After years of wanting to photograph a civil partnership or same sex wedding I was over the moon when I was asked by two great guys to be the photographer at their wedding ceremony at Tylney Hall Hotel. While I’ve photographed closed to 200 weddings I had not booked a same sex wedding before so I prepared with a little bit of research on the sort of poses that worked with two men and it was with a little bit of excitement I arrived early on the day to get into the zone ready for the shoot ahead.
Both Ian & Brett and their respective families were wonderful to work with on the day and we seemed to click straight away which is always a good sign. After shooting some detail shots of the cake and grounds I headed up to Ian’s room to get some pictures of him getting ready with his Mother and Sister. I got some nice shots here and from there moved on to where Brett was getting ready with his nephews.
The service was held at Tylney Hall by Marianne, one of the local registrars I have worked with before so we could skip the usual do’s and don’ts the photographer has to abide by as she knows I know what I’m doing and I know how she works. I must say Marianne did a fantastic job, it must be so easy to say ‘Bride and Groom’ by mistake as she does so many weddings a year but she navigated through perfectly, even the little flourishes and comments that are not formally written down but add to the ceremony and become so ingrained through years of work were adapted perfectly for the guys. I’ve always liked Marianne’s services because even though I’ve heard them many times and she has delivered them many times more, it always feels fresh as though it was written specifically for the couple involved. The first time I saw her I actually asked if she was new as she managed to put so much feeling and effort into it.
Apart from the excellent stewardship by Marianne I really enjoyed watching this as from my position at the front I could see how happy the guys were and how much they were enjoying the ceremony. It’s rare to see a couple smile so much and I could start to get an inkling of much fun these guys must have together. I got he impression both Ian and Brett are both lovely guys in their own right from the day I spent with them and together they make a brilliant couple, probably one of most obvious good matches in all my years of wedding photography.
With the wedding service done the couple and guests made their way to the lawn adjacent to building and with a few clouds in the sky I thought it best we get cracking on the groups. With Alan the Toastmaster bringing the guests over to me that was sorted in short order despite some problems from the winter sun.
I originally intended to use opposite side of the garden where the Autumn colours were in full bloom however no sooner had I set up the first group when the sun came out in all its glory and was just to bright for everybody. At this time of year the sun is often low in the sky and while it can create some fantastic light for landscapes, it also has tremendous power to make people squint! As a result I had to move the groups into the shade where the background wasn’t my first choice, but was the only viable proposition in such brilliant clear light.
After the wedding groups I took the couple on a short tour of the grounds and it was here I found photographing the wedding of two guys has distinct advantages, with both halves of the couple wearing sensible ‘man shoes’ we could walk a lot further and explore more of the very extensive grounds at Tylney Hall!
Unfortunately the Italian Gardens were in use by another wedding party and so we took a meandering route to the Water Gardens taking pictures along the way. The water gardens has some lovely features to use and we spent a good 25 minutes exploring and taking advantage of the Autumn colours. With the Ivy in the Italian gardens a Crimson Red colour it’s call was too strong to ignore and we agreed to slip back after the wedding breakfast!
The wedding breakfast went as planned and after some very heartfelt speeches in which you could really feel the love between not only their couple, but their respective families we took the opportunity to head back to Italian gardens as the light was beginning to fade. The 50mm F1.8G lens came into its own here, I don’t think I would have gotten away without a tripod had I used my zoom lens here with the light levels dropping as they were. While the quantity of light was failing however, the quality was pure class and we got some great images utilising the Red ivy to frame the couple.
Tylney Hall is my favourite place in the whole world to photograph a wedding, but when that Ivy comes out for two maybe three weeks a year in mid to late September it makes it my absolute favourite time too. It would be unthinkable not to utilise it!
Finally it was back to the Wedding reception and after some rearranging of the room the first dance. After lots of experimentation my approach for this is now to stand with the disco lights directly behind the couple so we don’t get weird laser marks on their clothes or faces and if the disco doesn’t provide enough ambient light, to light the couple from the side using a flash triggered by a radio remote. It takes a bit of setting up, but the results are more consistent than trying to utilise techniques such as dragging the shutter to capture more ambient light when there really just isn’t enough to get a decent sharp image.
With my first Same Sex wedding in the bag it was time to say goodbye to the guys and make my way home to download my memory cards to the PC and then backup. I may have even had a beer afterwards to toast the happy couple!