The Grange Hotel Wedding, York – Helen and George
While every wedding follows an essential, common time line of events, they all have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them unique in their own way; differences that reflect the personalities of the bride and groom. While it was highly enjoyable for me to shoot, some of those choices in Helen and George’s wedding gave me some technical challenges in the photography, but which in the end made for some attractive and atmospheric shots.
Helen and George are an engaging, highly photogenic couple who had chosen to marry in the Grange Hotel, one of York’s most popular venues for weddings. A four star, luxury, regency townhouse, the Grange has a attractive variety of settings both inside and out that makes it a great location photography wise, and in my recce I’d gone the extra mile of getting permission to do some of the more formal portrait shots in the gardens of a property next door. Something I learnt most photographers shooting weddings at the Grange hadn’t ventured to do. Inside the hotel there was racing memorabilia adorning the walls, there was quite a substantial staircase with a chandelier, and a drawing room and library for the Ceremony and Reception which featured large French windows.
The main challenge for me photographically, was that Helen and George had decided that the ceremony would be lit only with fairy lights! In other words, it was held in near darkness and I knew I had to find a vantage point where I could brace my arms securely while taking shots to get anything that would be passable. Using flash would have destroyed the atmosphere and was out of the question. Having introduced myself to the registrar, I explained where I would be shooting from and then headed off to get the shots of Helen getting ready. I was let in by her bridesmaid Sheri and after saying Hi and doing my bit to put everyone at ease, I got to work. As well as some lovely shots of Helen with her dad, I got some great, back lit shots of her getting ready and some detail shots of the wedding breakfast guest name cards, which were attached with purple feathers. Soon it was time to leave for the ceremony.
The processional in a hotel is considerably different to one in a church. In the latter, I just stand at the front with a long lens as the bride comes in with her father and it’s all fairly straight forward. In a hotel, I’m walking backwards through corridors with often wildly different lighting and then into the ceremony room itself. Which in this case was dark. After Helen’s entrance, I got into my position for the ceremony with arms braced against a bookcase and with no choice but to use very slow shutter speeds, began squeezing off shots with great delicacy. When the lights came on at the close of the ceremony for the signing of the register, I breathed a sigh of relief. I felt I’d got what I needed.
After the signing and the recessional, there was the drinks reception, and as is typical I gave the newly married couple a good fifteen to twenty minutes to mingle and receive their congratulations from guests. Next were the formal portrait shots of Helen and George followed by the group shots. Shooting both inside and out, I tried to work in everything I could that the Grange had to offer as settings, from its spiral staircase that helped provide an interesting shot of everybody, to the pillars outside and a large, ornate mirror in the dining room that I put to good creative use. The gardens outside were put to similarly good use for some airy, romantic shots of the newlyweds.
After some shots of the low light wedding breakfast, my time was up.
After post production work at home, it was obvious to me that the shoot had been a success and that my couple would be very happy with the results. And so it proved to be.
24th April 2018