Tag Archives: wedding photographer

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

www.hannahlarkinphotography.com

Meera & Raj – St Paul’s sunset engagement

After introducing me to the hidden gem of Pergola & Hill Garden in Hampstead for the first part of their engagement shoot, Meera & Raj opted for a more well-known spot for sunset. Raj’s favourite part of London is the Millennium Bridge with its view of St Paul’s Cathedral. We met on the steps of St Paul’s at the start of the golden hour as the sun started to set. I love the huge scale of the doors & pillars, and the beauty of the building’s white stonework. Sitting on the steps also allowed Raj to show off his impressive eyebrow agility! We found a quiet alleyway that gives beautiful reflections of the cathedral, before heading down to the Millennium Bridge for sunset & a dreamy blue dusk.

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If you’re just engaged please get in touch so we can plan a relaxed and romantic engagement session that fits your story. Or if you’re planning a special proposal I’d love to find a way to capture the moment, whether you’d like to propose during a couple shoot or arrange for me to be in your chosen location to photograph it discreetly.

www.hannahlarkinphotography.com

Christmas Wreath Workshop – Joanne Truby

Joanne Truby is an incredible florist who I was lucky to work with with on a festive Asian bridal shoot for the Secret Wedding blog last year. This year I was excited to join one of her Christmas wreath workshops at the Traflagar Tavern in Greenwich. I’ve never made a wreath before so when Joanne and her team unpacked a huge variety of foliage, flowers, berries and dried fruits for us to choose from, and I was faced with a simple circle and a reel of wire, it felt slightly overwhelming! However, along with instruction sheets, Christmas carols, hot chocolate and candy canes, Joanne kept us calm and cheery while she demonstrated three clear stages. Firstly, we created a ‘sausage’ of moss to fill the frame. Secondly, we covered this with our choice of foliage – I went for a mix of pine, rosemary, eucalyptus and berried ivy. Finally, we were let loose to choose our decorations – it was hard to pick from so many beautiful options including holly, whole limes, sliced oranges and apples, cinnamon sticks, crab apples, ribbons and flowers… in the end I decided to stick with a green and blue winter theme and used thistles, viburnum berries, dried lavender, poppy seed heads and a fir cone. The whole workshop was wonderfully festive (it wasn’t just me in a Christmas jumper) and it was great fun getting my hands dirty while somehow managing to create a finished wreath! Everyone created a beautiful wreath. It was amazing how different they all looked – from classic red holly wreaths to floral hydrangea-filled ones, ivy dripping with colourful fruits and my very own wintery blue wreath.

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Thanks again Joanne for a wonderful afternoon – I’ll be enjoying my beautiful wreath all December!

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www.hannahlarkinphotography.com