I love a Highdown Vineyard wedding. As a wedding photojournalist I’ve shot there a number of times and it’s without doubt one of the best wedding venues in West Sussex. So when Sienna and Phil asked me to be their wedding photographer there, I just couldn’t wait to get started!
The Wedding Day in Ferndown, Hampreston and Stapehill
I came to be the wedding photographer for Ellie and James’ wedding down in Dorset simply because James is the son of Steve – who is often my second photographer when I require one at weddings. So it was one of those rare occasions where I was meeting the bride and groom for the first time on the wedding day itself.
Gemma & Chris’ do-it-yourself backyard wedding in the heart of England
Yes, I’m still catching up on a number of previous weddings here on my blog. When Gemma married Chris it was a truly beautiful day on what I can only describe as an archetypal rural English wedding in pretty Northamptonshire.
I’ve actually known Chris for almost 30 years now, although we hadn’t really seen much of one another in the last 15 years or so. So it was an absolute honour and thrill to be asked to document his and Gemma’s wedding in the village of Nether Heyford – where Chris had spent his childhood growing up and still a community he has very strong ties to.
So I knew it was going to be a very special wedding day.
Bridal Preparations at home in Abington, Northampton
My day started early, as it usually does, turning up at the couple’s home in Abington, Northampton where Gemma and her bridal party were preparing for the wedding day ahead. As is always the way with bridal preparations there was so much happening – which is fantastic for me a documentary wedding photography who captures all those natural moments and genuine emotions.
With excited children, emotional family and fun loving bridesmaids there was never a dull moment to be had and so many great decisive moments for me to document.
Wedding at St Peter & St Paul Church, Nether Heyford
Without doubt the village church of St Peter & St Paul in Nether Heyford is a stunning and very traditional location for an English rural wedding. Lying in the heart of the village, surrounded by old sandstone cottages and in leafy shadows of surrounding trees, part of the church dates back to the 13th century.
To be allowed to marry in this historic parish church, you must either be part of the parish or have some other legally recognized connection with it. Of course, Chris’ family had a long standing connection with the village, which meant he and Gemma were one of the lucky ones to be able to get married here.
With the church packed to the rafters with friends and family there was an excited anticipation as Gemma was escorted up the aisle by her father. Chris and his best men looked on with a mixture of pride and happiness, which was to set the tone for the rest of the wedding ceremony.
Smiles, Hugs and Kisses
Rings exchanged, first kiss enjoyed and wedding register signed, the newly married couple proceeded out into the afternoon countryside sunshine, where they were quickly surrounded by excited and emotional guests.
As a wedding photojournalist this is a great time for me to document some tender moments and heartfelt emotions. Lost in the moment of post-ceremony bliss, I go unnoticed and capture some truly beautiful and natural wedding photography.
A Rural Backyard Marquee Wedding Reception
Gemma and Chris were in the fortunate position of a family friend who owned a small meadow just down from the church, which made for a great location for a marquee wedding reception. With great views of the surrounding Northants countryside, hay bales and beautiful rustic diy decorations and details, it was a truly stunning backyard type setting for the evening reception.
The speeches were the traditional mix of tears and laughter, particularly as the groom paid a moving tribute to his late mother, Olive, which didn’t leave a dry eye in the house or, rather, marquee, including myself!
The remainder of the afternoon was a great time for kids to have fun with the hay bales and explore the meadow, whilst the adult guests do what adult wedding guests usually do, drink and make merry.
First Dance and Country Dancing
With a hog roast slowly cooking outside and evening guests arriving it was time for the romantic first dance. As Chris serenaded his beautiful bride around the marquee’s dance floor, friends and family, looked on with happiness – after all these years, Chris had finally found the woman of his dreams.
With the cake cutting done, it was then onto some fabulous country dancing that really got both the marquee and evening in full swing. From the smiles and grins on everyone’s faces, it was clear this was a great way to start the evening celebrations.
As is usual for the evening dancing, I love to get right into the frenzy of the dancefloor and shooting with a slow flash on my camera, in order to swirl those lights and get a real feeling of the mood and movement.
Nether Heyford Wedding Photographer
As I’m sure you’ll agree from the above photos and small selection of wedding photography that follows, Gemma and Chris had a truly wonderful English rural wedding with a personal touch of a DIY backyard wedding.
If you like this post and the wedding photos I’d love you to share across your social media and even tag friends and family you know.
Affordable Northamptonshire Wedding Photographer
Are you getting married in Northamptonshire? Or maybe you enjoyed my award winning documentary wedding photography approach to capturing natural moments, genuine emotions and authentic wedding stories?
If so, I’d love to chat with you about your wedding plans and how I can help you get the unique storytelling wedding photography you want. You can call or text me on 07920 422144. Or, alternatively, send me a message via my contact page. I’ll be delighted to hear from you you.
As a wedding photographer I’m so lucky to visit so many beautiful wedding venues around the country. Highdown Vineyard, nestled cosily on the slopes of the South Downs, in-between Worthing and Littlehampton in West Sussex, is easily one of the most beautiful. I also count myself very fortunate to have photographed a number of weddings at Highdown.
So when I met up with Crystal and Dom, 6 months earlier on a cold grey day in south west London, and they told me they were having their wedding reception at Highdown Vineyard, I knew I had to be their wedding photographer.
A Sussex Wedding Photographer
In fact, the reason Crystal and Dom had contacted me about being their wedding photographer was because they had seen some of my previous Highdown Vineyard wedding photography whilst visiting this most beautiful West Sussex wedding venue.
So once they had booked me, I couldn’t wait for their wedding day to come around. And when the day came around I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The sun was shining beautifully and I found myself down on the Sussex coast, ready to shoot the bridal preparations at Crystal’s parents in the seaside town of Bognor Regis.
I have to confess I’m still a kid at heart and the merest mention of the seaside gets me all excited, so I arrived early in Bognor Regis and enjoyed a light breakfast looking out across the beach and sea beyond. I just knew this was going to be an idyllic wedding to remember.
Bognor Regis Wedding Preparations
I’d agreed to meet Crystal and the bridal party at a hair salon called Lotus Styling in Bognor Regis town centre. As you’d expect everyone was really excited for the day ahead and the salon itself was a really cool setting, with Banksy graffiti on the walls and woodland murals. As a documentary wedding photographer I couldn’t fail to get some great shots of such a fantastic hairdressers.
One hair was styled and veils in place, it was back to Crystal’s parents home for the bridal preparations ahead of the wedding ceremony. Of course, the excitement continued as more family members and guests arrived, including the flower girls.
Getting Ready at Home
Everyone by now knows I love the preparations part of the day – be it a bride or a groom – it’s always a time of laughter, nerves and, yes, the occasional tear. I see it my job, as a documentary wedding photographer, to capture all these natural moments, genuine emotions and real stories. And Crystal’s wedding preparations lived up to expectations.
Preparations done, it was then time to get down to the delightful West Sussex coastal village of Pagham for the wedding ceremony itself, at the stunningly beautiful and historic St Thomas à Becket parish church, or often simply referred to a Pagham Church. I say historic, as there has always been a church on the site going back 1300 years to the 7th Century Saxons. The current church is much the same as it was 800 years ago and is largely considered to be one of the best of its kind. I will say it’s definitely one of the most beautiful churches I have shot a wedding at. It’s the perfect English rural wedding setting.
Pagham St Thomas à Becket Church Wedding Ceremony
Inside the spacious and airy church, Dom was waiting nervously for Crystal to arrive. He’d certainly brushed up well since I’d last seen him a month or so before for the pre-wedding portrait shoot in Richmond Park, in south west London. He definitely cut a dashing and handsome groom along with his brothers-come-Best Men.
Crystal arrived with a huge and dazzling smile on her face – could there be a more fitting example of the blushing English bride? The wedding ceremony was the expected mix of smiles, laughs and, at the end, a very entertaining and carefully choreographed dance to a particular hymn, which made it all huge fun.
A Quiet & Touching Wedding Moment
Once the wedding ceremony finished, it was out into the beautiful grounds of the church and some glorious Sussex sunshine. After mingling with guests for a while, Crystal then took herself away to spend a quiet moment at the resting place of her grandmother, Patricia, who was buried in the churchyard where the wedding had taken place – such a lovely and touching connection.
Highdown Vineyard Wedding Reception
The wedding reception took place a few miles away at the beautiful Highdown Vineyard, where I’ve shot weddings before – so I knew it was a fantastic Sussex wedding location. Such a beautiful setting makes life as a wedding photographer that much easier. The vines are a wonderful backdrop for portraits, the lawns a great spot for games and mingling and the buildings and marquee fantastic for eating, drinking and dancing – none of which were in short supply on Crystal and Dom’s day!
The speeches were full of emotion – both laughs and tears in equal measure. Then as the sun set and the band entertained dancing guests inside, the groomsmen sneaked outside to enjoy a wedding cigar and reflect on the day.
This was also a perfect opportunity to try out a new “toy lens” I’d gotten hold of. I’m always looking for a new and unique way to document a wedding day. The SLR Magic 50mm lens is definitely a quirky and imperfect lens that captures unique images. I’d much rather capture a perfect moment than worry about technically perfect photos. The cigar image above, was one of a few images captured with this interesting lenss
I’m sure you’ll agree, from a small selection of the wedding photographs that follow, it really was the idyllic wedding day I promised it would be!
West Sussex Wedding Photography
Book a West Sussex Wedding Photographer
Are you getting in married in West Sussex? Perhaps in Bognor Regis? Or maybe at Pagham Church? Or you’re having your wedding at Highdown Vineyard?
Alternatively, you may just enjoy my natural and unobtrusive documentary wedding photography approach and think it would be a great fit for your wedding day? I’m a London wedding photographer but cover the whole of the UK and destination weddings overseas.
Whatever the reason, I’d definitely love to have an friendly and informal chat with you about your wedding plans. So give me a call or SMS on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page and lets start making plans for your wedding.