I always like it when I sit down with a couple to hear their wedding plans, and they include the words "relaxed" & "party". I think many people aim for that sort of feel for their day but it's hard to achieve 100% with so many formalities. It's also difficult when most weddings occur in beautiful venues that obviously must place restrictions on when things occur, where people can go, and what can be done. So, how do you escape those limitations and truly have a relaxed party wedding? Well, one option is to do as Abi & Nabil did and have the formalities on one day at a venue of choice (Abi & Nabil's wedding part 1), then on a 2nd day you have the party. Part 2 works especially well if you have access to a beautiful venue in the countryside, owned by a family member, with lots of cool and quirky features, and most importantly, includes a barn that is so ideal for parties you wonder why it's not rented out for just such occasions. In homage to an old advert, Carlsberg don't do weddings, but if they did..they would probably look like this.
I arrived at Abi's uncle's house near Tunbridge Wells in the early afternoon and started by photographing the property, the views, and the details set up for the day. Then when Abi and Nabil arrived and got changed, we had a walk around the grounds with me taking portraits wherever the light or the scene captured my imagination. We had a decent gap before the majority of their guests were due to arrive so this was nice and relaxed. We then joined their guests on the lawn by the house for drinks, a few group photos, & canapés.
Everyone moved to the marquee for a couple of speeches and then enjoyed a delicious wedding breakfast from 'Creative Catering.' After I had enjoyed my meal, I took this time to check out some potential locations for evening and night portraits and set up my lighting for the dancing. I was impressed with how the barn was looking and had a good chat with the DJ Marcel Mendez about the night's party plans. This guy has a true love of music and his enthusiasm is infectious. I couldn't wait for the party to begin.
As everyone finished their meal, the sun was very low and casting a gorgeous golden light across the sky. I whisked Abi & Nabil outside for a few portraits making the most of this last light and then as darkness took over, I switched to some night portraits of them by the cars. I had an idea for a portrait of them both with Nabil's Aston Martin in the background on the bridge. The only thing is, it involved them sitting down on the ground (dry dusty dirt on a metal bridge). I never presume to expect how couples will react to ideas like this and am never offended if someone says they're not comfortable, especially when it involves their wedding dress & suit getting a bit dirty. So, I told them my idea and offered to find a blanket or similar for them to sit on, but without hesitation and in total cool fashion, they said, "No, don't worry" and just sat down. Legends.
And then, the party really got started. DJ Marcel Mendez created an atmosphere that any club in the world would like to achieve. The music was spot on, with him perfectly reacting to and directing the flow of the party. I was loving it and it was obvious that everyone there was too. Seriously, if you're looking for a DJ for your wedding, party, or club, get in touch with Marcel.
I absolutely loved photographing both parts of Abi & Nabil's wedding. Each day was so different but both were a pleasure to photograph for different reasons. Weddings and couples like this are why I love my job so much.
Now, here is more about their wedding in their own words:
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"We chose a few dishes which were served at the table in large dishes. We like to eat and didn’t want to limit the amount or choice that people (ourselves) were served."
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"We didn’t provide wedding favours however my sister had given everyone a shot to drink during the speeches (which we held before supper)."
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"We had a three tier cake which our incredible cake lady designed based on some very vague descriptions given by us. The lower tier was decorated with off white petal-like ruffles. The middle tier was pink in colour, fading to white and the top tier was white. It was decorated with a pink David Austin sugar rose and gold leaf leaves and band. We were both very happy with how it turned out and it tasted incredible."
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"We pondered doing a first dance because we thought it would be a good way of getting everyone out of the marquee however, we realized that neither of us can dance and that we didn’t had no desire to show off our lack of rhythm to our loved ones. So we didn’t."
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
Nab: "I really enjoyed the speeches. We hadn’t planned to do speeches in advance however I had prepared a thank you speech. This turned into a roast of my new sister in law who followed this up with a heartfelt, really touching speech…."
Abi: "I enjoyed the day as a whole, I very much enjoyed going off for photos as this was time that we had to ourselves, away from the madness."
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"The photography was probably the most important thing to us when we were planning. We had looked at a number of photographers’ portfolios and Nick’s was the one which really stood out for us. The shots were creative and captured peoples’ essence but also not pretentious so they will be timeless. We only met Nick once but he put us at ease from the first meeting. I (Abi) hate having my photo taken but Nick had a way of making the photo shoot really relaxed and unintrusive."
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"We had Domino’s delivered at around midnight. We had ordered round 15 pizzas and a lot of sides thinking that there would not be that many people remaining at this time but, as soon as they arrived it was as though a swarm of drunken locusts had descended and everything went in approximately 3 minutes. In hindsight I would have ordered a LOT more."
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"We’d really say to relax, think about what the most important parts of the day are and what you’re trying to achieve and enjoy the process. We just wanted our friends to have a great time and to have some amazing memories to look back on.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Things will go wrong but the people who are supplying you do this all the time and things will work out. Don’t sweat the small stuff."
- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique). Julie Vino (designer), Blush and Ivory (Boutique)
- Jewellery (Designer & Boutique), YSL, Harrods
- Shoes, Jimmy Choo
- Perfume, Chanel
- Hair Stylist, April Taylor
- Make-up Artist, Chetna Vekaria
- Florist, Rowena Ray
- Rings, Made by a friend
- Venue, Chelsea Town Hall & Bartley Mill Oast
- Décor / Styling, Creative Catering
- Cake Maker, Little Boutique Bakery
- Caterer, Creative Catering
- Groom’ attire: Armani suit, Turnball & Asser shirt, Gucci shoes
- Wedding Planner, Mixture of Creative Catering (https://www.creative-catering.co.uk/) and ourselves
- Entertainment, Marcel Mendez Music - https://www.facebook.com/MarcelMendezMusic
- Photographer, Nick Parker, Parkershots
- Honeymoon, South Africa
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