To conclude the summer weddings, I made the trip down to Berkshire to capture Donna and Stuart's wedding at the stunning hotel, The Swan at Streatley which is perched on the banks of the River Thames.
I had got to know Donna and in particular Stuart via a very good friend of mine and have known them for a number of years. When Stuart called me earlier this year and asked if I would do his wedding photography I was honoured, especially as he said he and Donna would prefer someone they knew and that I was almost like one of the family. I always find that doing wedding photography for friends and family are the toughest to do as there is a little bit of added pressure. But I saw this as an opportunity to catch up with good friends, some of who I hadn't seen for a while.
Stuart was extremely clear about what the two of them wanted....the wedding is going to be quite a relaxed do with close friends and family. Therefore, they weren't after anything flash. They just wanted me to have fun while doing the photography and to capture the mood of the day.
My base for the weekend was my friends parent's farm in Oxfordshire, not too far away from Streatley. I love going there as it is so quiet and peaceful.
On the day itself I headed down to Streatley a couple of hours early. The wedding was an afternoon ceremony so I was in no rush. The weather was perfect, a bit cloudy but the sun kept bursting through every so often. The ceremony would be conducted on an ornate barge moored up on the banks of The River Thames next to the gardens of the hotel. It was stunning. I have never ever seen anything like it before.
Stuart and his brother Rich were there in good time, apparently taking advantage of the spa on site. As the guests arrived I soon began to get a feel for how the day would pan out...everyone was so laid back. There were only to be around 40 guests during the day so again, there was nowhere to hide, but to be honest that wouldn't be a problem today.
With everyone on the barge, Donna and her bridesmaid Jo (aka The Wife and I) came down from their room and made their way to the gardens. Donna looked stunning and her vivid pink bouquet radiated off her dress.
The ceremony was fairly quick with the main talking point amongst the wedding party being when the photographer stood up and nearly took out a stack of ornate brass lanterns that were hanging from the wall behind the registrar (who was a VERY strict lady). I got a wink from Stuart...which didn't go un-noticed by the registrar.
After the ceremony out on the lawns, Pimms was served and the merriment began...and the giggles. I've never known a bride to be so giggly. I was really starting to have fun. The characters were making themselves known and they were so much fun to capture.
During the wedding breakfast, one table made themselves known much to my amusement. I think I got the gist of it.....they had decided to form a band! Unfortunately they didn't do any singing.
There was no hanging around at Donna and Stuart's wedding. Each part of the day just merged seamlessly into the next. Before we knew it, the evening reception was starting. Dancing their first dance to Harry Connick Junior, the happy couple joked with each other while everyone watched on before beckoning everyone onto the floor. To be honest, during a brief speech by Donna while everyone was having coffee, I got the impression this was the part of the day she was REALLY looking forward to "Come bust some shapes with me!" was the request while giving us all a taste of things to come doing the "big fish, little fish, cardboard box" routine. I was in kinks! I'm not even sure how I managed to keep the camera still!
Once the first dance was out of the way, "The Wife and I" (Donna and Jo) hit the floor. The dancing was amazing. But by this point my sides were aching. I got a tap on the shoulder from Stuart, "Clock off, come and join us for a drink". And that was my day done.
Fast forward to a couple of days ago, I noticed Donna's Facebook status "Donna would like everyone to know that Jamie Penfold is not only good looking but is an amazing photographer. Thank you Jamie". I think they were happy with their photos.
I've got to admit, 6 months ago, I made a rash decision to give up on the wedding photography as I felt I had lost my way and most importantly, the fun had gone. But on the basis of Donna and Stuart's wedding, I am so glad I didn't give it all up. I have never, ever had so much fun or laughed so much doing a wedding and it brought it back home why I have the best job in the world.
Donna and Stuart - Thank you!