York Registry Office and Churchill Hotel Wedding – Sheri and Donovan
Sheri had been bridesmaid at Helen and George’s wedding and had been sufficiently impressed with my work that she and her partner Donovan decided they wanted to hire me to photograph theirs. Which of course I was delighted about.
The ceremony and reception were split between venues – the Registry Office and The Churchill Hotel. The former is compact and functional with a room for guests to gather containing a large fireplace, the Bootham Room which hosts ceremonies and which opens out to a lovely landscaped garden out back. The later, certainly from a photography perspective (although it’s really an unfair comparison), is of more interest. A stone’s throw from The Grange Hotel where Helen and George were married, The Churchill is a luxury 32 bedroom mansion with attractive gardens, a smoking hut, impressive Georgian Bay windows in its Blenheim room and a rather grand staircase and chandelier. Lots of useable locations and backdrops for photography!
On the day of their wedding, Sheri and Donovan were blessed with a gloriously sunny, early spring day. I began photographing as soon as the guests began to gather, in both of the main rooms, while taking trips out front as soon the bride-to-be was expected to arrive. When she did, she was greeted among others by Helen, who in a reversal of roles, was to be her chief bridesmaid. After a few “arrival shots”, I took up position at the front the Bootham room and waited for the processional. An emotional Sheri was led in by Helen, dressed in white and with a yellow bouquet of flowers and I got some great shots that really captured the feeling of the moment. Next I took up my customary position to the left of the registrar which gave me a facing view of Sheri throughout the ceremony. After the capturing all the key moments that followed, there was the signing of the register, a few group shots and the wedding party moved outside to the gardens. The energy was high and the mood celebratory with lots of hugs and a triumphant Sheri punching the air.
I kept shooting and at a certain point I noticed the newlyweds had drifted off from the party and moved down through the gardens. I hadn’t planned a portrait shoot at this point in proceedings but with the couple beautifully backlit by the sun, I switched to the camera with the long lens and got some wonderful, intimate, impromptu shots of the two of them.
After a period of the couple receiving their congratulations, the wedding party began to make the short walk up Bootham to the Churchill. As well as some great low shots of Sheri and Donovan leading the way, I spotted the fun opportunity of getting a couple of policemen we ran across along the way to pose with the couple in the spirit of the day, and they were happily game! When we arrived at the Churchill it was pretty much straight in to the group shots in the garden, which posed a slight challenge from my perspective. The angle of the strong sunlight meant using the impressive facade of the hotel as the backdrop for groups was not feasible as it would have meant lots heavily squinting guests. Not an option, so I had to contend instead with the guests being heavily backlit, which can make for an attractive effect, but can give a softer image. But it was really the only way to go in this instance and I think it worked out well.
After the cake cutting and drinks reception, I got Sheri and Donovan together for the formal portrait shoot. The hotel’s smoking hut in particular was put to good use. I gave the two of them a couple of cigars to pose with as a fun, visual pun on the hotel’s theme and it resulted in one of their favourite shots of the day. After some more portraits inside and out and a few more groups, my contribution to the day was over.
Viewing the images in post I was very pleased overall. Subsequently, Sheri in particular seemed very happy with the photos, telling me I had outdone myself. The day had been a photographer’s success.
8th May 2018