Lizzie & David’s Family Wedding – embracing the scaffolding

Lizzie & David’s wedding was planned around St Josephs Roman Catholic Church in Highgate where Lizzie’s parents and her brother got married. I’d been lucky enough to photograph her brother’s wedding and knew how much the church meant to the whole family. So when a few days before the wedding Lizzie was told there was scaffolding filling the church she was worried and upset. We considered drapes, or flowers but in the end Lizzie & David decided to embrace the scaffolding. It didn’t look the way it had for other family weddings under the high domed roof and beautiful painted ceiling, but it was the same place with all the meaning that this brought – this time with soaring scaffolding like an art installation. Strangely, before they’d found out, they’d chosen for a reading Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Scaffolding’ – which fitted perfectly!

Lizzie chose a stunning dress from high street brand Monsoon, coupled with a perfume she’d found when she lived in Spain and reminded her of her time there. She ordered personalised socks with a secret message on their soles as a wedding gift for David which he wore on the day. After the church ceremony there were family photos full of laughter in Waterlow park, before a walk and some portraits in the gardens. The family arranged for a surprise confetti greeting at The Vine – a local pub where they had their reception. A lot of thought had been put into the family speeches (highlighted index cards were in use!) and they caused much hilarity, before they cut their simple white M&S cake. As a shy couple, they decided not to have a first dance in front of their guests, but instead had a private first dance under the chandeliers.

I thought the simplicity of their day, the importance of family and the way they decided to embrace the scaffolding made this wedding one of the sweetest I’ve captured.

                                                

Click here to see more of my wedding photography and if you’re planning a personal, family wedding I’d love to talk to you about your plans.

The fabulous team who made it happen:

London’s best glasshouse wedding venues

Glasshouses offer one of the most spectacular settings for a wedding. I chose my own wedding venue for it’s beautiful orangery, so glasshouse weddings have a special place in my heart. Whether it’s a plant-filled greenhouse, a high roofed glasshouse or a classical conservatory, choose the style that fits you and plan a wedding with an outdoor feel, no matter the weather!

Here are my top 6 glasshouse venues in the capital…

Syon Park

The Great Conservatory at Syon Park has a beautiful high dome, thin pillars and a delicate metalwork frame filled with glass. You can choose to have a twilight ceremony in the conservatory itself, or take the wooded Queen’s Walk from a ceremony at Syon House for dinner and dancing under the glass dome. The conservatory is available for evenings from April to mid-October, it’s set in beautifully landscaped gardens and can be filled with candles. It’s licensed for 120 people for a ceremony, and can seat 160 for dinner or 200 for a standing buffet.

  

Barbican Conservatory

Hidden away in this iconic Brutalist building is a magical and unexpected space. The Barbican Conservatory is a tropical jungle full of light from walls of windows and glass roof skylights offering views of the city skyline. It’s home to over 2000 species of tropical plants, succulents and palm trees. There are even pools of terrapins and exotic fish – it’s a true urban jungle. The Conservatory is licensed to host wedding ceremonies and the adjoining Garden Room, with its floor to ceiling windows, can seat up to 250 guests for a reception with an incredible view.

  

Chiswick House

Set in a formal Italian Garden full of roses and wisteria is Chiswick Park’s 19th century glasshouse Conservatory. This formal greenhouse is a symmetrical grade I listed building. It has a central circular space under a high roof, with a long greenhouse on each side housing a world-renowned collection of camellias. It can hold 100 guests for a civil ceremony, 24 for a seated dinner or 150 for a drinks and canapé reception.

  

Horniman Museum

The Horniman’s elegant Victorian Conservatory is surrounded by beautiful gardens with views across London. The Grade II listed building was recently restored – with a beautiful tiled floor and additional lighting, and can seat up to 120. But it’s the intricate pattern of glass and cast iron from 1894 that makes this glasshouse really spectacular. It can seat up to 120 guests for a ceremony or wedding breakfast and with the additional of a marquee it can hold up to 150 guests for the reception.

 

Petersham Nurseries

A wonderful mix of greenhouses, flowers and antiques – Petersham Nurseries is tucked away between the river and Richmond Park and offers a range of reception spaces. They have a cosy little greenhouse that heats up so much it’s best for winter weddings (up to 44 guests). Their main restaurant (up to 140 guests) is a beautiful glasshouse scented by bougainvillea and jasmine and decorated in a quirky style with a range of antique furniture, statement mirrors and pieces of art – a veritable treasure trove. Although they don’t have a licence for civil ceremonies they are only a 13 minute drive from York House a 17th century Grade II listed building on the banks of the Thames and less than 5 minutes walk from St Peter’s Church.

 

Kew Gardens

Known for it’s huge Victorian glasshouses filled with tropical plants, there are several venues available at Kew. The stunning Nash Conservatory has a glass roof and floor to ceiling windows on three sides making it feel like you’re getting married outside. For a drinks reception with a difference you can visit the Princess of Wales Conservatory a large glasshouse containing ten different climatic zones, raised walkways and ponds, while the 18th century grade I listed Orangery, with high ceilings and grand arched windows, is the spot for dinner and dancing.

 

As a natural light wedding photographer I seek out light and airy settings, and glasshouses might just be my favourite. I’d love to talk to you about your perfect venue and how I can capture the story of your day – please send me a message.

www.hannahlarkinphotography.com

A traditional Kyrgyz Muslim wedding

Ever wondered what a small, rural wedding is like, in a country few people could spell let alone point to on a map? Where no photographer is present, internet is sparse and so images aren’t generally seen? During my trip to Kyrgyzstan I was honoured to be able to capture Kayrat & Ayzada’s simple Muslim wedding in their home in a small rural village near Lake Issykul.

I was welcomed with smiles and invited to join the family on beautiful patchwork cushions surrounding a low table full of food, in a room hung with carpets. They insisted my friend sat next to the grandmothers and treated her as a VIP, everyone laughing when we dazzled them with one of our six words of Kyrgyz. I met the bride Ayzada, who wore beautiful midnight blue velvet with a dazzling white headscarf, and the groom Kayrat, casual in jeans and a t-shirt but finished with a striking embroidered Kyrgyz hat.

When the Imam arrived and sat with the rest of the family, Ayzada covered her whole head with her scarf and accompanied by her family, she entered the room and knelt on the floor. Kayrat followed taking his place next to her. There was a short speech and prayers by the Imam before the couple were ushered into a smaller room with another table full of food where they fed each other a special milk dish.

The formalities over, bride and groom were dispatched to continue work – helping with the slaughter of a goat and preparing the meat for the meal, and serving tea to the older members of the family. Whilst I photographed, my friend was being introduced to vodka shot toasts and fed delicious dill-flavoured salads, borsook (a type of fried dough, used as a lavish display at celebrations), homemade jams served in cut glass dishes and delicate fried pasties. Meanwhile the children helped Ayzada and her sisters to arrange sweets, nuts and dried fruits on many painted china cake stands.

The family took me out into their garden where I was able to take some family photos – they insisted on taking some with me and my friend as the ‘guests of honour’. I asked to take some portraits of Kayrat and Ayzada which caused surprise, but they were happy to leave their tasks and come with me giving me a chance to use one of my six Kyrgyz words ‘Suluu’ (which means beautiful) to great effect! Ayzada then shyly took me to see the bedroom that had been prepared for them that night, a part of a room separated by a pink curtain decorated with lace, where she asked for a final photograph.

Throughout the day we were a curiosity, the children especially giggling at us and dashing off to hide. I saw a few mobile phones with basic cameras, but felt so happy to be able to send them prints of all their wedding photos – including portraits of each guest for the couple to give out. It was such a privilege to spend time with them on their wedding day, and despite no shared language, to be able to celebrate together.

                                                        

Thanks to my amazing guide Tilek at CBT Kyrgyzstan for connecting me with Kayrat & Ayzada. For more Kyrgyz family life and culture you might also like to read about my stay with an eagle hunter.

And whether you’re planning an adventurous wedding in some far flung destination, an intimate at-home celebration or something in between, please send me a message – I’d love to talk to you about your plans and how I can capture the story of your wedding day.

www.hannahlarkinphotography.com

 

Jo & Ali’s festival wedding

There are so many things I love about this wedding – and I’m not the only one! Featured on top wedding blog Love My Dress, free-spirited bohemian inspiration blog Festival Brides and an article on Huffington Post about genius wedding ideas, it was such fun to photograph.

Jo & Ali’s fabulous Glastonbury-inspired festival wedding on a rainy day in Oxford was full of personal touches, quirky details and handmade items. Jo created a stunning look with a veil over her stylish pixie haircut, short dress, gorgeous heels with a lucky sixpence (later swapped for pink flip-flops) and personalised nail art. They had masses of bright, locally grown flowers arranged in an eclectic collection of teapots, rugby-playing superhero figures on top of their cake and miles of homemade bunting. After a moving ceremony in the beautiful Catholic Church of Saint Gregory and Augustine they travelled in style (vintage buses for guests, an orange campervan for the couple) to The Perch, a lovely pub by the river. Here they enjoyed picnic style sharing feasts, laughter-filled speeches and took advantage of a break in the rain for riverside portraits at dusk. They ended the night with a silent disco that had everyone on their feet. Jo and Ali each created a playlists of their favourites and with the headphones’ coloured lights showing which playlist guests were listening to, there was lots of hilarity as new songs started, two very different dancing styles mixed or people were persuaded to switch over!

                                                    

Jo & Ali chose ‘Flaws’ by Bastille for their first dance – I loved this acoustic version and used it for their wedding story slideshow:

Click here to see more of my wedding photography and if you’re planning a fabulous, personal, quirky wedding I’d love to talk to you about your plans.

The fabulous team who made it happen:

Sile & Andrew’s wedding on the Thames

Sile & Andrew created a wonderfully personal wedding. They mixed Irish & English cultures & foods, incorporated literary references for English teacher Sile and nautical touches fitting for their wedding on the Tereza Joanne boat on the Thames. With beautiful stationery and welcoming words from talented friends they wished their guests céad míle fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes. They described the day ahead as “the meeting and melding of two distinct cultures: Corkonian & Birkenheadian: Irish & English: Roy Keane & Dixie Dean”.

Waiting for the bride, Andrew was checking his gold pocket watch, kept company by gorgeous identical twin page boys looking dapper in bowties. Sile chose a beautiful tea length dress, the skirt covered with lace flowers, ‘something blue’ shoes and a nautical necklace. She asked both her parents to walk with her down the aisle for an intimate ceremony on deck. Later there were portraits on the dock against the London cityscape and then lots of speeches full of laughter. As the sun set, there was an incredible pink sky reflected in the water and Sile & Andrew snuck out with me to enjoy the last light of the day, before a private first dance on deck surrounded by the city lights and happily ever after cupcakes.

                                                        

You can see their wedding story:

Click to see more of my wedding photography, and if you’re looking for a wedding photographer I’d love to talk to you about your plans.

Top garden wedding venues in London

Looking for a garden wedding venue in London? There’s something so romantic about a garden wedding – but you might not know these very different garden venues in Central London… Whatever your style there’s a garden to fit – from tropical roof terraces to secret walled gardens, urban jungles to quirky garden centres, huge botanical greenhouses to the smallest Royal Palace. Here are my top 5 garden venues in the capital:

The Tropical Garden – The Roof Gardens

Walking in Kensington you’d never know that up on the rooftop there’s a tropical paradise – and once you’re there you’ll forget you’re in London. On the 6th floor of the building you find beautiful garden complete with terraces and courtyards, archways and streams… and flamingos! There are three distinct styles of garden. First a Spanish garden based on the Alhambra with pastel buildings and formal symmetrical layout of paths and waterways, colourful flowers, palms and elegant cypress trees. Then a Tudor Garden comprising elegant arched walkways and three walled courtyards shaded by large umbrellas. Finally, an English Woodland Garden with a twist – thousands of bulbs under the trees, a grassy lawn and winding stream complete with exotic ducks and flamingos.

In the centre of these three gardens is a clubhouse with large windows looking out onto the garden, which is licensed for civil ceremonies (up to 150 guests). You can hire the garden exclusively (100 guests or more) for your ceremony and reception.

  

The Secret Garden – Chelsea Physic Garden

This hidden gem, a secret walled garden, is right in the heart of Chelsea. London’s oldest botanic gardens, it was founded in 1673 and is tucked away by the Thames. With beautiful greenhouses, lawns for lounging and little winding paths through the flowers it’s perfect for romantic walks and relaxed wedding portraits. The garden itself has a warm microclimate so you can stroll in comfort, admiring over 100 different species of trees, ponds full of water lilies and romantic secluded benches surrounded by climbing plants.

Although the garden isn’t licensed for civil ceremonies the central location means it’s only a 10 minute walk from the beautiful Chelsea Old Town Hall where there are rooms to suit every ceremony size (from 8 guests in the Harrington Room up to 360 in the Main Hall). You can exclusively hire the whole garden on Saturdays so your guests are free to explore, if you have more than 90 guests then a marquee is advisable.

 

The Urban Jungle Barbican Conservatory

If you love the idea of garden wedding but want to keep an urban feel to your day, then the Barbican Conservatory is the place for you. The Barbican is a Grade II listed building which opened in 1982. As one of the most iconic Brutalist buildings in the world, it’s distinctive with a very urban style. However, hidden away is a tropical jungle in the Barbican Conservatory. This magical and unexpected space is full of light from the walls of windows and glass roof skylights offering views of the city skyline. It is home to over 2000 species of tropical plants, succulents and palm trees. There are even pools of terrapins and exotic fish – a true urban jungle.

The Conservatory is licensed to host wedding ceremonies and the adjoining Garden Room, with its floor to ceiling windows, can seat up to 250 guests for a reception with an incredible view.

     

The Quirky Working Garden – Petersham Nurseries

A wonderful mix of greenhouses, flowers and antiques – Petersham Nurseries is tucked away between the river and Richmond Park. They have a range of different spaces from a courtyard covered in vines, wisteria and roses perfect for al fresco dining (up to 85 guests), to a cosy little greenhouse that heats up so much it’s best for October-May weddings (up to 44 guests). Their main restaurant (up to 140 guests) is a beautiful glasshouse scented by bougainvillea and jasmine and decorated in a quirky style with a range of antique furniture, statement mirrors and pieces of art – a veritable treasure trove.

Although they don’t have a licence for civil ceremonies they are only a 13 minute drive from York House a 17th century Grade II listed building on the banks of the Thames. There you can have your ceremony in the Terrace Room (up to 50 guests) with french doors opening out onto the terrace, the Loggia Room (up to 75 guests) overlooking the garden, or the Salon (up to 70 guests). Alternatively, St Peter’s Church in Petersham is just round the corner less than 5 minutes walk. You can exclusively hire the nurseries (50 guests or more) so your guests are free to explore, and delicious food is provided with vegetables, herbs & edible flowers grown in the walled garden.

The Biggest Garden – Kew Gardens

Probably the best known and certainly the biggest London garden, this UNESCO world heritage site has the largest and most diverse collection of living plants in the world. Featuring the Palm House, a huge Victorian glasshouse filled with tropical plants in a rainforest climate and acres of landscaped garden, it’s a botanist’s dream.

You can get married at Kew Gardens in a civil ceremony (up to 200 guests) in the stunning Nash Conservatory – with a glass roof and floor to ceiling windows on three sides you’ll feel like you’re getting married outside. If you opt for a religious wedding ceremony this can take place in the Sir Joseph Banks building (up to 200 guests) with large windows giving a view out over the lake. For a drinks reception with a difference you can visit the Princess of Wales Conservatory a large glasshouse containing ten different climatic zones, raised walkways and ponds. The 18th century grade I listed Orangery, with high ceilings and grand arched windows, is the spot for dinner and dancing.

Alternatively for smaller celebrations you can have your civil ceremony (up to 80 guests) and reception (up to 120 guests) in Cambridge Cottage a former royal residence with a drawing room and a gallery of botanic artwork opening onto a quiet and secluded garden. Or in Britain’s smallest Royal Palace – Kew Palace. Set in the quiet Queen’s Garden within Kew Gardens, this red limewashed palace offers a variety of rooms available for your reception (up to 60 guests or 30 for dinner).

     

I love garden weddings, especially when the venue lets your personality shine through. I’d love to talk to you about your perfect venue and how I can photograph the story of your day.

www.hannahlarkinphotography.com

Dana & Eoin’s American Irish Wedding

Dana & Eoin are a wonderful couple – it would be hard to find two more generous, warm & welcoming people. Dana is American & Eoin is from Ireland – they met in New York City, got engaged in a proposal where the ring fell into a Lake & celebrated their wedding on both sides of the Atlantic.

The first celebration took place in Annapolis. Dana & Eoin chose to continue a family tradition and get married in the stunning US Naval Academy Chapel before a sunlight filled reception at Ogle Hall – just as her parents had done. Dana wore a beautiful long lace gown from Pronovias, paired with sparkly Badgley Mischka shoes. She gifted a pair of engraved cufflinks to Eoin and he included a touch of Irish influence with a thistle buttonhole. Before the ceremony, they passed a note through a doorway, staying hidden from each other. Dana shared a photograph with me of her parents standing in the doorway of Ogle Hall on their wedding day & I was happy to be able to recreate it both with Dana & Eoin, & also with Dana’s parents.

Special touches at the reception included a message in a bottle guest book continuing the Naval theme, & adorable advice for Dana from the children she taught. This included traditional wisdom such as “say I love you every day and hold his hand”, some supportive suggestions like “don’t be scared to kiss” & “get a puppy” and a the more unusual tip: “don’t wrestle with your dad at the wedding”! Golden evening light was perfect for portraits, before cutting the cake with it’s romantic dipping dancers and then taking to the dance floor to a live band.

                                                                   

The second celebration was a lively Irish celebration in the little village of Ballyvaughan near Galway Bay, where American & Irish flags flew against a blue sky by the ocean. The Burren Atlantic Hotel was filled with laughter, music & dancing as family & friends performed & sang traditional folk tunes. I was honoured to be there to capture both parts of the celebration – congratulations Dana & Eoin!

     

You can see their wedding story:

Click to see more of my wedding photography, and if you’re looking for a wedding photographer for the UK or overseas I’d love to talk to you about your plans.

Relaxed first dances to match your personality

How to choose a song and tell your story, whether you’re shy with two left feet or a pro who loves the spotlight. Here are my ten top tips for finding a first dance you can relax and enjoy, from a choreographed masterpiece to a private moment for non-dancers.

Planning your first dance is often left to the last minute, but it’s a great opportunity to choose something unique and personal – and it’s often where some of my favourite photos are captured. Maybe you can’t agree on a song or you hate the idea of being the centre of attention. Maybe you’re looking to include your story and culture or you want to perform a grand finale. Relax – there’s a perfect first dance for everyone.

1. Choose a song that makes you smile

It can be hard to choose a song – it doesn’t have to be romantic or even seasonal (my first dance was to “All I want for Christmas” and I got married in September!) just something that makes you smile. If it’s hard to pick only one, try a mix tape with clips from all your favourites or even a song from each year you’ve been together. And if your tastes are totally different you can always go for rival playlists in a silent disco dance off!

  

2. Embrace the romance

You don’t have to be a dance professional to have a first dance – it’s fine to just hold each other and enjoy the moment. Some couples feel more relaxed with simple steps to follow and there are many dance instructors who can tailor something just for you.

  

3. Go for it and laugh!

Who cares if you aren’t ‘Strictly’ standard – just learn a ballroom hold, throw in the odd twirl, go for it and laugh your way through. Remember enthusiasm is both appealing and infectious – you’ll soon have all your guests up and dancing!

 

4. Escape the spotlight

If you can’t stand to have others watching, then how about a private first dance? Head into the ballroom before your guests or escape for a few minutes to dance under the stars.

  

5. Tell your story

First dances don’t have to be all music – some couples have recorded voice overs telling the story of their romance. And you can even use props and act out your proposal.

 

6. Showcase your culture

First dances can also be a chance to share your culture or passion – whether it’s ceilidh dancing with a folk band, showing off some salsa style or breaking out your best Bollywood moves.

7. Involve your wedding party

Consider getting your wedding party to join you for a conga line, a choreographed group dance or get everyone on their feet and dance and dazzle your way through the crowd.

 

8. Let the little ones shine

Little guests always add cuteness and often steal the show.

  

9. Solo spots

For those with killer moves, keep everyone’s eyes on you and step into the spotlight for a solo.

 

10. Grand finale

Want a first dance that no one will forget? Take centre stage with dramatic twirls, streamers and confetti canons – end with a kiss, or sweep your bride right off her feet.

  

Good luck finding the perfect first dance to suit your personality!

And if you’re looking for a wedding photographer who loves weddings where personality shines through, it would be lovely to hear from you. Let’s tell your story.

www.hannahlarkinphotography.com

A modern twist on an Asian bridal look

I love weddings where elements of culture and tradition are updated or combined with quirky details to truly express the personalities of the couple. I find Indian bridal jewellery beautiful and intriguing – the intricate elements all combine to create a stunning look. But whilst I’ve photographed traditional styles before, I wanted to find a way to keep the important cultural elements, but with an up to date modern style.

Beautiful model and dancer Nikita, showed off the maharani neckline green blouse and pink high waisted bridal lengha perfectly. Choosing these bright colours rather than traditional golds and reds, already introduces a modern look. Continuing these colours into the makeup, Shreya Pandya used a pink lipstick and a brilliant green eyeliner on the lower rims, creating dramatic emphasis to her deep brown eyes. She added a graded silver shadow to the lids and accentuated the look with eyelash extensions, sculpting the face with blusher to accentuate Nikita’s high cheekbones.

Shreya styled long loose curls, carefully pinned to frame Nikita’s face. Opting, instead of the traditional centre parting and tikka, for a side parting combined with a beautiful white passa with accents of green and pink to match the lengha to create a very different look. Long matching earrings were used together with a large hoop natha or nose ring with a diamond flower. Picking up on the diamond, the white statement 18 strand necklace completed the look.

Choosing bright accent colours, for both the the bridal lengha, jewellery and makeup – together with a side parting and passa without a tikka, allows the traditional Indian bridal style to be updated, giving a fresh modern look.

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Creative Team:
Model Nikkita Chadha
Hair & MUA Shreya Pandya
Clothing Maahira
Jewellery Nishel

I’d love to connect, find me on Instagram @hannahlarkinphotography or visit my website.