Wedding Morning Preparations at Dodford Grange
Hannah and Niall’s wedding took place in February 2020, so was a really special one for all of us involved, as it was one of the last weddings to take place before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, and life as we know it changed so drastically! I was so pleased for them that they were able to have their perfect day before all of that happened, and it just goes to show that picking a Winter wedding date can have its advantages!
Hannah and Niall were getting ready at the stunning Dodford Grange, and this lovely B&B is perfectly situated for Dodford Manor, so I’d definitely recommend it if you are looking for a place to stay the night before (or the night of) your wedding. It was a beautiful sunny morning and, although there had been a bit of rain earlier that morning, there was nothing but blue skies to be seen by the time I arrived to photograph their wedding prep. The space available at Dodford Grange is perfect for wedding preparations, and Hannah and the bridal party enjoyed a lovely relaxed brunch with champagne, fruits, pastries and antipasti before starting on hair and make-up – what better way to start off your wedding morning?! Niall was in a separate part of the house and had the perfect set-up with a snooker table and some funny props which made for a really fun atmosphere for the groom prep too!
Back with the girls, hair and make-up were in full swing and it was a hive of activity, so I was able to get some great shots of all of the preparations and the stunning flowers, dress and shoes – I have to give a special mention to the shoes because they were so unique, and had an awesome colourful floral pattern on the soles as well, so it was great being able to get a few shots of these as I know Hannah loved them and they added something really special to her already gorgeous outfit! I also love the staircase at Dodford Grange which is the perfect place to get that all important dress shot!
Hannah and Niall’s vows were written out ready for the ceremony, so I managed to get a nice shot of those as she read through them and got prepared whilst having her hair done. I also spent some time photographing orders of service and rings – Hannah had created the orders of service herself and they looked fantastic, so wanted to make sure these were captured, and I loved the bespoke wooden holder which they had for the rings, engraved with their initials! Another great personal and unique touch! Once Hannah was ready, I took some shots of her in the bridal suite taking a few moments to herself, and the gorgeous big armchair in the room was perfect for this – a really comfortable and relaxed spot to just have a breather before the whirlwind of the big day ensues!
Wedding Ceremony at Dodford Manor
After all the preparations were complete, it was time to get married! The weather started to turn a little bit and as she stepped out of the car the wind was really blowing hard as she made her entrance to the barn, but look how calm and happy she looks – it didn’t bother her in the least! As Hannah walked down the aisle it was a really emotional moment, and there were definitely some misty eyes, but you could see in her face how incredibly happy she was and it was just a wonderful moment. I love the set-up of the room as well – the big blue balloons they had chosen were the perfect backdrop for walking down the aisle and complimented the theme of the wedding perfectly.
The ceremony was so touching and personal with their own vows, and after the signing of the register it was time for them to leave the barn as man and wife – but not before we’d done some confetti! I loved their choice of bubbles instead of traditional confetti for this moment, and you can see everyone is having so much fun!
After the Ceremony
After the ceremony, drinks were served, and there was an added highlight of a doughnut wall at this point – surely there can be no greater invention than this?! – alongside some more traditional and equally delicious canapes. We tried some family shots outside, but it was pretty windy, so rather than getting a bunch of photos with everyone’s hair in their eyes we decided to do some more of those inside later on when everyone felt a bit warmer and more comfortable! Generally wind is the last thing you want, both as a bride and as a photographer, but it did lead us to getting a few awesome shots of Hannah’s veil, which I love! The veil was another really nice, unique touch, as it sat over her shoulders almost like a cape. The detailing on it was so elegant, not only was it helping to keep her warm on a chilly February day, but it looked incredible too! We managed to get some lovely couples shots as well, in spite of the wind!
Back inside the drinks reception we got a nice group shot of everyone (with me looking down from the balcony), before we were treated to some musical entertainment. Hannah’s father, brother and close family friend are all musical, so they brought their guitars and sang a special song for the bride and groom and guests. Hannah was clearly moved and really touched by this special moment, and it added such a wonderful personal atmosphere to their drinks reception!
Dancing and Sparklers
The wedding breakfast was lovely, and the speeches were great as Hannah’s Dad is a teacher, so was a really good public speaker. He’d even brought along some printouts with some funny photos and memories to embarrass the bride and groom, which went down well with everyone! After the speeches, we went outside for a sparkler shot (top tip – buy the extra long ones to get the best shots!), always one of my favourite moments as a photographer and definitely something I’d recommend if you’re considering this, as it adds a whole new dimension to your wedding album! I then took Hannah and Niall over to the other barn for 10 minutes on their own, and was able to get some great shots of them dancing over there. They wanted a bit of time out to practice, as they had choreographed an amazing routine for their first dance, so it felt like a big privilege for me to be one of the first to see it, and I was hugely impressed! Again, a bit of time on your own to practice your dance is not only a great moment for the two of you to have, but can also result in some really nice pictures as I can get a bit closer and there is nothing else going on in the background, so this is worth considering if you’d like those sort of shots for your collection. I can confirm, Hannah and Niall’s guests were as wowed by their first dance as I was, when they did it for real!
To finish the night off, it was time for some more musical entertainment – not only are Hannah’s father and brother musical, but she is too! So it was really special to see them all playing and singing together on her big day. The song was one which they had written themselves and had a lot of special memories for them, so this was such a nice personal addition to their evening celebrations. To round things off in the perfect way, their dog even came to say hello at the end of the evening, and you could see how happy they both were to be sharing that special time together – a really magical moment for all three of them to be together on their wedding day.