Lisa & Lee love gin as much as I do – so much so they named all their tables at their Clandeboye Lodge wedding after their favourite tipple which I instantly fell in love with. Not only is it a great drink but there are so many pretty bottles it worked brilliantly! Their day in September last year was full of laughs from start to finish (including one at my own expense when I very nearly knocked over a candle stick during the ceremony but thankfully managed to catch it in time) and lovely moments like getting both their dads to light candles during the ceremony and the best man having a wee cry during his speech. We got the kind of autumn day wedding photographers would pay money for if they could (unfortunately ya can’t book the sun I’ve tried) and were able to make the most of it and get some gorgeous photos. They’re a pretty shy couple as they told me before hand so I shot a lot with a longer lens to ease them in, basically going for a walk and me following along at a little bit of a distance trying not to make them nervous. When I’m shooting portraits I tend to get people to head to where the light is perfect then go from there – I much prefer candid relaxed shots to overly posed grinning at the camera ones.
Lisa sadly lost her brother Tom many years ago in an accident and wore a locket with his photo in it to make him a part of the day which I thought was a genuinely lovely touch – she got her mum a matching one too. That and Lee and his new wife dancing with their gran after their first dane were my fave moments of the day – near had a wee cry behind the camera *shush no theres something in your eye* ahem…
Laura and Ben are tying the knot at the start of March and were both pretty terrified about being in front of the camera so we decided to do an engagement shoot to put all the nerves to rest!! Engagement shoots are a great idea if you’re nervous – they give you a chance to get used to the camera and see that it’s not actually as scary as you think! When I’m doing engagement shoots I love to pick somewhere that’s a total contrast to where people want to go for their wedding photos so you get a really nice, varied set of photos to look back on. As Laura and Ben are going for The Merchant for their big day we met in Donaghadee (where they’re getting married so I’ve saved the light house until then) and headed to the rocky beach at Orlock Point outside Bangor. There is literally no way on earth it would be manageable in a wedding dress and heels so a perfect reason to use it as a more relaxed shoot and it’s a place the guys love near where they live too! Typically for our lovely island the weather was as hit and miss as it usually tends to be – starting with so much sun we were blinded and ending with us rushing for shelter before the heavens opened. But in between we were blessed with some gorgeous wintery light and had a great afternoon making some of my fave ever engagement shoot photos!
I’ve changed up my editing style a little – trying to get more warm tones into photos and really pleased with the results so far – I don’t use filters or a lot of effects as I like the photos to be natural and timeless so subtle tweaks to colour and tone along with using my gorgeous 35mm art lens way more (I love it I’d shoot everything on it if I could!)
Can’t wait for their wedding day in March now!!
Not many couples can say they had their wedding twice but in the case of Ciara & John that’s exactly what happened!! On the morning of the wedding I arrived at John’s family home Annahavil house which is a photographers dream as a location with gorgeous old rooms full of character and love. Family photos adorn every wall and his dad who he sadly lost a few years ago was still so present from his photos, musical instruments and his family’s abundant love for him shown in sentimental touches like John wearing his dad’s wedding ring engraved with his own wedding date and one of his grooms men playing h9is dad’s guitar during their ceremony. The willow farm was really important to Ciara & John and their families for that reason so they decided to have a marquee wedding on the farm his dad had spent so many years working on.
After some time with the boys it was off to the Tullylagan to catch up with the girls who were having a blast getting ready. Alas Ciara wasn’t feeling too well but she put it down to a busy week preparing everything they had done themselves for their DIY wedding. Not long here before we headed to their gorgeous church in Cookstown for their ceremony where this besotted duo tied the knot.
And that’s where the drama kicked in – poor Ciara took a massive turn for the worse during the ceremony and after walking down the aisle as newly weds had to be rushed home where she ended up leaving her wedding in an ambulance not a limo. In a scenario that would have sent most brides into full bridezilla mode Ciara took the entire thing like an absolute champion – she refused to let it ruin the day and insisted on all her guests having a party in their honour while her and her groom spent their first night as newlyweds in hospital. Her attitude being that she had married the love of her life so nothing would ruin the day was truly inspiring and how much John dropped everything to make sure she was ok honestly moved me to tears! Her dad took it upon himself to read the beautiful speeches the two had ridden and there was not a dry eye in the house. As a documentary wedding photographer I’m there to capture moments so I stayed despite having no bride or groom to capture as many photos of their family and friends as I could so they could at least look back and see everyone who was there and enjoy the day through their photos.
Ciara thankfully recovered in tine for the pair to manage their well deserved honeymoon. Meanwhile in the background plans were afoot to give them two the party they deserved and her bridal party and guests organised a second party for them in the Ivory so we decided to make a day of it for their Belfast wedding day! Ciara and John got dolled up again for wedding two and we headed to Queens and botanic Gardens to finally get them some gorgeous portraits before sending them off with their family and friends to party the night away (and this time she left in a taxi not an ambulance!!) A truly wonderful wedding to be a part of (both parts) and an adventure they shared which I’m sure will make for a hell of a story for years to come!!
A few months ago after yet another disappointing decision by our “government” (let’s be honest they aren’t doing much at the minute and none of us get paid to sit around doing nothing so I feel calling them an actual government is a joke but that’s another story!!) to yet again put a stop to marriage equality I decided to offer a chance on instagram for some LGBTQ couples to win a couple photoshoot. It’s only a small gesture but I wanted to show that I believe love is love and nobody has any right to get in the way of two people who want to make a lifelong commitment to one another. I do a lot of work with the LGBT community and have a lot of friends who this ridiculous ruling affects. I could get married without anyone getting in my way, why can’t they? I view every relationship as equal to mine and Dee’s and fail to see why our country refuses to change it’s backwards rules. We are the only part of the UK still stuck in this rut but I do believe it will change if enough people show their support to change it. It’s not asking a lot – just treat everybody the same and in the words of the mighty Bill and Ted “be excellent to each other!”
The competition which started as a frustrated bid to show that I, working in the wedding industry, support equality and do not think there should be a difference, actually ended up really opening my eyes and I got to talk to and meet some really great people, which in fairness is why I do this job. I love meeting people that I wouldn’t get to in another line of work and getting to spend some time getting to know them. My work has let me travel to awesome places and meet so many amazing people. I heard some really lovely stories that made me wish I had the time spare to meet and photograph every couple but sadly there are only 7 days in the week and my work keeps me pretty tied up for six of them!
Lots of couples got in touch, the first of whom being Lisa & Erin. I was instantly caught by their lovely message and the fact lots of their friends nominated them too as a surprise. First off they are the sweetest couple ever – I couldn’t help but be moved by just how crazy about each other they are.The girls had said they liked the idea of something urban and edgy so we found some great spots of street art (thanks Culture Night for giving me some great backdrops by the likes of Dan Kitchener, Friz and Deep Love by ADW Art). We took a walk about belfast on a surprisingly sunny autumn day and then took to the roof of the Oh Yeah Music Centre for some gorgeous rooftop shots overlooking the city. theyre actually tying the knot next week and I hope they have an absolutely amazing day! Here’s a wee peek at some of their photos, hope you like them
So the record for most last minute wedding booking in my career goes to the lovely Caroline & Gar. Gar’s daughter Niamh rang me three days before the wedding to see if I was available – they had planned an intimate Belfast elopement from their home town of Dublin with only their nearest and dearest. Staying at The Merchant with her mum and sister, Caroline threw all tradition out the window by proposing to Gar (a woman after my own heart!!) and wearing a stunning vintage orange and pink number with epic blue sueded shoes.
I literally welled up behind the camera during their beautiful ceremony where they read personalised vows and readings and Brian Kennedy sang their favourite songs. everyone in the room was singing along and totally caught up in the emotion of the day. They were on a tight schedule to get lunch with family at The Merchant so we got some lovely street portraits near by with backgrounds that complimented their outfits. Caroline herself has issues with her vision at distances so I got lots of little details so she could relive the day and see everything afterwards and literally moments after lunch the adventure continued as they headed off on their honeymoon.
In chats with them I found out about the exciting project Caroline has founded called Valuable which campaigns for equal rights for people like herself with disabilities and she is currently on a campaign on horse back to promote the cause – such a genuine privliledge to meet them on their wedding day and I have loved getting to know them and finding out about their exciting work since. Here are some photos from their wedding day in the City Hall in Belfast and the Merchant Hotel.
Hope ya enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!