Why our Holiday has been The 😊 Best 😊 Ever 😊

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From Brighton to South West France and back again …. It’s official – we have just experienced the most incredible couple of weeks’ holiday we ever thought possible!!

Not just any holiday, may I add. Oh, nope. This was a holiday for a very special family occasion!

And it’s been very exciting indeed!

To give you a little of the back story … my lovely nephew Ross rang us early last year to let us know he was getting married and that the ceremony was to be in a beautiful Chateau in France. We were over the moon at his news of course, although my heart did sink a little when he said it was to going to be across the channel.  The last time I holidayed abroad was many years ago, as I’m not a fan of flying or sailing, and the prospect was a little daunting for me, ridiculous as that probably sounds to most!

But I had to go of course!!!

The Euro Tunnel was the best option to allow for my travel phobia, haha, I knew I could just about manage that!!  It did mean a long drive though so we decided that we’d make the travelling part of the adventure and thus booked overnight stops en route each way so we could soak in the French countryside as we made our way down to Lautrec.

In fact, we’d clocked up 1800 miles by the end of the holiday – just as well Lee enjoys driving, although he was ready for a good rest when we got back home!

To legally marry in France you have to be resident there for a period of time before the ceremony, therefore Ross and Michael had an official legal ceremony in Brighton Town Hall on the Sunday before. Simply a small gathering, just their parents and siblings with their families. Lee and I took my mum, Ross’s nan, who lives close to us, as travelling to France was not possible for her. Since we were taking her to Brighton, we offered to take our cameras to record the occasion. It was such a beautiful day and, in its own way, as magical as the subsequent celebrations in France. The weather didn’t look too promising earlier in the day, but happily the sun came out in time for the ceremony and afterwards we were able to take a few shots of the happy couple and families on the beach. We were in Brighton!! How could we not?!!!!

Emotional hug for Ross from his mum, my sister Lynne.

After that fab time, we headed home and had the next day to get ourselves ready for the drive to France. On Tuesday morning, Lee and I headed back to Brighton, to pick up our youngest son and his girlfriend, who live in Hove, and were travelling with us.  From there we headed to Folkestone for the Tunnel. Just thought I’d mention … Lee booked us a Flexiplus ticket for the crossing, which is well worth doing! This got us complimentary food in the terminal and lets you bypass the queues, which made it so much easier!

We arrived in Calais late in the afternoon French time, and reached our first port of call, Les Airelles Hotel in the small town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray, about three hours later, just in time for dinner!

Wednesday morning, and we set off after breakfast for the next leg of our journey to Limoges, stopping at Orléans on the way, where we spent an hour or two ambling around this beautiful city. A welcome way to break the long journey that day.

My kind of road!

It was getting late by the time we arrived in Limoges, around 7 in the evening, and we were pretty tired, especially poor Lee and all that driving, so we just had dinner in the hotel and didn’t get chance to look around the town itself.  

We set off early the next day for the final leg of our outward journey – our destination hotel in Cadalen, near the charming town of Lautrec and about 3 miles from the Chateau where the wedding celebrations were to take place.

Cadalen is situated in the Tarn region in the south of France, apparently otherwise known as the Tuscany of France. We were blown away by the beauty of the countryside surrounding us!

We were absolutely delighted when we arrived at our home for the next four days, Chambres d’Hotes de Cadalen

We couldn’t have wished for a better place to stay!!

This beautiful hotel has just four guest bedrooms in total, all decorated in a unique way. We had booked three of the rooms, and there was no one else booked in the fourth, so we had this amazing place all to ourselves, along with the lovely couple who own it, Sandra and Sylvain, who made us feel very welcome indeed.

Our eldest son and his girlfriend had flown into Toulouse and met us at the hotel an hour or two after our own arrival.

Since we were the only guests, we in effect had our own private pool and gardens! The pool was only completed this year and proved very welcome in the blazing sunshine!

Dip anyone?

Our hotel also boasted the most incredible views and such a peaceful location. Wandering around the grounds were two peacocks, two geese, and 5 cats, which was lovely! It was our own little haven of tranquility where we could spend quality time with our boys and their girlfriends, but whilst being just a short drive from the Chateau and wedding preparations. Simply perfect! Sandra, the owner, also went the extra mile to provide special breakfasts for the vegans in our family, including delicious pancakes, and her home made jams went down a treat!

Our breakfast room

On the Friday morning, we headed into the nearby town of Albi to have an explore. Another beautiful spot which boasts stunning views across the river and a cathedral.

Then came the WEDDING!! The celebrations spanned over three days, starting with an afternoon drinks reception on the Friday at one of the bars in Lautrec, which was a nice relaxing way to start the three day party!

The wedding ceremony itself was on the Saturday at the beautiful Chateau de Brametourte.

It was around 38 degrees so a little warm. Phew! We were there as guests (not photographers) which was super – we could relax and enjoy the day. And we did! The boys were led into the ceremony by their mums and the ceremony itself was amazing, and made even more special as Michael’s dad officiated. There were also two beautiful readings.

I couldn’t resist a few phone pics of course …

After the ceremony we relaxed in the beautiful grounds sipping champagne and taking in the remarkable scenery around us, for an hour or so before the wedding breakfast. This took place in a large marquee adjacent to the swimming pool, behind which were more spectacular views across the landscape which we enjoyed whilst tucking in to the delicious meal. Between the courses came various speeches. One from both mums together, in the form of a repartee, which was very amusing; some memories from a couple of the grooms’ dearest friends; and then one each from the grooms themselves, which were really funny as well as extremely moving in parts. Happy tears were flowing as readily as the champagne!

Not a bad view to eat alongside

And how about this for a cake!

Ross and Michael’s first dance was fantastic! They must have spent ages practising it, it was so slick and brilliantly choreographed, not a step out of place!

We then all danced into the early hours and car rides back to our hotels had been arranged for any of us needing them which was a great help!

It was a very special day indeed.

And there were still more celebrations to come! Everyone was invited to a pool party at the Chateau on the Sunday afternoon, during which we were treated to a fascinating guided tour inside by the owner who told us some of the history. The Chateau is 1000 years old; when the couple who now own it took it on, it had been empty for 500 of those years, so you can imagine the challenge they undertook to restore it from its derelict state. A remarkable job they have done too.  You can read more about the history here.

After all the thrills and excitement, Monday arrived before we knew it and thus it was time to say a fond farewell to the wonderful location and to start wending our way home. Lee planned a slightly different route back, with overnight stops in Tours and Montreuil this time.

We loved Tours!  Our hotel there was great and we spent the following morning looking round the town before heading off.  It was the first real opportunity we had during our travels to see a few shops, buy some gifts and take in the glorious views across the river.

Our last night in France was spent in Montreuil. A small town, very picturesque and only an hour or so from the tunnel.

In the morning there was enough time for a look around the shops in City Europe, just outside the entrance to the Tunnel, before boarding our train!

We came home via Brighton and we decided to finish off our holiday with a night at the Artist Residence Hotel in Regency Square. To our great delight and astonishment, we were told on our arrival that we had been upgraded to their very best room!! And I have to say it was awesome!! Talk about finishing our holiday in grand style!!

If you click the link to their website you will see the comfy chairs and sensational views from our room of the West Pier and i360!

The hotel was once featured on the Channel 5 programme The Hotel Inspector, you can read a little more about that and their story is here https://www.boutiquehotelier.com/from-zero-to-hotel-hero-the-dynamic-duo-behind-the-artist-residence/ and since then has gone from strength to strength.

Once again we were given a very warm welcome by the lovely folk there!

So here we are back down to earth after such an incredible time.  Already it all feels like just a dream. Sigh. Holidays often do once you get home and back to reality, don’t they? It seems like forever ago but boy do we have some amazing memories to treasure and of course loads of pictures to look back on!

So glad we went and, now I have my passport, the world is (almost!) my oyster! As long as I can get there by train

Our Wedding Photography Swansong

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We certainly finished on a high for our Wedding Photography Swansong! ‘Twas a beautiful day for a lovely couple who we’ve known for many years through their studio visits.

We decided some time ago that we would not be taking any new wedding bookings for after May 2019.  Not a decision taken lightly, but we know it’s the right one for us.

Thought I’d share a little of what’s involved when entrusted with this very important task.

Even though I’ve never advertised weddings, we’ve been lucky enough to have had our fair share over the years, from family and friends getting hitched, to some of my lovely studio clients, and of course, word of mouth referrals.  Each wedding equally beautiful in its own unique way. Come rain or come shine, it’s been a joy. Yes, even in the downpours! Heavy rain is challenging, I won’t deny, but you just have to make the best of it and use it to your advantage and grab some fun shots which you wouldn’t otherwise get on a sunny day!

It truly is an absolute honor when you’re asked to photograph a wedding. As the official photographers, you get to share and virtually live the day alongside the happy couple. You see everything first hand and capture all the emotions that invariably occur, from the nerves and tensions of the morning and the excitement shared by the bride and groom with their respective “tribes” as they get ready; the sighs of relief once the ceremony has been done, and the relaxed atmosphere and fun and happiness by the end of the day! Especially once the champagne has started flowing! You also get to photograph at the most beautiful locations and stunning venues – a photographer’s dream!

I won’t pretend it isn’t a tad stressful though. Weddings are after all, a one stop saloon – you just get the one chance and if you miss a shot or something fails, it’s too late to go back after the event. All the suppliers involved, and not just the photographers, want to make sure everything is top notch for the happy couple and their guests and do their utmost to ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible. And of course it always does even if there are one or two hiccups during the proceedings. But these are the moments most treasured and which make every wedding unique – it’s often these little “hiccups” that become the best memories in years to come!

Yes, you can plan all you like but on the day anything can happen and often does, quite out of the blue, not least the weather being so unpredictable in this country. With experience, you learn to take whatever is thrown at you in your stride. But it sure keeps you on your toes throughout the day and that’s a good thing! Lee and I always took our backup cameras. Even though our main cameras are expensive and very reliable, in the back of your mind there’s always a little niggle that technology might fail you at a crucial moment, like during the ceremony. Yikes!! I still shudder at the very thought!!

Fortunately, we were lucky that we never needed our backups but it was always reassuring to have them just in case! (Haha I have never wanted to say this before in case of jinxing any future weddings we had to photograph!!)

Love all those little details too that help make each wedding so individual.

Well I guess all good things must come to an end, although I must admit it’s a little bit of a relief too. Photographing a wedding is perhaps more exhausting than you might imagine. Even fellow photographers, mostly much younger than we are, suffer from what’s known in the trade as “Wedding Photographer Hangover”. Yep, when you get home after shooting all day it sure hits you! And the following day too. You physically ache from head to toe! I think this lady, Karen Julia Wedding Photography, describes it so well in her blog post https://karenjuliaphotography.com/how-to-prevent-wedding-photographer-hangover/ It’s reassuring to know you’re not the only ones and it doesn’t get any easier as the years go by!

We would always try and keep the day after free so we could chillax a bit. I found it a perfect opportunity to go through all the photos Lee and I had taken between us and sort out favourites to post for a sneak peek on Social Media and to start the initial edit. Downloading the images from the memory cards in itself could take a couple of hours due to the enormous size of the Raw files out of camera and there being at least a couple of thousand to download. Speaking of the memory cards, I would not let them out of my sight until all the backups had been done, which was as quickly as possible believe me!

Because we limited the number of weddings we booked, I would try to keep the couple of weeks afterwards free in order to devote this time to work on the edit so I could deliver them to the newlyweds as soon as possible. They’d be very excited to see them of course so didn’t want to keep anyone waiting any longer than necessary. It’s no mean feat doing a wedding edit, especially when you have developed your own style, as most photographer’s do, it involves several hours each day at the computer during this time.

Edit finished and 1000 or more images delivered to the happy couple, I’d start work on designing the artwork for the photobook, which was included in most of my packages. Once that had been approved by the couple, I ordered it, and then time to put together a slideshow of around 25 minutes, using the favourite song tracks of the bride and groom.

Thus, all in all, a fair amount involved from start to finish, but because I really love being creative, it never felt like a chore, just fun to do.

To be told how much the images, book and slideshows have meant to our wedding couples over the years, has been the icing on the (wedding) cake! Great feedback means the world to us and truly makes our day 🙂

It just remains for me to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful couples who have entrusted us with photographing their beautiful days over the years.

It has been a privilege and a joy.

There is one thing a photograph must contain. The humanity of the moment.

Quote by Robert Frank

Loving Two “Babies” Equally?

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Here we are almost at another summer holidays already and another year zooming by! There’s been lots going on here even though you may have noticed fewer posts from me on Facebook of late. Read on and I will explain all!

As many of you know already, I now split my time wearing the two hats, so to speak. Romsey Fotografix being one, and my Zazzle Store – Fotografixgal Designs, t’other.

Now please don’t get me wrong. Just because I have found a new love in my Zazzle store, doesn’t mean I’m no longer “in love” with my photography and Romsey Fotografix. Nah, not at all, that’s still my baby. As we all know, when the second “baby” comes along, you love it just as much don’t you, if you’ll forgive the analogy!  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s possible to love two babies equally.

Of course, finding time to devote to each and give them both my all has meant a little compromising – but not at the expense of letting go of good customer service I hasten to add. So yes, I have cut back on my photoshoots, which means that I can still devote the time necessary for each photo session and the subsequent edit and correspondence, and thus maintain the standard of customer service you are used to from me and, of course, deserve.

My time is split about 50/50, with a little leeway naturally where needs be. Hence, I only do studio photoshoots now on Sunday mornings and outdoor location shoots on Saturday mornings. I edit the images from these as soon as possible afterwards so I can get your galleries out quickly without keeping anyone waiting.

Once I know everyone has their pictures to look at, I devote the rest of the week to designing for my Zazzle store. This really has become such a passion for me, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy it! Haha my friends and family know exactly how much as I do go on about it a lot!!!

(Goes without saying that I deal with enquiries and orders for Romsey Fotografix regardless of when I get them!)

A little about Zazzle if you’ve not heard of them before. They’re a huge print on demand website and they do all manner of goodies – as you can see from their website. And here’s their story. As a designer, artist or photographer, or indeed anyone who wishes to, you easily set up a Zazzle store, or several stores if you want to. I just have the one store for now Fotografixgal Designs, as that keeps me plenty busy enough!  I also set up a separate website especially for it to help showcase the items in my store.  

There’s quite a complex strategy involved in running a Zazzle store, it’s not just a question of designing and plonking it onto any old products if you want to progress and do well on there. When I first started on there about a year ago, I had no idea at all about best practices for it and it was frustrating not to be making many sales at the time. I took the step of investing in some fantastic training from Elke Clarke one of Zazzle’s top sellers. She was running an offer at the time and I can honestly say it was the best money I ever spent and am so pleased I decided to go for it. I would never have discovered it all on my own. It’s been onwards and upwards since putting into practice everything I learnt (and am still learning). And the training from Elke doesn’t just stop when you finish the course, so you’re not left high and dry. She has a private Facebook group and does regular live sessions so we can ask her anything we need to know. She also assesses our stores if we ask her to and tells us how we can improve and what we’re doing right and wrong which has been invaluable.

A year in, and I’m delighted to say my sales are really starting to take off which has been very encouraging. Ironically, my most popular items are wedding stationery, photo gifts and photo blocks – so the “sisters” Romsey Fotografix and Fotografixgal Designs do cross paths in some ways!  Oh and not forgetting inspirational/motivational quote products, I have loads in store, which I decided to do not only because I love this sort of thing myself, but I reckoned they would be popular as you see them in shops all over the place nowadays don’t you. And indeed they have become bestsellers for me – I’m always racking my brains so I can add new ones.

OK, heading back to the subject of Facebook posting. As I do fewer shoots now, I have less photos from current sessions to post on Facebook and am therefore not posting every day or two, as I did at one time. And I don’t want to bombard you with too many Fotografixgal Design related posts as I guess you didn’t follow me on Facebook to see those 😉!!  Maybe just the odd one or two if you don’t mind lol. In the main though I use my Instagram and Pinterest accounts to promote my Zazzle store. To be honest, Social Media takes such a lot of time to get it right. There’s quite a strategy involved if you want to keep your loyal following entertained. And unless you pay for your posts to be promoted, they invariably only get shown to a small handful of your followers so it can be very soul destroying taking into consideration the amount of time and effort put into creating them. I’m not knocking it, because it’s obviously very useful and brilliant for connecting with your audience. As long as you stay in control of it and not let it take over at the expense of other things.

So please forgive me if I don’t post as often. However, I’m always very grateful when you give me permission to post pictures from your session as this allows me to showcase my work for others to see and also give you a little sneak peek and to share with your FB friends.

Another decision I have not taken lightly is to introduce a small booking fee for my studio photoshoots from August 2019. This won’t apply to outdoor shoots. I’ll only be taking one or two studio shoots a week on a Sunday and will request and pay for the studio as and when someone contacts me to book. This session fee is to safeguard me against late cancellations and no shows and cover my costs. I know I have never charged a session fee before as I didn’t feel it necessary when I had my own studio and was doing loads of shoots in a week, therefore I wasn’t out of pocket in the event of no shows. However, now if someone doesn’t show up on the day, which does happen sometimes, I won’t be able to fill that slot at that short notice and may even have turned other clients away for it, it’s just to ensure I’m not out of pocket. The good news is I’ll refund you the booking fee when your order comes to £150 or more.

You may also have seen that we have now photographed our last wedding as the official photographers.  I was going to tell you all about that in this post however as it’s already quite lengthy (haha sorry that’s not like me at all 😉 ), I’ll do a separate post shortly about the reasons behind our Wedding Swansong.

I truly hope you understand my decision to veer in a slightly new direction wearing my two different, yet complementary, hats. I am a firm believer in doing what you love most in life, after all you only get one shot at it (excuse the photography related pun!!) Grab those opportunities as they arise!

You gotta be content and fulfilled in your work. I have found my very Happy Place.

As ever, thank you so much for your support. It means the world to both Lee and I and we look forward to taking your next set of pictures!

The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day 

anonymous quote (but oh so true!)

It’s Christmas!

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Christmas is just around the corner and 2019 is on its way!

Haha, just stating the obvious!

I hope 2018 has been a good year for you.  In some ways, it seems to have rushed by. To me, it feels like five minutes since last Christmas – but on the other hand, it seems like forever ago since I had the old studio at Basepoint – even though I only finished there at the end of March.  The mystery of time, eh?

The move was a massive decision for us at the time, but happily it’s worked out really well. Hive Studios feels like my second Sunday home now! To find such a great studio, so close by, was incredible luck.

It has also given me the flexibility of concentrating on my artistic pursuits, as well as my photography.  I enjoy both immensely; now I can split my time equally on each. Best of both worlds.

It has been really lovely to see so many familiar faces this year and welcome you to Hive Studios, as well as meeting lots of new faces of course!  Not forgetting the numerous shoots in the great outdoors during the summer months too! Great fun, and we were mostly lucky with the weather! I am so appreciative of your continued support. It means such a lot to me, thank you.

Lee and I have also photographed some beautiful weddings this year, come rain and come shine!

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With my artist hat on, earlier in the year I started some courses spanning the whole year, which I mentioned in a previous post. I have managed to work my way through most of the lessons, and golly have learned so much! Not only to improve my drawing and design skills, but also learning lots of new tricks and techniques in Photoshop, which have helped speed up my editing processes for my photos too. It has been very inspiring.

The most amazing outcome of the art courses though was to set up stores on a couple of Print on Demand websites.  Firstly Red Bubble, and then, WOW, I discovered Zazzle.

I promise I won’t gush too much about Zazzle but I can honestly say it has transformed my life!  Best. Fun. Ever. I invested in a course from one of Zazzle’s topsellers, Elke Clarke, and through her I have learned the very best strategies for making it work. And I am over the moon that it is paying off 🙂 My store is still growing but after only a few months sales are already going well and I know with the techniques I have learned, and am still learning, it will get better and better as I add more goodies to it.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason. This time last year I had no inkling I would be leaving Basepoint (I would have shuddered at the thought!!) but fate stepped in with other ideas for me and I am actually very grateful it did.

I’m closing for the holiday this weekend. We have a wedding to photograph on Sunday; Christmas weddings are always especially magical! Then we have our eldest son’s birthday to celebrate on Christmas Eve, and a big family get together on Christmas Day, followed by a trip to Brighton on Boxing Day. Then a little R&R before reopening in January.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Beautiful Couple + Breathtaking Views = Amazing Wedding!

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The historic Town Walls have taken pride of place in Southampton for hundreds of years. So, with the venue being so near, to make use of them for pictures at the beautiful wedding of Jen and Lee on 1st April, was a no-brainer!

The wedding took place at the Southampton Holiday Inn. It’s in a prime location: with the old walls to one side, and the stunning water front views of the Mayflower Park, to the other.

Some awesome photo opportunities then!

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Quick mention for the fantastic staff at The Holiday Inn, who were exemplary in their desire to make sure everything ran smoothly – as indeed it did!

The beautiful bride, in her stunning gown, walked into the ceremony to the music of the famous Elvis Presley song “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” played by Alison, a very talented violinist.

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At our pre-wedding get together with the lovely couple, we had ambled across to the old walls, which we all agreed would make the perfect setting for some of their pictures. 

On the day itself, we had everything crossed for good weather. As indeed we do for every wedding we photograph of course, but especially so this time! The plan was for the majority of the wedding party to make their way from the hotel to the walls, via a very busy main road (thank goodness for the pedestrian lights!). Torrential rain would have made things very tricky!

Luckily, the sun shone and it all worked even better than anticipated, despite the somewhat gusty wind.  To experience the fascinating Old Town Walk with the bride and groom and their family and friends, was brilliant. The group shots turned into a bit of an adventure!

We took the “all guests” photo at the hotel first – there’s a perfect spot to the side of the hotel with lots of steps, so I could get to a good high vantage point. Everyone in view!

At the walls we could concentrate on the rest of the family and friends’ shots. We stopped at different locations along the walk, to make the most of the variety of fabulous scenic views.

The guests made their way back to the hotel as and when their photographs were done. When everyone had eventually filtered away, it was only the lovely couple with the children, their pageboys and flower girl, remaining. We took a couple of fun shots of them all by the arches, otherwise known as The Arcades.

The walk is also home to the 15th Century Tudor House, one of Southampton’s most haunted buildings, apparently! The outside of the building is perfect for romantic couple shots – no paranormal beings spotted!

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Once everyone else had gone back to the hotel, dark clouds had started to appear.  The impending rain meant a quick change of plan and the proposed evening shots in the Mayflower Park with the newlyweds were brought forward.

It turned out to be the most amazing time of the day to take the shots. The sun was low creating some beautiful light and rays. The water absolutely sparkled! A perfect atmosphere for some very romantic pictures.

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As the happy couple strolled hand in hand back across the park, the hotel could be seen in the distance. Perfect to feature in the pictures to add to the story and set the scene.

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Everything fell into place so very well. We were back at the Holiday Inn in good time for the wedding breakfast!

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Loved the bride’s gorgeous red shoes!!

Sticking with the historic theme … check out this swash-buckler of a sword for cutting the cake!!

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Once the evening guests arrived, the cake was cut by the happy couple wielding the said sword!
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Awesome cake eh! Made by the clever folk at http://www.specialitycakes.biz/  – and chosen by the groom himself!

The happy newlyweds then took to the floor for their first dance.

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A truely special and wonderful day!

Made all the more special by the amazing talents of :

Violinist, Alison Rowley http://www.morrismonday.com/

Flowers by Sarah Grist at Penny Lane Flowers  https://www.pennylaneflowers.com/

Dress by Ann, Sue and Dee of Mayflower Bridal http://www.mayflowerbridal.co.uk

Cake by Speciality Cakes http://www.specialitycakes.biz/

Congrats to the new Mr and Mrs!!

Moments from a Beautiful Wedding Day

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There were so many times where we just went “WOW” at Saturday’s beautiful wedding!

Our first “step back in amazement” moment was when we entered the main marquee. It looked simply stunning! 

As we were a little early arriving to the bride’s home for her getting ready shots, the marquee was our first port of call. As soon as we walked inside, Lee and I were blown away by the vintage style decor and attention to detail.

A very impressive marquee!

A very impressive marquee!

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Two other marquees were set up adjacent to the main one; one which would later be home to the hog roast and food, and t’other (“wow” moment number 2!) was set up as a photobooth with a difference, which we thought was an excellent idea … a mockup room setting with its false wall and open picture frames, complete with a chair, table and old-fashioned style phone. It was so cleverly done and naturally the perfect place to leave our fun props ready for the party – and later to be the source of much merriment!!

Great idea for the photobooth!

Great idea for the photobooth!

The cake was amazing – number 3 “wow” moment – and made by the mum of the bride, who did a wonderful job, I’m sure you’ll agree!

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The other end of the garden was set up in readiness for the guests’ arrival and welcome drinks. Two brilliant vintage style vans finished setting the scene, in readiness for later in the evening where one would be serving burgers and the other was the bar. So many great ideas and special touches.

Loved the picture frames hanging from the tree.

Loved the picture frames hanging from the tree.

So with loads of shots already in the bag, it was time to head into the house for the bridal party getting ready shots. Things were already underway with the hair and makeup and the usual hustle bustle and pre-wedding excitement were in full swing. hair-makeup-blogboard-12-copy

We left the girls to it for a while whilst we went to photograph the dress, shoes and flowers back in one of the chalets in the large grounds.

Ah … our next “wow” moment … The dress!! Ok, of course, all wedding dresses are out of this world, and we have photographed our fair share of stunners … this one though was just that little bit extra special, as it had been made by the extremely talented mum-of-the-groom! When we walked into the chalet, it wasn’t hanging up on the back of a door as we had expected, but it was displayed in its full glory on a Taylor’s dummy in the middle of the room. It was a definite gasp from me when I first saw it, so magnificent, and when we were later told it was the handiwork of the groom’s mum, we were even more awestruck.

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We headed back upstairs for more photos of the bridesmaids’ dresses, and one of those special little touches … the bride’s garter with the wedding ring of her nan attached.

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Time suddenly starts to disappear quickly on the morning of a wedding; one minute it seems like there is still ages to go, and suddenly there’s not! Before we knew, it was time for the beautiful bride to put on her dress! Another “wow” moment of course!

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Then it was off to the church! Lockerley St John’s Church is very lovely…you can read more about the history here http://www.lockerley.org.uk/index.php/history/80-the-church-of-lockerley.  Rain had been forecast for later in the afternoon but unfortunately a shower decided to fall just as we arrived at the church and continued as the guests started to arrive. We made use of the church doorway in the downpours, but were luckily able to dodge some showers to get at least some shots in the front of the church. And thankfully the rain held off for the arrival of the bride!

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We breathed a sigh of relief to find it wasn’t raining when we went back outside after the service so were able to get the few planned guest shots in the church grounds.

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Nearby the church is a little bridge over the River Dun where we stopped off with the newlyweds en route back to the reception – always great to get some water reflections shots. And the rain was still holding back luckily!

A little gem of a spot for photos just round the corner form the church

A little gem of a spot for photos just round the corner from the church

When we arrived back at the house,  the guests were enjoying their welcome drinks, accompanied by some great music from a very talented guitarist.

The family goat wondered what on earth was going on!

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We knew the heavens were about to open so we worked quickly to get the outdoor shots that had been planned for this part of the day, and thankfully we just about about got these pictures taken before the rain started falling very heavily. Fortunately there were plenty of sheltered areas, and it was soon time for the wedding breakfast.

A delicious meal, speeches and into the evening celebrations!

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It was a wonderful day for sure 🙂

Congrats to the happy couple!!

 

 

 

 

Renewing Our Wedding Vows … 30 Years On

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Well, it was a day to remember for sure …. And I’m delighted to say for all the RIGHT reasons!

Yes, after months of meticulous planning, our special day had finally arrived! On Sunday Lee and I renewed our wedding vows in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary in the warm presence of our family and friends.

The day was perfect, indeed, everything we’d hoped it would be.  Even the weather didn’t let us down – thank goodness!

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After a crazy week of rushing here, there and everywhere, with lots of last minute “oh that’ll be a great idea’ shopping for the party, not to mention trying to find certain things that we suddenly realised we probably needed that hadn’t occurred to us sooner (tablecloth weights anyone?), plus a trip to Gomshall for a day to take the first car load of stuff to my sister’s house and start getting some things ready, at last it was Saturday. We headed off for the weekend, with the car again full to the brim.

My sister and brother in law had very kindly offered us their wonderful garden for the occasion, and we can’t thank them enough. The garden is very large and beautifully kept, especially so with the magnificent flowers in full bloom; it looked absolutely stunning! We spent Saturday afternoon in the sunshine, putting up the decorations etc. to give it a party feel.  Our niece, Kelly, had prepared some jars of flowers freshly picked from the garden for the tables, which was just the look we were after. We chopped the fruit for the Pimms and Fruit Punch, and set up the amp for the music. The microphone proved too much temptation to Kelly, who couldn’t resist a singsong using it, so we had a good old giggle too and were generally getting excited in anticipation for the next day. So a busy but fun-filled afternoon after which we had a nice meal out with my sister, brother in law and our eldest son Tom – so a very pleasant way to start the celebrations.

Just the job

Just the job!

Early prep of the garden with Molly the dog wondering what all the fuss was about

Early prep of the garden with Molly the dog wondering what all the fuss was about

The final touches

Little touches

We were up bright and early on Sunday morning as we still had a fair bit of last minute things-that-could-not-be-done sooner to do, such as blowing up balloons with helium and hanging them, putting the tablecloths and jars of flowers onto the tables, and arranging the sweets, old photographs and glasses onto various tables.

A few sweet treats

A few sweet treats …

... and table of memories

… and table of memories

My talented niece arrived midmorning to do my hair and makeup (great job, thank you, Kelly!), then before we knew it was noon and the caterers had arrived! We used a company called Surrey Gourmet Catering http://www.surreygourmet.com/ They were absolutely fantastic, the food was tasty and really well presented, and the two waitresses and waiter were amazing. It was such a weight off our minds to know we were in their capable hands and didn’t have to worry about that side of things at all. As well as laying out all the food, they prepared the Pimms and Fruit Punch when they got there, and then handed out canopes and the drinks to guests on arrival. We can highly recommend them.

Pimms O'Clock

Pimms O’Clock

Time for a quick few piccies with our boys before the guests arrived.

Family pic

Family pic

Our friends and family started to arrive at 1pm so we were able to greet and mingle with them knowing they were being fed and watered!

We had asked everyone to bring a garden chair, and when the time came they made their way to the end of the garden where the ceremony was to take place at 2 in a little shack-like structure next to the pond and waterfall. A very peaceful setting which lent itself perfectly to the job in hand.

Our guests getting settled for the ceremony

Our guests getting settled for the ceremony

The Lady in Red by Chris De Burgh started playing – a special song to us as it was our First Dance choice on our Wedding Day – and Lee and I walked along the garden beneath a wooden walkway, accompanied by our great niece and nephew who were as good as gold and cute as can be. Our original bridesmaid and pageboy were Kelly and her brother Ross who are of course all grown up now, however we just had to recreate the original photo:

Recreating a moment from 1986

Recreating a moment from 1986

We made our way into the “shack” (not quite sure how else to describe it!), and it was amazing to look out at the smiling faces of our friends and family. My lovely friend Trudy is a registrar, and we could have chosen no one better to take the ceremony. We had no idea of what of she would be saying beforehand, and her words were beautiful and very moving. As Lee and I reaffirmed our vows to each other I hadn’t expected to feel quite so emotional, and actually got quite choked up… it was even more special than we thought it would be.

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Afterwards our sons, Tom and Ryan, gave out our thankyou gifts and engraved pens to everyone whilst the waitresses bought out the champagne.

Whilst all this was going on the caterers had been laying out the food on the large table at the other end of the garden. Everyone went to start tucking into the delicious spread, while we had some pictures taken in an especially pretty part of the garden, by the pond and amongst the flowers.

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Lots of folk have asked, “who will be taking your photos”? Well, we had arranged for some photographer friends to take them and we handed over our cameras to them to use for the day, so I could edit them afterwards in my usual style.

They did a wonderful job so we have some fantastic memories to treasure 🙂

We’d booked an ice cream van to come along for a couple of hours in the afternoon which turned out to be one of the highlights of the day and went down a treat with all our guests! There we all were in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine enjoying our Mr Whippy’s and ice cream tubs, wonderful!! We used Bertie’s Vintage Ices http://www.bertiesvintageices.co.uk/ , they were excellent! We couldn’t fault them and everyone thought it was an inspired idea to have them there.

Haha, so glad I’d thought of it 😉

They even let Lee and I clamber into the van for some pictures – more great memories of the day!

Enjoying a "99"

Enjoying a “99”

If you’re having a party and fancy offering something a bit different – they were just ace and very reasonable, and such friendly folk too!

Of course we had a cake. Made by a company called the Brilliant Bakers https://www.thebrilliantbakers.co.uk/ , it was delicious – and went a long way! Our 70 guests all had a slice and we still have lots left (so still munching our way through it – diet starts again next week!!) What do you think of the 3D Mini Me’s on top? We thought they would make a great cake topper! They’re not edible so we now have a lovely keepsake.

Our cake with us on top!!

Our cake with us on top!!

We had the 3D model done by Asda in Havant https://www.asda-photo.co.uk/bookings/asda-3dme-a-miniature-3d-figure-from-asda-photo  We headed over there a few weeks ago to have our photos taken in their 3D photobooth, wearing the actual clothes we would be wearing on the day. Our model was ready a couple of weeks later.

So all in all, it was a lovely relaxing afternoon with everyone sitting back, chatting and enjoying the sunshine. We had a fantastic time catching up with our friends and family, some of whom we hadn’t seen for far too long.  It all went by so quickly as these things do, and before we knew it, folk were starting to say their goodbyes, which is always the sad part of the day, especially as you feel you haven’t had enough time to chat to everyone as much as you would’ve liked to have done.

We then sat with a few close family into the evening and finished the night by opening the wonderful cards and gifts we’d been given.

Everything had fallen into place like clockwork and we couldn’t have hoped for a better day, as perfect as our wedding day had been back in 1986.

Our special day … now just a memory, but a great one for sure.

This week we’re still on holiday as we knew we’d need a bit of time to chill out after the rushing around of the previous couple of weeks, so we’re having a few day trips out and a few days at home to do just that before getting back into the swing of things next Tuesday.

And have to say, the good wishes you’ve been sending our way have been really lovely, thank you so much 🙂