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Southend Barns Wedding | Emma & Lee

Southend Barns Wedding | Emma & Lee

An April 1st wedding??? No! This is not a joke! (I admit, I did wonder when the enquiry first came through, but thankfully Emma and Lee, and their Southend Barns wedding was very real!)

Emma and Lee, despite living in a different county, chose Southend Barns as their wedding venue. They had family and friends in the area and just fell in love with it! We planned their engagement shoot for a day when they could visit Lee’s mum, ensuring she has some quality time with her grandchildren while we went for a stroll on West Wittering beach. The weather gods decided to give us everything they had that day! Wind, sunshine rain and even hailstorms! I love the final image in the set below, where they’re cloaked in sunshine and you can just see the dark clouds rolling in behind them. Thankfully the cafe was a lovely haven for us to dry off and warm up after (and we really did need drying off) while working through the timeline of their day.

I had, rather foolishly, assured Emma and Lee that a repeat of the “every weather system” was very unlikely to occur on their wedding day. Ha!! How wrong was I!!! Thankfully, when planning for a Southend Barns wedding, the venue is very well equipped with stunning indoor and outdoor spaces. As the rain wasn’t due until later, Emma and Lee still chose to have their wedding outside as originally planned. Baskets of blankets and soft sheepskin rugs came out before the guests arrived to ensure warm bottoms and shoulders for those who needed it! The weather is a pretty important factor to consider when choosing your venue, if you need more help with that, do check out my blog with tips on how to choose your venue.

We started in the bridal suite with Emma, her children, sister and both mums for the preparations. A spacious apartment suite, there’s always plenty of space and light for the hustle and bustle that goes on during the preparations.

I loved how the children also got involved, with Emma & Lee’s daughter almost getting away with wearing Emma’s bridal shoes! While this was happening, Lee and his groom squad arrived from their B&B (or maybe the pub 😉 ) to start greeting the guests. I found it quite ironic that while their son was being helped into his outfit by all the ladies in the bridal suit, Lee also needed help too! Check out the detailing on Lee’s outfit to honour their dog who had passed away, what a lovely touch

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

With the time arriving for the ceremony, and the weather still dry (albeit pretty windy) it was action stations! Lee was waiting with his guests at the foot of the aisle and a pianist providing the background music, all that was for Emma, her dad and bridal party to make their way through to join them.

A civil ceremony at a Southends Barn wedding is usually pretty swift, a blessing for everyone I think on this occasion as the winds, and the chill that came with it, only increased as the time went on. Seeing Lee’s face as both his children, then his beautiful bride came down the aisle towards him. It was clear for all to see and feel the love that is shared between them all.

With a flurry of confetti, everyone made their way back to the covered drinks reception area to enjoy some drinks and a catch up! Thankfully the sun had come back out, so we made the most of the dry space for some family portraits.

During the planning session, Emma and Lee had expressed that they erred on the preference for candid documentary with some family portraits and some newlywed portraits. Enjoying their party was high on their list, and they wanted to see their day back from a documentary style. We made sure that although some structure for the formal portraits needed to be made, we kept those moments efficient and fun!

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

As per our plan, we whisked Emma and Lee around the grounds for some very quick portraits. We kept it light and easy while ensuring they also had time to catch up with each other too for those precious moments alone. One item that was on their hit list, was the alpacas… and very cute they are too! What a wonderful addition at the venue! Everytime I return I’m sure Southend Barns have restored/renovated and added to their repertoire of being a very highly sought after wedding venue.

The other item on the agenda was to create a portrait with them and their children, and a balloon that Emma had brought with her! Timing it right around naps, and garden games distraction was key, but thankfully, all our well measured plans came together!

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

With a full on night of partying planned, it was definitely time for a meal break! With Emma and Lee making a grand entrance into the barn, the finely cooked food and flowing wine was clearly appreciated by all. To top it off, an array of speeches, including ones by Emma’s daughter and sister!

There were not many dry eyes in the house by this point… but it was ok, as Lee’s best men soon ensured the hilarity was reinstated, regaling embarrassing tales of their best mate in true style!

Instead of a traditional cutting of the cake, Emma and Lee opted for a cocktail tower. Starting with their first drinks together as newlyweds, using glasses that Emma’s dad had hand painted. Then it was a free for all as everybody else joined in. Such a great idea!!

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

When Emma and Lee broached the idea of staying later, I was initially reluctant (not because of later nights, but I don’t want to increase someone’s spend if it’s not needed) but they convinced me a party is what they would be having, and boy were they right!

With mid-evening fireworks thrown in and a pounding dance floor all night, it was definitely worth the extra time!

To start, Emma’s dad and sister had secured a surprise band for her. It was Emma’s favourite, and the surprise and joy on her face was evident. That and the fact she was first on the dancefloor and pretty much stayed on it! There was a brief interlude for the fireworks and the first dance, but after that the party cracked on!

It was an incredible night and a most energetic, fun and love filled wedding! We made our exit just as ties were coming off and turned into headbands, but the party was still going full pelt!

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Southend Barns Wedding

Back home, our job isn’t over! Files need to be uploaded, backed up and stored. Then it’s the process of culling and editing…. Caffeine is a photographers friend during this process!

The finished result is sooooo worth it.

As part of their collection, Emma and Lee had chosen the Duet album. This is a 2 part collection, handmade in Italy, of a 30 page A4 album and a 100 page A3, nestled together in a bespoke box. This was a perfect way to display both the highlights and portraits in the 30 page album, plus the candid flow of the whole day spread across the larger, coffee table style book. The colours designed to compliment the colours of their day.

Thank you Emma and Lee for having us on such a beautiful and lively day! Wishing you all the happiness in the world!

xX Fiona Xx

Southend Barns Wedding

 

Arundel Wedding Photographer

How To Plan a Wedding

How To Plan a Wedding

Eeeeek, the festive period has just passed, you’ve got a new bit of bling on your ring finger, learning your new title of fiance, and January has started with a to-do-list to get your nuptials sorted! Are you in Camp Overwhelmed or Camp I’ve-been-planning-this-since-I-was-seven??!! If it’s the latter… High five to you, let’s chat more, you can give me tips. If it’s the former, I bet the first thing you did was google, “how to plan a wedding”?!

Firstly! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! This is wonderful news!! Just take a moment to bask in that glow!

Although planning a wedding is a big deal, don’t forget that this period of being engaged is also a pretty special time in your life too, one that’s not usually repeated. It’s like that liminal space between dating/being a couple to the actually formalities of legally being bound to your chosen life partner forever. And there’s a whole lot of planning that happens in that liminal space. Buying a house, having children and planning a wedding are up there on the list of the most stressful things you can do as a couple.

Let me help you break it down. I’m going to try to work on this chronologically in the ideal to-do order. I’m not going to tell you how long this should take, some people have a short engagement of weeks and months, some go years and years… it all depends on your budget, timeframe, availability of your must have factors and how focused your organisation can be.

1: Post on the ‘gram / wedding email

If it isn’t on social media, it’s not real!!

Haha!! Just kidding, this has nothing to do with how to plan a wedding!! Socials aren’t for all, but if you’re gonna pop your bling on display, it’s a great excuse for a trip to the salon for a manicure LOL

This well organised groom-to-be knew he was going to propose on a certain day, so booked me for a quick shoot on that day to make sure their announcement was ready to go in picture form!

In all seriousness though, instagram aside… to avoid an inbox of doom and lost threads of emails, set up a wedding email address so when you start planning, all your supplier correspondence is filtered to that account. This is simple enough to do with any mail provider (gmail/hotmail/yahoo etc) and you can both set it up on your devices to share the wedmin load!

engagement shoot chichester

2: Set a budget

You may have been saving for this very moment. Planning to budget on the go. Or even have family who would like to support you and contribute to your wedding day.

Whichever way the money ends up in your pocket, try to discuss and decide between you what services you value the most. Is it all about the epic party? The album that will be looked at forever? Or is it all about that dress?

When you start looking at quotes, you’ll probably realise that everything costs far more than you anticipated. Expect the assigned budgets for different services to have wiggle room as you move funds from one service budget to another. You don’t want to be spending more than you value on flowers if your priority was actually the rings which you end up compromising on.

3: Nail in your date and venue

This is going to be the deciding factor that will determine how the rest of your planning is structured and within what time frame. Without an official date, no other suppliers can be booked that require one (think caterers, photographers, videographers, entertainment, registrars, outfit hire, transport etc)

You may have your ideal season or venue already in mind, so scheduling in some viewings is a great place to start.  Don’t forget the added bonus of google images. If you’re viewing in January for a summer wedding, the venue will look different, so be sure to also use their portfolio and the internet to get an idea what the venue looks like in your preferred season.

Use wedding fairs as a tool to look around venues. These usually occur throughout the year and have a host of other suppliers to get your inspiration going. They’re also a great place to go later down the line if you’re just after those final services to finish off your plans (or a glass of bubbles and a taste of free cake!!).

Once you’ve booked your venue, do check what’s included (a planner/designated coordinator on the day/catering/registrar organised/PA system etc). You may find the services provided within your venue may well help you with how to plan a wedding.

If the venue booking seems overwhelming as a place to start, I’ve written a more detailed blog about that here: How to choose your wedding venue

Once you’ve got your venue you can start to finalise your guest list with the knowledge of your venue’s capacity. Depending on your plans and whether your ceremony is in a different location to the reception you may need to segment this into ceremony/reception/evening party

How to plan a wedding

4: Start booking vendors

Vendors and suppliers may be limited to how many bookings can be taken on a single day. Us photographers, for example, can only be at one wedding a day so dates can book up well in advance. Others suppliers, like entertainment agencies, may have a number of options on their books but once those options are booked, they’re booked.

To avoid disappointment, I would consider now the time to book the following services:

  • photography
  • videography
  • caterers (if not already provided)
  • registrar/celebrant (if not included)
  • band/dj
  • hair & make-up-artist
  • stationers

Looking at these services comes with its own level of research and preference. It’s down to you to work out what your wants and needs are in these areas, as well as your budget and priority value. I would say, however, that research, looking at reviews and evidence of their work is pretty key! Also chatting with those suppliers is important to get a feel for how you’ll get along. If you can’t stand to be in the same room as you’re hair & MUA, yet you love their work, that discomfort may set the tone early on in your day (FYI this does not apply to the lovely Toni Todd featured below!)

I plan to do more detailed blogs on these services in the future, but for now I have a regular Monday Mini-Blog up on my Insta with tips on how to choose your wedding photographer, go check it out here!

How to plan a wedding

5: Start scouting for your wedding dress / suit

You may be thinking “whaaaaaa??!! Already??” but yes, already. Many bridal shops are now appointment only, which means scheduling slots into your weeks and spare time to start looking at gowns. If you’re lucky enough to find the perfect dress off the peg with minimal alterations, you’re winning. Many are made to order, or come with a generic structure that will still require bespoke alterations and adjustments. I have a more detailed guide into choosing your wedding dress here.

The same goes for suits, if a hire company is required, it may still need booking in to ensure all the members of the party are catered for with the right sizes for the right day. If the suit is going to be tailored to fit, time needs to be allowed for this to happen (as well as the fitting and measuring appointments.

And don’t get me started if you’re planning radical health regimes in the lead up to your wedding!! Making sure you allow enough changes for adjustments becomes even more important. This post may be about how to plan a wedding, but I have written one about how to look and feel your best on your wedding day.

how to plan a wedding

Chichester Cathedral Wedding

6: Send out ‘save the date’ cards or invitations

By now you will have booked the venue and hopefully some other key players in your supplier team. Each service should provide you with a timeline of any action points they require between booking and your wedding date (booking make-up trials/dress fittings/menu tastings/engagement shoots/music choices etc). Make a note of these micro details and when they’re supposed to happen.

You may also be closer still to getting your outfits. It’s time to nail that guestlist and get those invites out!! It may also be time to look at a gift registry, should you wish to include a link to that too.

I’m going to be real here. People can be a total pain in the backside (and we’re likely all guilty of it)….you get those invites out and even make sure to put a RSVP by date on it AND STILL you are waiting, chasing up and using precious energy on invite admin. It’s frustrating to say the least.

It may be worth investing in setting up a wedding website which can handle your save the guest lists/dates/invites/RSVP’s/gift registry/details of the day etc. (here’s a site for example that does this).

If you’re more analogue than digital, then make sure to create some sort of spreadsheet so you can keep track of replies/dietary requirements etc.

If you’ve hired a lovely stationer for your invites, consider also that they may also be able to provide you with bespoke stationary on the day (order of service, welcome signs, table name cards, menu sheets etc)

How to plan a wedding

7: Research and book additional suppliers

Consider the suppliers you’ve already booked the macro detail of the day, and you’ll have an action timeline for those already…. Now’s the time for the micro details, the threads that will tie in the theme, style and energy of your day, connecting all the larger pieces together.

This list is by no means exhaustive, whose services you’ll need to engage will depend on how you see your day shaping up, but here goes!

  • florist
  • cake
  • rings
  • venue decor
  • additional entertainment (music for drinks reception/magician/tattoo artist/lawn games / clay pigeon shooting etc)
  • additional details (dance floor flip flops / photo booth / wedding favours)
  • additional catering (ice cream van / pizza van / sweet cart /cocktail bar etc)
  • transport (for couple and/or guests too)
  • honeymoon (don’t forget that!!!!)

how to plan a wedding

lifestyle commercial photography west sussex

8: The final purchases

Pretty much everything major and minor should now be purchased (or as close to a decision as you can), it’s time to make sure you have some final details bought and ready.. you are really nailing how to plan a wedding!! This is actually quite a fun part as it’s some more personal touches, and you may already have sourced these earlier on, but if not, don’t forget these:

  • Bridesmaids/groomsmen/flower girl/page boy outfits including any shoes, jewellery and accessories
  • Your shoes!! Make sure you and your fiance have enough time to practise wearing your shoes inside so they get nice and comfortable for your wedding day.
  • Underwear. A nice treat for the both of you on your wedding day… 😉
  • Jewellery (including watches, cufflinks, earings, necklaces etc)
  • Bridal party/groomsmen gifts
  • Gift for each other
  • Any gifts etc to be given out during the speeches

how to plan a wedding

9: The final arrangements

This is it, you’re so close!! It’s all down to final arrangements and logistics now!

If you haven’t already, these are the final things you will need to make sure are organised, and signed off with whoever needs to know. Also, make sure that whatever is planning to happen on your day, someone other than you and your fiance are in the know… your wedding day is your time to enjoy, so make sure you have one or two people you can rely on who knows what should happen where & when.

Anyway, back to those final bits and pieces. Here’s what you may need to do:

  • finalise any readings
  • choose music (for ceremony, reception backgrounds and reception party)
  • nail down your shot list with your photographer
  • finalise your order of service and timings of the day
  • arrange your seating plan
  • write your vows and speeches
  • book any last minute spa or beauty treatments
  • pick up your rings
  • pack for your honeymoon
  • drop off any items to the venue/s
  • ensure everyone knows their role

August syrencot wedding

10: ENJOY YOUR DAY!!!

That’s it!! You’ve made it!! All the epic time, energy, though and hard-earned dosh has gone into this day. Sit back, take in the vibe and enjoy every last minute! You deserve it!

xX Fiona Xx

How to plan a wedding

Millbridge Court wedding

Sammy & Danny’s Millbridge Court Wedding

Sammy & Danny’s Millbridge Court Wedding

To say I was doing a happy dance when Sammy and Danny announced their nuptial location is an understatement! A Millbridge Court wedding had been on my wish list for a while! I was sooooo excited to shoot here!

I had met Sammy and Danny over a variety of weddings and events over the years through our mutual friends (and my wonderful second shooter Lee). On this occasion, Lee was planning on being busy as their wedding guest, while his fabulous wife Lisa was a bridesmaid, so I was very honoured to be tasked with their wedding photography, trusting that Lee wasn’t judging me in the background while I lunged and ninja rolled my way through capturing his friends wedding, haha!!

Millbridge Court Wedding

With guests travelling from all over, the Surrey-Hampshire bordered based wedding venue was a perfect location to host everyone, including beautifully furnished rooms available for those staying, and a secret hideaway for the newlyweds. It’s such a tastefully designed space with quirky features like antler chandeliers, and mirror walls while maintaining a crisp, lofty feel that makes personalising it for your wedding theme very very easy.

Millbridge Court Wedding

Preparations:

Millbridge Court has some incredible spaces for both sides of the wedding party to get ready. John and I were spoiled for choice while we captured the first part of the primping and prepping.

Sammy was in the light and airy loft room (that overlooks the ceremony room) with her girls, surrounded by beauty mirrors, dressing rooms and a chill out area, while Danny and his boys had a den with a woody, earthy feel and a much needed bar area!

There always so many micro details to capture during the preparations, as well as watching the scene that is unfolding. Sammy was in stitches watching her bridesmaid get stuck in her dress… this is the point that you hope the mascara is waterproof! I have to admit to not being able to hold my own giggles!

Danny went all out with gifts for his boys, and made sure to take the opportunity for some magic shots of his Louboutins! A worthy wedding day purchase if ever there was one!

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

With Danny ready for business looking super sharp and stylish in his tailored suit, it was time for Sammy to finish her transformation into the glam queen that she is.

If you’ve not considered it for your wedding, perhaps this is your sign that white gloves are a must to protect all that white satin, silk and lace! While we’re on the subject of inspiration, it’s also worth considering assigning one of your gals to ensure you can always access the bubbly, even if that means hand-feeding you!

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court wedding

This is it!! The moment where the excited atmosphere of the preparations gets super charged with nervous anticipation! I absolutely love this energy shift, it’s so tangible to feel!

With a final shot with the girls together before everyone starts to take their places, we’re off!!!! Danny’s looking happy and relaxed with his Best Man, it’s always this moment that the classic ‘have you got the rings?” comes out!!

Sammy saved her first look moment with her Dad for downstairs, using the reception room. Listening to them both warning each other to not cry, then both fail at not crying was the sweetest,  touching moment!


Millbridge court Wedding

Millbridge Court wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Ceremony:

The ceremony room for a Millbridge Court wedding is just stunning. With the full height picture window looking out to the gardens, pouring oodles of natural light into the hall, it’s a dream to photograph!

After being walked down the aisle by her father, the ceremony was an emotional affair with family and friends doing the readings and witnessing the marriage. Not only was there a room full of love and laughter, there were also very few dry eyes in the house. We all know the antidote to tears though….. Confetti! And lots of it!

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Portraits:

After the ceremony, there was a drinks reception with some time set aside for portraits. Sammy and Danny split this into a few components. Family, the bridal party and themselves, with a different location and backdrop for each.

After checking his new, engraved pocket watch (again!) we got started. The formal group shots can be tiresome for guests, so I try to plan it to be quick, concise and fun. No one wants to be hanging around for hours, it’s far more fun catching the canapĂ©s and getting access to the bar.

After scoring some family dynamics we switched to the pergola to capture the bridal party and their differing personalities.

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

For the newlywed portraits, rather than stick to the venue, we ventured down to Frensham ponds where we had gone for their engagement shoot. It’s a fantastic landscape with sandy beaches, barren heathland and treelined vistas. While this was happening, John stayed at Millbridge court to capture the magician doing the rounds with the guests who were getting seated ready for the wedding breakfast.

I loved the variety of shots we were able to capture here, from close-ups, dynamic landscapes and of course some details of their well styled outfits

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge court frensham ponds

Millbridge Court Frensham Ponds

Wedding Reception:

On our return, we found the magician was in full swing eliciting LOTS of awe, wonder and laughter. The details on the tables were so well thought out and in keeping to the rest of the perfect styling at the Millbridge court wedding. With the most incredible meal dished up, it was time for everyone to start dining their stomachs ready for the speeches and toasts.

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge court wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

So, the deserts were done a little differently here with the most INCREDIBLE self service display. It was very hard to not just stand here at the dessert buffet banquet and quietly help myself to some tasters!

The space at Millbridge court is designed so well, with outdoor areas for a cheeky cigar, quirky open-spaced through ways to stop and mingle and relaxing sofas for those who would like to relax a little after their meals. There really is something for everyone.

Millbridge Court

Millbridge Court

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

As with many weddings, the party doesn’t really start until the cake has been cut and the first dance has been danced. The hexagonal cake was monogramed and decorated with a perfect replica of Sammy and Danny… there was definitely no grooms attacked by ninja-brides at the cutting!

With music by The Deloreans, it didn’t take long at all for the dance floor to be filled and the ground shaking with dance-moves galore being displayed.

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Despite having a long journey home still in front of us, it was very hard to leave this wedding while it was in full flow, with a bunch of friends on the dance floor partying to our favourite band! This Millbridge Court Wedding was so much fun! Sammy and Danny definitely know how to organise and throw an insane party.

It was such a pleasure to shoot this day. I’m so glad that Sammy and Danny have a gorgeous Graphistudio album to continue to look back on as their life journeys forward. It’s also a superb treat to catch up with these guys over a tequila or two and all the subsequent parties that just keep happening!

That you so much for having us Mr & Mrs Horada, here’s to a lifetime of health, wealth and happiness!

xX Fiona Xx

Millbridge Court Wedding

Millbridge Court Wedding

Venue: Millbridge Court 

Dress: Proposals, Chichester (No longer trading)

Hair & MUA: Olivia Mills

Suit: Vintage Suit Hire Company

Cake: Vanessa Albury

Flowers: Longacres

Band: The Deloreans & Magician Richard Kettle both provided by Toast Live

how to choose your wedding venue

How to Choose Your Wedding Venue

How to choose your wedding venue

When planning your special day there are so many elements to consider. I have created a helpful guide on how to choose your wedding venue, which is most likely the first point of call on the wedding to-do-list! So whether you’re dreaming of a rustic barn, manor house, beach, or a romantic garden. This blog will let you explore how to find a wedding venue that will make your special day truly unforgettable!

ow to choose your wedding venue, bride and groom outside Winston house

Wedding Date

Your wedding date plays a huge role in determining wedding venue options. The season can have a big impact on your budget as the pricing of a wedding venue will vary depending on the time of year you choose to marry. Prices during low season are often much less expensive, while booking a venue in a high season month (between May and September) could cost you more.

Are you planning a spring or summer wedding? If so, would you consider your ideal venue having a beautiful outdoor ceremony space? Maybe a beautiful garden or a terrace? Do have a contingency plan incase of rain though!! Some venues are solely designed as an outdoor space and are stunning for it, but my concern would be the “what if”. Is it a risk you want to take?

Southdowns Manor Wedding outside wedding venue

Or is a winter wedding is more your thing? Then a rustic barn or manor house with a twinkling christmas tree, fire pits and cosy interiors might be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s always worth googling the venues you’re earmarking to see images during different seasons. What looks warm and inviting in the winter may look cold and stark in the summer. If that’s got you thinking, I’ve another post about winter wedding inspo over here….

Sussex Winter Wedding

If you are planning to get married between May and September then it is also a  good idea to start looking for venues as early as possible. This period is when wedding venues are in high demand, meaning that it could be difficult to find one that both matches your budget, and wedding vision. Looking early is also important because you don’t want to fall in love with your dream venue only to find out they’re fully booked for the next 12 months. Wedding venues can get booked a year or more in advance.

how to choose your wedding venue, bride and groom walking through meadow

Civil or religious ceremony

This is a very important factor to consider… For churches and other places of worship, there may be rules regarding how you have access to that building for the ceremony. Perhaps you or your family may have to be members, or attend regularly. Or is there a parish connection? Some churches require bans to be read and a certain number of services you should attend in the lead up. Some have a limited number of weddings per year, some have restricted access to other providers (musicians, photographers, videographers etc) that may be in conflict with aspects you would also like on the day. Some places of worship have very clear definitions of how their wedding ceremonies are conducted, and others are more fluid and open to the less traditional approach.

Chichester Cathedral Wedding

When having a civil ceremony, the world of venues available for your ceremony opens up! It is also worth noting that there are many aspects to this. There is the local register office, whom will often have a hireable room for ceremonies, or a registrar will have to be booked from the district in which your venue lies to come to your wedding to conduct the ceremony. The time of your wedding will be dictated by their availability. There is also other forms of ceremonies. Some choose to be married by a celebrant, or have a humanist ceremony, or a friend conduct the service. To ensure the legality, the marriage register will still have to be signed. Some people choose to do the “legal” part on a different day, ensuring that the wedding day spent with their chosen guests is exactly how they want!

Weddings at Arundel Town Hall

Location

Having an idea of your preferred location is very important during your wedding venue search. You have to think about things like, are there hotels nearby? Will we need to transport our guests from the ceremony location to the reception? Is it accessible for people with disabilities? Is there parking nearby? Where is the nearest airport? These things should all play a role in your decision making to give your guests the best experience on your big day.

I would definitely recommend giving your guests detailed information on travel/directions if the ceremony is being held in a different location to the reception. Or, will you be including in your budget the transport from one venue to another for your guests? Doing a test run yourself would be beneficial so that you can see how long it takes. This will help also in the scheduling and timings of the day.

If you’re looking to cut costs for your wedding, then a great solution is having the same venue for the wedding ceremony, breakfast and reception.

Wedding transport double decker bus

How to choose your wedding venue, a wedding in the woods

Wedding Style

Identifying your wedding style before you start looking for a venue will really help in narrowing down the search because you will know straight away what isn’t suitable. Pinterest is the perfect tool to help you get inspiration for your wedding style and also looking at my Portfolio of other weddings. Creating a visual mood board is great way to get inspired and will help you really visualise how your wedding will look.

Rustic barn wedding venue

You will then need to ask yourself questions to work out what style/theme you and your partner want. Things like, do you know what kind of wedding you want? Will it be formal or casual? Inside or outside? Intimate or a large celebration? Traditional or fun festival vibes? Adults only or children welcome?

During this process also write down the priorities of things you want the venue to definitely have, for example an outside space to have the ceremony (if the weather allows!) Doing these things and asking yourself the questions above will really narrow it down for you to find your perfect venue. If all this talk about style has got you thinking about your dress, I hear you!!! I’ve written a little ditty about finding your perfect dress over here…

Wedding Venue Decor Ideas

Meet a Wedding Planner

Hiring a wedding planner isn’t necessary, but it can really make a difference when choosing a wedding venue. Wedding planners are professionals with extensive experience, however this will come at an extra cost and is something you will have to consider. Many venues will come with a wedding planner included in the wedding package, which is a fantastic opportunity to get the best advice. They will know the venue perfectly to ensure that the space is created in a way to make it unique to you.

Bride and groom getting married at Chichester Cathedral

Budget

Having a wedding budget is important, so that you don’t fall into the trap of over spending. It is very easy to get carried away when you choose your wedding venue and suppliers that your well intentioned list starts getting longer with more ideas to make your wedding the most perfect day. Proper planning is so important!

It is very likely that your venue will be a large chunk of your budget and it’s important to bear in mind all the added costs that can come with a venue, like chair covers, table linen, catering, corkage, insurance and service charges….to name a few! That is why when you have found a venue that you like you need to ask questions and be prepared. Ask things like, what is the rental fee and what’s included in that price? How many hours does the rental fee include, and is there an overtime fee if I stay longer? Do you have liability insurance? Can I have my ceremony here too and is there an additional cost?

Many venues will offer wedding packages, offering things such as venue hire, catering, entertainment etc all included for a lower price. If you’re planning a wedding on a budget, opting for a wedding package could be a great way to save some money, as well.

Wedding breakfast and speeches at Syrencot Wedding Venue by FionaMillsArt

Having a set budget in mind will help you stay focused on finding a space that has all the important features included at the price you can afford to pay. And remember to ask family and friends for help where they can  to cut costs, for example, someone who can sing in the ceremony or play an instrument. Or maybe you have creative people in your life who could make your wedding invites or even bake the cake!! Use the talents of your guest list!

Wedding Decor and Style ideas, teal and gold

Guest List

You should have a guest list before you start looking at wedding venues. Even if its a rough idea, because it will save you any disappointment if you find your perfect venue and discover its not going to accommodate your guest list. Especially if you’ve set your heart on it!

Whether you’re planning a huge celebration or an intimate one, you want to celebrate at a venue that is perfect for your number of guests.  If you are having a big wedding with many guests then I would suggest to find a venue that can accommodate more than the number on your list. There should be ample space for your table layout and for the guests to mingle and dance. You should also be aware that if you are having a smaller wedding and you hold it in a large a large venue  it may feel empty and lack the intimate vibe you would want for a smaller wedding. Size of venue really does matter!

Worthing Wedding Bride and Groom walking up aisle smiling

When a venue is empty it is hard to imagine how it will look when filled with tables and all your guests. If you can visit the venue when it is set up for a wedding, then it is a great idea. If this isn’t possible, ask to see photographs. Another tip is to ask for a seating plan of the room as this will give you a good idea of how much space there is.

Think about Catering

Weddings are a celebration of your marriage and also a time to eat, drink and be merry so the food served deserves your special attention. Think about whether you want internal or external caterers, as many venues will provide catering services and others will leave it entirely up to you.

Wedding catering

Also consider what type of cuisine you would like when you choose your wedding venue. If you’re going for a venue with catering included, make sure that the type of food you want is available. Sampling the food before you make any decisions is a really good idea, the last thing you want is a venue with a fantastic atmosphere but average food!

Also, ensure that the catering provides food that is suitable for all your guests, check with them to see if anyone has any dietary requirements, whether they’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free etc. If children are invited, then providing kids’ meals is also important.

Trust Your Gut

When making the final decision to choose your wedding venue, it’s good to think of a few final things. Look at the venue from the guests perspective. Would you enjoy a wedding as a guest at the venue? Do the staff seem friendly, focused and professional, as well as genuinely excited about your big day? The staff can actually make or break your day!

Ultimately your gut will let you know when you have found your perfect wedding venue, you will feel excited, warm and probably get that fuzzy feeling in your stomach!

If you’re lucky enough to have multiple places that fit your overall criteria and budget, pick the one that makes you FEEL the best and excited for your Big Day!

Country House Wedding Venue
I hope that this guide has given you lots of helpful advice on how to choose your wedding venue!

If you are still looking for a wedding photographer than take a look at my PORTFOLIO on my website, I would love to hear from you.

Xx Fiona Xx

 

Here us some helpful links for when you are choosing your wedding venue:

Pinterest

Wedding Mood Board

Wedding Venues in the UK

Wedding Planner

Pangdean Barn Wedding Venue

Two Woods Wedding Venue

Syrencot Wedding Venue

 

 

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Lucy & Alex’s Alternative Autumn Wedding

Lucy & Alex’s Alternative Autumn Wedding

While I’m in the final stages of completing the full set of edits, let me journey you through some highlights of their wedding day. We started this October day at Alton House Hotel where the wedding prep and ceremony was happening. It was a glorious day. You know, one of those autumnal days where the sky is blue, the leaves are starting to turn and the air is still warm!

Alternative Autumn Wedding

As some of you may know, autumn is one of my favourite seasons. You may also know that I have a penchant for black clothing and I’m a little too fascinated by skulls and other kooky things.

There is also a strong chance you will not know any of this, but you may well know Lucy and Alex, who I discovered also shared my quirkier tastes. We planned from the offset how to incorporate those black and gold deer skulls into their portraits and I couldn’t wait!!

While Lucy and her bridesmaids were getting ready, and Alex was returning from a coffee run, we took the time to take some shots of all the details available. Lucy had chosen a stunning black gown from Hannah Black Bridal in Luton, with the bridesmaids dresses sourced from Ever Pretty.

I was chatting to Lucy during the lead-up to their wedding about how she found her dress. It seems there aren’t very many places that actually stock black or alternative styled wedding dresses, so she worked hard to get this right for their wedding! We’ve also got a blog here all about finding your perfect dress!

Alternative Autumn Wedding

The bouquets were adorned with black feathers, skulls and chains as well as a spray of white flowers… So striking! Lucy’s shoes were from Demonia. Apparently they were VERY comfortable!! A win when spending the whole day on your feet. After seeing Motley CrĂŒe a few of months previously, I was mighty envious of that jacket too!!

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Alex was wearing a Charles Gale green tweed suit and gamers dice cufflinks, which were a perfect complement to Lucy and the general theme of their day.

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Lucy and Alex exchanged gifts during their preparations. Lucy had purchased some pretty special rum for the occasion and had it delivered to Alex in a newly personalised hip flask (of course she made sure to have a flask for herself too!!) Alex had commissioned a necklace which contained images of their three cats whom were unable to attend their wedding day for obvious reasons!! Lucy was under strict instructions to open her gift before applying her makeup incase she cried…. unbelievably she resisted all watery temptations and held it together!!

Lucy’s dad came to collect her for the ceremony, but not before he had a little readjusting to his buttonhole. With the final details of ensuring Lucy’s mum’s garter was secured and boots all zipped up, all were ready for the ceremony.

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Lucy and Alex’s alternative autumn wedding kicked off at Alton House Hotel in their light and airy ceremony room. It was a lovely ceremony presented by a Hampshire registrar with some wise words of wisdom! I loved how the rings exchanged continued the green theme spun through the day.

Before Lucy and Alex walked back down the aisle together as husband and wife, we made sure to create a quick group shot of everyone. This is often a super time saver that is worth considering, as once that bar opens, gathering your whole congregation again can be somewhat like herding cats!!

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Alternative Autumn Wedding

While the guests journeyed to Beech Village Hall for the reception, we had planned a short interlude for some specific group portraits at the hotel, then off to an old abandoned Abbey that Lucy and Alex had found, just down the road! We went armed with smoke bombs and a host of inspiration! Here’s a peek at that time!

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Once at the Beech Village Hall, we were met with a “Rumception” drinks bar and a parliament of owls being handled by the guests. We won’t talk about the unwelcome deposits the birds made on a certain gown!!

With the weather so fine and warm, most of the guests found themselves mingling outside, munching on canapĂ©s while supping on rum cocktails (or from whatever concoctions were now in those hip flasks!!!) It wasn’t long before everyone was ushered inside to be seated at a decadent table display of blacks, greens and golds, including some hand-painted deer skulls set midst the flower displays.

alternative autumn wedding

alternative autumn wedding

After the meal, and with a box of smoke bombs still to play with, we gathered Lucy and Alex with their bridal party to have a quick play. This led to some others waiting in the wing for a turn and some time of hilarity while we all ran around getting engulfed in plumes of smoke! In the green at the village hall there was a play area for children…. this, however, is what seemed to keep some of the “bigger kids” entertained for a while!!

Gothic wedding

gothic alternative wedding

I loved the detailing that went into Lucy and Alex’s cake table, but what tipped it all off above that was the knife that Lucy had commissioned as a gift for Alex. Unbeknownst to her, their friend had also engraved it with key dates in the coded language used in World of Warcraft.

The evening reception continued after the cake cut with a first dance and a father/daughter dance. With a playlist full of the couple, and their guests favourite songs, plus a photo booth and continued bar, there was much more continued merriment to be had!!

alternative wedding

Alternative Autumn wedding

Alternative Autumn wedding

We had absolutely the most fun time shooting Lucy and Alex’s alternative autumn wedding, being able to sink our teeth into venues and landscapes we don’t regularly frequent, with a couple who truly chose to create a wedding day that honoured who they were and what their interests and personalities are.

I’m really looking forward to finishing the complete set of edits over the coming couple of weeks. In the meantime, if you’d like to pre-register to see Lucy and Alex’s gallery once they have received it and made it live for their family and friends, you can do so here.

Thank you so much for having us!

xX Fiona Xx

Alternative Autumn Wedding

Lucy & Alex’s Alternative Autumn Wedding

Lucy’s Dress: Hannah Black Bridal

Lucy’s Boots: Demonia

Alex’s Suit: Charles Gale

Bridesmaids Dresses: Ever Pretty

Venues: Alton House Hotel & Beech Village Hall

 

How to choose your wedding dress

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Congratulations! You’re getting married! What is one of the first things you thought about? The dress I bet!!

Your wedding dress is very likely to be the most important dress that you will ever wear, so you want to get right! In this blog I will give you all the guidance and help I can on how to choose your wedding dress.

Research

Many of you may have dreamt about your wedding dress and know exactly what you want, but for some it can be a real challenge. Whatever your thoughts on it I would recommend doing research. The wedding dress is one of the most critical aspects of your big day (apart from your Spouse of course!) and you want to look your best, so research is very important.

The first thing I would do is go on Pinterest….it will be your best friend that is full of ideas! Start looking at styles, shapes, colours and fabrics and create a board. As you go through this process you may discover there are things you never would have considered.

Bridal websites and magazines are also a great way to research wedding dresses. Another inspirational tool is to look through my portfolio and other blogs on weddings while you are here on my website.

How to choose your wedding dress

A good way to figure out what styles and colours you like is to look for models that represent your body type and skin tone. This will really help you when you come to try dresses on, because you will already have an idea of what is likely to suit you.

Research bridal boutiques and try and narrow it down to 3-4 boutiques that you’d like to visit. Look at the boutiques websites and their social media before booking appointments, this will give you an idea of what the experience will be like and should hopefully make you feel more prepared, knowledgeable and confident.

Venue

When you choose your wedding dress you have to consider the venue, and the kind of wedding you’re planning, before rushing off and paying a deposit or even purchasing something that might not work. The dress should be able to stand out and make a statement and remain cohesive with your style of ceremony and reception venues. Your dress and wedding theme should complement each other.

How to choose your wedding dress

The location will help with your vision when choosing your dress, for example, if you are getting married on the beach you might want to choose a long gown that is more flowing ( great in the pictures blowing in the breeze) or if you are having a church wedding followed by a big country house reception, a ball gown style might be more in keeping. If you like to kick your shoes off and dance….why not ditch tradition for a short wedding dress!

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Ask yourself questions like: will it be held indoors or outdoors? Is it going to be an intimate or grand reception? Are we feeling glitz and glam or festival vibes? The answers to these will play a great part in short listing the kind of dress you should wear. It’s your wedding day and you have the right to wear anything you want, but I’m sure you will agree that a dramatic, heavy ball gown won’t fit at a hot destination beach wedding.

How to choose your wedding dress

Weather

The weather will have a big impact on the style of dress you choose. Think about the time of year that you are getting married or maybe you are getting married in a hot climate. You don’t want to be wearing a strapless, backless dress in the snow!……and if you are you will need to think about things like a fur coat or a shawl. Additional removable layers are a perfect accessory for flexibility with changing weather conditions. They can also make great props for your newly wed portraits, changing your look throughout the day.

how to choose your wedding dress

It’s important to consider the design, the fabric and when and where you will be wearing your wedding dress. The temperature and humidity will vary depending on the time of the year. Thinking about this will help you decide, for example: a strapless dress in the Summer or a long sleeve dress in the Winter. Also consider your skin and its sensitivity to the sun. For those that easily burn, long sleeves in a light, floaty fabric may be your ideal choice to protect you from the harsh summer sun.

How to choose your wedding dress

Style

No one knows better than you what style of dress you like and feel comfortable in and your style is one of the first things to consider when choosing a wedding dress. You may feel more comfortable in a traditional dress or prefer something more modern and different. Whichever you choose, your personality will reflect in your choice of dress.

Consider some of the following when you choose your wedding dress: Do you like to wear bright colours? If so maybe you fancy doing something not so traditional and wearing your favourite colour? How would you feel in a fitted dress or would you be more comfortable in a loose fitting gown? Is there a part of your body that you like to show off….like your sexy legs?! Then maybe consider a short dress or a split? Do you have a favourite fabric or texture? The feel of your dress is a key part of the style.

How to choose your wedding dress

A mermaid-style dress might look perfect on your favourite celebrity, but it might not fit your figure or make you feel comfortable. You can check out body shape guidelines online to get you started, I will also share some useful links at the bottom of the blog.

If you are considering working out or going on a bit of a health kick in the lead up to your big day, I have written another blog on heath and fitness for your wedding, go check it out here for some tips and tricks : How to prepare to look and feel your best

However gorgeous the gown is, make sure that you ask yourself whether you feel like you in it. It’s got to suit your figure, your personality and personal style.

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Start Trying on Early

Starting to look early enough will mean you can take your time. It’s surprisingly time-consuming to put a wedding gown on and off, let alone three or four, you definitely don’t want to feel rushed to make a decision. Keep an open mind while wedding dress shopping. You may find your dream dress in something you didn’t expect.

Many gowns can take time to be made, and once they arrive, you still have to factor in more time for alterations and accessorising.

I would suggest going to try dresses on with just one or two trusted friends or family members. This really helps, especially because you can only try on so many dresses in an hour long appointment, too many people will mean too many different opinions and this can often lead to confusion and pressured decisions.

How to choose your wedding dress

All that being said, if you’re having a long engagement then don’t start too early! If you immediately start shopping for gowns, the one you end up buying might be out of style by the time your wedding comes around, or you might find one you like even better closer to the date.

Budget

Your budget is one of the most crucial considerations when choosing a wedding dress. It will determine how much you can spend on different aspects of your wedding, and is very likely to be one of the things that you will want to spend a fair bit of your budget on. Financial constraints can play a major role. I would not recommend anyone to get into debt for their wedding, however some vendors may offer payment plans to help spread the cost.

Decide how much money is realistic for you to spend on your dress. Browse through similar dresses in stores and online and use that as a guideline for what to expect when it comes to price. Something to also consider when setting your dress budget is alteration fees.

An extravagant wedding gown with hand-embroidered beads and lace will not come with a cheap price tag. However, if you are on a budget then there are other options that mean you can still wear the wedding dress of your dreams. You could wear a pre-loved dress, rent or even do it yourself if you are handy with a sewing machine! Is there a family heirloom that has been worn through generations of weddings?

High street stores offer some stunning dresses at great prices. You might find your ideal dress in John Lewis, Phase Eight or Coast and many more.

You may even find timing your search with the sales can net you a super bargain! My perfect dress was found in a half price sale rail at a bridal boutique. I’d expressed my ideal style to the sales assistant (omitting my ideal scarlet colour choice). Armed with a handful of dresses that I’d been encouraged to also try, I walked past the sale rail and saw a flash of scarlet. There it was… the EXACT dress I’d described, but in the colour I hadn’t dared to mention!!!

How to choose your wedding dress

Comfort

You will be wearing your wedding dress all day and all brides want to be comfortable. When you are trying on dresses, sit down in them to see how they feel around your torso…….and don’t forget you want to be able to dance the night away without your dress tripping you up or weighing you down!  Many dresses have options or adjustments for layers to be lifted and secured for the evening, or even a longer layer removed to reveal a shorter dress! You definitely don’t want a dress that makes you feel uncomfortable as the day goes on.

Wedding gowns are often made with stiff materials and may include boned bodices or corsets which can be distracting if they don’t fit your body well. Avoid going for a dress that doesn’t feel right even if it looks good on you. Being relaxed, comfortable and still looking a million dollars is possible with the right dress.

How to choose your wedding dress

I hope this blog has helped you with your exciting adventure to find your dream dress. I have added some useful links below to give you that extra bit of help!

If you are still looking for a wedding photographer than take a look at my portfolio here on my website, I would love to hear from you.

Xx Fiona Xx

 

Useful links:

Wedding dress quiz

What style and shape wedding dress will suit me

Minster Bridal Chichester

Love Long Bridal

Whyte Weddings

Bridal Reloved

Evelie Bridal Shop London

26 of the best bridal shops in London

Wedding health and fitness

Wedding Health & Fitness – How to prepare to look your best

Today on the blog we are looking at your wedding health and fitness and the things you can do to prepare to look and feel your best on your wedding day.

Skin

Starting to look after your skin before your wedding will not only leave you feeling more confident about your appearance, but most importantly will also give you better skin health.

Following a good skincare regime, drinking lots of water and even taking supplements like collagen are all great ways to get better skin. It helps with texture, reduces the ageing process and makes skin more vibrant.

Skincare Wedding Photographer

I follow a skincare regime tailored to me by Nikki, the Flawless Facialist in Worthing, and since I have been doing this I have seen a significant change in the appearance of my own skin. Having regular facials is also something I would highly recommend, perhaps combining this with regular infared treatments to repair your skin cells. Is there a recommended dermatologist/facialist in your area to set up a treatment plan to reach your skin goals in time for your wedding? This may even start a love affair with a new skincare routine taking you beyond your wedding day.

Anything that you are trying for the first time or if you are having your regular botox/fillers etc should definitely not be done too close to your wedding day, I would recommend doing this at least 2-3 weeks before your big day.

You should be wearing an SPF on your face everyday….even when it’s not sunny!!  This prevents sunburn, reduces the risk of skin cancer, and decreases the signs of early skin ageing.

Wedding health and fitness
Image copyright of patientfirst.com

Being mindful of what you are eating and drinking is vital to healthy skin as it all starts with our gut health. Consider food and drinks that are detoxifying, cleansing and anti inflammatory for example lemons, avocados, cucumber, celery, beetroot and green tea,

Sleep plays a huge role in how our skin looks, aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep. During sleep, your body prevents and repairs skin cell damage which will improve your skin’s appearance and its ability to protect against harmful elements.

Healthy skin is better looking skin!

Something else that I would highly recommend is having your colours done. This involves being advised by a trained colour consultant the colours that suit your skin tone, hair and eye colour. This would be super beneficial when you are choosing your wedding gown, bridesmaids dresses, makeup and even flowers and decor for the venue. Colour analysis really does work and will make an immediate visible difference to how you look and feel. I can recommend a fantastic colour consultant who is based in Horsham in West Sussex Colour Consultant Michaela at House of Colour

Colour ideas for Wedding Photographer

Hair

Chat with your hairdresser about your wedding hair goals. Even if your regular hair dresser isn’t part of your wedding day hair & make up team, they can help you with ensuring your hair health goals are met during your usual appointments. Regular trims will keep your lock looking healthy, shiny and split end free.

Find your wedding hair stylist early to discuss how you want your hair to look on your wedding day. Think about style, colours and cut. Pinterest is great place to get inspiration. Start making a board of ideas that you can share with your hairdresser & stylist. It’s vital that you have a trial to decide how you will have your locks on your wedding day. You most certainly don’t want any hair disasters on the day!

I’ve worked many times with Toni Todd Wedding Hair & Make up who is a genius in her craft, specialising in bridal hair (and make up) as well as running a successful hair salon.

If you are thinking of having a new colour or a drastic new hairstyle then this is NOT something that I would recommend before your wedding. You want to feel like you and this could really impact how you feel…..especially if you don’t like the result!

Supplements and hair masks are a great way to get your hair in the best condition leading up to your wedding. You can get some great supplements from Holland and Barrett. I use a company called British Supplements  and have had great results.

Being mindful, again, of what you are eating as your gut health will significantly impact the condition of your hair.

Wedding Hair careBody

Eating healthily with regular meals and staying hydrated is vital to a healthy body. What you eat and drink will have a big impact on your overall body image and how you feel. Consider fresh foods, grab some recipe books and try out some new healthy cuisines. I have found Gusto and Hello Fresh a great source of inspiration and healthy new meal ideas. I know I’ve said it before but lots of water is your friend! And cutting back on your alcohol intake will help with your overall well-being.

I wouldn’t recommend doing any drastic diets for weight loss before your wedding, unless that really is your intention, but just bear in mind dress and suit fittings. To look your best you will need to have adjustments for your changing shape. Ultimately having a positive healthy approach to your body leading up to your big day will result in you feeling more confident and great!

Making sleep and time to relax a priority, self care is a great way to look after your body.

If you are wearing a strapless dress then think about tan lines! If you are going to be sitting in the sun maybe invest in a strapless top like a bandeau. If a spray tan is your thing then be sure to do it a few days before the wedding. However, I don’t know about you, but I have had a few bad experiences with fake tan! So I would recommend trialing the spray tan maybe a few months before. I love a good body exfoliation for baby soft skin….so give this a go! You can buy great body scrubs but also treating yourself to a full body scrub at a salon is such a relaxing experience.

Strapless wedding dress

Fitness

Getting regular exercise for your wedding health and fitness is a great idea leading up to your big day. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health significantly.

Maybe consider a class that you’ve always wanted to try or maybe start running together. It will really boost your confidence and give you some quality time together leading up to your wedding that isn’t wedding related….because I’m sure that’s all you’ll be talking about!! Another option is a personal trainer….this is great for really targeting your specific needs and they will tailor you a programme that will get you the results that you want. I highly recommend Gemma at Reach Your Goal Women’s Fitness based in West Sussex. Check out her website here Reach Your Goals Women’s Fitness

Lifestyle commercial photography

Small goals……for example, if you’re choosing a dress that is strapless and your arms are something that you’d like to work on then maybe try some triceps dips or wall pushups. Adding little things like this into your daily routine can make a big change…..I do squats while brushing my teeth every morning!! I will of course get you in the best poses that enhance and flatter your shape, that’s what I’m there for!

Wiston House Wedding Photographer

Moving your body everyday will have a significant impact on how you feel about yourself. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change to your lifestyle, especially if you’ve been inactive for a long time, it’s best to start slowly in order to reduce your risk of injury. Things I would recommend are walking, swimming or try gentle exercises at home….YouTube is great for free classes in things like yoga and pilates.

wedding health and fitness,

I really hope this blog has helped you in the lead up to your big day and given you some helpful tips and inspiration for your wedding health and fitness. Most importantly it’s about you feeling great and being the best version of you on your wedding day!

Xx Fiona Xx

Wedding Health & Fitness – How to prepare to look your best

Health and fitness Wedding Photographer

August Syrencot Wedding

Hannah & Josh’s Stunning August Syrencot Wedding

Hannah & Josh’s Stunning August Syrencot Wedding

I first met Hannah & Josh way back in November 2021 at a wedding fair. It was quite a biggie as the world of weddings (and fairs) was opening up again after all the restrictions that had been put into place during the pandemic. Couples were excited to get their teeth back into planning weddings and suppliers too were equally happy to feel back in the game they love!

Chatting to Hannah & Josh further, after the TOTAL sensory overload of a wedding fair, I was so happy to book them in for their August Syrencot wedding. It’s a venue I’ve always wanted to explore as it just looks stunning! I really value the relational side of my job as a wedding photographer, truly believing that the better I can get to know a couple and build on our relationship. The more rapport we share will result in more natural images on your wedding day. The more comfortable and safe you feel with me, the more you open up with me “stalking you with my camera” on what is perhaps the most intimate, stressful and exciting day of your life! Ultimately, I want to capture the essence of who you are.

This starts with a pre-wedding shoot. This first shoot isn’t just about capturing your proposal/engagement. You may have been engaged for 2 weeks or 20 years! It’s about getting to know one another in a low stress environment. We walk, we talk, I shoot! During this time I also help break the ice of the awkwardness many feel about having their picture taken. With gentle guidance on posing tips and techniques, we also establish how you connect as a couple in front of the camera. I help you develop ways of connecting for the camera that look natural AND are flattering!

syrencot wedding

The big day finally arrives!!

My morning started with a degree of excitement over my journey… I was taking the route to Syrencot across the A303. Whilst this may mean nothing to many of you, my teenage years consisted of listening to Kula Shaker, especially their song, The 303. My second shooter, Lee, picked up the energy vibe straight away, and there we were downloading the album to iTunes, creating silly videos en-route to show the sat nav and play list in total sync! Anyhow, my quirks aren’t why you’re here. Back to Hannah & Josh’s stunning August Syrencot Wedding….

The lead up and drive through to Syrencot is just beautiful. The grounds are landscaped to perfection with so many different areas to explore. Lee and I were chomping at the bit to ensure we included as many of these photographic opportunities with Hannah & Josh as possible.

August Syrencot Wedding

Hannah and her bridesmaids had full access to the bridal suite. Oh boy was it filled with space and light! A photographers dream! Throw in the fact that Hannah, her bridesmaids (who were also her sisters and niece) and her mum were so welcoming and friendly. The vibe was great from the start!

While the girls were busy being coiffed and made up, I took the time to ensure those little details weren’t missed. Hannah chose a light, bright palette of whites and silvers which was complemented in this airy space, adding pastely pops of colour with the confetti and bouquet.

August Syrencot wedding

August syrencot wedding

While the girls were deep in their prep zone, Lee had discovered that the boys were still in their casuals roaming around the venue. I believe there was a sense of order to this exploration, but no one at the time was admitting to being lost or on the search for something! It was a perfect moment to see how the venue dressing was coming along. Each space at Syrencot has been thoughtfully, and stylishly designed.

Syrencot wedding venue

I love being able to capture the preparations before a wedding. Observing the dynamics between families, the enjoyment of being pampered and the bubbly invariably being opened! Once the dresses and suits start to go on the energy definitely shifts, it’s almost like someone switches a “this shit’s got real” button!!

Hannah had chosen her gown from Botley Mill Bridal, with the girls sporting their dresses from Next. Josh had a tailored suit from Dartagnans in Chichester, opting for Moss Bros for the rest of the groomsmen. The full list of suppliers and their links will be at the bottom of this post 🙂

Syrencot Wedding Venue

Syrencot Wedding Venue

Syrencot Wedding Venue

Syrencot Wedding Venue

Syrencot Wedding Venue

Before we kick off the ceremony, let’s take a moment for those wonderful Dads out there who are able to be major players in their daughter’s wedding day. I appreciate that not everyone has a smooth sailing relationship with their parents, or some are sadly no longer with us. But when they’re there, hearts on sleeve, tears twinkling in the corners of their eyes, boy! My heart strings are well and truly pulled!! Hannah’s Dad was no exception. He was fully present during the prep, playing cards with his granddaughter, opening the bubbly and happily being kicked out of the room while the dress went on. Impatiently waiting for the door to re-open, here’s his big, beautiful moment…

August Syrencot Wedding

Dad's first look at Syrencot

While everyone was busy with the finishing touches, a fine array of beautifully dressed guests were arriving! Josh and his groomsmen were now suited up and on form, playing the part of dutiful hosts, ushers and conversationalists while the guests took their seats. Managing to catch the boys together was also a success, as well as a quick moment with Hannah and her bridesmaids too!

August Syrencot wedding

August Syrencot wedding

August Syrencot wedding

It’s Ceremony Time!!

Hannah and Josh chose August for their Syrencot wedding. The venue has so many incredible spaces, both indoors and out, but for now, let’s talk about the buildings. When you pull up through the long, sweeping driveway to the Georgian, red brick, manor house you can’t help but feel the splendour of its time. The inside has been extensively restored, renovated and designed for style and comfort. With the BIlliard room perfect to accommodate your wedding preparations, a sumptuous master suite ideal for the newlyweds on their wedding night and 12 additional exquisite rooms, it really is a venue that can cater for you and your guests.

The luxury barn (where the wedding breakfast and reception is held) and the Glasshouse (for the ceremony) is a short walk from the house, through landscaped gardens and meandering paths, which in August were in full bloom. Simply breathtaking. More on the barn later, but for now, Hannah and Josh are about to get married in The Glasshouse.

With not a drop of rain in the sky, Hannah’s walk to the ceremony was beautiful. Flanked by lavender in full display, nature doing what it does with butterflies and bees busying around, it really felt like we were in the depths of the English countryside.

Hannah and Josh’s ceremony was intimate, with reading from loved ones and a palpable energy of love in the air. It was a real pleasure to document these moments after all their hard work and preparations to  make this day come together.

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding

A wedding isn’t a wedding without confetti! The biggest challenge here is capturing all the guests before they make a beeline for the bar! Seeing as it’s not our first rodeo, Lee and I fell into the long established roles of herding (me) and distracting (Lee). While I whipped the guests into position (and I’d like to think, entertained them too with my witty shuffle moves), Lee took Hannah and Josh on a walk back through The Glasshouse to prepare for their second exit! This is also a great time for us to step back and enable the newlyweds to have a moment of peace together and allow them to process the event that has just occured!

Syrencot wedding

syrencot wedding in August

Syrencot confetti shots

The Glasshouse at Syrencot

Although I am VERY happy to baulk at any form of tradition…. doing something unique and different, mixing & shaking it up, I have learnt over hundreds of weddings I’ve shot over the last 15/16 years, that when it comes to the group shots that it’s best to get them done. Most people at weddings expect the formal photographs to take place in that lovely gap between the ceremony and the reception. I can mix it up with the newlyweds and bridal parties, but for the general groups it really does work best when done in that gap. People haven’t yet vanished to freshen up, they’re in a mingling mood (and their ties haven’t yet been dipped in the appetisers!). Don’t panic though, when we do our planning and preparation meeting (about 6-8 weeks before your wedding), we cover your timelines, must have shots/formals etc, how to structure what in and when.

Here’s a selection of some of the group shots from this time, including some moments when Josh and his boys got silly with it!!!

Syrencot Wedding Photographer

Wiltshire Syrencot wedding photographer

Syrencot wedding photographer

Syrencot wedding photographer

August Syrencot Wedding

Newlywed Portraits!!!

The grounds are just brilliant for all the photographic needs of a wedding day. With places to sit and chat, lean and people watch, wander and observe the beauty of the place… it really does do a lot of my hard work for me! We had structured into Hannah & Josh’s timeline some time to wander the grounds to create their newlywed portraits, and this August Syrencot wedding did not disappoint! From geometric shapes, to natural paths, wild flowers and the backdrop of the surrounding architecture.  Lee and I were in our element. Crouching in long grasses, ninja rolling across paths and generally using this time to also give the newlyweds some time to chat to themselves.

Josh’s photobomb moment while Hannah was having her own portraits taken had us in stitches!! It was lovely seeing their playful side come out with one another.

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

The Reception!

With the last moments of mingling happening before the guests were ushered into the Barn for the wedding breakfast, we could hear hungry noises a plenty! Everyone’s appetites were well and truly whetted by the delicious canapees that were being served. Hannah and Josh were cheered into their places, the welcoming round of applause and hoots of joy and true testament to how loved they are!

The speeches, although naturally including some very embarrassing stories, were also full of love and honour as Josh and Hannah were celebrated for the individuals that they are.

Syrencot in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot in August by FionaMillsArt

Syrencot wedding in August by FionaMillsArt

It was lovely seeing the guests filter out in the evening while the sun was still peeping its head. A welcome breath of fresh air after a hearty meal! The guests seemed comfortable, chatty and playful, enjoying catching up with each other in the Wiltshire countryside surroundings. We did feel like creepy stalkers watching Hannah and Josh having a quiet moment together, however the shot was too good to miss… and under the cover of bushes with a super long lens they were undisturbed too!!

Wedding breakfast and speeches at Syrencot Wedding Venue by FionaMillsArt

Wedding breakfast and speeches at Syrencot Wedding Venue by FionaMillsArt

The Barn has amazing space for the music and dancing that comes with a wedding celebration! I absolutely LOVE the lighting that is featured along the ceilings. I must admit to taking pictures for myself as inspiration for my own interiors! The industrial design meeting the rustic vibes here is spot on! As was Hannah & Josh’s cutting of the cake and first dance!

FionaMillsArt photography at Syrencot

FionaMillsArt photography at Syrencot

FionaMillsArt photography at Syrencot

Thank you so so much Hannah and Josh for choosing us to capture your August Syrencot wedding. We’ve had a wonderful time getting to know you both on this part of your journey in life and can’t wait to hear what else lies ahead in your future together!

xX Fiona Xx

August Syrencot Wedding

August Syrencot Wedding Suppliers:

Venue: Syrencot

Suits: Josh: Dartagnans Chichester & Groomsmen: Moss Bros

Wedding Dress: The Bridal Mill, Botley Bridesmaids: Next

Flowers: Penny Lane Flowers

Cake: Daisy Cake Company

Rings: Fanci Bespoke Jewellery

Hair Vicky Leavey & MUA: Georgina Chambers Studios

Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

I know it’s old news now, but remember lockdowns? Well I’m still playing catch up on my blog writing from that period!! One thing that has stayed with me from that time was the influx of smaller, intimate weddings once people were allowed to gather in groups again! After years of mainly shooting massive, elaborate weddings, it was so refreshing to actually be a part of weddings that have been stripped back, the essence of love and partnership front and centre on the day. It’s recently been Pride month over here, with my local city of Brighton putting on it’s annual Pride event, triggering my “who’s on my blog list” brain…. but really, celebrating Pride Weddings is all year round, not just limited to one month!

I was looking through my archives and came across Sam and Gems wedding which has been on my list to blog for AGES!!! I met these lovely ladies via the wonderful non-contact medium of telephone calls and facetime, quickly putting into motion the plans for their wedding (as well as back up plans, incase the rules changed again!)

Celebrating Pride Weddings

A couple of rescheduled dates and venue changes later their wedding date was here! The final location was Leatherhead Registry Office with a very small number of guests. Sam and Gems chose to enter the venue together rather than a big reveal walk down the aisle. Both brides looking stunning in their choice of dress, each unique to their individual style. Their wedding was full of emotion as they read their own handwritten vows to each other, and exchanged rings. This official celebration of their union proudly witnessed by their mums.

Celebrate Pride Weddings

Celebrate Pride Weddings

Celebrate Pride Weddings

Celebrate Pride Weddings

Celebrate Pride Weddings

The ceremony came to a close with an opportunity for some group photos and confetti before the next part of their day continued. The grounds were perfect to compose some family shots and capture those immediate portraits with the newlyweds, especially before the rain came!!

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Sam and Gems had planned an intimate dinner at The Ivy in Guildford to continue their celebrations, but before heading there, they had structured into their wedding day some time to head off for some portraits. They both loved an area of the Surrey Hills near Hindhead, where they regularly walked and hiked, so we popped that address into the satnav and headed to their favourite spot (via their home to grab some wellies and brollies as the rain was definitely making itself known!!).

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

I loved how Sam and Gems approached the impending rain with gusto and a sense of “we only get one wedding day let’s embrace it!” It certainly makes my view of all-weather photography more fun!!! There was mud, there was rain, there was mist and some super boggy marshes…. but there were also streams of sunlight filtering through the canopy of the trees and some gorgeous views!

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

During our time in the forest, we “attempted” to use the smoke bombs that usually reside in my camera bag. This was quite hilarious and ended up with painted hands and smoke going everywhere but the intended direction. Sometimes smoke bombs can just work, and other times, the elements can play havoc. Thankfully we had a great time and much hilarity as we explored this, even though the results didn’t quite go to plan! My use of smoke bombs always comes with a caveat to minimise expectations of results as it is all depending on the weather, but, boy do I love it when my couples are up for a go!

Celebrating Pride Weddings

To finish the day with Sam and Gems, I accompanied them to The Ivy in Guildford to capture a little of their reception before they sat down to dine. Again, a lovely venue with a stunning upstairs room catering for large parties overlooking Guildford Castle. With family in Guildford, it’s on my list to dine there at some point!! The menu on offer looked incredible!

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

As with all my wedding services, my collection wasn’t complete without an Italian handmade album. It was lovely to see the choices Sam and Gems made. The album looked beautiful. A wonderful way to keep the legacy of the wedding day alive, in a tangible print form that can be looked back on for years to come.

Wedding Album

Thank you again Sam and Gems for entrusting me to capture your beautiful wedding and helping to remind me that at the centre of it all, love is what wins on the wedding day regardless of how big, small, intimate or elaborate your wedding day is.

xX Fiona Xx

Celebrating Pride Weddings

Celebrating Pride Weddings

 

 

Lifestyle commercial photography West Sussex

Lifestyle Commercial Photography

LIFESTYLE COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Lifestyle Commercial Photography can positively impact your business and in this blog I tell you the reasons why!

Having great photos for your business can significantly impact its success in several ways. In this blog I will go through the reasons why I believe Lifestyle Commercial Photography is a must for your business and brand identity, and how I can help you achieve this.

Lifestyle commercial photography West Sussex

Lifestyle commercial photography West Sussex

VISUAL APPEAL

High-quality and visually appealing photos catch people’s attention and make a strong first impression. When potential customers or clients visit your website or social media profiles, compelling photos can instantly convey professionalism, credibility, and attention to detail. They help create a positive perception of your brand, making it more likely for people to engage with your business. The first point of call in my service is for us to have a consultation. During this time I find out more about you, your business, your ethos and what you want to portray to your potential new clients.

Lifestyle commercial photography

Lifestyle commercial photography

BRAND IDENTITY 

Photos play a crucial role in shaping your brand identity and storytelling. By using consistent and visually appealing images across your marketing materials, you can establish a strong and recognisable brand image. These photos can showcase your products, services, team members and company culture. This allows customers to connect with your brand on a deeper level. During our initial consultation we will discuss styling, colours, shooting style, shoot locations etc to really help create the perfect shoot for you and your business that portrays your brand identity. This is a great time to creatively brainstorm. Having managed a variety of businesses in different areas of commerce prior to photography, coupled with a high understanding of human psychology and how they “shop” I’ve found I can use my professional and personal experiences to really craft the perfect photography for your brand needs.

Lifestyle commercial photography

lifestyle commercial photography west sussex

INCREASED ENGAGEMENT

Great photos are more likely to be shared, liked and commented on by your target audience. They have the potential to go viral on social media platforms, which can significantly increase brand visibility and reach. Engaging visuals can also encourage users to spend more time on your website or social media profiles. This will boost user engagement and increasing the likelihood of conversion. Here at FionaMillsArt, we love social media and will also actively share and tag your services in our posts, which in turn helps to boost visibility for us all!

Lifestyle commercial Photography

Lifestyle commercial photography west sussex

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Photos have the power to communicate complex messages quickly and effectively. They can convey emotions, tell stories, and showcase the benefits or features of your products or services. High-quality photos enable you to capture attention and communicate your key messages in a visually appealing way. This is very important because it makes it easier for potential customers to understand and connect with your business. Often when planning your shoot and conceptualising, we will look at potential tag lines and messages you may want to portray in your future marketing. This results in a delivery of images you can use straight away, or store up your sleeve for that perfect seasonal marketing moment later down the line.

Lifestyle commercial photography West Sussex

lifestyle commercial photography west sussex

BE UNIQUE

In a competitive market, great photos can help your business stand out from the crowd. Unique and eye-catching visuals can make a lasting impression and differentiate your brand from competitors. By showcasing your products or services in a visually appealing manner, you can highlight their unique selling points (USP) and attract customers who resonate with your brand’s aesthetic and values. Make sure to think about your USP and use it! Taking the time to ensure we understand you and your business is the most effective way to capture unique lifestyle commercial photography to sell your business.

Lifestyle commercial photography West Sussex

Lifestyle commercial photography West Sussex

INCREASED SALES

Compelling photos can influence purchasing decisions. When customers see high-quality images that showcase the benefits and features of your products, they are more likely to feel confident about their potential purchase. Professionally photographed products or services can convey a sense of trust and quality, leading to increased sales and revenue. We love seeing businesses grow and succeed, especially in this difficult economic climate. How you market that is up to you, but know we’ll be cheering on your wins from the wings!

Lifestyle commercial photography west Sussex

Lifestyle commercial photography West Sussex

 

In summary, having great lifestyle commercial photography for your business is crucial for creating a strong brand identity and attracting customers. It can have a significant and positive impact that makes you stand out whilst driving sales for your business to grow. Investing in professional photography will positively impact your overall business success.

I hope this helps in your quest to building your business, and if you’re considering taking a leap into having your business or products photographed professionally, get in touch for a consultation. We’d love to hear from you!

xX Fiona Xx

P.S. Thank you to some of the wonderful businesses who I’ve included in some of the images above… do check them out!

The Beachcroft Hotel: www.beachcroft-hotel.co.uk

AirBnB | The Honeypot at Newlands, Bury, West Sussex: www.instagram/thehoneypotatnewlands/

The Merry Harriers: www.merryharriers.com

Minster Bridal Boutique, Tangmere, West Sussex: www.minsterbridal.co.uk

The Novium Museum, Chichester, West Sussex: www.thenovium.org

The Flawless Facialist: www.instagram.com/flawless_facialist/

Gemma Kelly | Personal Trainer & Fitness Instructor: www.instagram.com/rygwomensfitness/