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We have each other

I started to write another of those, “Well what a year it’s been y’all, but if we all stick together…” roundups that you’ve no doubt deleted unread this month. But instead I decided to write something real, whilst trying my hardest not to swear. You already know this year has been awful for the wedding business, largely because we’re trying to keep operating (not officially required to close) with almost no customers. It’s easy to think only about your own problems. But you don’t have to try very hard to notice all kinds of other people who are having a hard or harder time than you. The reasons are so unfair. If you’re older, vulnerable, had kids to educate during lockdown, lonely, lost your job, worked in healthcare, or have slept in your lorry on the M20 for several nights, none of the extra crap you’re dealing with is your fault!

But I’m not going to throw the whole ‘be thankful, other people have it worse than you, there are starving children who would love those extra sprouts’ bible at you either. That doesn’t cut it when it comes to 2020. (They are right of course.)

When times are hard our faith in human nature is severely tested. I get so cross at inconsiderate people driving dangerously or blasting the horn because the person in front has the nerve to be turning right where they’re allowed to. Or shoving into me in the supermarket because their shopping is actually important and mine can’t possibly be. I try to remember that some of these folks are going through a harder time than I am. Or maybe they’re not and I’m just better at handling life than they are. That’s fine buddy, I understand. You do you. Of course sometimes they’re just assholes. I’d probably rather have a few false negatives – give a few assholes the benefit of the doubt – than blow up at even one person who’s just lost a loved one or their home or career or relationship. There will always be assholes among us. But one small favour for 2021 – can we at least stop putting them in charge??

My favourite film in the world is ‘Contact’ from 1997. Directed by Robert Zemeckis of Back To The Future fame, it could literally have been written just for me: Sci-fi, astronomy, childhood loss, and the clash of science and religion. Watch it if you can. It’s long, and could easily have been two separate movies. In the first half, Dr. Ellie Arroway is listening for signals from space sent by aliens. This is an actual scientific thing people really do. It’s a thankless and often mocked endeavour listening to the silence of space, but impossible for many to resist because according to all the numbers, the alien civilisations OUGHT to be out there. We can’t fully explain why we haven’t heard from them, except maybe we haven’t been listening long enough. Don’t get me started on the Drake Equation. It’s too far off-topic.

As you might predict, Ellie (played by Jodie Foster) DOES detect a signal. There’s controversy, global hysteria, and huge repercussions for all kinds of beliefs and philosophies. The movie could have ended there, with ambiguity but the promise of future discoveries and a fresh outlook for the people of Earth. But it doesn’t. The message turns out to be blueprints for a gigantic machine which we presume is the Earth station of an interstellar transport system, and we ACTUALLY BUILD IT!

In the second part of the film there’s a lot of debate about which one human being should be sent on this historic trip. Which one of us should be sent to represent all of us? Should we send a scientist, a politician, a religious leader? In the end Ellie goes, and in one beautiful crescendo while floating in zero gravity she sees some awesome celestial event. It looks like a galaxy, or a star system being born. Ellie was partly chosen as a scientist who could understand the mathematical nature of the message, and a communicator who could describe what she sees to the world afterwards. But staring in open-mouthed awe at the literally stunning sight she can barely sob out the words, “They should have sent a poet.”

Later on she does get to meet and talk to an alien… sort of. And although she has thousands of questions, he says she can’t ask them all at once. This was a first step, and there must be many more. How does the transport system even work? He doesn’t know – they didn’t build it. They just found it. It must have been left behind by the ones that went before. In the end he tells Ellie (and this is really my point!) that we humans are an interesting species. An interesting mix. We’re capable of such beautiful dreams and such terrible nightmares. And we think we are all alone in the universe, but we’re not. He says they don’t have all the answers, but the one thing they’ve found that makes the darkness bearable is… each other.

Many more people are spending Christmas on their own this year. Not because they have no family, just because of this weird and screwy situation we’re in, and because they’re admirably doing the right thing. Like I said before, this pandemic will cost something from all of us. We were naive to think it wouldn’t. And that’s taken various forms for different people. So whatever you’re facing at this point in life friend, please know you are never alone. We may have different beliefs – good grief I’ve even held many different beliefs at different times all on my own! But whatever your religion, tradition, philosophy or hogwarts house there’s one thing I know we can ALL have. We have each other. Call or text us any time if you’re feeling blue and we’ll tell you stupid jokes.

Peace and love, and a very happy Christmas to you! From Richard & Kate.

Tom & Jade’s Mythe Barn Wedding

Rolling up to Mythe Barn with Kate on the 12th of September this year felt a bit like coming home. Despite the grandness of the place, the overwhelming feeling I always get is one of welcome and the promise of a really good day ahead of you. With smiles so warm you can see them in the eyes despite people’s face masks.

Back when we first met Tom and Jade of course none of us knew what was coming this year. The wedding business has been turned on it’s head for sure, and quite understandably many couples have opted to postpone, even where they could have gone ahead with smaller numbers. But Tom and Jade decided the most important thing was to actually be married. And at the time photographers had to be included in your 30, so we were all the more honoured to be asked to photograph and film the big day.

Knowing there would be many people who couldn’t attend we managed to fit a bit more video into our plans so they could watch the ceremony and speeches afterwards. But our main video production was their highlights film, which we’re so proud to share over on vimeo here.

Thanks to lockdown, this was by far the longest gap I’ve ever had between weddings in my 17 years of wedding photography, so the feeling of coming home was strong as we started to shoot that morning. Here are just a few of our favourites.

Kevin & Lois at Stubton Hall

With wedding planning and visiting venues just up and running after lockdown we were so happy to be able to visit Stubton Hall with Kevin and Lois. We walked around the grounds and took photos as we chatted about their wedding just under a year from now.

Stubton Hall is such a beautiful location with gorgeous interiors and extensive grounds. I can’t wait for the big day!

The BigSmall Wedding

Hello friend, how are you holding up? It feels like the world’s been turned upside down, and for some people a lot more than others. If you never did like shopping that much, worked from home (you know – something with computers) and didn’t have kids you might have been doing alright. But for probably all of us in one way or another these months have been frightening, isolating or even ruinous. To put it in stiff-upper-British it’s been “actually a bit of a nuisance, really”.

Weddings feel like they’ve been particularly messed around with. We heard yesterday that we’re allowed up to 30 guests but no partying. I mean, unless you hold the party in Primark, then you’re fine apparently. Things are changing on a much faster timescale than people normally take to plan weddings, so I don’t think it’ll be more than a few weeks or months before the rules change again.

But some people will be looking at the calendar and thinking, “You know what? Let’s do it.” Maybe a small wedding was always your preference. Or maybe you did want something bigger but now you – and I’m quoting one of my customers here – just can’t wait any longer to marry the dude. So if you’re thinking about it, I’m here to advocate the merits of what I’d call a BigSmall wedding. That’s a new word I just made up. Oh sure other people may have made it up too, some of them before me. But I made it up too.

Kate and I had a BigSmall wedding with 28 people. Working in weddings we didn’t feel the need to do what a lot of people had done before and have the same thing just with our faces on it this time. We wanted to celebrate with our nearest and dearest and have a wonderful day. We sure as hell love each other more than, like…flip! So we chose a beautiful cottage in the Peak District with just enough room in the garden for our own ceremony, and got a week’s holiday for some of them to stay over.

We did spend disproportionately on a couple of things though. Kate had a stunning dress from our lovely friends at Platinum Brides, and our photographer Chris was wonderful. Even though the wedding was small, I wanted Kate to feel amazing, and we both wanted gorgeous photos. So I guess that’s the point – figure out what’s most important to you, and create something truly special.

I’m aware people will be planning all sorts of things like split days where you get married now and party next year. Some couples will have been forced to reschedule to a date when their original choice of photographer wasn’t available. If there’s anything we can do please do get in touch and tell us about your plans. We’d love to help.

James and Kelly celebrated a beautiful wedding at Hampton Manor a couple of years ago now. Maybe they invented the BigSmall wedding. I’d be cool with that.

Andy & Jess’s Cracking Wedding at Pendrell Hall

Roll on the Summer! For lots of reasons we can’t wait for August this year. And the sunny weather today got us thinking back to Andy and Jess’s Cracking Wedding last year. Such a sweet couple and a beautiful day. Jess was absolutely gorgeous in her dress, and it was wonderful to see another classic big church wedding!

The ceremony was at Holy Trinity Eccleshall, and the reception over at Pendrell Hall, which is a beautiful old house with wood panelling, lovely gardens and endless charm. Andy and Jess had added some lovely touches of their own including a really splendid cake.

It’s wonderful to work with a couple who are so visibly in love and just don’t care who sees it. And that first dance! Needless to say, it went down well.

Here’s to another Summer of Love, just as soon as they let us out of lockdown.

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