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.

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.

2016 Wedding Highlights

At the start of each year I like to look over my weddings from the year before and remind myself of the special moments I’ve been privileged to capture. In 2016 I was lucky enough to travel and photograph weddings across two continents, witnessing colourful Bengali & Hindu weddings, traditional church services and intimate civil ceremonies. I was able to tell the story of close friends as well as finding new friends in couples who booked me.


Wedding Venues

I photographed a huge range of venues in 2016, from schools decked with paper pompoms to marquees filled with bunting, soaring naval chapels to small local churches, grand manor houses to university college halls, pubs alive with music to brightly decorated hotel suites, small registry offices and even a boat on the Thames. Three of the wedding venues were chosen as the bride or groom’s parents had celebrated their marriage there, making the celebrations part of a family tradition.


Wedding Rings & Jewellery

I like to find a way to capture something of the day when I’m photographing the rings, incorporating the colour theme,  wedding stationery or foliage. Rings included engravings, shaped bands, solitaires and eternity bands. Last year I particularly enjoyed learning more about traditional Indian wedding jewellery, photographing intricate golden tikkas, nathas and the mangala sutra. I also loved seeing grooms choosing special pieces for their day: from engraved cufflinks to pocket watches.


Wedding Flowers & Cakes

I saw a variety of wedding flowers last year, from all white bouquets to deep red buttonholes, thistles and home grown flowers, with a relaxed rather than overly formal feel – including table arrangements in teapots! And in wedding cakes I saw lots of personal touches, from swooning dancers to super hero cake toppers, simple tiered white cakes to decorated towers of cheeses, gold trimmed icing to individual cupcakes.


Bridesmaids & Groomsmen

Choosing just a handful of groups to photograph gives you time to celebrate with your squad. And whilst I capture more formal group portraits my favourites are always seeing groups relaxed and laughing, enjoying themselves. Different shades or mix and match dresses were popular with my brides last year, whilst groomsmen attire featured tailcoats & pinstrips, kilts and ties of every colour! I like to see the different approaches bestmen take to keeping the groom calm and see the banter between friends – including kisses on the cheek & sneaky peeks under kilts!


Little Touches & Little Guests

I love to see how couples make their wedding their own and am a huge fan of unique or quirky touches. Last year I admired beautiful henna designs, Venetian masks and bubble guns instead of confetti. Also a big hit were the groom’s socks with a hidden secret message, Charlotte Mills shoes with a silver sixpence in the sole for luck and wedding wellies! In the speeches there were surprise appearances from childhood toys and a groomsman dressing up as the groom to mass hilarity. One bride and groom passed a love letter before their ceremony and instead of a guest book asked friends to put a message in a bottle, while other couples asked guests to sign photo frames or canvas prints of their engagement photos. As well as these special little touches, there were also special little guests, some incredibly cute flower-girls and pageboys (including a pair of identical twins) with a range of bow-ties, braces, flower crowns and ear defenders!


Wedding Portraits & First Dances

With all these beautiful venues I was lucky to have lots of incredible settings to photograph couples. From flower filled private gardens to riverside walks, carved arches to beautiful doorways, docks with pink sunset reflected in the water to winding woodland paths illuminated with fairy lights. I also enjoyed a range of dances, from secret first dances under the stars to choreographed masterpieces complete with confetti canons, brass band music to energetic ceilidhs, romantic slow dances to festival inspired silent discos.

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I loved all the weddings I was honoured to photograph last year, especially all the ways they were unique and personal. I feel so lucky to get to see the nerves and excitement, the blushes and laughter and most of all the pride and love of a wedding day. I’m excited about 2017 & if  you’re getting married this year, I’d love to talk to you about capturing your special wedding story.

Back to school soundtrack

Last year I blogged about the songs providing the backdrop to my summer – time has flown and now it’s ‘back to school’ time! Here are the five top tunes I’m happy to have stuck on my iPhone and in my head:

1). I’m gonna be (500 miles) by Sleeping at Last

When the bride and groom told me their first dance would be to “I would walk 500 miles” I couldn’t really picture it! But I had no need to worry about the bride attempting to march in a long white dress to the Proclaimers 80s hit – often played to rouse Scottish football fans. This beautiful ballad version set to a simple piano accompaniment is just so romantic and dreamy it makes a perfect first dance.

2). Suitcase full of sparks by Gregory Alan Isakov

I’m a big fan of crime drama and recently finished the latest series of The Blacklist. I love the show, but when this song was played as part of the soundtrack I struggled to focus on the plot. It’s a haunting tune with an amazing mix of instruments and vocal backing – I think there’s a banjo and accordion in the mix. The melody and refrain “honey I’m just trying to find my way to you” are sure to stick in your head. I can’t wait to see him supporting Passenger in November!

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3). Carrier of a secret by Sissel

A trip to the arctic circle at Easter let me tick off an item from my bucket list – a visit to the ice hotel. During my Scandinavian trip, I was reminded of the amazing Norwegian singer Sissel. Her voice, especially for the highest notes, is as pure and clear as the river ice that forms the hotel. I listened to her songs on cassette and later CD while revising for exams at school and university and I’ve loved reacquainting myself with old favourites.

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4). Shut up and dance with me by Walk the Moon

One of the couples whose wedding I photographed this year found a clever way to keep their party going late without disturbing the neighbours – they had a silent disco! With headphones lit in red for the bride’s playlist and blue for the groom’s it was great to see the lights change colour as different songs came on. I’m not sure whether this song was on the bride or groom’s playlist but with its strong beat it had everyone jumping around and dancing! It’s now my go-to energising song for an instant boost.

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5). Holiday in Spain by Counting Crows

Karaoke (in a private room, not on a stage) is one of our favourite ways to spend an evening. I generally think musical ability is not really required – it’s all about passion and enthusiasm! However when a friend of a friend chose this song (which I’d never heard before) and sang it beautifully, I instantly loved it and bought the Counting Crows version there and then. I think it’s perfect and as autumn begins, it leaves me dreaming of jetting off for some sunshine.

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So that was the soundscape to my summer. I love stumbling upon new artists or being prompted to rediscover old favourites – so please leave any recommendations!

Rebecca & Patrick’s Blackheath Wedding Reception

I don’t normally photograph only the evening reception of a wedding – but when my friends Rebecca & Patrick’s photographer finished before the cutting of the cake or the first dance I was glad I had my camera with me at the Hare & Billet pub in Blackheath. Rather than giving a number of hours that I work, when I photograph a wedding I simply say that I’ll be there from bridal preparations through to the first dance – so there’s no stress if things run late. Sometimes the first dance gives some of the most romantic images of the day – and with such an incredible backless wedding dress I’m so glad I was able to capture them for my friends. Congratulations Rebecca & Patrick!

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

Chris & Sophie’s Emotional Wedding

I was happy to work with Phil Smith to capture this very emotional wedding. Sophie’s dad passed away and she said that she’d never get married without him there. However, when her partner Chris, father to her three children, proposed she decided to plan a wedding with many special touches to make it almost feel as if her dad was there. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church (mine included) when the Vicar explained the rings were being delivered as a sign of blessing from Sophie’s dad and a barn owl swept down the aisle with the rings. This was followed by the couple releasing doves before getting into a handsome horse-drawn carriage whilst their guests travelled to the Merry Fiddlers reception venue in a classic routemaster bus.

At the reception the attention to detail continued with a wishing well, giant illuminated LOVE letters on a sparkling dance floor and lots of mementos throughout the marquee, pub and garden. To eat there was a seafood stall, a hog roast, a traditional ice cream trike and an incredible cake table. And after a first dance to ‘All of me’, Sophie’s dad was remembered again as she danced with her brother, who had walked her down the aisle, to ‘Dance with my father again’. There was entertainment from some talented Irish dances before everyone joined the dance floor to celebrate. I was honoured to be a part of this beautiful and moving family wedding – congratulations Sophie & Chris!

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You can see more of my wedding photography here.

Sat & Amy’s Wedding in Tuscany

Sat & Amy have been friends since they met at Manchester University back in 2004 and their romance began with Sat telling Amy: “what happened to you over the summer? You’ve really improved!” at the start of their second year! Amy had always wanted to get married in Italy – they’d spent several holidays in Tuscany and fell in love with the beautiful area around Fiesole near Florence. On a hot, perfect, August day they got married at Antico Spedale del Bigallo, a simple town hall, beautifully decorated with peach and cream flowers and full of family and friends. Amy looked stunning in an elegant Suzanne Neville wedding dress and long veil. After their ceremony, they travelled in style in a classic Alvis convertible to Villa di Maiano. There, they served an Italian banquet outdoors on the terrace with a breath-taking view of Florence as the sun set. After speeches under the stars, guests watched as a chef made a traditional Italian wedding cake – a millefoglie (cake of a thousand layers) – for the happy couple to cut, before dancing until dawn.

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You can see more wedding photography here.

My summer soundtrack

When I find a song I like I become quite obsessive. It’s not unusual for me to have a handful of songs on repeat for weeks – when I find something I like, I stick with it! At the moment I have five favourite songs on repeat – a mix of rock, pop and country…

1) Homegrown by Zac Brown Band

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I did a road trip in the states this summer and travelling through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming I decided I needed a soundtrack of American country music to accompany me. The Zac Brown Band is from Georgia on the other side of the USA but fitted perfectly for the long drive. Homegrown is my favourite from the Jekyll & Hyde album – it’s super catchy and I love the lyrics “I’ve got everything I need”.

2) Steal My Girl by One Direction 

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We spent several days in Vancouver and at the last minute we decided we wanted to spend our final night at a gig. We googled and found One Direction were playing at BC Place – with cheap tickets left we headed there. I only knew a handful of their songs before and this was a new one for me that I bought after the show.

3) All Of Me by Jasmine Thompson

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One of the couples whose wedding I photographed this summer chose this song for their first dance. I’d never heard it before and I love it. The incredibly talented singer Samantha Harvey performed it and Jasmine Thompson’s version is the closest I could find. It makes a great first dance, slow and intimate with beautiful lyrics: “All of me, loves all of you – love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections”.

4) Superheroes by The Script

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I heard this on the radio the other morning and it fired me up for the day. It has a good beat for working out and will stick in your head. If you need a dose of determination then the lyrics “every day, every hour, turn the pain into power” will inspire you to keep you going!

5) Phone In A Pool by Ben Folds

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Ben Folds Five was part of the soundtrack to my school days and I was very excited to see him perform at the Royal Albert Hall with YMusic last month. He’s so talented and also has a great ironic sense of humour. He told the story of how he threw his mobile in a hotel pool, and the song he wrote about this has quickly became my favourite from his new album ‘So There’ which was released a few days ago.

So that’s been my summer soundtrack – as autumn starts I’ll be looking for some warming and cheery tunes before I happily dive headfirst into my favourite Christmas songs! I love to discover different singers and bands so please leave recommendations below for me to try out.