Cissbury Barns Wedding Photographer
Many of you may be thinking, “I recognise this couple?!” Well, of course you do, they’ve been incredible models for me in the past on styled shoots at The Weald & Downland Museum and also Bailiffscourt Hotel. This time, however, IT WAS THEIR REAL WEDDING!!
I’ve known this couple for many years and after seeing their relationship develop and grow it was a true honour to be their wedding photographer. I had never photographed at Cissbury Barns either, so I was doubly excited for their day 🙂
As with all of my wedding photography collections, an engagement shoot is a must. We split this into two parts… after Joel proposed during a sunrise walk up The Trundle near Goodwood, we met later that day in Chichester so they could have some shots for the Facebook announcement!! Classic Jess & Joel forward planning, who am I to refuse such a request!!
They later planned their proper engagement shoot at Elmer Beach, a place they regularly go to walk, swim and generally chill! I loved the playfulness they both had on this day… A far cry from the previous wedding shoots we’d structured!
Jess and Joel had chosen September to marry, a wonderful month in my opinion… still basking in the Summer warmth while the surrounding backdrops still full of light and colour, starting that gorgeous warmed toned change into the rich colours of Autumn.
To start the day I popped to Joel’s parents house to spend some time with him and the boys while they faffed with ties and buttonholes! It was a very chilled morning, beers were open and the atmosphere was full of joy! The boys looked awesome in their coordinating gray suits from Astares Menswear, with Joel himself looking stylish in his Herbie Frogg three piece suit. I love the attention to detail with the cufflinks from EllieEllie and coordinating blush-gold ties sourced from Swagger & Swoon.
I couldn’t resist getting some shots with Joel and his parents. I’ve been very lucky to have got to know them all over the years and love their cheeky interaction with each other… Joel especially taking great joy to continually tease his parents which they seem to relish in with equal joy and love!
The weather was perfect for some action shots with the groomsmen too, these boys certainly loved strutting their stuff for the camera. In fact, I don’t think any form of encouragement was needed from my part at all!!
Next stop was driving across town to see Jess while she and the girls got ready. They had rented a stunning AirBnB on the seafront to host them all with tremendous views over the sea! I think myself very lucky to also live in this stunning area, it was a great move on Jess’ part to pick this spot. Toni Todd was working creative wonders on Jess’ hair and makeup while Jess could peacefully look out to the horizon and take in that fresh, sea air. The girls were busy getting ready downstairs while this was happening, each requiring varying levels of help from each other to get those straps just perfect!!
While the bridesmaids were wearing stunning silver toned Amore dresses from Etsy, Jess had chosen an Enzoani Blue Juri gown from Proposals in Chichester. A delicately detailed dress which showed off her shape to perfection. The flowers were from Fleur de Lis, with blush hoops for the girls to hold and as a something blue, Jess’ were finished with blue fabric as a nod to the movement of the sea they were so close to. Jess, an accomplished calligrapher and sign writer had also created lovely, personalised hangers and gift boxes for her ladies! A lovely touch.
I loved the quiet moments while Jess was getting into her dress, followed by the loud exclamations of joy as she revealed herself to her waiting friends and family. A quick few moments were spent with the bridal party on the seafront to make the most of their location. Time well spent I feel!
Both Jess and Joel practice their faith, so chose to get married in Joel’s childhood church, The Shore Community Church where Joel’s mum Julie works and is on the leadership team. This meant that Julie could actually marry them, an incredibly personal honour for any parent to be able to do.
Jess arrived and was led into the church by both her Dad and Step-Dad. A wonderful way to honour both Dads in her life. Preceded by her bridesmaid and flower girls, it was wonderful to see the joy and anticipation on both hers and Joel’s faces.
The service, led by Joel’s mum Julie, was also full of other personal touches. Jess’ signwriting was evident in much of the decor that sat alongside items decorated by To Have and to Hire. The band leading worship were all friends, Jess’ mum played the flute and Jamie, the Minister of The Shore, served up a very humorous address! The stationary was designed by Jess and Joel themselves to tie in with their theme. A superbly personal service.
I’ve not known Jess to often wear heels, so it came as no surprise when I looked down at one point to see her at the front of church bare footed!! I couldn’t resist a quick shot!!
After being prayed for by friends and family, Jess and Joel ensured they were first in line for the donuts waiting in the foyer! The timings of the day were quite tight, so we elected to dash straight to the venue so the newlyweds could enjoy 15 mins alone before the arrival of the rest of their guests.
Set high up in the South Downs near Findon, Cissbury Barns is a stunning, secluded wedding venue. It was a real treat to spend some time with the newlyweds whilst giving them some time alone to just catch up on the last 24 hours. This moment immediately after marrying is so precious, as all the flushes of joy are literally buzzing around the couple! Thankfully armed with the photographers’ toolkit that includes super long lenses, I’m able to give a couple space and privacy whilst shooting these precious portraits. I think you’ll agree the setting is gorgeous!
Before too long the guests arrived and started enjoying the available bar and canapes. The time to sit down for the wedding breakfast was arriving fast so with the help of a *very* organised best man, we worked through the list of group shots Jess & Joel has created.
Prior to the meal, it was important that Grace was said, this came courtesy of Grandad! The food was delicious and thoroughly enjoyed by all, including me! Usually I’m hidden away in a quiet room during the meal, however on this occasion due to our friendship and knowing many of the guests too I was seated in the hall with the others. It was great to catch up with many I’d not seen for a while (wedding season can do that to us photographers!)
Speeches came in due course, Jess even managed to surprise Joel and get on the mic gifting them some new jumpers as a nod to their new marital status. The highlight had to be Joel suitably embarrassed by a wonderful, yet cheeky speech by his best man.
Before the evening party kicked off with a bang, we took some time during the golden hour to capture some more creative photographs with the bridal party as well as some intimate portraits of Jess and Joel. Incidentally, as well as winning Wedding Photographer of the Year 2019 in the Master Photographers Association South Central region, I also scooped the 2nd prize with one of the images I took during this golden hour moment! #humblebrag lol!!
The flower girls had a great time spent with Jess as they showed off their matching metallic shoes courtesy of Asos & Toms!
The first dance was a beautiful moment where one of Jess’ bridesmaids played and sung in their first dance together as a married couple. The 88’s then kicked off with all the party tunes which proved a hit with the crowd, especially when Adrian, the sax player, bought out his illuminating saxophone to the dance floor! A first-timer as a Cissbury Barns Wedding Photographer, I was so impressed with the venue and the service provided. They had a great spaces available for those who wanted to dance, those wanting some chilled time to chat and drink, those wanting to play party games or toast marshmallows.
The evening was finished off with a sparkler exit before the newlyweds departed for their first newlywed night together!
Once the images had gone through the editing process the next stage was to design their Graphistudio album! In previous consultations Jess and Joel fell into the classic roles where Jess loved the images and how hers might look on a spread, while Joel spent hours marvelling over the materials box with it’s secret compartments and sliding doors! Before too long we had a design that worked perfectly so we completed our collection by supping on champagne and beer while they opened their album for the first time ever! I absolutely love this moment, seeing all the years of planning and the beauty of the day, presented in a timeless album, a legacy they can cherish and look back on for many generations to come.
Thank you so much for including me in such a joyful day. It has been a pleasure and an honour to be a small part in this journey… I also love how we still have pizza nights long after the wedding has passed where Joel takes great pleasure in cheekily getting my kids all hyped up just before their bedtime is due!
xX Fiona Xx
Cissbury Barns Wedding Photographer | Jess & Joel