Highcliffe Castle, way down south on the Hampshire coastline in the New Forest, is a pretty spectacular venue for a wedding. A beautiful, intriguing building set in formal grounds on a clifftop - much as the name suggests - with views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, its position is stunning. Once derelict, it has been lovingly restored and is now quite rightly one of the most popular wedding venues around. When you photograph here its very obvious why; not only do you have this magnificent setting at your disposal (and you're never likely to run out of photo opportunities here), the ceremony room is absolutely lovely; big and bright and full of light. And it was here that Nima & Craig tied the knot, on a wonderful Spring day.
But before all that, bridal preparation further down the coast in Bournemouth. Nima, friends and family were already looking gorgeous when I arrived ready to cover the finishing touches. So much colour, and loads of laughter (interspersed with a few happy tears - this was obviously going to be an emotional day). A surprisingly busy morning, with various wedding guests coming and going en route to the ceremony, but Nima just sailed calmly through it all (although she did have the advantage of a small army of bridesmaids to support her).
Craig was ready and waiting at the castle when I got there, keeping himself nice and busy greeting everyone as they arrived. A huge smile on his face, Craig is one of those people who just projects a sense of being relaxed and at ease (I've no idea how calm he actually was under the surface, but he looked great). The day was slightly overcast, with the threat of some rain to come at some point, but this was no cause for concern; as I've often pointed out poor weather can make for wonderful photos, and with our couple's choice of venues we were absolutely spoilt for choice photographically both indoors and out.
The room started to fill in anticipation of Nima's arrival, and Craig was ushered to the front along with his best man, ready to receive his bride...
At Highcliffe the wedding car usually pulls up right outside the ceremony room, so the bride only has a few small steps to make before she is walking down the aisle. Nima took a little moment to compose herself in the car before taking a deep breath and opening the door...
She walked down the aisle on her mother's arm - Mum really couldn't have looked any prouder as she accompanied her daughter on this hugely important walk, and what a look she gave to Craig as she passed Nima's hand to his when they met at the front of the ceremony room. Eye contact between people tells such a story in a wedding photo - I can't get enough of it! And then, as the ceremony began, I was able to tuck myself away between one of the huge potted plants which provides such a convenient screen at the front of the room, meaning that all the right angles can be covered without my having to make myself obvious to our congregation; all eyes remain firmly on the bride and groom without any other distractions.
After a few more (very happy) tears, Nima & Craig were married to huge cheers and massive applause, and they practically galloped down the aisle ready to start the celebrations. Nima, Craig and friends are - it became apparent pretty quickly - big on their parties. Following the ceremony, this main room along with a lovely old adjoining one become the focal point for drinks to be served, and as guests chatted and either caught up or started to make new friends, we took advantage of the wonderful steps which lead from the ceremony room towards the rose garden for some formal photographs. And then, as everyone else started to move back towards their cars and on to the next part of the day, Nima & Craig started their couples shots using some of the features around the Castle - not least the absolutely enormous door on the north side which looks like it was rejected from Game of Thrones for being too over the top! The first few drops of rain chose this moment to make their appearance, but no matter - we were covered, quite literally, and then had a reception venue with a stack of beautiful indoor corners to make use of coming up next; lovely Sopley Mill.
And now the party could really start. Food, drink, speeches, more photographs, and then music, music, music.
Just in case the point needs making, music and partying are a big deal for Nima & Craig, and I can't imagine that Sopley sees too many parties like this one. The DJs' decks took up the entire far end of the party room, and the dance floor was heaving from the start. Just as the set was getting into full swing it kicked into another gear, with a special surprise appearance arranged by the bride and groom of singer Kele Le Roc, who had travelled all the way down from London to give them a party to remember. And that's some voice she brought down with her..!
I'd had so much fun with Nima & Craig at their pre-wedding shoot - they really are a fantastic couple - and had long been looking forward to this wedding. And it totally exceeded expectations; an absolutely unforgettable day, and a bride and groom who so obviously have a wealth of happiness ahead of them. And they absolutely deserve it. Massive congratulations, Mr & Mrs Hackshaw!
- - -
The photos above are just a small selection from the day; friends and family can view the full set, plus edited highlights slideshow, in Nima & Craig's online gallery... but you'll need to ask them for the password first.
If you are planning your wedding at Highcliffe Castle or Sopley Mill and would like to know more about my wedding photography services, packages and prices, please don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your plans and ask me any questions you might have. I'm only too happy to help however I can.
- - -
Hope you enjoyed looking through the photos from this absolutely magnificent wedding, and thanks - as ever - for reading.
Winchester Wedding Photographer covering all of Hampshire and further afield.
Wedding Photography Winchester
Wedding Photography Hampshire
Hampshire Wedding Photographer