crazy.
The ceremony was lovely, with just the right amount of emotion and a bit of humour thrown in from the Bedfordshire registrar just to keep the mood light and relaxed. As the sun shone through the gigantic floor to ceiling windows of the Sculpture Gallery, it highlighted some of the stunning features of the room, and the sheer scale of it as our guests looked on as we said our ‘I do’s’ and became husband and wife and my nerves finally started to subside.
Walking back up the aisle as Mr & Mrs Peters to a round of applause we headed out in to stunning gardens, and barely managed to speak to any guests before being whisked away by Guy to get some photos in the bag.
MEET THE ASTON
Here’s a quick back story to fill you in on, knowing she liked nice cars, my opening line when I first met my wife was ‘so, what would be your dream car to be picked up in on a first date?’. Her reply ‘An Aston Martin’. So, during the build up to the wedding I told her I was going to hire a car for the weekend instead of a chauffeur driven car just for the one day. We looked at the Astons but I said they were too pricey and so we settled on a Porsche (I say settled, but that’s still a very respectable car of course), but I knew anything short of an Aston would not feel right.
And so, I scoured the internet trying to find the best deal I could, and eventually found Nik and Supercar hire in St Albans, who worked out a fantastic deal for me which allowed me to pull the ultimate surprise and really put the icing on the proverbial wedding cake. I somehow kept the car a secret right up to the wedding day, when I could finally make the big reveal. To say Deba was delighted would be a massive understatement. And so, we jumped in and drove it around to face Woburn Abbey where Guy took what I deem to be my favourite images of the day, which is the first image at the top of this post, with the Abbey behind us and the car, a token of the first time I ever spoke to my future wife, all coming together perfectly.
We had about half an hour of photos before it was time to head back inside to get changed for our second ceremony, the Nikah. We wanted to both have a completely different look to compliment this Muslim ceremony. A big difference with the Nikah to the earlier civil registry is that we were to walk down the aisle to the front together this time which was a far less nerve wrecking experience than the previous ceremony.
After the Nikah we had our second set of photos taken, in our new outfits, whilst the guests enjoyed a second drinks reception. Our second reception was over an hour long and so we actually managed to get 40 mins or so with our guests after our images were taken.
INTRODUCING MR & MRS PETERS
Our guests were seated for dinner before my wife and I were announced, and entered the room as husband and wife. However, to keep things fun, and unknown to our guests, we were escorted in to the room to two dhol players, and wow, how amazing did they sound as we followed them through the room, passing all our guests before making our way back to the centre of the room and our top table.
I’ll be honest I was a little worried initially about how the dhol players would be received, I figured it would either go down very well or feel very cheesy. But I was delighted to see that everyone really got in to the spirit of it and all 150+ guests were clapping, cheering and most were even up on their feet dancing! As we were seated and the dhol players finished, the room erupted in to a massive round of applause, and later I had quite a few of our guests passing on comments along the lines of what an amazing and unforgettable entrance. It certainly turned in to one of the highlights of the day for us both!
We had our speeches between the main meal and desert (mainly to give people time to digest the huge feast!) and what had originally been given an allotted time of around 15-20 minutes turned in to at least 45, putting us behind schedule. But Guy carried on like a trooper and told me not to worry when I went to apologise for keeping him on for longer.
The speeches and thanks you’s were very well received with some humour, serious moments, emotional moments with almost no dry eyes in the house on a couple of occasions. We also had lots of gifts to give out, culminating in letting our guests know we had drawn a smily face on the underside of one guests place card per table. We asked everyone to turn them over and see who had the face. If you had the face, the beautiful flower arrangement in the middle of your table was yours to take home – that little surprise certainly went down well!
CAKE CUTTING, & FIRST DANCE
Well, with dinner out the way (no photos there, after all, who wants to see their friends and family with food hanging out their mouth) and the speeches done, next on the list was the cake cutting, with our cake being tucked in to a beautiful dedicated room at the end of the Sculpture Gallery, set to the backdrop of a statue of Apollo. It really did elevate our tasty to cake to new hights and made for a very impressive and grand setting.
Finally, it was time for the first dance, and it’s there that this illustrated story of the day ends. It truly was magical, and given that we arranged it all in four months, came together far better than we had hoped. We had many guests say during the day, and via emails and texts in the days afterwards that it was one of the best weddings they had ever been too. And hearing that really touched us, because apart from being our special day, we had planned it almost as much with the guests in mind to make sure they had a fun time too. Knowing that they did, made an already incredible day all the more special.
So, if you haven’t already sussed it out, let me just say it here in plain English for you. If you’re getting married and want one of the friendliest, quickest and of course most talented wedding photographers out there, you need to give Guy a shout! If my words don’t convince you of that, that images in this post most certainly should!
As you can imagine, there are WAY too many images for me to share here. But if you’d like to see more please do check out Guy’s own blog posts about my big day. He split it in to a two parter to share around 160 of the images. You can see part one here and part two here.
In the meantime, here’s a few more if you don’t have time right now to head over there.