Thursday, 25 May 2017

Best Wedding Photographer - 2017 - Its official

So we had been shortlisted again by I Do Awards as Best Wedding Photographer of 2017. This was a super achievement on its own. We were shortlisted also last year. This year the Presentation Ceremony was going to be a grand event yet again. With Jo-Jo from Hallam FM announcing the winners. The day arrived - 16th May 2017. Michele had a new frock and I dressed up like a penguin - again. Category after category was announced - Best Cake Maker, Best Venue, Best Stationer, Best Bridal Wear and so on. Then Best Photographer. I saw Michele tense up - her heart stopped. We were named along with five other quality photographers. And the winner is ....... Altered Images.
OMG. I don't know how I made it to the stage and Michele was struggling to walk in those enormous new heels. So, we had done it. On reflection we have worked hard. We produce quality but the most important thing we have learnt is to treat our customers like Royalty. The bride at her wedding is our Princess and the bridegroom is our Prince. That is our philosophy.Then finalising the wedding we know we have done our job well when they see their album for the first time and that give away tear is just there. We love this job. And it would not be fair without me saying how much I adore my own wife, respect her. She is my rock, always there, always supporting. I love you.

Kerie and Ewan have a beautiful pavilion wedding at Kings Croft.

So here we are. After knowing each other for more than eight years this lovely couple have decided that the time is right to make it known that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. And what a beautiful venue they have chosen to share their love with family and friends. Ewan met Kerie through a mutual friend on Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg - this is your doing) and after a few messages he invited her out on a blind date. Kerie said he was a gentleman. He picked Kerie up at her home and paid for dinner. He had told her that he had lived in Germany until he was 17 and that is why they had not spoken on the phone. Kerie was shocked that he wasn't German but his dad had been stationed in German through the army. Love blossomed and Ewan popped the question over a romantic candlelit dinner in Riviera Maya, Mexico on Kerie's birthday. It was a shock! He got down on one knee; omg.
Kerie was getting ready at King's Croft having her hair and makeup done by Nikki and Raya of Nouveau Hair and Beauty from South Elmsall. The dress was hung at the bottom of the four poster bed. A pure white princess dress, with layers of net and a long, long, long cathedral veil. Kerie spotted the dress in Wed2B and it was the first one she tried on but she fell in love with it straight away. It was a full dress and Kerie would recommend to other brides to try something lighter and not too big as she found sitting uncomfortable and had to stand most of the time. After buying the dress Wendie from Perfect Fit Bridal Couture completely transformed it, adding soft and romantic tulle sleeves. Wendie works miracles so if you need a seamstress she is the one to look up. The bridesmaids dresses all had individually named hangers and were hanging from the window pole. They were light-weight in dusky pink with steel grey sashes; obtained from Coast. The flowers had just arrived, hand delivered by Georgina from Mrs Bouquets. The bride had a beautiful bouquet of cream and pink roses set among gypsophila and would really complement the dresses. The bridesmaid were to carry bouquets of gypsophila - my favourite!

The chaps were also getting ready at Kings Croft. There is a terrace of apartment-suites within the grounds so they were well away from the bride. Best man Daniel had the rings. They were bought at Ernest Jones. Ewan is a mechanic so he wanted a tough ring and plumped for tungsten. Kerie wanted something more feminine but had problems getting one to fit with her beautiful star shaped engagement ring. The chaps were just finishing out getting their suits on, supplied by Jeff Banks, getting the cuff-links in and button-holes. All looking very handsome.

A few finishing touches for the bride and her girls and it was ready to go.A few tears from dad, Steve, and mum Lynn and then Bill, toastmaster stroke master of ceremonies, from Kings Croft gave the knock. He is so down to earth and a real gentleman - making sure the whole event goes like clockwork. It was so cold but thankfully no rain.

The new pavilion is luxurious with underfloor heating and large enough for all the guests. It is a lovely setting with a pond to its sides and open views to the west behind. The ceremony was really special with two special readings from guests. Followed by a guard of honour and some very quick photos in the grounds - it was bitterly cold.

Kings Croft is incredible. The staff are incredible. Everything went smoothly and the guests made comments calling it a hidden gem. Kerie told me it helped having a rehearsal with us the week previous. Michele joined us and we took a series of engagement shots in the lovely sunshine but freezing wind! We shared ideas and it all came good on the day.

The meal came and went. Followed by really heart-felt speeches from the chaps. Ewan conveying his endless love for his new wife. The cake was so emotional - in tiers. It was made by Lisa of White Rose Wedding Cakes. All pink and lovely! This led onto a few more photos - these are proper Yorkshire folk - a bit of a chill would not beat them! Then is was all systems go for the reception. Kerie said it was so hectic looking back. It was a non-stop day and there is just not enough time to take it all in.

First dance was "A thousand years" - not literally you understand - but there was no stopping these two. They just stayed on the dance-floor all night. The resident DJ was spinning some right tunes. Other guests were having fun with the photo-booth props. There were love letters,  a sparkle dance floor and twinkle backdrops all supplied by Elegant Bows and Covers.

Next off on honeymoon. Off to Paris for a mini-moon and then to Las Vegas and Cancun in November for the mega-moon.
The final words to others planning a wedding: Plan, plan plan! Try to do as much as possible early as you will find you quickly run out of time.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A warm welcome for new Mr and Mrs Bates

I love Ringwood Hall. It can be a dream location for photographers. The grounds and architecture are amazing. I was looking forward to seeing Tara again. She was getting ready at Ringwood Hall. It was one of those days where you don't know what the weather will decide to give us. It was looking a bit overcast and rain kept trying. Tara was in a fantastic bedroom suite; it was huge. Samantha Frearson and Louse from Bridal Creative were attending to Tara and her chief bridesmaid, Claire. The two younger bridesmaids, Alyscia and Megan were sprawled across the huge bed in the adjoining room watching something educational on the TV. Tara's dress looked very slender, hung up on the wardrobe door. It came from Strides. It was a lovely light-weight dress. The Chief bridemaid's dress was from Chi Chi London and the younger girls were ordered from Children's Special Occasions Wear. Weather was looking decidedly dodgy. But the bride looked gorgeous! She brought a tear to her Dad's eye when he saw her. Mum, Angela had already gone through the emotions with a few hugs along the way. The flowers looked amazing. Tara told me she had made them all herself. Silk with little jewels here and there.

I had to leave them to see the chaps. Mark had already told me he only had a small family. Sadly he had lost his mum, who he was very close to, and I think he really wished she could be there with him on this special day. Still he had Stefan (bride's brother) there as his Best-Man, three ushers and two page boys, Aaron and Hayden. All looking very smart in suits from Youngs East Midlands Designer Outlet. The boys suits were ordered online from Children's Special Occasions Wear. Hayden, was to carry the rings down the aisle and had them tied to a cushion. I borrowed it to get a close up of them. The rings came from H. Samuel bought just at the right time as the jeweler had reduced the price by 20% during their special wedding event. They liked the shop as they were not pushy and they did not feel like they were being forced to buy.

So why Ringwood? I suppose it was the obvious choice as the couple live nearby, but they both said they absolutely fell in love with it the moment they walked inside. Everything about the day was perfect from the start of planning right through to the day after the wedding. The food was amazing; the staff went out of their way to personalize the day and made the couple feel as if they were the only people in the world who mattered on that day. It was everything Tara had ever dreamed of. Old and timeless, with the modern twist that she really wanted.

Lindon, he is a real gentleman at Ringwood, was panicking during the ceremony. He told me it was looking very stormy outside and was raining. Oh no! Just what we don't want. But like a miracle the clouds thinned and crossed their legs and let us get out on to the bowling green. Plan A was back on. Tara wanted a heart photo on the bowling green and I set up a guard of honour for them as they emerged from the conservatory. It was a rush! We were sure the clouds were not going to be forgiving for much longer. They were kind! We walked up to the rose garden and managed to get the photos they wanted. It was a bit cool but we coped.

The coach-house was all dressed for the wedding breakfast. It looked stunning. Tara had made the table centre pieces with the help of their three children and a local park! She also made personal colouring books for the wedding breakfast and she had prepared a kids' table for the evening. This girl is so thoughtful. And of course the invites - you guessed it. And who styled the bridesmaid's and flowergirls' hair? You guessed it again! The only thing Tara couldn't manage was to play the keyboard during the breakfast. This had been organised by Ringwood, hiring Mark Briggs for the event. There was a ladies and a gents menu. Lindon was MC and he was a Godsend. It felt like he was our best friend looking out for us throughout the day. Speeches followed the meal and all three chaps had all prepared top speeches. The Best Man was very nervous and there was the pregnant silence when nerves initially gripped his tongue but once he was away he was brilliant with lots of kind words. Every child was give an Easter Egg - courtesy of ...... well of course! Next on the menu, a hog-roast but you would have to wait until 9.00pm for that.

So, me being me, I wanted to know more about the newly weds. Mark was a Chef preparing special diet meals in a care home and Tara was a care assistant in the same home looking after dementia sufferers. They got to know each other and it turned out they only lived 5 minutes from each other. They both had children and they went to the same school and were the best of friend with each other without the parents even knowing. This sounds like a film script. One day following work Tara's bus was running late and Mark kindly offered her a lift home. Tara says she didn't like Mark much at first - a wannabe Gordon Ramsey - occasional blue words and cocky attitude! But when she got to know the true Mark it was the best thing she ever did. Tara says it really is true that you should never judge a book by its cover!
How did he pop the question? The two of them had been chatting quietly during the evening, strolling down memory lane, talking about childhood and growing up. Mark said he planned on proposing on Christmas Day but he said the time felt just right. He had the ring already wrapped in layer after layer of wrapping paper and in box after box. It took Tara 20 minutes to eventually get to it. So after knowing each other for four year they were now planning their future together.

Anyway back to the day! The couple opened up the dance floor with music by John Legend and Meghan Trainer; "Like I'm Gonna Lose You".  An unusual choice but the words really meant a lot to both of them as Mark has dealt with a lot of loss in his life and the two of them have both gone through some really tough and testing time individually and together so the focus of the song was that they would love and live ad if each day were their last. Being stronger by knowing they have each other.

What was your favourite parts of the day?
Tara: It was walking down the aisle towards Mark and seeing his face as he saw me walking towards him.
Mark: It was seeing Tara walking towards me for the first time that day and seeing how amazing she looked. I anticipated the moment but it was so much more than I expected to feel.
The day was perfect! The best day of our lives. Everything leading up to that moment and all the stresses of planning was made all worth while in the end. Unforgettable.
Photos: I was worried about being photographed because I am so self conscious and hate being photographed. However on the day, I loved it and it didn't bother me one bit. I let myself go for the first time and I felt so comfortable in myself with Robert there to guide me. It was all very relaxed and enjoyable. I would advise that you make sure you are comfortable with your photographer otherwise I don't think if would work very well if you feel uncomfortable and not relaxed.
Advice for others: Don't stress over little things that don't matter. Focus on each other as that's all that counts. Do what you both want to do and not what others expect you to do. Follow your heart and your gut instinct and everything will fall into place. Enjoy every minute of your special day. Be a bridezilla if you want and be a bossy groom too! Its your day that you will remember forever so do it your way. Have no regrets.
So its off to Paphos, Cyprus just for a week of pampering in the warm laced with history if they have time for site-seeing.

PS. I wish I could do it all again. I wouldn't change a thing! It goes by so fast, so enjoy every minute. Oh and be prepared for bruised cheeks the next day! All that smiling really does take its toll!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Congratulations to Rebecca and Andrew

We met up at Rogerthorpe Manor a week or so before the wedding to chat and plan the arrangements for the big day. The Sun was shining and the grounds at Rogerthorpe were amazing as always so we made use of the light and took a few engagement photos. These two look so happy together; always smiling and clearly so much in love.

So the big day finally arrived! The weather was not quite as kind and it looked like rain was due. I arrived at Rogerthorpe Manor early with Michele to assemble our Photo Booth in the conservatory. Samantha from Glamourpuss weddings had just finished dressing the room for the wedding breakfast and it looked stunning. Cadbury's purple - a neat choice.

Rebecca was in the bridal suite getting ready. The bridal suite at Rogerthorpe is to die for. Hannah (Hair by Hannah) was doing the hair and make-up. Laura was the senior bridesmaid and three flower-girls, Ellie, Charlotte and baby Grace. Ellie insisted that at nine she was a bridesmaid! Mum Amanda was looking good and dad Clive kept popping in and out looking for pins and other things like fellas do usually to be shouted at and told to go away! And there was the dress - wow - from Jaynes in Doncaster along with the bridesmaids dresses. I managed to clear a spot in the window to hang the dress and get a photo along with a few other special items. Keepsakes for ones sadly missed and a special present from the lucky fella. Dad was eventually allowed in to see his daughter when she was ready and she did look absolutely stunning. The flowers arrived from Blossem.   She had been putting flowers in the breakfast room earlier and the unusual spelling on her jacket caught my eye. "Its blossoms by Emma" - I see.

I shot off to the church. St Peters at Askern. Rebecca and the bridal party were to follow me in cars supplied by Cartwrights. Their cars are all superb and Philip - chauffeur - is such a gentleman (there's not many of us about)! We could not have hoped for worse weather. The heavens had decided to let us have all they had. But the lads and lass (Andrew passed the honour of Best Man to his sister Mel who was today the Best Lady) braved the elements outside albeit quite quickly. The rings were shiny and ready to be worn. They came from Ernest Jones as the couple said they were the best quality. Suits made the fellas look very smart - from Greenwoods in Doncaster.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to have any photos in the church. I did want to go back in after the ceremony for a few with the bride and groom but I think Rebecca just wanted to get off to Rogerthorpe. The rain was still bouncing and I think we were all hoping for an opening in the clouds later at Rogerthorpe. Still, me being me, I did make the guests form a guard of honour to greet the new Mr and Mrs as they left church. A little wetting never hurt anyone - did it girls?

And so it was back to Rogerthorpe. I did say a little prayer on the way for a let up in the rain and my prayers were duly answered. It wasn't completely dry but we did manage to get a large group photo outdoors and then after everyone had raced for cover I managed to get a few photos using the new amazing pavilion in the grounds as an umbrella. Andrew told me that they love Rogerthorpe and often go for a meal at weekend. They both decided to get married there as it is simply a great venue.

And so the festivities went on. Guests were welcomed with complimentary drinks and entertained by an amazing harpist.With very moving speeches before the breakfast courtesy of son Oliver, Dad, Groom and Best Lady. The cake was emotional - in tiers - made by a friend who Rebecca works with. It even had little Rebecca and Andy!!! Brilliant! The evening went well with a first dance "A Thousand Years" - it seemed to go on forever - by Ed Sheeran. The couple's fave song. To be followed by a little jaunt with Dad.

 So what was the whole experience like? "We loved all of it! No single special part. A fantastic day from start to end. Rogerthorpe is an amazing venue; lots of food and top quality and fantastic Rob was brilliant!" Makes me blush!
How did you meet each other? "We met in our local pub. After 3 years, Andrew proposed properly, down on one knee. A proper gentleman."
Advice for others? "Plan ahead and save loads - lol".
Rebecca - how did you choose your dress? - "As a bride you just know what your princess dress looks like and you just know when you've found the right one."
A honeymoon in Mexico next for this lovely couple. 5 star luxury to look forward to.
Finally - our warmest best wishes go to the two of them and of course all of their family and friends. I always feel like I have made lots of new friends myself - a real pleasure for me.

Almost forget to mention. Andrew asked me if I could sort him out with a good head of hair in the photos. So here you go - the Ed Sheeran look - please don't say anything Rebecca!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Saving Tips - Wedding Photography

Wedding photographs are blooming important. They are one of the most special mementos that you have after your wedding. Your children will look through them and their children after them, let alone the many times you yourself will browse through remembering the best day of your life. While we think it is essential you choose the best professional you can find, we also maintain that there are still ways to save and stick to your budget, so here are our top tips:

1) All wedding photographers tend to advertise a flat rate, which will normally be a few hours at a hourly fee. You can save money by asking them for their day rate and hiring them for a full day instead. Bonus point: no time constraint will make you more relaxed without clock watching when posing for the wedding photographs!
2) Again, photographers tend to advertise set bundles, which will normally involve an album and a certain amount of printed images. Settle for the basic fee and make your own wedding album! You can always add extras if you have cash left or print some, or most of the wedding photographs yourself. Just make sure you have top quality paper available so the photos will last forever. A good photographer will allow you to come back for an album later.

3) Find out if your desired photographer will offer a discount based on a referral. Word of mouth dominates the wedding industry, so this is often the case with a lot of professional photographers. Remember to always mention who it was that referred you in the first place!
4) Invest in buying a print licence of your wedding photographs. That way, they will be yours exclusively, which means you can print as many copies as you want and at a time when you have some extra cash.
5) Book as soon as you possibly can. Photographers will often have a discount for advanced bookings, which you can definitely utilize!

6) Some photographers are amazing with technology and will add fantastic add-ons such as video, Facebook articles etc often at no extra cost. Ask what extras the photographer can offer.