REAL WEDDINGS | Nikki & Carl - Love by the Harbour
Updated: May 22, 2019
So, this is my first 'real wedding' blog piece. Why do I mention this? Because I'm not entirely sure how it's going to to go. My aim is to tell the story of the day, showcase some of my work and celebrate the other fantastic suppliers involved in the creation of it all. This will consist of a mixture of my own recollections and several questions and answers that I have since asked Nikki and Carl.
Nikki initially got in touch with me after seeing one of my Facebook posts. She told me that they liked my relaxed style and my documentary approach to wedding photography. She then told me that they had chosen Polpier House as their wedding venue. Now, this was music to my ears as I hadn't photographed there before and I had been hoping to shoot there for a long time, after seeing other wedding photographs taken there.
If you don't know where Polpier House is, it sits high above the quaint coastal town of Mevagissy. A beautiful little harbour town with a warren of back streets that glimpse through to the busy harbour front. Basically, it's an absolutely fab location for photographs!
I met with Nikki and Carl to discuss things further over a beer or two (always the best way) and we soon found similar likes and dislikes with regards to the style of coverage. I also discovered that they were both teachers. As you may know, I am currently a photography instructor and I'm about to start my PGCE with Cornwall College, teaching photography. So, it was also a great chance to pick their brains! Anyway, after a good chat and some refreshments in the sunshine of Truro, they told me that they wanted me to photograph their wedding and we agreed to discuss the finer details and get our contract into place over the coming months.
Now, paperwork doesn't make for a very interesting blog post so we'll skip that and move straight onto the good stuff.
So, what is my next step? I usually like to organize an engagement shoot with my clients. This is something that serves as a super effective ice breaker. I always find that by doing this, it helps my clients to relax more on the big day, especially if they don't particularly enjoy being photographed. Nikki and Carl didn't seem particularly nervous (did I mention they're both pretty easy on the eye?) but I still felt that they would both benefit from a 'practice run'.
We decided to meet in Newquay for a coffee one morning. Now, the weather wasn't great; not terrible, but not fantastic. Kind of perfect for some nice photographs though. We discussed the details of the day and I showed them my broken wrist! Thankfully this was only my left arm as I am right handed! I did this in typical dad fashion whilst attempting to skateboard (I could when I was 19 - kind of) and show my sons some tricks. After discovering that this is no longer possible, I have now begrudgingly retired my board. We then went for a wander along the cliff tops. Here are a couple from our shoot...
So, onto the big day...
When I arrived at Polpier, the sun was shining and it was actually pretty darn hot! This means smiles. Harder conditions to photograph in, but way more smiles, so any experienced wedding photographer should love the sunshine!
I initially zipped off to find Nikki and let her know of my arrival. I entered the bridal suite and found a busy, busy room brimming with excitement. There must have been at least 10-15 people there. Make up and hair were all in full swing and everyone was instantly welcoming to me. A great start and always good to see that the bubbly is out!
I asked Nikki what they had done the night before and she told me...
"We had spent the day setting up the house and transforming it into a wedding venue, so we ventured out for a meal on the night before the wedding.
We went to the Sharksfin in Mevagissey harbour with 45 of our family members and friends who were staying in and around Mevagissey. This was the perfect opportunity to meet with friends and family that we hadn’t seen in a little while and this took the pressure off trying to find the time to catch up with everyone on the wedding day.
Credit to the Sharksfin for hosting us and putting up with the confusion of everyone trying to remember what meals they had pre-ordered!"
Carly Angove was in charge of make up and she was doing a sterling job. She introduced herself with a huge smile on her face and gave me the lowdown. I got some great pointers from Carly and she also brought a fantastic light to help her. This enabled me to get some breathtaking portraits whilst she worked meticulously. I would definitely recommend her to anyone - in fact you will find here on my recommended suppliers list here!
Hair styling was being done by the 3 Wishes Creative Hair Studio and Kayleigh Archer. Kayleigh, Vikki and Abbie did a fantastic job. All the ladies looked stunning (as you can see for yourself!), including possibly the cutest flower girl of all time!
I was introduced to the videographer (Ben from Foster Filming). A lovely chap with tons of experience. We quickly nipped off to the side to have a proper chat and I soon realised that he would be easy to work alongside. He was polite, courteous, friendly, professional and I found that throughout the day, his style was very complimentary to my own. I would highly recommend booking him if you are looking for a videographer, but get in touch quick as he is a very in demand man.
At this point, once I've got a couple of really great photographs of the structured chaos, I like to pay the groomsmen a visit. Not only does it add to my visual storytelling, but it gives the girls a chance to get changed and enjoy each others' company without me being there.
The boys were as cool as you like. It was very relaxed in their pad, which was only a stone's throw away from the bridal suite. Polpier has a stunning little contemporary annex which has the most amazing view. This is where the boys were. They were equally as welcoming to me and I had a great chance to get some photographs of Carl and his groomsmen!
I asked Nikki and Carl how they had felt when they woke up; here's what they said...
"I felt completely shattered! I had attempted to spend the night sleeping on the sofa in my mum and dad’s bedroom suite but, at 1.30am, I could take no more of my parents snoring. I ended up sleeping on the floor in the hallway outside the bedroom! Not ideal on a night when beauty sleep was essential and much needed! Once the initial tiredness had worn off, I was excited to start the day." - Nikki
"I felt surprisingly well rested and awake. Well…I suppose it’s not that surprising following a night of sleeping in the luxury honeymoon suite waking up to the birds tweeting and sea views from the balcony. I also felt surprisingly calm knowing that everything had been well prepared the night before and I was eager to get the party started." - Carl
Quite contrasting answers hey?
By the time I got back to the girls, Nikki was just about to get into her dress. I told them to give me the secret signal once she was almost dressed and then took the opportunity to get some final preparation photographs. These are often my favourite shots as they really capture the excitement and it's the part of the morning prep where it all starts to feel real.
It's also the part of the morning where the father of the bride gets first glimpse of his daughter 'wedding ready'. A precious moment every time.
Nikki's dress was deigned by w.too by Watters, purchased from Bliss Bridal Gowns (owned by Tracy Ashton) and re-styled by the fantastic Roamer Rose. Roamer Rose also provided Nikki with a customised head vine and garter as shown below.
So, ceremony time! I sneaked downstairs to the ceremony room which was by now, bustling with guests and there was a loud hum of excited conversation. Carl was stood at the front looking confident and oozing charm.
The room looked stunning. Specifically with regards to the amazing job that Nikki herself, Lucy and Michelle from KarenzaRose Wedding Flowers had done. Nikki's good friend Wendy was the mastermind behind this epic (and tasty) wedding cake!
Now, I don't know if you have ever been in this room, but it really is beautiful. It's got amazing light flooding through the bay windows and it's rather nicely tucked away. It is however, rather intimate. Especially when you have as many friends as Nikki and Carl.
This meant that I had very little room to maneuver. Myself and the videographer, Ben, squeezed ourselves into the corner of the room and attempted to hide behind a row of chairs that were ready for the bridesmaids.
This actually worked very well, I got a decent angle of the ceremony and because I was so close to the guests I got some good giggles (at my expense - mostly at the way I was using my cast on my wrist as a sort of tripod) to capture. All in all, we got some fantastic shots of a very special ceremony.
Here are a few of my best that I feel capture the atmosphere well...
After the ceremony, it was party time! The best thing about Polpier House is that as soon as you leave the ceremony, you arrive at the reception. The room next to it was ready for everyone with beautiful (and delicious) canapés, sweets and drinks! Courtesy of the fantastic Beetham Food.
Nikki and carl had a great chance to really mingle with their guests (as did I) and enjoy their day!
I generally try to remain in 'stealth mode' at this point for as long as possible. I'm basically invisible because everyone is so in-the-moment and eager to congratulate the newlyweds.
After around twenty or thirty minutes, seeing as the weather was so nice, I decided to ask Nikki and Carl if they would spare ten or fifteen minutes to get some photographs of just the two of them. I wouldn't usually do this at this point, as the mid day light isn't always the best.
The reason I did, was because the weather was so nice. It had made me slightly paranoid about it not being so nice later on in the day when I had planned to take them down to the harbour.
As you may or may not know, in Cornwall we often get several varying weather conditions most days!
Doing this shoot here allowed me to get these photographs as either a backup, or a bonus shoot. Either way, I'm glad I did, because they look fantastic....
After this, I felt slightly more comfortable to go with the flow and let the day unfold naturally. We decided to get a couple of group photographs before the drinks were flowing too quickly and I even managed to get a great confetti tunnel photograph from them!
As a wedding photographer, it's great to have such relaxed clients. Nikki and Carl were a pleasure to work with all day long and their whole family was absolutely charming. Especially Nikki's mum, Jackie, who is hilarious, for the record. Even if she clearly knows so.
After all of this, it was time for their wedding breakfast. They had planned to do their speeches before the food arrived (always a great idea, then you can all relax and enjoy your food without any nerves).
Now. I've seen a lot of speeches. I've heard all the jokes that people rip off Google and adapted to suit their audience. Honestly, wedding photographers hear them all. But these speeches.... wow.
To start with, we heard from the bride's father. A loving and heartfelt speech full of emotion, tenderness, pride and compassion. He nearly had me in tears!
Next up, we heard from Carl. I had been told throughout the day that Carl had an interesting relationship with the bride's mother, Jackie. Between the two of them, they 'took banter to another level' and liked to 'poke fun at each other'.
Now, Carl is either a very brave man, completely naive or their definition of 'banter' is quite different from most. It was brutal. Hilarious. But totally brutal. One of the funniest, and possibly, most inappropriate speeches that I've ever heard. Very well delivered!
He then went on to give an honest and genuinely beautiful description of his own parents, upbringing and his feelings toward his new wife, Nikki. They had met 15 years ago, Carl was 19 and Nikki was 18, so they had been through a lot together. Carl described their journey and experiences with love, honesty, eloquence and charm.
What a mixture! How could the best man follow that? I'll tell you how, with a couple of borderline inappropriate anecdotes and a surprisingly thoughtful and loving description of his feelings towards the two of them. Lovely.
I asked Nikki about them afterwards and she told me that they would be one of the most memorable moments of the day...
"The speeches... the sincere, emotional and heartfelt words of the father of the bride, Alan White, the brutal honesty of the groom and the cringy, mortifying but strangely touching words of the best man!"
The food from Jamie was amazing. I don't actually have any photographs of just the food. I have lots of people eating it, but no one really wants to see that. I was provided with my own meal, so I could have photographed this I suppose. However I was so hungry by this point (and the food looked and smelt so delicious), that I did not even think about photographing it - sorry Jamie! I would definitely recommend his company though. You can find them here.
After everyone had enjoyed their desserts, I decided to make my move. It was time for me to swoop in and steal the bride and groom whilst everyone was distracted by the excitement, alcohol and stunning surrounding views.
I asked Nikki and Carl to follow me down to the harbour for some portrait photographs. The light was just right. Not too bright, but soft and fading. This creates amazing skin tones and really accentuates the colors in the town. Here is a small selection of my favourite photographs...
Well, that went well huh?
We even saw two seagulls doing naughty stuff, much to Carl's amusement...
I have since asked Nikki and Carl how they felt being photographed, here is what they told me...
"We were not fazed at all by being photographed but this was massively down to how fun and relaxed you were, Ashley. You made the whole experience a pleasant one and put us completely at ease from the moment we met you. We, and our guests, were incredibly impressed by your professionalism and your ability to remain completely unobtrusive while capturing some fantastic and intimate shots. You felt like one of our guests, fitted in so well and were a real hit. The engagement shoot we did a few weeks prior to the wedding really helped us to gain an insight into what to expect and what we wanted and didn’t want from our photographs."
It's always good for me to get feedback like this. Not only does it reassure me that I'm doing a good job, but it builds confidence in my work and helps me to see my own progression.
The rest of the day, for me, consisted of mostly documentary photographs of the fun and games. They had a fantastic party, a touching first dance and a slightly awkward cake cutting.
There were some serious shapes being thrown over the course of the evening, but, the highlight had to be a well choreographed dance routine from the bridal party and several guests to 'Proud Mary'. I believe Sally Foster was the brains behind this operation, well done ladies, you rock!
At this point I'd like to say a MASSIVE thank you to Nikki, Carl and all of their family and friends for making my first wedding of this year such a great one. I had a fab day with you all and I truly hope that you enjoy looking through the full set of photographs!
I asked Nikki and Carl for their thoughts on the photographs I delivered and they told me...
"The photographs are completely stunning. We could not be happier with them. They capture our day perfectly and are exactly the style we were hoping for and so much more. We have had nothing but compliments on them and can’t wait to get them printed and framed."
I also asked Nikki and Carl for their top five memorable moments of their day. They gave me six, so it must have been more than memorable for them both!
1. Dancing! Both routined and freestyle (which I think you described as questionable!) Proud Mary – choreographed and performed by the bridal party and guests.
2. Our jaunt down to the harbour for an early evening photoshoot – which has resulted in the most amazing photographs.
3. The food – and the incredible service provided by Beetham Food. It was all spot on and made us and our guests very happy.
4. Kazoo playing – by the band member and unexpectedly accompanied by mother of the bride, Jackie White!
5. The moment on the dancefloor when we took a second to look around at all of our family and friends having the best time and realised that we’d accomplished what we set out to achieve.
6. The speeches... the sincere, emotional and heartfelt words of the father of the bride, Alan White, the brutal honesty of the groom and the cringy, mortifying but strangely touching words of the best man!
Now, before I leave you with a longer gallery of photographs here, I'd also like to give a quick summary of all the amazing suppliers involved. If I was to put it at the very end, you might not find it, so here you go!
Venue: Polpier and Penpol
Florists: KarenzaRose Wedding Flowers (Lucy and Michelle)
Make up: Carly Angove – Makeup Artist
Food: Beetham Food: Jamie Beetham
Cake: Wendy Hocking
Wedding Favours: Sally Foster
Video: Ben Foster, Foster Filming
Dress: From Bliss Bridal Gowns, Nansledan – Owned by Tracy Ashton
Dress designer: Wtoo by Watters
Dress restyling, garter and head vine: Roamer Rose (Kyla Prior)
Band: Tregony Teachers
Selfie Pod: Lawrence Videography
Jewellery: Bracelets handmade by Isobel Keilbart
Master of Ceremonies and Venue manager: Amanda Craze
Jamie even made proper Kebabs for everyone later in the evening! Delivered in takeaway boxes for authenticity! Brilliant idea, that's all anyone really wants by this point anyway!
by Ashley Hampson, Cornwall Wedding Photographer - 2019
All my terrible grammar fixed and article proof read by Jacob Appleyard (legend and BFF).