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An outdoor destination wedding in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain

I'm not a regular destination wedding photographer as I tend to be too booked up to find the time to fly out and back, but I absolutely love the chance to shoot in fresh environments with different light (yes it's true, the different weather abroad does equate to a different natural light experience!) and Carmel and Neil's Spanish wedding in Sitges also gave me the opportunity to shoot new local experiences! It just so happened that their wedding coincided with a local festival where the whole town took to the streets with insane amounts of fireworks and very little safety regulations, so my prep photos are a little different than usual! Their actual wedding was held in the mountains of the National Park outside of Sitges, with the ceremony in a tiny stone church in Olivella in Catalonia.

 

All their close friends and family started the day with them getting ready at the reception venue, which was a private house they hired in the National Park with a marquee set up in the garden.

Neil wore a grey vintage Lanvin suit and the boys wore matching Liberty print ties. Carmel wore a Vera Wang dress with cream blunt studded Valentino shoes. They were fortunate enough to count a high end fashion MUA amongst their friends so Carmel had runway quality bridal make up! The bridesmaids dresses were a range of complimentary grey, blush and neutral tones.

Their ceremony was held in the tiniest stone church in Olivella which they filled to the brim with loved ones. A local priest carried out the ceremony and they had several readings from family. After the religious ceremony they had a big fun singalong!

The guests had a quick glass of bubbly in the courtyard outside the church before taking their transport back to the reception venue. The wedding was planned by Karolina Rafalowska so they organised what could be described as drinks reception 1.0

Their dinner was held in a marquee outdoors, it was such a novelty having a wedding pretty much all outside in the warm!

By the time we kicked off the speeches it was pretty dark, they had the classic combo of FoB, groom, best men- who rounded it off with a karaoke sing-a-long of Neil's favourite song by The Smiths, This Charming Man, a perfect segway into the live band and ensuing party!

documentary wedding photographer

fun vice wedding photo

If you're looking for a destination wedding photographer for your wedding abroad, feel free to get in touch!

An Autumnal atmospheric Round Chapel wedding in Hackney, East London

a bride with a bob haircut and autumnal orange flower crown and wildflower bouquet

Round Chapel wedding photography

I've been a Round Chapel wedding photographer once before at Katy and Adam's and it's one of my favourite alternative wedding venues in London! I had an absolute blast shooting this wedding, every venue was a real London wedding photographer's delight and Chris and Fiona and all their guests were absolutely superb to be around! A perfect blend of elation and emotion all round, you could really feel that the guests were rooting for them.They had this wonderful feedback for me:

"We are so pleased we chose Marianne to photograph our day! From the moment we met her we felt comfortable and at ease. After the wedding and honeymoon the day felt like a complete blur, but looking through Marianne’s photo’s was like living the whole thing again – a rollercoaster of emotions and memories came flooding back. She captured the essence of our day, the most natural moments between our loved ones all the way up to the crazy dance moves in the evening .

We seriously don’t know how Marianne has the energy – the marathon stamina must help – as she managed to capture so many classic moments. Every photo is a winner – all killer no filler! She is an outstanding photographer as well as being a top person to have around with a work ethic second to none. After all the wedding organising, agonising over decisions and prices – trying to predict the things we really needed to do and those we might regret afterwards – looking back now booking Marianne was the number one best decision we made!"

Chris and Fiona's wedding in their own words:

"We met in 2001 in a Bar called the Trinity in Harrow. I completely ignored Chris’s advances to begin with, but after experiencing the comedy duo which were Chris and his bro (and best man) Mike on the dance floor later that night, he won me round & that was that. Chris made a joke in his speech that he waited through 4 separate leap years waiting for me to propose and finally took it into his own hands when we went on a big 3 week trip to California last October. He waited until our very last night and proposed at sundown in the middle of the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree. It was perfectly romantic and worth waiting for.

Getting ready in the morning...

I got ready with my family & bridesmaids at an incredible architect designed AirBnb house round the corner in Hackney and we were chauffeured to the Chapel in a vintage White Taxi organised by Chris and Best Man Mike as a surprise. Chris was at home in Walthamstow but spent most of the morning delivering the wedding booze to the venue we'd been stockpiling all year! I wore a Temperley ready to wear dress (not bridal!) and Chris wore a Paul Smith suit

The ceremony...

We did it all in one venue - The Round Chapel in Hackney - which I cycled past everyday on the way to work & always wondered what was like inside. It was first venue we visited & the quickest decision we've made (normally v.indecisive) but it was perfect & got our wedding planning ball rolling. It was great to have the whole thing in one place – it made things so much simpler – just one (big!) room to decorate, no worries about the logistics of getting people between venues & more time for everyone to have one big party. It also made it much less stressful for Chris’s Dad who now needs the help of a wheelchair to get around. The civil ceremony at the Chapel was simple & relaxed. Walking down the aisle with my Dad to 4Hero’s Les Fleur, surrounded by everyone I knew was a thrill I’ll never forget. Chris’s face was a picture – he couldn’t believe how tall I looked!

In the ceremony we were able to include personal readings from my sister in law Sophia & our friend Brad. One of the most emotional moments during the ceremony was when Chris’s nephew Sam played the guitar and sang his own interpretation of The Beatles ‘Here comes the Sun’. Sam was born just after we met, so he’s a physical representation of how long we’ve been together – ages – 16years!! It was incredibly touching for him to sing for us & he was so good! We both found it hard to keep it together at that point. We were also completely unprepared for the reaction when we were pronounced Husband and Wife – the place erupted in the most enormous cheer. We think our family and friends were just so glad we’d finally done it!

We both love autumn and the season ended up forming our theme. The venue was decorated with flowers by Treea Cracknell - The London Flower Farmer - who lives round the corner from us. She works with seasonal British flowers and even in October was able to use a lot of blooms she’d grown herself in Walthamstow. It was really exciting seeing her ideas come to life. The experience of working with her has made us realise the importance of giving your suppliers the creative freedom to expand on your ideas… you’re likely to end up with something magical. Treea’s arrangements of beautiful seasonal dahlias, autumn branches, just turning bracken, along with squashes and pumpkins were perfect & really created the autumnal atmosphere we wanted. I adored my flower headdress and didn’t take it off it was so comfortable. The venue is beautiful in itself so we didn’t need to do much more decoration, aside from a simple string of festoon lights to highlight the balcony kindly put up by our friends Hannah and James. My Mum collected and pressed over 150 leaves from the huge Oak outside the house where I grew up. These were tied with bows at an impromptu leaf tying / place card writing party in the AirBnb the night before the wedding, helped by my whole family. A leaf was placed at each table setting. I designed the invites, place names, table numbers & plan and also made wraps for my Bridesmaids and pocket squares for the men with the print to match, including little portraits of our heads!

Food is my favourite thing, so it was important that everyone was well fed & never hungry. Humdingers were the perfect solution providing really tasty sharing platters for each table. Their event manager Niall is an absolute legend and really made sure the day went without a hitch.

The speeches...

Chris’s brother Mike delivered the most hysterical and well put together Best Man’s speech - a re-imagining of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ – complete with live piano and a timed power point presentation. The jokes were the kind that only a brother could get away with and it all ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Our friend Miwa Gemini came all the way over from New York for our wedding and performed 3 songs just before our first dance.  She covered one of our favourites – Neil young’s Harvest Moon - and also did two of her own.  For our wedding present she gave us a one off ‘one take’ recording of one of the songs recorded straight onto vinyl which we will treasure forever. For Chris, being a vinyl obsessed former DJ, it was really important to get the music right and for everyone to have a really good dance all night long. Realising at last that he wouldn’t really be able to DJ his own wedding party he researched & found Eddie, the Indie Wedding DJ. Dj-ing for a DJ is a hard gig , but Eddie was really great and totally read the crowd keeping the dance floor packed all night just how we’d hoped. He also graciously stepped aside at peak time to give the groom a bit of limelight doing his own set. An absolute highlight on the dance floor, captured magnificently by Marianne, was dancing the Electric Slide to Cameo’s Candy with my netball girls. In the evening we had Yard Sale Pizza’s delivered in batches, which was the answer to everyone’s late night hunger dreams and they are still all talking about how good it was!

Final tips from the couple...

Planning a wedding is stressful – we completely underestimated how it would take over our lives. The best advice is to try not to get swept away with the pressure to have everything that’s on offer. Think about the most important things to you both. Also once you’ve decided on your suppliers trust them to deliver – we definitely spent too much time worrying about things we didn’t need to. One thing you must remember on the run up is that it’s all going to be completely worth it in the end – the feeling of collective happiness you will get one the day is absolutely indescribable and priceless. You will be grinning from ear to ear…and if you’re lucky enough to have Marianne as your photographer this feeling will be tied up in every single shot, committed to film & and yours to keep forever."

If you're looking for a Round Chapel wedding photographer, don't hesitate to get in touch!

A Waltham Abbey and Mulberry House raver wedding

Al and Victoria did two of my favourite wedding trends: Firstly, Victoria gave a speech. I find I've hit the point where 3/4 of my couples are taking the progressive, modern move of having brides or mums speaking at the wedding. Secondly, Al chose his own outfit and it was equally as surprise reveal for Victoria as it was for him seeing her for the first time. I have long felt that guys get the short end of the straw in weddings, with limited choices in wedding attire and rarely a totally free choice. Al looked absolutely dapper in his white tuxedo jacket and velvet crested loafers, which the groomsmen also wore. The bridesmaids wore the most stunning collection of dresses, Victoria told them the only criteria was a gold-ish kind of match, and they wore a matching but different ensemble of sequins and textures.

Their ceremony was at Waltham Abbey, they arrived and left in style in a series of vintage cars, a passion of Victoria's dad. He reminded me several times throughout the day that I'm a terrible driver! I don't always include many shots of the ceremony as its usually a restricted environment to shoot in so its harder for me to get a variety of shots that meet my high blog standards, but Al and Victoria are married by Al's father, and it was a wonderful space where I was able to catch both Al's super emotional reaction at the front, the stunning light falling onto his dad in the pulpit, and his friends having a bit of a laugh during the hymns.

Mullbery house is a fab venue in Essex with a marquee set up for the evening dance floor and multiple connected rooms for dinner and drinks. Victoria and Al decorated the entrance with various photos of family members' weddings, and succulents in gold pots. Their wedding favours were mini alcohol bottles (any way to get in more booze they said!) and they created a paper flower backdrop for their top table. They also had alcohol bottle and golden pineapple centrepieces.

They also gave each table a go pro with various attachments so everyone could tell their story of the wedding and they were going to edit it together as the wedding video, I feel this was surely opening themselves up to some risky footage but that's all part of the fun! Their guests proved they certainly were lots of fun! I've never seen so many impromptu games played over a wedding dinner. People started up Fives, rather messy eating and drinking challenges...

They had their speeches after the dinner, as I said at the start, Victoria also gave a lovely speech alongside the usual bestman, groom and father.

Instead of love, they decorated their dance floor with RAVE light up letters, a first for me! They also had alongside the usual English evening buffet, a jerk chicken food stand outside, absolutely fantastic!

Booze and cigars were definitely the rounding off of this epic wedding day!

A sweet Isle of Wight wedding at Albert Cottage

Max and Ben are an awesome couple who got married on Max's home Island, The Island a.k.a the Isle of Wight! I've shot once before on the IOW at Priory Bay but this time I was at a local Church and another popular wedding venue, Albert's Cottage. We started the day at Ebony Hair salon where Max and all her bridesmaids had both their hair and make up done. After that we all went to Max's parents' beautiful blue house to jump into the dresses- I always prefer preps at people's homes because it means everything in the scene is a meaningful part of the day. I know some people feel a hotel room might be "better" because it's clutter free, but I say bring on all the sentimental items! I found it quite fun that Max's family are such an integral part of their local community, that neighbours came out to watch Max both when she was leaving the house and also before and after the Church! That's something I don't tend to see in London!

The ceremony was held at All Saints Church near Gurnard with the loveliest, very funny vicar!

After the ceremony we went by the beach to Max's favourite spot and braved the wind for a few couple shots

Heading back to Albert Cottage, they headed into their marquee for their speeches and dinner!

After the dinner, there was still a bit of light so we finished off the group photos and then Max had an impromptu bouquet throw upon the insistence of her school friends!

Their first dance was quickly followed by a surprise firework display they had planned for everyone! What they didn't plan was one of the fireworks catching one of the trees and setting fire to it, and having to call the local Fire services out! From a photographers point of view it certainly made for a unique end to the evening!

 

Marianne Chua.

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