The Grange Hotel Wedding, York – Alex and Adam
Not just the fading November light, but also the gothicy makeup and dress of the bride and the couple’s taste in heavy metal would lend a darker tone to this wedding that would be reflected in my photography and post-production. Not that the joy of a wedding day was in any way dimmed, nor the desire to share that amongst family and guests. But this was clearly a couple who intended to shirk tradition as much as possible and do things very much their way. Which made it all the more interesting for me.
I allowed myself to settle in by starting with some scene-setting photography of the empty ceremony room and detail shots of flower arrangements. In other words, easy, static, non-moving things. I really liked their “guest book” which consisted of three vinyl copies of albums by The Stone Roses, Metallica, and Guns N’ Roses on which to write messages with provided white markers. It established the heavy metal theme from the off. Next I focused on to the hotel foyer and capturing images of the kisses and handshakes of arriving guests.
Alex had specified she wanted pictures of her pre-ceremony prep time, so I shortly made my way upstairs. When I knocked on the door of her room where she was getting dressed and made up, I got the message that she was not quite ready to be photographed, so I decamped to an adjoining room where the bridesmaids and page boys were being readied, and seated myself on the floor to get a small person’s perspective of the day’s unfolding activities. When they were all done up, one of the adult bridesmaids suggested I could get a group portrait of the kids out in the hallway, so that’s what I did. I then tried again with a knock on Alex’s door and this time she was ready, or rather in a comfortable enough state of readiness for me to photograph her. She smiled over at me as I entered the room, while her mum laced up her mauve wedding dress. There was lots to photograph of interest in the ensuing activity, including a moment when Alex expressed surprise and delight on receiving a friend’s gift of a necklace. Once I was happy I’d secured a good, varied batch of prep shots, I made my way downstairs to turn my attention to the waiting groom.
By now, most of the guests were seated in the library where The Grange hosts it’s wedding ceremonies and I got a good, varied collection of wide shots that took in the whole scene and close ups of various animated and expectant friends and family members. Adam stood near the entrance welcoming late comers and then moved to the front. Shortly, hand in hand with a page boy, a smiling Alex made her entrance. In the confined space of the hotel library, I think it would be a bit of a stretch to call it a Processional, and I wonder if that’s a term that’s best reserved for church weddings. Alex joined Adam in front of the registrar and the ceremony got under way. One memorable moment I captured was just prior to the exchange of rings where Alex’s seated father clasped her hand and was clearly somewhat overcome by emotion. It made for a lovely, intimate shot and some resulting hiliarity. Some brief speeches followed, then the vows and the kiss.
The signing of the register sequence, which is usually quite formal, produced, among others some nice, intimate shots of Adam and his son. Then the bride and groom exited the room hand in hand and took up station in the stairwell outside the library to receive their congratulations from the guests who exited after them. Next, the wedding party moved downstairs for the drinks reception. I circulated amongst the guests, keeping their interactions with the bride a primary focus. After twenty minutes or so, in a reversal of the usual sequence, I next took aside Adam and Alex for the formal portraiture which I would follow with group shots. The reason for this was the fast fading light outside and I wanted to get some shots of the couple posed against the hotel’s entrance way pillars with what was left of the daylight. After this, we moved inside and I got shots in locales that I’d carefully earmarked from the recce. There was one shot I absolutely insisted on – one I couldn’t have foreseen – which was a kiss shot of the couple on the stairs with them both exposing their extravagant footwear. It’s still one of my all time favourite wedding photos. Following on from the portraiture we did the group shots in the hotel foyer.
At 7pm the guests began to seat themselves for the wedding breakfast and my allotted time was coming to an end. But there was still one interesting twist to the wedding timeline to come. Accompanied by a hard rock soundtrack, a select group of guests accompanying bridesmaids and pageboys, including the newlyweds, successively made an entrance in a “style of their choosing”. Good fun and great for the photography. I rounded off my day with shots of the wedding breakfast and speeches, then after thanking and congratulating the bride and groom, took my leave.
22nd April 2019