Oh what a wedding this was! Wasing Park is an absolute gem of a venue - an beautiful self-contained combination of barns, garden rooms, accommodation and even its own chapel, set in picture-perfect parkland on a country estate in Berkshire. It's got the lot, and on a stunningly sunny late Spring Saturday it was home to Catherine & Craig for a wonderful, fun-filled wedding. Catherine & Craig's friends, it turns out, are quite the party crowd. And boy do they love a dance-off!
One of the big attractions, from a photographer's point of view, of covering a wedding at a venue like this is that with everything happening on site through the course of the day I can scoot around covering all sorts of bases: bridal preparation, guests arriving, establishing and detail shots... which means a lovely, rounded set of photos at the end. Covering the bridal prep in particular is a real treat here as the bridal suite - accessed up a spiral staircase at one end (or a more conventional one at the other) is absolutely massive. Possibly bigger than my whole house, in fact. Here, hair and make-up took place downstairs where the huge windows in one of the rooms allow that natural light to flood in, before everyone relocated upstairs to the suite to dress and add finishing touches...
You've even got a choice of ceremony locations here. Catherine & Craig's wedding was to take place in the garden room across the lawn from the barn, which plays the central role for the reception. Craig was there and keeping himself occupied as guests started to arrive. And then it all started to happen very quickly - a quick check of the cufflinks, straighten the button-hole and face forward, as Catherine was at the door and ready to walk down the aisle to meet her groom.
A really beautiful ceremony - you could really see how much it meant to these sweethearts to be marrying each other. With vows made, rings exchanged and registers signed, Catherine & Craig practically galloped back down the aisle to start their celebrations. Technically it wasn't quite yet Summer, but the weather outside told a different story and in conditions like this, and in such magnificent surroundings, what could be more quintessentially English that Pimms and garden games. I've made a mental note that I'm going to have to brush up on the rules and techniques of croquet at some point, as I get asked about a dozen times a year. Throw-the-beanbag-through-the-hole though I can pretty much grasp as a concept.
Bride and groom made their way up sweeping steps to the barn, to a barrage of confetti, just before the wedding breakfast. The seating plan was a great touch - an individual (and often rather compromising) photo of each of the guests which they had to track down from the board in order to find out which table they were sat on. Cue absolutely everyone cracking up when they spotted themselves and their friends - long-lost memories obviously coming flooding back. And as an extra little touch Catherine & Craig had hand-written a message on the back of every single one. It must have taken them ages... I'm so often reminded that it's the little touches which really personalise and make a wedding.
Into the barn, and the next stage of the day started with speeches (and it turns out that Catherine's father in particular has a bright future as a stand-up comedian - absolute gold in that speech, I had to steady myself a couple of times to get a sharp shot, and I doff my cap still to the 'Meet the Fockers' joke).
As everyone else made their way back outside to enjoy the late evening sunshine and kick back with drinks on the terrace, I stole Catherine & Craig away for a few photos in and around the grounds of the estate. Increasingly at this time of year I really love to take the couple off later on in the day - things are generally so much more relaxed and it relieves a lot of pressure on the more traditional window between ceremony and wedding breakfast when photos are very often taken. But more importantly, the light is invariably gorgeous as you approach an early-summer golden hour - that last little part of the day before the sun dips down over the horizon, and great light makes for great photos...
The band had set up as we returned, and our bride and groom kicked off the evening's party with the cutting of the cake and first dance, before they and all of their friends then proceeded to absolutely tear up the dancefloor in between bouts around and under the limbo pole! And as the night drew in one final photo presented itself: Catherine & Craig stepped briefly back outside the barn to savour a magnificent sunset: the perfect end to an absolutely beautiful day.
Huge congratulations, Catherine & Craig, and I'm delighted that you're so happy with your photos. Wishing you many very happy years together!
The images above are, once again, just a small selection from the day: friends and family can view the full set and slideshow in our bride & groom's private gallery, but you'll need to ask them for the password first.
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If you are planning your wedding at Wasing Park and would like to know more about my wedding photography services, packages and prices, please do get in touch any time to discuss your plans and ask me any questions you might have; I'm only too happy to help however I can.
I hope you enjoyed looking through the photos from this magnificent wedding. Thanks, as ever, for reading,
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