Naomi & Jonathan: An Alderley Edge Engagement Shoot

I grew up in the beautiful state of Vermont, a tiny northern New England state with rolling green mountains and freezing cold rivers and stars at night that make you feel like you're at the edge of the world.  Though so much of my work keeps me indoors, when I step outside I take huge gasps of air as if coming up through water.  We live in a town centre in a suburb of Manchester which is so very different from the wide open spaces I grew up in but one of the reasons we chose to live here is because we have the best of both worlds: a vibrant, culture-packed city just a few minutes in one direction and the lush green forests and park of the Cheshire countryside in another...a little further on and you even reach the sea.  With so much varied access, I've spent the majority of my working year getting some serious mileage out of my National Trust pass and one of my favourite ways to do this has been during the pre-wedding portrait sessions that I include with all of my full-day bookings.  I always bang on about how important I find these mini sessions, how we get to spend a bit of time together before the hubbub of the big day and in the process, we wander around a city or a country park or a beach. 

I had never been to Alderley Edge before my bride-to-be Naomi suggested it for their pre-wedding shoot despite only living a quick 20 minute drive away.  Immediately I was completely struck by the impressive views but also the worn ditches and dramatic overgrown WILDNESS of it all.  Naomi & her fiance Jonathan met me on a sunny Sunday morning in August ahead of their upcoming (this Friday in fact!) Owen House Wedding Barn wedding.  We had met briefly last year at the lovely Ellie & Rick's Parsonage Gardens wedding party and I was so so excited when they got in touch to book me for their own wedding! Both Naomi & Jonathan work in the beauty industry (they own a GORGEOUS salon in Holmes Chapel that you can check out HERE ) and I knew that with their creative background we'd get on so so well.  The parents of a young daughter as well, we literally didn't stop talking for the whole hour-long shoot and it just made me even more excited for their sure-to-be magical September wedding.  We're just 4 days now from their Owen House Wedding barn wedding (my first at this STUNNING venue!) and I CAN'T WAIT to be working alongside the amazing Sian of The Flower Lounge, Laura of Yolk and so many other awesome vendors.  Here's what we got up to on our walk around The Edge.  Check it out!

2017-09-25_0001.jpg

Philippa & Kallum: A Saddleworth Hotel Wedding

My husband and I joke all the time that part of the reason we chose to live in the UK rather than the States (where I'm from) is because he could promise me castles and the Brontes, rambling countryside and Jane Austen.  So far, no castles BUT one of my wedding dreams came true when the wonderfully warm and fun Pippa and Kallum got in touch with me about their upcoming June Saddleworth Hotel wedding right on the edge of Peak District, nestled above the brooding Saddleworth Moors.  This was Jane Eyre and sweeping romance, coupled with two ridiculously beautiful and hilarious people, I counted down the days until their wedding.

And what an incredible wedding it was with the typical grey Northern skies not disappointing us, only setting a stark backdrop for Pippa and Kallum's elegant bridal party in bold pink and crisp black and white tuxedos to just pop out! Thankfully the rain held off just long enough for us to have a quick explore of the beautiful family-run Saddleworth Hotel grounds, trudging up the logging paths behind the hotel and running across the street to take in that unbelievable view! It certainly only served to make Pippa's STUNNING Enzoani backless wedding dress and Kallum's sharp Hugo Boss tux truly stand out.  When we arrived back into the hotel for their reception, the place had been transformed by the amazingly talented Harper's Floral Artistry and large ivory blossoms spilled out of vases accented with black and gold details and so many tealights.  It was the most chic fairyland I had ever encountered. 

With a cake cutting to start off the hilarious and very moving speeches (including a full set of props by Pippa's dad!) the guests were then entertained by the awesome Magic Kay's sleight of hand and tunes by the soulful Johnny Walker, setting up an evening full of so much laughter and dancing and silliness - Pippa and Kallum and I even managed to escape to the games room for a quick game of billiards (turns out our bride was a bit of a Shark!). I had an absolute ball photographing these two wonderful people, here's a bit of what we got up to.  Thank you so so much again guys!

Suppliers Included:

2017-09-19_0001.jpg
2017-09-19_0002.jpg
2017-09-19_0003.jpg
2017-09-19_0004.jpg
2017-09-19_0005.jpg

Clare & Mark: A Ramsbottom Civic Hall Wedding

One of the biggest things that I tell my couples when we meet up is to enjoy the day, not to get super wrapped up in little details but to HAVE FUN and just treat it as they would any other awesome party filled with their most favourite people in the world.  After all, the most vivid memories they will have of the day will be how they felt: the excitement and anticipation and sheer JOY above all else.  Clare & Mark certainly took my advice to heart, putting together a wedding that was truly celebratory and filled with just so much LOVE.  These two just didn't stop smiling all day (and certainly didn't let the rain interfere with the festivities!).  It was an emotional and silly and comfortable and beautifully elegant English wedding ending up in one of my very favourite (& their local!) pubs.

Ramsbottom is a GORGEOUS little town boasting a steam train station, award-winning restaurants and an annual chocolate festival (I know!).  I had actually dined in their venue, The unreal Hearth of the Ram, with my family when I was pregnant with Hadley and remembered so clearly the off-beat decor, the lush greenery it was nestled in and the outrageously eclectic and unbelievably yummy food.  When Clare & Mark booked and then sent over their menu for me to choose from, my jaw dropped.  After a simple and sweet ceremony in their local civic hall, the original plan was to snap their photos on the walk across town to the pub.  When some typical English spring showers but a dent in the plan, this warm and funny couple popped open the umbrella and we had a bit of a play in the cute doorways and arches of the hall, reconvening in the rich leather and wood of the pub. 

I really loved getting to know these two and their wonderful family.  Sometimes the very best weddings are just about two people, madly in love and so happy to share that joy with the people closest to them.  Because after all, and especially these days, 'what the world needs now is love, sweet love.'  Thank you again guys, here's a peek at what we got up to!

Elizabeth & Rob: A King Street Townhouse Wedding

How in the world is it July (nearly August, yikes!) already?? Wedding season literally just crept up on us and we are well and truly underway with an incredible wedding season.  And I cannot tell you how amazed I am and how lucky I feel to get to photograph such unique, stylish, emotional weddings.  2017 is really only halfway through and already I know it's one for the record books!

So after neglecting this blog for a month or so, I'm thrilled to kick things back off with the outrageously chic and stylish King Street Townhouse wedding of Rob & Elizabeth from the end of April.  I LOVE Manchester City Centre weddings and the challenge of showing off the varied architecture, the industrial grit, the steel greys and monochrome landscape and juxtaposing the softness and elegance of lace and beading and flowers.  You may remember the gorgeous and hilarious Rob & Liz from their Chester town centre engagement shoot back at the end of last year.  Rob kept Liz and I in stitches and their wedding day was no different, capped off with one of the funniest and most heartfelt groom's speeches I've heard to date!

Liz and Rob are so in love with our beautiful city and really wanted to show it off on their wedding day, entrusting me to capture their vision as a love letter to Manchester.  After their beautiful and super emotional wedding ceremony performed by the wonderful Louise of the Ceremony Company (seriously, not a dry eye in the house!), we ventured out onto King Street and had a bit of a play with the doorways and alleys and archways.  These two are SO MUCH FUN and truly game for anything I threw at them, even cheesy old-Hollywood kisses.  When we arrived back to the unreal King Street Townhouse, the dining room was set for their guests with elegant ivory peonies and silver touches relfected in the hundreds of candles.  Florists Verdure seriously outdid themselves, it was absolutely stunning! The room opened up to a terrace with a spectacular view of Manchester Town Hall and our awesome skyline.  Later in the evening, just at twilight we were given the chance to head up to the hotel's rooftop where we managed to sneak a few more shots and take in the waning remains of the day. 

I cannot tell you how special this wedding was and I must say a massive thank you to the wonderful Mr. & Mrs. Pringle for welcoming me and trusting me to do their gorgeous wedding day justice.  It was such an incredible honour.  Here's a bit of what we got up to, enjoy!

Liz & Rob assembled a crack team of vendors including:

Suzanne & Matthew: A West Didsbury Engagement Shoot

Suzanne and I first met 6 years ago when I was hired as the full-time receptionist at the Manchester City Centre branch of Nicky Clarke, where she was smashing it as a senior colour technician.  We laugh a lot now about how we didn't set the place ablaze with our instant adoration of each other, in fact quite the opposite (I drove her crazy with my administrative cluelessness & she scared the ever-living crap out of me).  Years (and several lifetimes) later, we have found in each other a kindred wine-drinking, book-loving, vintage-obsessed spirit and I'm now lucky enough to call her one of my very closest friends.  Our past head-butting makes us giggle, though she'll never let me live down an unfortunate hotel-booking mishap that I was entirely responsible for, nor my terrible taste in footwear.  She's still killing it as a colour technician but has moved on recently to the up-and-coming Sand Hairdressing in Altrincham.  And now she has the wonderful Matthew.

Suze & Matthew met in that most modern way: on Tinder.  And I'm not divulging state secrets here, their wedding invite embraces and riffs on how they met in such a clever way! When Suze met Matthew, the stars aligned.  These two bring out the very very best in each other and you can't help but almost get giddy when you're around them, their love and respect for each other is soinfectious.  When they got engaged a couple of years ago, I was just starting out as a full-time wedding photographer and was so eager to shoot as many loved-up couples as I could to gain experience and truly put my own skills to the test.  Suze & Matthew agreed to be my guinea pigs and we spent a lovely afternoon wandering around Chorlton.  At the time I was so proud of the photographs, but looking back I realise that whilst my skills were still quite limited, it was their chemistry and commitment to each other that was truly standing out.

So imagine my elation at the end of 2015 when, despite my lack of experience & the slightly amateur nature of that first shoot, Suzanne & Matthew asked me to photograph their Manchester Town Hall wedding in September this year.  2017 felt so far away but I was thrilled! And after two years of full-time wedding photography, I feel the confidence to truly do their wedding day justice.  But first thing was first: we needed to do another engagement shoot, one to reflect the past couple of years of training and evolution and this voice I've managed to find through so much hard work and both self & peer critique.  I needed to give them photos that weren't just relying on their own natural chemistry but celebrated it and showed it off. 

We spent another gorgeous afternoon in the waning spring sunshine in mid-May, walking around West Didsbury and the beautifully tranquil Marie Louise Gardens.  Once again, we found magic and I'm so so proud of these images that I managed to capture of my friends.  Thank you Suze, thank you Matthew for taking a chance on me.  I CAN'T WAIT for your wedding!

Hayley & Chris: A Thornton Manor Wedding

Listen, I try so hard to be edgy and a little bit cool.  I have tattoos, spent some time in proper grungy indie clubs, can tell you where to find the best street art in most major cities, am a sucker for a leather jacket...But here are a few secrets (and confirmed facts as my mama will atest!) about me: my favourite books growing up were the Anne of Green Gables series (I re-read them all last year and OMG have you watched the show on Netflix yet?? Do it! Seriously!), I had a dress-up box to rival the costume loft in my university theatre department filled with my mama's old cocktail dresses and discarded former prom and bridesmaid dresses we found when we scoured charity shops - and this was the early 90s when shoulder pads were BIG, I played with Barbies until I was maybe 13, and I was OBSESSED with fairytales - modern, Grimm, classic Victorian, you name it. 

So when I managed to book a wedding that had the potential to feel like a real-life fairytale, 10-year-old Kate was nearly bursting with all that unbridled energy that used to make her a nightmare in the classroom.  Thornton Manor gave me GOOSEBUMPS when I pulled into the drive.  The architecture of this stunning building! The perfectly placed random archways and ornate moulding! The avenue of trees, perfect for a bride to sneak up on her guests and approach her groom from the front of the room! The details and the colours and the ON POINT staff and capped off with the MOST stunning grounds I've seen at a wedding venue to date.  I was positively SWOONING. 

You may remember the wonderful Hayley & Chris from their pre-wedding shoot at Dunham Massey Country Park back in October (that blog is HERE if you missed it!).  These two people share that magical connection that you only get when your soul meets it's match.  And I got all that simply from meeting them once! I knew this was going to be an incredibly emotional wedding but I wasn't prepared for the sheer exultant joy of their family and friends, for the way the day felt like one big hug, for the MOST earnest and beautiful speech by a groom who apologised to his parents for not settling down sooner but, 'he took a while to find her.'  And she was clearly worth the wait.  Kind and hilarious, warm, and SUCH a beautiful bride.  I think the whole room fell a little bit in love with Hayley through Chris's adoring gaze. 

Thornton Manor weddings feel like the most incredible dream, and I loved every second of my day working alongside their amazing staff, capturing a beautiful day that came down to two people who managed to find each other in this world.  What an amazing thing that is, almost like a fairytale.  This was Hayley & Chris's day at Thornton Manor, enjoy.

Philippa & Kallum: A Walkden Gardens Engagement Shoot

Happy bank holiday weekend! And what a gorgeous one it's been with that perfect sunshine starting us off on Friday.  After a week of darkness and tragedy and the world turning upside down, I'm starting the new week with a bit of love and beauty.  Because when darkness descends, what better way to combat it than to celebrate the light, the good stuff.  It will take time for our city to heal, for those families to find peace and for us to trust in the good of humanity again but those small acts of kindness that have cropped up all over remind us that it might be possible.  And there will always be love, we will always lift love up above everything else.

So in the spirit of love and light, I'm so excited to share the beautiful Philippa & Kallum's pre-wedding shoot in my favourite 'secret garden', Walkden Gardens.  This gorgeous pair is getting married in an epic black-tie event at the STUNNING Saddleworth Hotel in just 2 weeks time and we spent a gorgeous afternoon in April getting to know each other, chatting about cake & their epic wedding plans.  Pre-wedding shoots are always a bit awkward at the start, by their very nature they are the time for working out the kinks and figuring out how to communicate.  These two were so so natural in front of the camera, they did my job for me (even when asked to run and jump)! And the way they interact and laugh at each other, how excited they both are for their future together and how so very much in love they are is inspiring. 

 

These two truly are living life to the fullest and have found their perfect match in each other.  I'm so so excited for this wedding, to capture more of the infectious joy they have, to preserve these memories for them.  Here's what we got up to on that early spring Sunday, enjoy!

A Little Bit Country, a lot of Rock n' Roll: A Jonny Draper Photography Workshop at Owen House Wedding Barn

If you've been following along for the past year or so, you'll have heard me talk a bit about my mentorship with Jonny Draper.  The opportunities I've been given as a result of our work together over the last year have been invaluable and I have seen such an incredible positive change in both my business and my photography itself.  This confidence from knowledge gained has opened me up to being a hell of a lot more creative and relaxed in my approach and has shaped my work so much. 

So whenever Jonny announces another one of his workshops for wedding photographers and people ask whether it's right for them, I emphatically urge them to jump at the chance and book on immediately! And okay so you learn LOADS and he opens up his business to attendees and offers tonnes of info and insight but the other amazing piece to these workshops is the chance to shoot in an amazing venue, working with incredible wedding vendors and play with everything you chat about in the inital discussion.  The practical shooting of these workshops is a photographer's paradise and really pushes you outside your comfort zone.  Plus the models are always awesome and decked out in killer threads from the gorgeous Love Bridal Boutique!

I was lucky enough to be asked along to Jonny's recent workshop at the gorgeous Cheshire wedding venue, Owen House Wedding Barn to shoot some behind the scenes images of the workshop and assist in some of the practical shooting.  I was invited to participate in the discussion with the attendees and chat about my own business journey whilst shooting the super rad duo of Seb & Zuzi of Stella Photo, the beautiful Sarah and the incredible venue styling by Mat of Red Floral Architecture, The Word is Love, & Luminate Events.  When I walked into the venue, I was completely blown away by the dressing of the room with blossom covered trees, edison bulb lighting installations and softly lit glass tea lights hanging from every branch and lining the aisle.  Zuzi and Seb were killing it as usual with their own natural rock n' roll style, tempered by the elegance of bridalwear by Love Bridal and a gorgeously tailored waistcoat and jacket by the guys at Whitfield & Ward whilst Sarah was an angel-dream-bride vision in Sarah Seven. 

The day was an awesome mix of shooting in a truly unique location, hearing from vendors at the very top of their game, really interesting discussion and capped off with a feast by the truly remarkable Smith Street Kitchen - Owen House Wedding Barn's mobile wood-fired pizza oven.  I am so grateful for the chance to come along on this workshop, it was such a great day! Thanks to Jonny for having me along.  Here's what we got up to!

Clare & Mark: A Ramsbottom Engagement Session

Love is all you need.  Love is a many splendoured thing, love lifts us up where we belong... or something like that.  The world is scary right now.  I'm keeping as informed as I can but sometimes the news is just so overwhelming that I can't bear to watch or read much more.  So instead I focus on doing good in my life, in hope that 'paying it forward' or a trickle-down will find its way to someone who needs some light in theirs.   I teach my daughter compassion and empathy and am doing my small bit to contribute in making the world a more beautiful place.  I focus on love and JOY. 

In comparison to the noble professions that exist, I know that wedding photographer probably ranks pretty low in terms of what can actually make a huge difference but I take my task so seriously - I'm giving people a time machine into a brief but monumental moment in their lives, attempting to bottle the magic and remind them of everything honest and sweet and joyful about this special day.  Because life moves so fast and it can be hard to catch your breath and savour it when so much is happening around you.  Each couple & family I'm honoured to meet and photograph is entrusting me with these memories and I do my very best do them justice and show off an outsider's perspective of this radiant joy that envelops their wedding day. 

SO.  Let's talk about today's snippet of joy: the wonderful Clare & Mark.  Clare & Mark live and are getting married in the stunningly picturesque village of Ramsbottom in an intimate wedding ceremony at the Ramsbottom Civic Hall and a meal afterwards at the amazing Hearth of the Ram pub.  The Hearth of the Ram is renowned for it's menu of whimsical gastronomical delights and I was super stoked to get the chance to shoot (and eat!) there.  Ahead of the big day in May, I met up with these two lovely humans at their home just up the road from their venue on a sunny Sunday morning - which also happened to be Mother's Day, a fact that they very kindly reminded me of with the most beautiful bunch of tulips!

For their pre-wedding shoot, we set off on a bit of a wander around their storybook village, following the path we'll take on their wedding day and catching up on their plans.  Their day is small and intimate but also will be full of family and laughter and so so relaxed: they're even heading off on honeymoon straight after the meal! It's so wonderful to spend time with two people who are so clearly best friends, who delight in each other's company and are so warm and generous and easygoing.  Their affection for each other, their kindness and consideration are truly an amazing example the joy I'm chasing every day in my work.  They make it look so easy.  I really loved my Sunday spent in Ramsbottom with Clare & Mark and know their wedding is going to be awesome.  Here's a bit of what we got up to!

Modern Minimalism: A Victoria Warehouse Styled Shoot

GREENERY.  Pantone's colour of the year is GREENERY.  What a wonderful colour to kick off 2017...it recalls freshness and regrowth/rebirth, is the first signifier of spring when crocus shoots burst through the soil and expand into new life as they stretch and reach for all that photosynthesizing goodness from the sun.  So I can't think of a better jumping-off point for your wedding.  What could be more refreshingly modern, more current than riffing on greenery and balancing it's wildness and richness with clean lines, copper accents and earthy brick, smooth sleek hair, geometric accessories and art deco jewels?

When the incredibly talented Louise of One Stylish Day got in touch with me last year to shoot some styled table set ups, we got on so brilliantly that we agreed next time we'd go all-in on a full styled shoot, complete with bride and groom.  Louise has such a creative mind and talent for picking up on trends before they hit a mass market.  She is innovative and precise and exactly the kind of wedding stylist you want to work with - she has a clear vision but adapts to her resources and venue to create something so unique and magical and YOU. 

In the latter part of 2016 we assembled a team of top-of-their game vendors: Rachel of Marie Antoinette Cakes with whom we'd both collaborated previously, Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bridalwear, Mimi Lomax MUA, Bureau Design stationary, The Magpie's Daughter & CJ Antiques Ltd. Jewellery, SASSFLOWER, Anneliese Parkes for hair.  Louise set up a moodboard via Pinterest and we spent weeks firing ideas at each other.  We knew we wanted to embrace the low winter light but also suggest the beginning of spring and find a way to show off this concept of greenery whilst staying modern. 

After some searching and so many emails begging, the amazing Freya at Victoria Warehouse got back to us and offered the dream: full day use of their space in exchange for promo images.  We didn't think twice and jumped at the opportunity to work in this iconic Manchester building on the edge of city.  Victoria Warehouse has long been on my 'wedding venue bucket list' and I was ECSTATIC to get to work there.  We began fine-tuning our vision with Louise leading the charge and keeping us all on course.  Originally we had planned to seek out a real couple to model for us but I had worked with the gorgeous Molly once before and she was able to rope in her lovely pal Dan to step in as our groom.  I cannot tell you how un-forced the chemistry was between these two and they stayed so relaxed and comfortable that there were many jokes made about 'when you guys get married one day after this...' 

Ultimately the idea was to poole our collective talents and show off some beautiful trends in contemporary wedding styling, using a fairly minimal industrialised space and feminising it whilst still showing elegance and restraint.  A warehouse wedding doesn't need to be about grit and urban styling, rather it can be a blank canvas for your joy, for all those pieces that make your wedding unique to truly shine.  A dark wedding venue is just an opportunity to find the light & be creative in how you show it off.  At the end of the day, this shoot was about a boy and girl dressed up in their finest, sneaking glances, touching hands whilst around them greenery burst forth in lush patterns filling in the dark.

With contributions from