Weddings, weddings, weddings

Its been incredibly busy here at Fotoamour and we’ve been working every single weekend this month.

Drinks for the newly married couple at The Barton Grange

Drinks for the newly married couple at The Barton Grange

First off were Judith and Phillip at Barton Grange Hotel on 1st May.  I have mentioned them briefly here before today but here are a few photos for your perusal – including the lovely Rob who unusually wasn’t sporting his flowery shirt that day!

Judith and Phillip - just married!

Judith and Phillip - just married!

Rob holding court

Rob holding court

The following Sunday I was off to Wincham Hall Hotel in Cheshire for Zoe and Stuart’s wedding.  It was a gorgeous day and as you can see the bluebells were obligingly hanging on for the photos despite  the fact that they really should have been past their flowery best.   The gardens at the back of the hotel were really very lovely and great for photography – someone there has been very busy.

Zoe and Stuart in the bluebells woods at Wincham Hall Hotel

Zoe and Stuart in the bluebells woods at Wincham Hall Hotel

Zoe and Stuart were attended to by the affable toastmaster Raymond Bonnard pictured below.  As usual Fotoamour got through all the formal photos in a comfortable amount of time – which I think surprised Raymond who may have been expecting a mammoth group-arranging session.  We were through the groups within the usual 30 minutes which left plenty of time for capturing the beautiful and spontaneous stuff and more time for me to photograph Zoe and Stuart in those lovely woodland gardens.

Raymond Bonnard - toastmaster for the day

Raymond Bonnard - toastmaster for the day

Cathryn and Steven’s wedding at Penwortham Methodist Church and The Leyland Hotel was last Saturday 23rd May.   I have been photographing loads of civil ceremonies recently so it was a nice change to photograph inside a church, especially one so welcoming.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever been allowed so much freedom in a church as I was allowed here.  Not that I abused it I hope. 

Just opposite was a bridge with a great cobbled road across it and these fantastic old lamposts so hoping that I will have some great stuff to show you from these weddings too.

Sunday I was back to De Vere in Blackpool with Carole and Mike – patently very much in love.   It was a great family wedding – quite small but very happy and again the sun was shining.

Last Thursday a sort-of-family wedding – Emma and Pete who are related to us through my sister, Sue.  The wedding took place at Statham Lodge which we know through the BIPP (they hold all their NW meetings there).  The lady in charge of the day’s events was Kelly.  She was very friendly and helpful and we (Martyn and I worked together on this one as it was a family event!) thought that the banqueting room looked good – light and airy which is great for a reception as so often these rooms are dark places which is rubbish for photography.  

Lucy, Chloe and Josh (my triplet neices/nephew) looked lovely as did all the bridal party.  We got some fab shots of Emma and Pete in a meadow full of buttercups behind the hotel.  It was also full of wildlife and Emma was very game to go tramping through the undergrowth it her amazing  gown – but it will be worth the effort.   I will post a few as soon as I can.

Saturday Fotoamour was out both at Barton Grange with Wendy and David and Wrightington Hotel and Country Club for Jane and David.  It was a glorious day, almost too hot for those of us working rather than enjoying, and both wedding parties were small.  So they had a friendly and intimate feel to them – great for our photographers to be a part of something so special.

  I love Barton Grange but soon somebody is going to think I get paid for all the glowing reviews I write on here about it!  I have to tell you though that Genevieve, who looking after the bridal party, was someone that I haven’t met before and she is just lovely – she even bought be a glass of iced water half way through my photo session.  I can’t tell you how much I love The Barton Grange! 

Then, just to stir things up with rival hotels (and on the same stretch of the A6 too!) we were at The Preston Marriott today for a family party combined with photoshoot – really a Fotoparty!  This was to celebrate the birthday of Father Tim Sullivan and was organised by Val and Joe Sheehan from Cork, family friends.   We will post some pictures later this week but just to say that it was a simply lovely afternoon, and the light on the lawn in front of the hotel was exquisite.  So some lovely photographs to come of this gathering with its very pretty children, without exception, all of whom were very pleasant and easy to work with.  Even the youngest, the adorable Tom, was easily persuaded to cooperate even after quite a considerable photo session.  What a good little boy!

But also it was good to work at The Preston Marriott and not least because the staff were very efficient and obviously pretty intelligent.  It struck us both at how articulate they were as a whole, not just the odd one or two.  And with our son being a wheelchair user, it is great to see that they have made the bar area accessible with a good sized ramp.  Well done for that.

 And this week? – well getting all the weddings from the last week sorted and the work out to our couples!   Will be posting again soon.

X

 

PS Just re-reading and possibly the most frequently used adjective on this blog is …..lovely, lovely, lovely.  Sorry for being so skimpy on the language when we have such a rich vocabularly – its just a bit late and I’m a bit tired.  I’ll try to be more imaginative another time – sorry!

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When do we throw confetti at my wedding?

Good question.

When DO you throw confetti at a wedding?  The answer is……’when you want to’ is the correct answer!    However, there are certain moments when it seems just right and some where it seems like a bit of a lame duck action.

Keri and Will's confetti moment

Keri and Will's confetti moment

After years of attending weddings as my job I think probably the most popular time is just before the Bride and Groom get in the car to go off to the next reception.   You will undoubtedly be asked to refrain from throwing it in the church grounds – though there are some real sweeties in our churches who are laid back about confetti debris in the churchyard.  Its fair enough though and doesn’t spoil the day at all – in fact I think confetti shots look nicer at the church gates and by the car.

Sally and Will outside St. Peter's

Sally and Will outside St. Peter's

That’s fine when its a church wedding.  But a civil ceremony at a hotel is a bit of a different matter and it doesn’t flow in the same way.

I would, for instance, wait for the B&G to exit the ceremony, have a hug, be given their drinks, move outside and greet their guests.  This is a possible confetti moment – though by definition its spontaneous and unstructured.  It doesn’t make for the best confetti shot this way, but it is at least a natural progression.

Kirsten and Michael

Kirsten and Michael

Otherwise, if nothing happens naturally I would want to set this shot up so that we get the maximum confetti impact.  This is often once the formal group photographs have been taken and it no longer matters whether the B&G are drenched in confetti or not. 

Becky and Lee

Becky and Lee

Hotels are sometimes a bit sniffy about your guests throwing confetti – it messes up the look of the place and they have to set to sweeping it up so all is perfect for the next wedding.  Fair enough – you wouldn’t want a load of soggy debris littering the place for your own wedding would you?  (But I have known some venues charge a fee, or’fine’, as they put it for clearing it up. Not the best public relations exercise if you’re trying to attract the confetti-throwing wedding market, methinks!) Check it out their policy before you book.

Emma and Dave

Emma and Dave

What does make a good confetti shot?  Loads and loads of confetti thrown from behind the B&G and not from the front – this way they just get a big fistful of confetti in their faces.  Throwing from behind over their heads means that their expressions are happy and relaxed and you get to see loads of confetti too. 

Guests are often worried that they will appear in the shot – well, you have been invited to the wedding so presumably that might be an advantage to the B&G.  But to reassure you, its likely that all you’ll see is the B&G, hands and confetti!

Best confetti – cheapo paper biodegradeable stuff costing about 75p from your local papershop.  Its sort of traditional, colourful and beautiful in a vintagey kind of way. 

Hope you like the post.

Skincare for brides

You know how some brides simply look gorgeous at their weddings?  Its not that they don’t look OK the rest of the time – its just that on their big day somehow the momentousnous of the occasion lends them an inner light – a luminosity.
Mirandi looking gorgeous

Mirandi looking gorgeous

Very often a bride looks extraordinary on her wedding day – her skin will look luscious and glowing and her hair will be shining, sleek and thick.  She will simply look at her very, very best ever.  Lucky groom.

Jo looked amazing

Jo looked amazing

If you want to look like this at your wedding the work has to start fairlyearly on – as soon as you have set a date.  

Much of it is to do with diet – so you’re putting healthy, fresh stuff into your body – and hydration.  You need to be drinking plenty of water, girls.  It does have an enormous effect on your skin – plumps it up and makes it look smooth and drinking out water helps to flush out any toxins so lessening the chance of outbreaks of spots or flaking. 

Final touches for Becky

Final touches for Becky

Diet is also the cheapest route longterm to great skin and hair.  No amount of expensive creams and treatments will have the same effect – its a fact.

Bring it on!

Bring it on!

However, it wouldn’t hurt to have a look at your beauty regime.  You certainly should have your skincare products working for you well before the day – you don’t want to experiment with a new product in the weeks before the wedding. If you have an allergic reaction to anything it could be a bit ruinous to your wedding day look.

A good exfoliator will help big time.  I believe that, used correctly, they really brighten the skin and get it looking tip top.  Using an exfoliator gets rid of flakiness, untraps blocked pores and gets the blood capillaries working – it stimulates circulation too and (don’t ask me how) the skin looks plumper, brighter and smoother.

I tend to prefer more gentle types of exfoliant as some are too harsh – my favourite was a Body Shop one which had little wax beads in it which acted as a gentle exfoliant.  Sadly I think it has been discontinued now.  Currently I am using a Liz Earle exfoliator which is nice to use, as are all their products, but I have also been happy with the Simple range in the past.  As you can tell, I don’t spend vast amounts  on this kind of thing but I think that these I have mentioned are all good.

Another great thing to start getting into the habit of using regularly is a moisturiser with an SPF rating to protect your sking from the sun’s rays which does have a tendency to toughen it up and make skin look a bit blotchy. 

Blotchy isn’t what you need on your wedding day – it means using a foundation to cover rather than to enhance and the temptation is to ladle it on. 

Your wedding photographer can do a certain amount to get rid of  individual blemishes on the finished images but a with an overall poor skin condition this is not possible.

Leanne looked fab and the professional make-up artist had all the gear on hand

Leanne looked fab and the professional make-up artist had all the gear on hand

Having a professional make-up artist is very much a personal decision.  For some, applying their own make-up on their wedding day is just one stress too many.  For others, its just one person too many on an already busy morning.

If you are going to have a make-up artist then I would strongly advise that you have several run-throughs with them beforehand.  The same applies to getting a ‘friend’ to do it for you – make sure that you like the way they do their own make-up before agreeing to them doing yours on your wedding day.  I have seen some stressed-out ‘tango-ed’ brides in my time – and had to assist in removing several layers of cake.

The best make-up is very natural, especially if you don’t wear a lot usually. 

Danielle felt confident to do her own make-up - and she looked lovely!

Danielle felt confident to do her own make-up - and she looked lovely!

The same applies to your wedding day hair styles.  Hairdressers can get so carried away with an ‘up-do’ that brides end up with a look that is so alien to them and the groom hardly recognises them when they walk up the aisle.  Go for something natural and close to your usual style.

Becky went for a style similar to her usual one, just a bit more poomfy!

Becky went for a style similar to her usual one, just a bit more poomfy!

Ultimately, on your wedding day you want to look like the woman your husband fell in love with – not some plastic version who can’t smile in case her foundation cracks, or move in case the dangling ringlet of hair that has been concreted by 16 cans of hairspray accidentally renders him unconscious if she moves her head too quickly.

Think on……….. and don’t be persuaded into a wedding hairstyle that you don’t feel comfortable with.  The way to do this is to  have a great working relationship with your hairdressers and beauticians that you have built up over the period of your engagement.

Be careful too that when you have your trial run at a hairdressers, they have also taken into account the time it will take to attend to your bridesmaids and Mum.  You don’t want to be at the hairdressers for hours on your wedding morning, so they should have enough staff available to work on your party for you ALL to be in and out within a reasonable amount of time.

People I would recommend are on my website but for starters you could look at Debbie at David Thomas Hair in Lytham, S&P Hair in St. Annes and Jane at Pure Beauty in St. Annes. 

Good luck.

Weddings on a budget

Just been listening to an interesting article on Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 with Jane Garvey about doing weddings on the cheap.

With the cost of the average wedding being in the region of about £20,000 understandably many people are cutting back on their budgets.

So it was interesting to hear where people were making cuts.  The one thing that wasn’t mentioned was wedding photography – I’m not going to argue the case here, you’ll be relieved to know.

Among some of the suggestions were growing your own flowers both in your own gardens and in the gardens of friends.  If this is your plan you’ll have to be very organised at getting the plants planted at the correct time so that they all bloom roughly at the time of the wedding, you’ll have to read up on the conditions you require for the flowers you want and decide whether you can acheive those and lastly, pretty flexible in what you are hoping to achieve florally. 

Flowers from Rachel and Dave's wedding courtesy of her talented sister

Flowers from Rachel and Dave's wedding courtesy of her talented sister

Given those issues I think its a fabulous idea for several reasons.  Firstly you’ll have flowers that you have nurtured and loved for all those months – as will your friends and family.  It will be a truly joint effort and will add an extra depth of feeling to your wedding celebrations.

Secondly it will teach you something that maybe you didn’t know before and could lead you into an interest that you didn’t anticipate.

Thirdly, you’ll save a lot of money, and reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint.  Lastly, you’ll have fabulous English garden flowers for your bouquet. 

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Flowers at Sally and Will's wedding

The next thing they discussed was the dress.  Suggestions ranged from going to Oxfam or Barnardo’s (check out before you visit which stores are key for wedding dresses as not all branches hold a selection all year round), to stores like Debenhams and BHS.  I have already mentioned on this blog about the lovely dresses they have in Monsoon so that is another that you should check out.

The alternative  is that you get someone clever that you know to make it for you – so you’re only have to pay the cost of the fabric.  You’d have to be certain though that they were talented enough to do it – otherwise you could pay a lot of money for superb fabric only to have it wasted.  If this is the case, wise up to the design of the dress.  Don’t have something fitted as its’ harder to get it perfect. It may be easier, for instance, to have a dress which is empire line rather than very fitted – in this way you don’t need quite such exacting tailoring skills.

Jane Ingham, whose daughter Sally got married earlier this year, made the bridesmaids dresses that you see here.  I think that she used to make theatre costumes so her skills at tailoring will be pretty high.

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Sally's Mum, Jane made these fabulous dresses

As for men’s suits I would advise perhaps spending a little more on a really good lounge suit so that you can wear it again and again.  In this way its an investment rather than frittering away your money on formal wear that  you’ll only wear once .  It also liberates your other guests from having to don formalwear, which not everyone likes, and they can wear their own suits.   A really nice tie and funky buttonhole will serve as a gift for the groomsmen and also bring the whole look together.

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Lee opted for a lounge suit with fab shirt and tie at his wedding to Becky

Cake making is another area that you can employ the talents of those that you know.  You’ve seen entries on here about home-made cakes – I’m a great fan as I really believe it makes a wedding personal. 

On Radio Four one contributor had mentioned that she did want to pay the money for a fabulous chocolate wedding cake – she was prepared for the expense in order to get what she wanted.  However, they economised by substituting the cake for the pudding (which I think is a great idea) When you work out the cost per portion of cake it equated to the cost of having a pudding anyhow – and everyone is happy. 

Thinking about your limitations, identifying the areas that you do have skills – and identifying the relevant skills in friends and family too, will allow you to have a wedding where the costs are more reasonable.

Most of these ideas for cutting cost will also reduce the waste from a wedding too, and your carbon footprint. 

Good luck – and if you want to hear the article again try going to the BBC Radio 4’s website.

I will be posting some pics to go with this but you’ll have to bear with me for the minute.

PS.  4.30pm Just posted some pics to go with this piece but as I was coming driving through Lytham I spotted a new shop which I have been meaning to tell you about.  It is called Chique and it looks like it is a second hand dress shop – but a posh version.  They had two very nice wedding dresses in the window and last week I saw a fabulous pink sparkly frothy creation in the wedding which was equally as lovely as any of the dresses you might see advertised on the high street.

They also had some lovely hats, and mother of the bride type outfits.  Worth checking out – its on Station Road in Lytham.

Hand tied wedding bouquets

Just a short note to remind you – hand tied wedding bouquets are what you need.  Do not be persuaded by your florist into having your bouquet presented to you in a plastic holder. 

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The number of occasions I have known where flowers either fell out of the holder, or leaves that were pinned down into it popped out of place is remarkable.  And apart from anything else, plastic isn’t exactly romantic and lovely, is it?

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I don’t understand why florists have these things – I am sure it must cost them more to use them than binding the stems with ribbon, which looks so much better. 

Florists may be indignant that your photographer is telling them how to do wedding floristry – that’s not the point.  What is important is that I have seen the evidence that these plastic things often let my brides down.  If you’ve paid all that money for flowers the last thing you want to happen is that your bouquet disintegrates during the day – it shouldn’t happen.  So stand your ground and insist OR go to a florist who will do as you ask.

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It isn’t just because it looks better ………but  because the plastic things don’t work!

You have been warned!

Stay Blackpool Conference

Martyn and I were invited to give a talk today to the hoteliers of Blackpool about how good photography can enhance a website and literature, at the Stay Blackpool Conference held in the New President Hotel on North Promenade Blackpool.

This was really Martyn’s area as I photograph weddings and small children!  But I do know how a well designed brochure or website with some great photography will sell your product – whatever that might be. 

Of course, as is the usual case, technology let me down – I couldn’t get the music to play on the slideshow and then there was a problem with the screen resolution and so on and so on ….yawn!

However, just a note to say what a surprise the New President Hotel was to someone that has never been there before.  

It is not somewhere that I would have considered previously for a wedding but I have to say that it does seem to fall in with my often stated theory – a wedding venue is only as good as its staff and its interiors.    Both of which were great – the staff were very friendly and helpful – particularly the manager whose name I can’t remember, sorry – and the dining room upstairs with its views over the sea was a big, and pleasant surprise.  The lunch, goujons of place and chips with platters of sandwiches too was fresh and tasty.  They were catering for large numbers too so I think you could expect a similar good standard for a wedding reception or buffet.

Photography-wise it would be a place to embrace the Blackpoolness of Blackpool – so a great venue for a wedding whilst the Illuminations are on in the autumn season.  I can see a great opportunity in using some of the new sculptures on the front for your romantic wedding shots too – but you’d have to take a bit of a detour for that at present as they are in the South Prom area. 

Holding a wedding in Blackpool has bags of potential and there is a lot of fun to be had with theming it – think about Blackpool Rock and Kiss Me Quick Hats!  You also have some great venues and an endless supply of accomodation for your guests at all ends of the price spectrum.

So, if you’re a Blackpool bride why not check it out?

Taking a breather

Just spent an idyllic couple of days out of the loop and stayed overnight at the Austwick Traddock – where else. We had Burn Moor room and checked in after a day rambling around Arnside Knott. 

Burn Moor room

Burn Moor room

The view from our room - blissful

The view from our room - blissful

From Arnside Tower (fellow walkers will know where we mean) we headed up overland, through historic English woodland and dropped down into the little seaside village below where we enjoyed a very pleasant cup of tea and some delicious chocolate cake at Posh Sardine on the front.  You know how I love pretty little bits of nonsense?  As well as serving delicious cake from Low Sizergh Barn there were also lovely little necklaces and earrings which I was very tempted to purchase – but didn’t with remarkable self-discipline!

Arnside Tower

Arnside Tower

Needless to say Martyn took his camera and photographed all manner of spring flowers like cowslips and wild orchids, and newly sprouted leaves.  Colours of lime green and acid yellow and raspberry pink all glowing,  illuminated by a rare burst of spring sunshine.

Spring sunlight through leaves

Spring sunlight through leaves

When I have some time I will post some of the pictures on here – but you’ll be able to look at some of them at an exhibition that is coming up in October time at Sides Gallery in Lytham.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

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The bridge at Barbon

So we headed off to the Austwick Traddock where, after chilling out with Tatler and Vogue and Country Living, a pot of tea (real milk in a flask) and delicious crumbly, buttery homemade shortbread,  for an hour or so in the comfy, cosy room we had booked, we wandered down for a delicious meal in the restaurant. 

 

Divine – scallops on a pea puree and bacon, followed by beef (including a cute little steak and kidney pastie to taste) and the most wonderful pudding of  rhubarb compote, panacotta and sorbet all looking pristine – until I demolished it.  And you know that after-effect you get with rhubarb where the back of your teeth feels like they’ve been sandpapered.  That didn’t happen with this particular pudding.

Then we couldn’t resist having the cheese too – how wicked is that?  But until you’ve tasted The Traddock’s range of local cheeses you haven’t lived – there must have been 7 or 8 different types – I think there was Garstang Blue, a wonderful pungent goats cheese that was deliciously runny round the edges, as well as some others that I just can’t remember their names but know that they were heaven for a cheeselover like me!  And served with proper oat biscuits too.

So we went to bed replete – and then had to get up and eat again – this time breakfast in the calm, golden dining room where we ate smoked haddock on spinach with a poached egg.  The egg being just the right runniness and the fish and spinach sitting in a pool of pale yellow sauce – no idea what the sauce was, but it tasted great.  And a great pot of tea and homemade bread toast and jams, marmalade (chunky and not too sweet – perfect) and lemon curd to go on it.

Actually that last bit sounded a bit like Giles Coren’s restaurant reviews in The Times – but slightly less ascerbic.  Its difficult to give a dud review at The Traddock as everything generally is pretty wonderful. So if anyone else would like me to give their restaurant a critique – please let me know.  And Giles…if you need a stand-in anytime, let me know.

Bluebell woods on the way to Rigmaden

Bluebell woods on the way to Rigmaden

Fortunately we went for another very long walk after we left into the hills and woods above Grange-over-Sands.  First we drove through Kirkby Lonsdale and up to Rigmaden where someone has restored the magnificent and mysterious  hall, that was derelict when I used to cycle past as a little girl.  On the way we passed banks and banks of swaying, dancing bluebells – a dense sea of blue interspersed occasionally with the white flowers of wild garlic.  The most amazing sight and one that I have never seen anywhere else – it was breathtaking.

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And after that we went home…..

(PS If you’re interested Martyn ate a salad of warm pigeon’s breast of which I snaffled a tempting succulent mouthful, followed by duckling in a red wine jus on a sort of bed of creamy mashed potatoes (we don’t remember its proper name).  We had vegetables too – parsnips and carrots and delicious braised red cabbage.  Afterwards Martyn inhaled a prune and Armagnac souffle with creme Anglais – yes, I did say ‘inhale’ although he did savour every delicious melting mouthful, he tells me.  And then in the m0rning he was delighted to see  Eggs Benedict on the breakfast menu – his favourite.  In familiar parlance – nuff said. X