St. Wilfrid’s Church Wedding, York – Tom and Kathryn
St. Wilfrid’s Catholic church in the centre of York dates from the mid 19th Century and was constructed in a revival Gothic style, a copy of 13th-14th Century styles. The arch over the main door is the most detailed Victorian carving in the city and it’s interior is rich with paintings, sculpture and stained glass. An impressive building in its own right, its impact is somewhat diminished by its proximity to York minster, which is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Europe. As a wedding gig, it was one I looked forward to as I was sure the church’s spacious, highly decorative interior would contribute to some impactful photography.
While most weddings tend to be weekend occasions, Tom and Kathryn’s late spring wedding day would be mid-week, and as it turned out, a day drenched in intense sunshine. I started my day in typical fashion, taking scene setting shots of the venue’s towered exterior. Guests started arriving about half an hour out from the ceremony’s 1:30pm start time, welcoming each other and slowly filling up the pews inside the church. I found and greeted an elegant and relatively calm looking Tom and my first shots of him were of a guest pinning a white rose into his lapel. Shortly he took up his place at the head of the main aisle in front of the altar, flanked by his best man. I continued to circulate both inside and out of the church, capturing the grandeur of the setting with suitable wide shots and capturing the character of the families in close up candid shots. When I was satisfied I had enough pre-ceremony shots, and with the ceremony start fast approaching, I stayed put just outside the entrance awaiting Kathryn’s arrival. Soon a white ribboned, silver Mercedes pulled up to the curb outside the church.
A smiling Kathryn emerged from the car all in white, holding a bouquet of purple and white flowers and with her veil buffeted by the wind. Flash was essential in these shots to compensate for the intense sunlight and remove harsh shadows from the faces of Kathryn and her parents, who greeted her and then posed with her for some formal shots. As Kathryn entered the church, the sunlight streaming in provided strong back-lighting to help create some fine shots of her in semi silhouette. I then made my way quickly to the front of the church to get in position for the processional.
Several bridesmaids at the front made for attractive bridal procession, though it did somewhat obscure my view of Kathryn and her father at the back. When the two of them did reach Tom, Mr Lucas made a literal handover of his daughter, placing her hand in Tom’s hand. There then followed a fairly long, formal and somewhat unusual two part ceremony. For the first part, which included all the familiar elements, I positioned myself in a pew to the left of the altar facing the couple and, with them being some distance from me, had to rely a lot on long lens shots. Although it was still blazing sun outside, the light levels in the church were much reduced and I had to bump up the ISO on my cameras a fair amount to get good exposures. Everything went smoothly and after the “first kiss” that marked the end of the first half of proceedings, Kathryn flashed a broad, joyful smile towards my raised camera. Next followed the signing of the register and then there was a special musical performance from a guitarist and mandolin player.
For the second part of the ceremony, which moved Tom and Kathryn deeper into the altar area of the church, I decided on a shift in perspective. During my recce the previous week, it was obvious to me that the vacant choir loft to the rear offered a wonderful, elevated view of the whole church and could give me wide shots of the whole proceedings as well as close ups of the bride and groom using the long lens. So this was where I headed for and stayed until the end of formalities.
Moving back down into the main body of the church, I positioned myself at the head of the main aisle for the long, leisurely recessional which gave me ample opportunity for this key shot. The couple then passed me and stepped out into the glorious sunshine. The shot I got here looked dramatic, with the two of them together in semi silhouette stepping from the relative gloom of the church out into the light.
Soon, guests emerged to fill the small church courtyard and spill out onto the street as hugs and congratulations followed, plus the odd confetti toss. I circulated, taking candid shots until we decided that it was time to head over to the lawn at the rear of York minster, which I’d earmarked as the best location for the group shots. Walking over, I got Tom and Kathryn to literally stop the traffic by walking up the centre of Duncombe Place.
Following on from the group shots, for the formal portraiture I took a leisurely walk with the newlyweds around the minster, stopping here and there at suitable points to use the impressive gothic cathedral as a backdrop. Fill flash continued to be required in the bright sun to get the right balance of exposure within the frame. They were happy to follow on with all my suggestions. Finally, we made our way back into the now vacant St. Wilfred’s to use its splendid interior as backdrops for a few more closing formals. Since they had not hired me to cover the reception, it was at this point that I thanked them for letting me share their special day, offered my congratulations and made my way home.
27th July 2018