Our featured couple chose the ancient St Etheldreda's Church Ely Place London for the marriage ceremony, followed by their reception in the adjoining St Etheldreda's Crypt.
Dating from the 13th century, St Etheldreda's Church has a fascinating history including close connections with the Black Prince and King Henry VIII. Recommended reading for sure.
The church borders the City of London and so it is very central, and of course brings with it all of the issues that such central locations entail. There is a small amount of parking available immediately outside the church in its cul-de-sac. This is only available to visitors at weekends as during the week it is for the use of nearby businesses and access is controlled by a commissionaire on an entry gate. Wedding vendors working at the church and crypt should keep this in mind and plan for it - especially those who may have lots of heavy equipment such as photographers and videographers!
On this day central London was brought to gridlock by a mass protest of 10,000 cyclists - 9,999 of whom were the usual obnoxious self-centred assassins expected of the two wheeled community. This caused severe delays and an earlier wedding at St Etheldreda's ran so late that guests were still exiting the church just minutes before Stephanie was due to arrive. Best laid plans and all that! Fortunately things recovered and got back on schedule shortly thereafter. Phew!
Photography is permitted during wedding ceremonies at St Etheldreda's subject to a few restrictions on movement and position, and must stop during the priest's address to the congregation. Restrictions are uncommon in most Catholic churches - which is why many professional wedding photographers like to work with this denomination - but the celebrant and staff were pleasant and eager to be as helpful as possible.
Videography and audio recording are permitted on payment of fees - partly because there can be a semi-professional choir. Peter does shoot video obviously but the church fees are settled direct by the appropriate staff.
The church interior is very beautiful as might be expected, but also very dark - as might also be expected. Professional wedding photographers should not skimp on the high performance camera bodies and fast lenses as you'll certainly need them to obtain satisfactory results. Consider bringing a monopod (or a tripod if you must!). You'll find lots of photographers galleries online featuring this church; unfortunately most do not have the ability to achieve good technical results at such venues so do be very careful to check the quality to avoid disappointment!
The church has no grounds as such but there is a very small courtyard at lower than street level to the front. The courtyard is suitable for some posed group photos. Consider walking a couple of hundred yards to the junction of Holborn Viaduct and St Andrew Street where you'll find a small well-maintained formal garden which makes a good location for wedding photos. Sadly on our couple's day the rain was relentless and we were not able to get outside at all. However the church does have a number of suitable locations inside as you'll see in the main galleries.
The Crypt below the church made a lovely atmospheric setting for the wedding breakfast and reception. The Crypt has no natural light, very low ambient lighting and dark walls and ceilings - so wedding photographers be prepared for some demanding conditions!
This clients Graphistudio burgundy leather wedding photo album designed and supplied by Peter is featured with others within this Albums Page.
Our city slickers photographic coverage started with some of the "getting ready" at their smart pad on the south bank. Peter parked at the church then jumped in taxis ..... and those taxi drivers were pulling their hair out at all the delays caused by the cyclists random protest. Thank goodness everything came together in the end! In the first photo our bride's preparation is in full swing.
Then off to the church for some ..... very rushed ..... scene setting shots in the few seconds available between the end of the previous (late) wedding and the entry of our couples suppliers and guests. The view from the balcony seen in the next photograph was shot with an extreme wide-angle lens helps to give a feeling for the splendour of St Etheldreda's interior. Photography from the balcony was not possible once the ceremony was underway because the space was occupied in full by the choir:
There was no escaping the rain on Stephanie and Patricks' Spring wedding day. On our bride's arrival there was no alternative than a mad rush to the "sanctuary" of the inside. Here we have Steph's bridesmaid performing her duties very efficiently:
Peter was able to shoot a reasonable selection of photos during the ceremony. It is permitted to start shooting at the rear of the church and then move forward to take up a position at one side. Once in this position photographers are not allowed to move to alternative vantage points, but the position does enable good views of the proceedings so it is not really an issue. Here we see the ceremony in full swing, again shot on a wide-angle lens to help convey the magnificence of the interior of St Etheldreda's Church:
St Etheldreda's choir bring a splendid touch to wedding ceremonies. Often it can be difficult to see a church choir, for example at the Brompton Oratory - another beautiful old Catholic church in central London - the choir can be pretty much masked from view when on the upper level. In this church no such problems as in the next shot. Peter made this photo using a long reach lens stabilised on a monopod as otherwise the low light conditions would have rendered it impossible:
The church itself is usually locked soon after the end of ceremonies but the adjacent indoor walkways and steps can provide a good setting if the posed photos must be shot inside n.b. outside is usually preferable because natural even light tends to be more flattering to skin tones. Our bride and groom on steps shortly after exiting the church:
Once the ceremony was over a quick weather check confirmed that no way were we going to get outside anytime soon. The forecast was for the rain to continue right through the day and evening, so we made use of a number of photogenic locations within the building. The crypt below the church was to host the wedding breakfast and it soon filled with guests. We cleared a small area of this dimly lit underground room and using a combination of flashguns and continuous light video lights were able to obtain some surprisingly good results for the various group photos of family and friends:
The groom's sisters and brother brought an extrovert ebullient Aussie vibe to the day. We were able to corral them just long enough to grab a shot alltogether on the stairs:
Then a little later the bride on her own:
The lighting in the Crypt below St Etheldreda's Church Ely Place is very pleasing to the human eye but guaranteed to create near panic in professional photographers - as there is so little of it! You can get a feel for that in the next photograph shot without any auxiliary lighting at all. For the geeks: Canon's remarkable and ruinously expensive 50mm f1.2L plus extensive editing afterwards:
There were several speeches during the course of the wedding breakfast, finishing with a real upbeat number from the grooms three sisters as we see in the next photo. Hawk eyes will note no shortage of light in this shot; this was courtesy of one of Peter's video lights without which the various speakers couldn't read their notes!
The DJ in the Crypt made a splendid job of colourful lighting for the dancing as we can see in the next photo of our couples first dance:
Even by the late evening there had still been no break in the weather. Just look at the rain in the street lamp in this closing photo. But hey its so atmospheric!
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