Caroline & Peter's Wedding at Leeds Castle near Maidstone, Kent - 22 June 2008

Just over a year ago I met a wonderful family at Anna & Steven's wedding who thought I might be the right photographer for their big day at Leeds Castle. Any of you that know me will appreciate straight away that the mention of such an amazing venue had me immediately hyperventilating! Caroline proved a lovely bridesmaid on Anna's day and I was thrilled to hear that Anna and Caroline would be switching roles in June 2008.

Fast forward to 3rd September 2007. Caroline & Peter returned from their holiday to the USA... a married couple! They decided to tie the knot in Las Vegas and I have to say the photos are brilliant. So their big day on 22nd June 2008 became a renewal of their vows - the UK wedding.

I spent a lovely afternoon with them both on their pre-wedding and was in hysterics when I heard that the photographer has a full hour for bride & groom portraits after the ceremony. Again, anyone who knows me, will appreciate that I try and wrap up these shots in 15 to 20 minutes. It was only when I visited Leeds Castle the day before that I realised why you need an hour. The venue is enormous. It takes 5 minutes just to get from one room to another!

To see their mini slideshow simply click on the image below. To see all of their pictures, once in the slideshow view, click on the shopping basket and when prompted the password is Caroline & Peter's surname.

I woke up early on the day praying for good weather (the day before had been dull & rainy) and was greeted by fierce sun. Hurrah! [Actually it was so sunny that the group shots proved difficult. You've really got to take them in front of the Castle but with it being south-facing everyone was blinded by the sun... sorry guys & girls. Plus the fact that Caroline's veil practically took off it was so windy!]

The girls got ready with a minimum of fuss and the ceremony was really special. It was a beautiful room to have the service in and Caroline & Peter both looked stunning. After two lovely readings, an exchange of rings and the renewal of their vows they walked back up the aisle together with huge smiles. A champagne reception was followed by a terrific guided tour of the Castle while we did our bride & groom portraits. This has to be one of my favourite moments from 2008 so far... I placed them both on the lovely drawing room sofa & chair ready to take my shot when the tour walked in and took up positions all around the room. The guide carried on as if it was totally normal to have a bride & groom posed as if part of the exhibit. Classic. [I've put a shot of how it looked in the slideshow]

The session was great fun - we'd always imagined me shouting 'top snuggling!' in and around the Castle but I think I managed a modicum of decorum. The only technical fault to proceedings was me dropping my new Nikon D3 that had arrived in the post less than 24 hours earlier plus my lovely 17-35 lens. Ooops. If you think of where you'd 'prefer' to drop your camera I'm guessing off a 5 foot high stone ledge onto 950-year old cobblestones would be pretty far down on your list... Top camera though - had it properly checked the following week. A few scratches but no long term damage. Phew!

Now if you're going to have a banquet I can imagine no better place than the dining room at Leeds Castle with a portrait of Henry VIII hovering over proceedings. A simply delicious 3 course meal for the guests followed by the cutting of the fabulous Choccywoccydoodah cake and coffee in the drawing room. I loved the fact that the Castle becomes like a proper home once the last visitors leave at 6pm. The corded areas all become open and it's amazing to think that you are sitting having coffee in rooms where once kings and queens sat.

And finally as the guests all departed leaving a few very lucky ones to sleep in beds the size of bouncy castles we walked over the moat for a last shot in front of the lit Castle. Quite breathtaking.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and am grateful to Peter & Caroline and Roger & Carole for making me so welcome and for your kind hospitality. To Rosie and the team at the Castle my thanks too. As I drove down the drive past lots of grazing bunnies I reflected on how lucky I am to work with such wonderful people.

Thanks for these you guys!

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