"Jam! Need your help! Sun FM need somebody to capture their Wedding of the Year in July"
And that's where my story about Carly and Phil begins. They had won their wedding with Sun FM, the local radio station in Sunderland. Turns out, their wedding was going to be at The Sunderland (Seaburn) Marriott Hotel which is situation right on the seafront....and it would be Sunderland Airshow Day. This added it's own challenges not least because I am a complete plane anorak!
At their pre-wedding photoshoot they both agreed that they wanted something a bit different. Photographing them in amongst the crowds seemed to be the idea.
On the morning of the wedding I had a sudden panic about getting to the hotel. All the roads in the area would be closed. I had a permit but had a worry about that not counting for anything. I rang the hotel "Yes, you've got the permit, you'll be fine" was their reassuring response to me.
However I wasn't bargaining for a steward who I shall call Captain Mainwaring! "I don't care what the hotel has said or whether you have a permit, I'm not letting you through. I've already turned away the wedding car!" A quick drive to another road which would normally lead me to the hotel and I found myself at another road block. I waved my permit at the young steward in the hope he would be more helpful than Captain Mainwaring. "Come through Sir....just pull up on the other side of the cones and I'll escort you through" He moved the cones blocking the road and then escorted me through the thousands of people gathering on the road for the airshow. I felt like a VIP.....in a bright blue Ford Focus!!!
Once inside the hotel, I calmed down, took a breather and met with Vikki from Mooshki. "Jam, you are going to LOVE her dress!" I've been fortunate enough to have captured several weddings featuring House of Mooshki dresses but nothing was going to prepare me for just how stunning Carly's dress was going to be. In the corner of Carly's hotel room was a mannequin bust covered by a white sheet. Carly and Vikki removed the sheet.....I actually gasped. I was stunned....quite simply one of the most beautiful dresses I have ever seen!
The dress had been kept a secret from everybody. So I was keen to see the reaction of the rest of the bridal party.....I wasn't to be disappointed!
Whilst we were all admiring Carly's dress, outside, Phil had been running the gauntlet of trying to get to the hotel in the bridal VW Camper Van....having also met with the might of Captain Mainwaring! But he got there....I'm not sure whether it was nerves or just the knowledge that there were so many surprises in store for him throughout the day but Phil, despite looking like he was on cloud 9, looked like he was in a bit of a bubble, wondering what was lying in store for him. I was starting to see some of the things that lay in store for him and even I was starting to get blown away!
The room where they were to be married looked stunning; low lit with candles and lanterns and chairs covered with pale purple sashes! It looked so romantic. When Carly entered te room I watched as jaws dropped open. Everyone in the room, registrars included, stood opened mouthed. The ceremony itself was emotional but so simply done. It was lovely. The tension was cut when Phil's ring refused to fit on his finger, with Carly trying every which way she could to wedge it on.
After the ceremony we headed outside where the airshow was in full flight (excuse the pun). There were thousands of people outside and it looked like my idea of having the masses milling around whilst Carly and Phil embraced in the the middle of the road would come to fruition....however I wasn't to count on how considerate the crowds were. The second I placed Carly and Phil on the spot, the crowds parted and respectfully kept their distance. Still, it created enough attention for a couple of the Red Arrows pilots to take notice and come over for photos.
In the peace of the bridal quite, we did more shots where the magnitude of the dress was really shown off for the first time. You could see people outside looking up! Phil just stood there staring at Carly. I don't think he could take it in!
The next big surprise for Phil was the cake.....or shall we say Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! I've never seen a cake like it! Just cupcakes and sweets of all varieties crammed on! I was drooling!
But this is where the real emotion of the day started to kick in. A special place was reserved for Jamie, Carly's brother who tragically passed away a few years earlier. The whole day was dedicated to him. Phil was one of Jamie's closest friends and it was through their grief that Carly and Phil got together. The speeches were at times heartbreaking!
But, as was said, Jamie would have wanted the day to be a party and celebration. After the meal, the main bridal party headed to the beech now that the crowds had cleared. A few revellers remained on the beach but kept well away while we did the shots.
Carly. Phil. And all your family and friends.....I just want to say what a pleasure it was to be part of your amazing day! Thank you for the lovely comments about the pictures which I lovingly created for you and I hope you have many many happy years together.