The fabulous Cheltenham Ladies College wedding of Zara & Christopher...
Zara and Christopher had contacted me back in 2014 as they were after gorgeous Cotswold wedding photography and wanted me to photograph their up and coming August 2015 wedding at the prestigious Cheltenham Ladies College here in my home town of, you guessed it... Cheltenham, the heart of the Cotswolds.
It was all rather exciting, as the college had only recently opened its doors to be used as a wedding venue and with its history dating back to 1853 and the fact that only a few weddings had ever taken place there, their wedding was going to be a real treat.
As only a few had ever had the privilege of entering the college in a wedding capacity, I thought it fitting to carry out a reccy, and after a brief phone call to the events manager, I was invited over to be shown around. I was met by a lovely chap called David who is in charge of events and weddings at the college and I spent the next hour being shown around the large chessboard floored halls, gardens and library.
David had saved the best for last and I think the expression on my face said it all when I was shown into the Princess Hall. For those that know me there is not much that silences this Kiwi, however when the large oak doors opened, my jaw dropped for before me was one of the most beautiful structures I had ever seen. It literally took my breath away and I was truly in awe of the craftsmanship and architecture. It was simply stunning on one hand and yet, on the other, like a massive blank canvas as my creative eye went wild as ideas for beautiful unique photographs flashed before me and the abundance of ideas that were coming to me as to how I was going to capture beautiful little moments that would be special to Zara & Christopher.
Well, as time does, it flies, and before long the eagerly awaited day of Zara & Christopher's wedding had arrived. We met at The Montpellier Chapter where Zarah and her bridesmaids were having their hair done by Beau Amis and make-up done by Holly Power before getting into their stunning dresses. Sandra, my wife was along shooting a Wedding Movie for the happy couple, so we started by getting a few detail shots of Zara's stunning dress, shoes, perfume and jewellery as well as a couple of the final touches to hair and makeup before Zara slipped into her gown. With the help of Zara's bridesmaids, we carefully took her beautiful gown through reception and into the library where I could get some beautiful full length shots of the gown framed by the many books. Her dads eyes lit up when he saw his little girl looking ever so stunning and he had "proud father" written all over his face when he entered the bridal suite.
It was a Catholic ceremony at St Gregorys in cheltenham which is only about a 3 minute walk from the college, so nice and handy for guests. After the ceremony Zara and Christopher arrived through the old St George's Gate at the college in a beautiful Rolls Royce and greeted by a red carpet and their guests wielding handfuls of fresh petal confetti ready to be thrown at a moments notice. There was champagne and canapés on the lawn where guests all had a chance to catch up with each other whilst I seized the opportunity to get the group shots that Zara & Christopher had requested before taking a ton of candid photographs of everyone enjoying themselves whilst the beautiful warm tones of talented harpist Charlotte Kelham played in the background.
Guest were shown through to the Princes Hall ready for the wedding breakfast and there was much "oooo'ing" and "ahhhh'ing" as they walked through those big oak doors and laid eyes for the first time on this most beautiful banqueting hall set with round tables and tall floral centrepieces. A stunning site to behold.
After the wedding breakfast and speeches Zara, Christopher and myself went on an all access tour of the college to take some nice romantic photographs. We found dark corners softly lit by the warm setting sun filtering through stained glass windows, large breathtaking ancient stairways that climbed up to secret hallways and mirrors at the end of dark corridors that were perfect for super romantic shots. We had found our very own Hogwarts!
Later in the evening the band had set up on the stage at one end of the Princess Hall and the bar was well stocked to one side, and everyone was primed and ready to go with their dancing shoes to hand. The happy couple took to the dance floor for their first dance and to give them something special I took to photographing them 3 stories up in the air from the pipe organ at the opposite end of the Princess Hall whilst using radio transmitters to fire my flashes way below me down on the dance floor. Zara and Christopher had wanted me to capture the vibe of everyone on the dance floor and the fun atmosphere so I needed to be able to somehow capture the movement and epic light trails. I ended up using a wide lens, got my groove on and joined in for a boogie or 5 and nailed it. The band were awesome and having them play on the stage really set them off.
Cheltenham Ladies College is one of my favourite venues in town for so many reasons. Not only is it stunning, it is a complete blank canvas with lends itself as a venue that you can dress as you want to suit your theme/palate etc or you can have it how it comes. Either way, everyone will be greatly impressed. David and his team are on point and if there is anything you want, and they have it, its so not a problem. They will bend over backwards to ensure your day is perfect. The food was carried out by the colleges own catering team and was to a very high standard bordering on fine dining - with clout. As weddings have to take place around mid term breaks etc, this limits the quantity of weddings held there each year and therefore keeps it a little exclusive and special.
Here are a few photo's from Zara and Christopher's Cotswold wedding photography Cheltenham wedding collection for you to peep at below.