Southdowns Manor is a wonderful exclusive-use wedding venue which has very recently opened near Petersfield, nestled (the clue is in the name) on the edge of the beautiful rolling hills of the South Downs. I've been fortunate enough to be involved with them since their launch just before Christmas (if you would like to see photos showcasing the beautiful rooms and spaces that you can take advantage of on your wedding day you'll find plenty further back in the blog) and have been following its development and success keenly over the months since, so it was with much excitement that I joined Vicki & Matt for the first wedding that I was scheduled to cover there. What a wonderful day it was, and what a fantastic couple to share it with and to be there providing the photography for!
One of the huge attractions with Southdowns manor as a venue is that it's all yours - not just for the day, but right through to the following morning, meaning that you can cover everything in one place - bridal preparation, personalising and setting up the rooms to your taste with the help of the lovely team, guests arriving and relaxing in the beautiful lounge and out in the grounds admiring the views... - and then party right on through, crashing out in the many exquisitely finished bedrooms and finally emerge back downstairs the following day (possibly slightly bleary-eyed) for breakfast. The set up really does lend itself ideally to the full wedding experience, not least with the combination of the gorgeous bridal suite and a fully separate bridal preparation room (stuffed full of mirrors and comfy sofas). And the best thing of all about everything happening in one place, from my own slightly biased view: less time travelling means more time taking photos!
As Vicki got into her extremely elegant and beautiful dress upstairs with the help of bridesmaids and parents, Matt was downstairs greeting guests, chatting with his ushers and generally keeping himself occupied up until that moment when the groom suddenly finds himself stood at the end of the aisle waiting for his bride to make her entrance. It was an absolutely beautiful day - blue skies, fluffy clouds... - and soft natural light was spilling in through the windows and across the ceremony room. Vicki came downstairs, and suddenly it was action stations!
As if there aren't enough photo opportunities inside Southdowns Manor, step outside the front door and onto the lawn and you are presented with beautiful views across the downs and the rolling West Sussex countryside. The weather was playing ball, so this was our scene for the group photos, which - as the other guests made their way through to the dining room for the wedding breakfast - we then built on with a few snatched moments of time-out photos with Vicki and Matt, before they made their grand entrance for the first time as husband and wife...
One of the things I increasingly like to do with my wedding photography is split up the time-out photos with the couple into two smaller bursts, either side of the wedding breakfast. It really works for a couple of reasons: firstly it's much less disruptive - the bride and groom are only away from their guests for short moments; and secondly it means that we can take advantage of different lighting situations and locations at different times of the day. And that's exactly what we did here - as the guests finished their desserts and moved on to coffee we nipped away from the dining room to take a few more photos, firstly in the now-empty lounge and then back outdoors in the early evening light. Big thumbs up to Vicki and Matt for being very willing subjects and very comfortable in front of the camera (hopefully the pre-wedding shoot helped there). And then, as the evening guests started to arrive it was back into the hotel for the start of the evening's celebrations, kicking off as per tradition with the cutting of the cake (just a little note but one thing I was delighted to see was the cake being moved into pride of place in the middle of the room, rather than tucked away in a corner as it so often is: if it's not so big that it's completely immobile this is definitely one of my top tips!) and the first dance. And then an absolutely excellent band to really kick the party off - I love a band at a wedding!
Many congratulations to an absolutely wonderful couple on a truly fantastic wedding, and once again thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed the photos!
If you are planning your wedding at Southdowns Manor and would like to know more about my wedding photography services, packages and prices, please don't hesitate to contact me
to to chat about your plans and ask me any questions you might have - I'm always happy to help however I can.
Plenty more blogs to come - it's been a busy Summer, so watch this space...