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Colin and Nicole
Our featured couple Nicole and Colin chose a delightful country mansion - Horwood House Little Horwood near Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire - for both their marriage ceremony and their wedding reception.
Horwood House is now owned and operated by the Principal Hayley Group but you'd never guess from its appearance that it had "fallen" into commercial hands as it manages to retain the charm of a large rambling family home.
The grounds are extensive and varied. It was once the home of the famous gardener Percy Thrower, who was born here whilst his father was the head gardener in the days when the estate was owned and occupied by a private family.
Horwood House is relatively easy to get to, being just a few miles from Milton Keynes and Bicester and their respective M1 and M40 motorway junctions. Satnav is recommended by Peter for the last few miles. His TomTom delivered him to green fields (based on the postcode). This may be a common issue as there was an improvised sign on the roadside. The pianist's Satnav worked fine. You can obtain the satnav coordinates from the website. There is plenty of onsite parking.
The registrars responsible for weddings and civil partnerships at Horwood House are easy to work with and Peter was able to shoot an extensive collection of stills during the ceremony as well as shoot video throughout - other than the common restriction of no photos or video during the register signing.
The Horwood House staff are unlikely to claim this day was their finest hour as we did have a series of mishaps to deal with. Unfortunately the regular wedding coordinator had been involved in a car accident and could not be on duty. The first manifestation that we might be tested was when the staff were unable to locate the bride for a few "getting ready" photos (and no there was no mobile phone reception since you ask!). By the time Nicole was found it was too late. Oh dear! But credit to the staff they did put some effort in from then on and things got smoother.
The weather on Nicole and Colins' day was mainly overcast and rather chilly. In other words ideal conditions for shooting posed photos in the grounds! Professional wedding photographers always like to hunt out shaded locations as the results are so much better than in bright sunlight, and so an overcast sky is very welcome at that stage of the day!
The first view of Horwood House as one approaches is very impressive and memorable. In the first photo we can see the front of the main building, looking no doubt not a lot different to one hundred years ago when it was a private house:
Nicole had gone to a lot of trouble to organise the transformation of the main conference room into a magical setting suitable for a memorable wedding. Coloured lights and huge drapes on the walls created a lovely atmosphere. Here we can see our bride making her grand entry accompanied by her proud dad:
The ambient light during the ceremony was very low but Peter always carries suitable specialist photographic equipment which can usually cope with this without having to resort to firing distracting flashguns. Some of the VIP fellas are featured in the next wedding photograph:
Our ringbearer was bowled a googly when it proved to be very difficult to remove the rings from the ring cushion. Fortunately the registrar conducting the ceremony was able to assist. Our ringbearer features next. Peter always includes a selection of colour photographs which have also been converted to black and white and you can see this in action in the main galleries:
Civil weddings are almost always relatively short and so professional wedding photographers have to be on their toes to ensure that as wide a selection of photos as possible are made in the time available. Its great to turn the cameras onto some of the guests to capture their attentiveness and expressions such as the next photo featuring the father of our bride absorbed in the proceedings:
And not forgetting the couple of course. Nothing more important than that!
The registrars at Horwood House are easy-going and so desirable photos such as the exchange of rings are possible:
No photography is permitted during the actual signing of the civil registers - which is a common restriction - but most officiants arrange for a "mock" signing immediately afterwards:
Once some "official" photos have been shot then often the guests are invited to take their own photographs:
The exit of the bride and groom at the end of their wedding ceremony - or the recessional as it is properly called - is a hard photo to pull off because of the low light, rapid subject movement, and guests jumping into the foreground to shoot their own photographs. But its always worth the effort:
The rear of Horwood House Milton Keynes makes a lovely backdrop for the important big group photos. The steps into the main building are an additional advantage as they enable guests behind the front line to be better seen:
The sun only came out briefly in the "cocktail hour" between the end of our couples wedding ceremony and the start of the wedding breakfast. This meant we were able to use a variety of locations in the grounds of Horwood House without having to worry about bright contrasty sunlight spoiling expressions or blowing out detail in clothing. Here is a series of posed photos from the important family and friend session starting with our bride and her father:
If the shooting conditions and location facilities allow then its good to have a variety of backdrops such as in the next wedding photo which was shot just a few yards from the former, this time featuring our groom and his dad:
"Reportage" style shots form a major part of the photographic coverage that most couples choose. Just guests being themselves!
Close to the House there are large mature shrub and herbaceous borders which make a lovely setting for posed wedding photos of the bride and groom. Nicole:
And just adjacent to the main building is a large ornamental pond affording another terrific location for formal photographs:
The numerous mature trees make for yet more great spots for wedding photos in the grounds of Horwood House:
The ceremony room was transformed ready for the wedding breakfast:
Then our couple made their entrance amid rapturous applause:
The wedding breakfast can be a great photo opportunity, especially the speeches. Here an impromptu bride and father kiss. What a terrific moment!
The various speeches had lots of variety and original content (note to all couples: don't let anyone use the internet, its NOT original!) invoking many moments of hilarity and sometimes a little embarrassment:
One of the two best men in full swing during his wedding breakfast speech. Don't the lighting and decor look great!
Our couple have a delightful little baby and naturally she had to feature in the coverage! It can be problematic to shoot very young children at weddings as often they find it all a bit overwhelming, or fall asleep or have sense of humour failures at the worst possible moments. So professional wedding photographers just have to grab the opportunities when they can:
We shot the stag and hen parties in the evening after dark. Although these conditions may not be ideal its often a good strategy because these groups can take an awefully long time to get together, eating into the limited period available between the end of the wedding ceremony and the start of the wedding breakfast. And a few drinks may have helped the participants relax!
Inside Horwood House there was also some silliness breaking out among the guests! Whatever is this chap thinking wearing his bright red stilettos?
Our couples baby daughter joined them towards the end of their first dance:
Live music was provided by the extremely lively Indi Killers:
A closing photograph of the wedding venue after dark can work very well in wedding albums:
All content on this site is the copyright of Peter Riding of Ashton Lamont. Do not steal. I have a very particular set of skills I have acquired over a long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. Do not steal now, and that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. (With appreciation to Bryan in "Taken").