The featured couple selected a wedding venue with a real personality - the Crazy Bear Hotel Stadhampton - near Oxford for their wedding ceremony and reception.
The Crazy Bear Hotel is located in the Oxfordshire countryside just a few miles south east of the city of Oxford and north east of Wallingford, and is easily reached from the M40 motorway. The journey from a southerly direction is a little slower but the views are great! There is a decent amount of free parking onsite.
The internal decor is interesting and perhaps idiosyncratic compared with many Oxfordshire wedding venues ..... but attractive and photogenic with it. Outside there are extensive landscaped grounds. You do need to hunt around for suitable shaded areas if there is bright sunshine - the enemy of good portrait photography.
Marriages and civil partnerships at the Crazy Bear Hotel Stadhampton are the legal responsibility of the nearby Oxford Register Office and as always the Oxford registry staff were easy to work with - even though the girls must have been feeling the pressure as this was their 7th wedding of the day!
Our couple booked what was to be a short duration combined photography and video package starting shortly before the ceremony. The coverage then transmogrified to include their spectacular first dance - as Uma Thurman and John Travolta performing Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Fantastic. And all captured on video by Peter. And this was followed by a truly amazing set from a Blues Brothers tribute act. That sure did get the evening going!
The first wedding photo below shows the view which greets visitors to the Crazy Bear Stadhampton:
The hotel's Oak Room hosted the marriage ceremony. The room was packed to the gunnels with Chantal and Christophers many friends and relations and Peter shot the photographs from the back of the room sandwiched between guests. The main video camera was also positioned at the rear and three alternative video views were also recorded using small cameras fixed unobtrusively to fixtures in the room. If you look closely at the next photo of the Oak Room and concentrate on the far left top left corner of the window you may just see one of the video cameras! The Oak Room is very dark partly because it has a soft padded black ceiling and professional photographers and videographers do need to ensure that they are armed with the right equipment and techniques to deal with these demanding conditions:
There were just a few moments available before the ceremony to capture the latter part of the girls getting ready. Just look at that room - opulent and decadent at the same time!
Then a few snaps with a proud dad:
A few shots were possible through an opening where blinds had been drawn back - before the area was quickly populated by standing guests!
Peter shot most of the photos during the ceremony from the back of the Oak Room as there simply was not space to change shooting positions without causing major distractions. But it was still possible to shoot an interesting and varied set:
An usher snapped whilst other guests were occupied photographing our bride and groom "signing" the civil register:
Our couple had an impromptu receiving line at the end of the wedding ceremony:
Shaded areas are in short supply at the Crazy Bear Hotel Stadhampton but we did manage to find this photogenic area adjacent to the central courtyard for some formal family photos - not that bright blazing sunshine is a feature of very many weddings these days!
The Crazy Bear's Glasshouse was the venue for the wedding breakfast:
We had quite a long "cocktail hour" between the end of the wedding ceremony and the start of the wedding breakfast and this provided the opportunity for some good reportage and semi-posed photos in the mild and sunny exterior of the Crazy Bear Hotel:
The speeches are a good photo opportunity. There's a bride in there somewhere!
Not that all the guests are interested in the speeches!
The first dance was something else. What else? Well the twist from Pulp Fiction!
Then the Blues Brothers really got the room movin'
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