I was really looking forward to Elaine & Marisa’s wedding at the wonderful Woodlands Park Hotel in Cobham, Surrey for a whole host of reasons – not least of all because it was the first same sex wedding I’d had the absolute honour and privilege to shoot. With Christmas just around the corner, it promised to be a really festive day and I couldn’t wait to get shooting.
Woodlands Park Hotel is a unique country house hotel set in 8 acres of beautiful Surrey countryside, yet is conveniently close to London. Built in 1885 it is a Grade II listed Victorian Building and was one of the first buildings in England to have electric lighting. It was also a favourite country retreat for the likes of Oscar Wilde and the Prince of Wales – so Elaine, Marisa and their wedding guests were definitely in some distinguished company.
As is tradition, Elaine and Marisa hadn’t seen one another on the morning of the wedding, and undertook their bridal preparations in separate rooms of the hotel. Given my wedding photojournalism approach and desire to document their full and real wedding story, I was there for once the make-up (by Catherine Bailey) and hair was started – this part of the wedding day is great for capturing a mix of excitement and nerves.
Both brides had opted for non-traditional dresses both from Having a Ball in Kingston, London and is fair to say they both looked fab.
The wedding ceremony, set in one the fabulous drawing rooms of the hotel and looking out onto the sculptured gardens, was a relaxed and refined affair – both ladies lovingly surrounded by family and friends, as they made their vows and lifelong promises to one another. As with all weddings, there were laughs, smiles, the odd tear and, of course, kisses. As a wedding photojournalist there were plenty of moments and emotions to capture.
Once the guests had mingled with drinks, post ceremony, it was then in for the wedding breakfast after which the speeches began. Marisa’s father delivered an emotional speech that reduced not just guests to tears, but also himself. It was clear he loved his daughter very much and was overcome with emotion of her spending the rest of her life with her soul mate Elaine.
By contrast, Elaine’s son speech had everyone in tears of laughter and even caused his mother a few blushes. However, there was no doubting the very special mother-son bond between him and Elaine, and he was genuinely happy his mother had found someone who in Marisa who, in turn, also made her very happy.
The evening proceeded with the fun of a photobooth and, of course, the evening reception full of dancing and laughs.
I was really struck by the amount of smiles and laughter throughout Elaine and Marisa’s special day and it was clear there was a lot of love for them both. It was a genuine honour to share their wedding day with them.
I hope you enjoy a small selection of photos from their day – it would be great (and help me out!) if you could share them on social media.
If you enjoy my storytelling approach to wedding photography and are getting married, then I’d love to chat with you about your wedding plans. Please call me on +44 (0)7920 422144 or send me a message here. I cover the whole of the UK and destination weddings abroad so will be delighted to hear from you no matter where you are.