Merchant Adventurers Hall Wedding, York – Katy and Ian

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When I arrived at the Merchant Adventurers early afternoon for Katy and Ian’s wedding, the first thing I noticed from the layout board for the wedding breakfast tables was a definite cheese theme emerging, with each table named after a certain type. Did the couple have a shared love of all kinds of cheeses or were they just big Wallace and Gromit fans? Or perhaps both? It certainly piqued my curiosity..wedding, photographer, photography, york

Detail and scene setting shots were first to allow nerves to settle, and then shots of Ian greeting the slowly arriving guests, who might then leave a note in the message book and/or check to see if they were at perhaps a Red Leicester or a Yorkshire Blue table. Once I’d got enough shots of this part of the visual narrative, I made my way out the back onto Fossgate to wait for Katy’s arrival. Despite being midsummer, it started out rainy in York the day of Katy and Ian’s wedding, so I was in for a little bit of one handed shooting with the other hand gripping an umbrella. Shortly, I was pleasantly surprised to see a horse drawn carriage turn into the top of Fossgate and there was no doubt that this was Katy on her way. I got off a good sequence of shots before the bowler hatted driver eased the carriage to a halt just outside the back entrance to the Hall and a smiling Katy emerged with her father and bridesmaids clutching sunflowers. While Katy went in to meet with the registrar, I got some scene setting shots of the now full Hall, as well as shots of individual guests, before taking my place at the front in readiness for the processional. The Merchant Adventurers Hall has to be one of my favourite venues for shooting processionals because there’s quite a long walk for the bride and her father to get to the front, so I have plenty of time to get this key shot.  Soon everyone was in position and the ceremony began. While taking shots of the overall scene, key players like the best man and speech makers, I make sure I’m in a prime spot with the bride facing me throughout, so I can use the opportunity for getting informal portrait shots of her as well as reaction shots throughout proceedings. A couple of speeches necessitated me moving out of position a couple of times. Then back to the registrar’s left for the vows, ring exchange and kiss. The signing of the register was next, and then the recessional, which always makes for a great shot in this particular venue with the Hall’s wonderful, historic interior as a backdrop.

What followed next was something else (in addition to the horse drawn carriage) that marked this particular wedding out as a bit different, and that was a second ceremony. To accommodate the wishes and beliefs of both parties, the civil ceremony in The Great Hall was followed by a religious one in the The Chapel downstairs. With this unusual format to the wedding it was no surprise why the couple had chosen this particular venue. So with the usual drinks reception delayed, the families and guests moved downstairs and began filling the pews in the small Chapel. In contrast to what had preceded, there was no processional with Katy and her father, rather Ian and Katy entered the Chapel together. They then walked towards and met the officiating priest at the front with Katy’s chief bridesmaid, still laden with sunflowers (and dressed in – you guessed it – purple),  to her left. The following formalities included another speech from the pulpit and hymns. I aimed to get a complete sense of the event with wide shots as well as closeups of the couple holding hands, reaction shots between the two of them and the priest’s ceremonial hand gestures. When the couple knelt, for the final moments of the ceremony, I moved away from my customary position at the front left to the back of the main aisle to get a great shot of the group of three beneath the Chapel’s large, stained glass window. With the ceremony over, there was a second – though I was to discover not final – recessional. After a period of enjoying the drinks reception in The Undercroft adjacent the Chapel, a tongue in cheek saber arch in honour of the bride’s recent recovery from an accident was organised where the couple again left the Chapel, but not under sabers held aloft but rather under crutches!

After the drinks reception I took the couple out into the Hall’s grounds for the formal portraiture and also a little way out into Fossgate, specifically to the bridge over the river Foss. Fortunately by now the rain had stopped. Next was the groups, climaxing with Katy’s bouquet toss before everyone returned inside to the Great Hall for the wedding breakfast. And after capturing the couple’s entrance and a handful of scene setting shots of the meal, my time was up.

 

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