Wow, wow, wow! Where to begin, with this incredible, beautiful wedding? Put an absolutely wonderful couple like Imogen & Bobby together with the splendour that is Christ's Chapel in Dulwich, and the Dulwich Picture Gallery as a reception venue, and you've got a real feast for the eyes. Add a close friend of the bride's to lead the ceremony, family and friends travelling from the other side of the world to be there, a childrens' choir and a Haka, and frankly my head was spinning by the end of it all. What a day, what a wedding... I hope you like looking at plenty of photos, because I might have got a little carried away with this particular blog post.
Dulwich is a lovely little corner of London, and everything was happening very close together (which can be a huge relief if you've ever tried covering a multi-site wedding on a busy traffic day!) - Imogen and her bridesmaids getting ready at her old family home (right across the road in fact from the prep I covered for another wedding this time last year), and Bobby and the guys (and wow, there were a lot of guys) down the road at their new house - all practically around the corner from both the ceremony and reception venues which are essentially two sides of the same coin. Imogen was looking absolutely beautiful and already beaming by the time I arrived, and there were plenty of opportunities to capture photos through the preparation stages and up to the point (one I really love) when she came down the stairs for her parents to see her in her wedding dress for the first time. Huge smiles all round at that point! And it's so nice to have the opportunity to capture candid photos of other family members at this stage of the day as well - so much is always happening in the build-up to the ceremony and there are hundreds of little stories to tell.
Christ's Chapel in Dulwich is a real gem; a very beautiful, interesting and unusual building both outside and in - its roof reminded me of a French chateau - it sits on a little triangle of land next to the Picture Gallery (more of that later) at the top end of Dulwich Village. It's all very calm and tranquil; a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I'd already managed to catch up with guys earlier that morning, and met them again here as they greeted the arriving guests. Bobby was in a pretty much permanent state of being hugged by everyone who passed him by but I was still able to grab him for a few moments with his best man for a quick couple of photos as everyone chose their seats ready for the bride to arrive. And Imogen wasn't hanging around - no exercising her perogative to make the groom wait a bit before she made her entrance at this wedding!
Imogen walked down the aisle on her extremely proud-looking father's arm. One of the real charms of this wonderful church is that, pretty much wherever you happen to be, all seats are orientated towards the action; aisles facing inwards at the front, and forwards from the back. So not only does everyone get a wonderful view of the ceremony, it also creates a fantastic sense of the wedding being at the heart of everything (which is just as it should be!). How to make it more personal than that? How about if the bride's friend just happens to be leading the ceremony as well! It was such a touching occasion, with beautiful and heartfelt words spoken. And the choir? Perhaps use the choir that she used to sing in when she was younger. (And wow, they really can sing - the music was stunning!). In amongst all of this, and the lovely readings, vows were also made, rings exchanged and registers signed. Bobby and Imogen were pronounced husband and wife, and practically skipped back down the aisle together.
Everything had been so perfect up to this point, I was left wondering quite where you could possibly go from there. Well wonder no more - literally walk around the corner and you'll find yourself at Dulwich Picture Gallery, the setting for the exclusive-use drinks reception. Now I like a gallery, but on my travels up to London I have to admit that I tend to confine myself to the central zones. No more however - if this is anything to go by I'll be venturing far and wide because this place is wonderful. Stunning classical paintings, beautifully displayed, and the soft light flooding in to show it all off... wow. The whole reception had a real buzz about it, and you could tell that the guests genuinely appreciated being in such a superb space.
Before heading off though we took a few moments to capture our group photos of family and friends, plus of course the big group photo of all the guests. When you've got this number of people attending your wedding you need a space which can do the group photo justice, and guess what? The steps and cloisters of the Chapel just happen to do very nicely indeed.
I stepped out for a few moments with Imogen and Bobby as their guests headed through to the reception marquee, so that we could capture some photos of just the two of them (it's incredible on a wedding day how little the bride and groom often actually get to spend any time alone together; sometimes the photo session is the only occasion - with me shooting very discreetly from a distance away and with a long lens on my camera, of course). The gardens and grounds around the Picture Gallery are certainly lovely, but the highlight for me are the wonderful carved stones which feature in the first photo you'll have seen, right up there at the top of the page. I love love love textures and contrasts in images, and as soon as I saw them I knew that they had 'black and white couple portrait' written all over them.
I returned the couple to their guests in the marquee, to see them welcomed in with a huge, very intense and enthusiastic haka. This one was a wedding first for me and it was excellent. What a way to be announced into the room! And so began the evening celebrations... speeches, the wedding breakfast, the cutting of the cake... everywhere I looked people were having an absolute riot (except for a few moments during Bobby's speech where I spotted a few eyes welling up at his beautiful and so obviously heart-felt message) and there was little question that this spirit was going to be carried over into the party. I've said it before and I'll happily say it again - I really do enjoy seeing bands at weddings, and especially when they are of the standard of these guys. The floor dancefloor was heaving from the very moment that the other guests decided that the bride and groom had had enough of the floor for themselves during the first dance, and quite frankly I wouldn't be surprised if a few of them were still there throwing shapes even now...
Crikey - I've exhausted myself again just writing this! Well done if you made it to the end, but hopefully you've been well-rewarded in photos. Such a superb wedding - I can't begin to say what a treat it was to be there and to photograph it. Huge congratulations to you both, Imogen & Bobby, and here's to many many happy years together!
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The photos above (believe it or not) are just a small selection of the fulkl set which Bobby and Imogen received, and which friends and family can view in full - along with their edited highlights slideshow - in their private viewing gallery. You'll have to ask them for the password first though.
If you are planning your wedding at Dulwich Picture Gallery (or anywhere else for that matter) and would like to know more about my wedding photography services, packages and prices, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have and to discuss your plans for the day. I'm only too happy to help however I can.
Hope you enjoyed the photos from this wonderful day and, as ever, thanks for reading,
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