Friday, 3 February 2012

A Real Wedding Story: Hannah and Dan's Wedding in Rugby

February 4th sees Jamie Penfold Photography celebrating it's 4th birthday as a fully fledged business.  Before that I was mainly capturing weddings of friends and family but as time went on their friends were starting to ask me to capture their weddings and so on and so on and eventually I made the decision in late 2007 to formally set up the business.  At that point I still had no real desire to give up my full time job and become a full time professional photographer.  I knew I loved working behind the camera but doing it full time?  However, that all changed in January 2009 with Hannah and Dan's wedding.  

I've said before, I don't have a favourite wedding which I've captured.  But some are more special to me for one reason or another.  And this was the case with Hannah and Dan.  When I was at middle school, me and Hannah's brother Mark were best friends, so I'd known Hannah since she was knee high to a grasshopper.  But over time we all went our separate ways.  Fast forward 20 years or so to the spring of 2008 with me starting to get the appetite for running this fledgling business.  Hannah drops me a line to say she was getting married in the January and wanted me to capture her wedding for Rugby! 

This was a massive opportunity for me as they were getting married in a huge church, lots of guests and above all it was outside the North East.  They were taking a massive risk on using me as, at the time, I felt I was still finding my feet as a wedding photographer.  Don't get me wrong, I'd had a camera with me nearly every day since I was 8 and knew a camera inside out.  This was my first BIG paying wedding.  But after a lot of thought I said I'd be delighted and honoured to do it.

The day itself was superb.  It was freezing, not that anyone noticed.  The church was cathedral like and beautifully ornate.  There were feather boas and candles and all sorts of music memorabilia around the marque where the reception was taking place and the atmosphere was electric.  I realised half way through the day that for the first time I actually felt like a pro photographer.  I had the confidence and the knowledge and this is something I think I really could do for a living.  There was something else (which some people might find trivial) beloved West Ham United were playing that day and not a million miles from home either.  When your wife turns to you and says "You've not asked for the score once! Are you ok?"  you know that you're into something good!  It's not often I forget all about West Ham!  

So, as I reached the birthday milestone, I thought I'd go back to where it really started for me and asked Hannah and Dan to tell you all about their day in their words.  

Date of Wedding: 24/1/2009

Venue: St Marie’s Catholic Church, Rugby; The Woodhouse Inn, Princethorpe

Tell me about yourselves: How, when and where did you meet?

Oh dear!  It was 6 years to the day that we got married, so 24/1/2003.  We were both drunk, it was late and he was staring through a window of the pub at me – he had spotted me but wasn’t allowed back in as it was closed.  My friend was the bouncer’s girlfriend and so we were allowed to stay in till he could drive us home.  A particularly horrid, cheap and sticky pub!  As it turned out, we’d been at the same primary school (I actually used to live ten minutes down the road from him as a small child) but with me being 9 months older than him, never knew each other.  He was in my home town studying at the University and so we finally met – no way was that chance J  We have rarely been separated since.

When did you get engaged? Who proposed, where and how?

Dan did on 6/10/2007 – We’d had a nightmare with my eternity ring he’d bought for my birthday in July 2007, and we’d had to return it twice to the shop.  We were living apart (house move, new jobs early, complicated!!) and he came to stay the weekend.  I’d called him that morning to ask, realising I hadn’t spoken to the jewellers for a while, whether they’d called him to say my eternity ring was ready for collection.  He went quiet and I apologised, thinking he’d picked it up and wanted to surprise me with it!  He rocked up later that day and thrust a box at me saying ‘oh before I forget…’ then carried on getting his coat off etc.  Completely oblivious, I was saying ‘oh, they’ve wrapped it up in a gift box… oh how sweet there’s a new ring box, you did tell them I had the original didn’t you?’ Then opened the box and it was clearly an engagement ring.  I didn’t want to jump the gun after hoping for so long,  so I shakily asked ‘ummm why have I got this?’ (I kind of expected him to say he’d had to order a different ring as the other wasn’t available and I had misunderstood!!).  His response, ‘cos I want you to marry me, fool’ led to great fits of weeping and laughing, and only later did he ask whether that was a yes
J We celebrated with a chippy tea and Moet – that’s now our traditional celebration supper!

Did you have a particular theme/colour for your wedding?

Fuchsia Pink and deep purple – we had a heavy rock disco, no cheese!  Except the cheese I requested of course.  It’s not a disco without my favourite songs from 90s dancing with the girls!  But otherwise it was heavy metal, rock and classic tunes.  I moshed in 4 inch stiletto heels and my dress for four hours J

Describe your dress. How long did it take to find and where did you get it from?

I actually had a dress given to me by my mother in law – very plain and simple and was really a blank canvas for me to embellish – she hadn’t worn it to her wedding a few years before due to illness, she’d chosen a different outfit.  I went dress ‘trying on’ with no intention to buy because, well every girl should have that experience!  I was only looking for ideas but my mum wouldn’t let me leave the shop without buying the sample dress I tried on.  I’m just glad it was in the sale!  It was A-line with a small train, embellished with seed pearls and diamante jewels in clasps which looked like shooting stars, very wintry which worked well.  It has spaghetti straps – big busted girls need that safety net!

Groom’s outfit: What kind of outfit did you have and what colour. Did you hire or buy it and where did you get it from?

We were not quite shoestring level but certainly on a budget.  We had never wanted the whole monkey suits and tradition thing.  The men all wore black suits and a purple shirt and my husband wore a slim fitting black suit and a bright fuchsia shirt, matching the theme of the wedding, my flowers and shoes!  He needed a really good suit so we got a lovely one from Next which fitted really well.  All the shirts were from there too and all the men wore a simple wide black tie in a Windsor knot.  Doing it this way looked so striking and was way more like ‘us’ – and save a few hundred pounds!!  The men all wore their own suits – my only stipulation was that they were plain black.

How many people did you have in the bridal party? What did they each wear? Did you hire or buy them?

There were the two of us, four ushers (a brother and a friend from each side), four bridesmaids (two adult and both 7 months pregnant, two of my nieces), and our best woman who I bought a beautiful satin Karen Millen dress in the exact colour of the men’s purple shirts, and she wore a black bolero.  We bought simple black party maternity dresses for my adult bridesmaids and party dresses for the girls, and they all had a matching fuchsia sash to tie the theme in.  With it being winter, they all had furry boleros too!  Almost everything I go was from the internet.  I avoided wedding shops etc like the plague as I knew I’d spend!!

What flowers did you choose for the bouquets, buttonholes and corsages? Did you have other flower arrangements and table centerpieces? Where did these come from?

I’m not a fan of wedding flowers, I shall be honest. They get in the way, they wilt and die and cost hundreds of pounds!!  Our buttonholes and my bouquet were from Sarah’s Flowers (artificial – but foam based so looked and felt real) and I was able to design my own bouquet with feathers and diamante.  I bought single stems of the same flowers and made the button holes myself.  Our centrepieces were hurricane lamps with huge church candles and white sand, with white feather rings around the base.  We had black tablecloths so they really stood out.

What type of ceremony did you have? Where did the ceremony take place and how many people attended?

It was a full catholic nuptial mass, about the same length as a footie match!  It was at St Marie’s RC Church in Rugby  - where Dan was baptised and used to serve as an altar boy - and about 100 people came.

What type of wedding rings do you have? 

Palladium – harder and shinier than platinum, but there is more of it in the earth’s crust so cheaper!  Plain, and dan’s is really flat so it’s comfortable to wear.  We had our wedding date in roman numerals engraved on the inside, which was a theme of the wedding and was on everything.

Did you have a cake? What style did you have? What flavours?

We had a very simple cake, I wasn’t bothered but my in laws insisted!  Plain white, three tiers, with a snowy theme.  I found a beautiful figurine of a couple embracing which we used on the top and planned to keep, but the caterers lost it after taking it away to clean it.  We have since found an exact replica.  It was lemon sponge with lemon curd and buttercream.

Where did you hold your reception? What made you choose that venue?

At the Woodhouse Inn, where Dan’s mum and stepdad married in 2004.  They’d recently opened some very hi tech marquees and the space was perfect.  We loved the location and the grounds of the hotel.

What made you choose Jamie Penfold Photography? What is your favourite wedding picture? 

Jamie has been a friend since I was a child and for me there was no question of asking anyone else!  Feeling comfortable with a photographer is very important for me as I do not like being in front of the camera.  I loved the fact Jamie was good at the reportage style, as I wanted something natural and free flowing and not a huge round of pose after pose.  I wanted to enjoy the day and know the photographer would just be getting on with it!  Jamie was so good at that, half the time I didn’t notice him when he was right next to me!  My favourite wedding picture (probably selfishly!!) is one of my shoes!  No really, it’s actually one of me and I’m on my own, backlit with a green and pink light and I’m laughing at a cheeky comment from one of the ushers – it’s evening and I’m there with a glass of wine and I remember being so relaxed and happy.  To be honest though there are just so so many.

Where did you go on your honeymoon and where did you stay?

We had a week in Lanzarote as a gift from the inlaws, but got vouchers for Thomas Cook from our guests.    We booked a week in Egypt the next September.

What is your best memories of your big day?

Just seeing everyone having such a good time, and feeling on top of the world!  I never believed it would all really happen until I got to the top of the aisle and he was there!  Also the getting ready with my mum and the bridesmaids,  and the anticipation!

What’s your top wedding day tip?

The lame old comment every wise old married tells you – ‘enjoy every second, it goes by so fast’ – is so so true.  But my main piece of advice is to do it your way.  I dond’t mean go bridezilla!  But if you want something on the day – or want to do away with something everyone says is traditional, do it.  It’s your day and it should reflect you.  I completely trashed the traditional top table format to some people’s horror but it worked way better for us!

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