Hotel du Vin Wedding, York – Lee and Caroline
When I did my recce for Lee and Caroline’s wedding, the obvious standout feature that the Hotel du Vin had to offer me as a photographer was it’s fabulous wine glass chandelier suspended over the main staircase. How to incorporate it into a formal portrait shot of the couple would be a prominent focus of attention in my planning for this autumn wedding shoot.
The Hotel du Vin is a 4 star, luxury, boutique hotel and bistro located in The Mount, just outside of York city centre. It’s an attractive, Grade II listed building that dates back to the early 19th Century and was formerly a private home and orphanage. As well as the bar and dining areas, the courtyard and gardens in the rear of the hotel offered me a good variety of settings to place the couple come the time of the formal portraits. But it was really the chandelier above the staircase landing that grabbed me and made me grapple with it’s possibilities. With the couple to be positioned standing in front of a large window beneath the chandelier, off camera flash and an umbrella were necessary to not have them just be plunged into silhouette. (Although I would try that particular shot too). It took a certain amount of trial and error at the recce to get right the umbrella position and camera/flash settings.
Come the day, I greeted a rather low key Lee on arrival, who confided to me that he hadn’t slept for two days! Insomnia is horrible and to that extent on your wedding day must have been particularly unpleasant and draining, I gave him my best wishes for the day and started assembling my kit. First shots were standard scene setters as well as candid shots of Lee and the arriving guests slowly filling the ceremony room. One guest on seeing me smiled and commented with that she knew my photography work well. I felt flattered and it gave me a certain boost of confidence. The registrar too clearly recognised me and gave me a respectful nod. All in all a nice way to start the day.
When Caroline arrived with her father she was wearing a deep red wedding dress that matched her bright red dyed hair. With Lee wearing a red shirt, it all co-ordinated with a overall black and red and decidedly Gothic theme to the wedding. Caroline’s processional and the ceremony that followed was a blink and you miss it affair. It really was the fastest ceremony I’ve ever attended, with no speeches and with formalities stripped down to the essentials. It couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes. The signing of the register and the the recessional went by equally quickly and then everyone moved into an adjoining room for the drinks reception.
Maybe Lee and Caroline wanted to break the record for the fastest wedding ever, or maybe Lee in his state of mind wanted to move things along as fast as possible, but in keeping with the quick ceremony, the group shots were over with in no time, the couple only wanting two “all in” groups: one on the stairs and one in the courtyard. When we moved on to the couple portraiture, I got them to linger a little longer. I utilised the chandelier to feature in an overhead shot of Caroline ascending the stairs, which looked quite dramatic and suitably Gothic. And also in a portrait of the two of them where I used the umbrella positioned to their left, out of frame on the landing. Both worked well I thought. Next we moved out into the gardens and courtyard, and with some shots that utilized the Hotel’s luxury interiors, finished up with a good variety of portraiture. Throughout, I focused in on details that helped to emphasise the couple’s quirkiness as well as going for wider shots that made good use of our surroundings. The last of the key shots was the cake cutting as the guests settled down to what looked to me like a very sweet and indulgent wedding breakfast. It had certainly been a wedding with a difference.
17th August 2018