Sopley Mill - Rachael & James
I was so excited when Rachael and James asked me to be their wedding photographer not only because they are lovely people but they were having their wedding at Sopley Mill which is just gorgeous! And for a Christmassy wedding on the 21st December this venue is perfect as it has 3 floors that offer cosy areas with space for Christmas trees as well as spacious areas for dancing the night away.
For this wedding the bride and groom had decided to have my assistant join me for the day. I started the day with the Bride and her Bridesmaids at her family home, my assistant was with the boys in a hotel near the church in Brockenhurst. The details of this wedding were amazing, they had thought of everything! Every member of the bridal party and groomsmen had a personalised hanger with their name and the wedding date on. The girls had matching necklaces and the boys had cufflinks and tie clips each personalised with their name and initials. Such thoughtful gifts from the bride and groom to remember the day by.
The ceremony was at 11.30 so it was a bright and early start for the girls, with six bridesmaids there was a lot of hair and make up to be done! The dresses were an elegant maroon colour and looked amazing all lined up on the personalised hangers. With the help of one of the bridesmaids I took some shots of the brides dress... and wow... definitely the dress of dreams! It was a lovely morning capturing the girls getting ready for the big moment and photographing all of the smaller details of the day such as the flowers and jewellery. I caught some moments of the bride opening her present from the groom, a pair of earrings to wear on their wedding day.
Over with the boys my assistant was capturing the groom opening one of the most thoughtful presents I've ever seen. His wife to be had secretly got his late grandfathers ring restored and resized to fit him and also had James' initials added. Whilst this was happening the bride received a lovely text and photo of him wearing the ring. This really is the best thing about having an extra photographer, two angles on the same day and having the ability to be in two places at once!
As the wedding car pulled up outside it was almost time to leave for the church. Everyone had seen the bride in her dress except for Dad and as his daughter came down the stairs as a bride they only just managed to hold back the tears! After some photos outside I went ahead to the church to join my assistant ready for the ceremony.
It was my first time at St Annes in Brockenhurst but it is very pretty inside with exposed brick walls and a beautiful big white archway above the alter. The boys were ready and waiting outside with Christmas music coming from inside the church. The ceremony went without a hitch with 3 lovely readings including one from the brides two maids of honour. Surrounded by friends and family James & Rachael became Mr & Mrs Ratcliffe just in time for Christmas!
They led the way out of the church and all the bridesmaids and groomsmen created a confetti tunnel and covered the newly weds in colour coordinated natural confetti as they left. I love the results, confetti shots are always full of happiness and sometimes shock as some petals manage to land in your mouth or down your dress!
As I followed the bridal car to Sopley Mill my assistant stayed with the guests at the church until they were ready to get on the waiting coaches to join us at the reception venue. This was a great opportunity to capture some natural moments of family meeting for the first time and friends catching up. Over at Sopley Mill the bride had a chance to look around at the wedding coordinators hard work and she had done a fabulous job.
After some group shots with the guests that had now arrived we had time to do some beautiful couple shots of the bride and groom together away from everybody else at their magnificent wedding venue. There is a wooden bridge that crosses the river which runs through the mill and I love this spot for photos because you can have the brick building in the background and turn around for a completely new view right down the river. Since my last wedding here a platform over the river has been added and it is surrounded by glass which leaves the view of the river completely visible behind. It’s safe to say I love this new addition to the venue and adore the moments we captured there!
Back inside, the guests made their way up to the top floor for their food. The room had a romantic ambient feeling to it with hundreds of fairy lights around and jars of lights on every table. The speeches... 100% the most entertaining part of the day! I have to say the best man did make everyone laugh whilst he told stories from the grooms childhood and teenage years, I won’t mention the CD that went missing and caused a tantrum (whoops!) because I saw the grooms face first hand when that was announced!
Later in the evening before the first dance I snuck outside with James & Rachael for a shot I had in mind. If you have visited Sopley Mill you will know that it is equally as breath taking in the dark when row after row of lights come on lining the river and all around the boundary fences. It was very cold outside at this point but the bride and groom were amazing and let me bring them back out onto the bridge for one last time!
Then it was time for the cutting of the cake! Half way through the day the Groom had changed from his RAF uniform into a suit that matched his groomsmen but I was so happy when the sword from his uniform came back out to cut the wedding cake! After the first dance there was a surprise in store for all of us but especially James. The groom and his groomsmen were ordered to line up along the dance floor where the bridesmaids were waiting. The music started and the most amazing dance routine began. The girls parted and made a tunnel for the bride to dance through towards her husband and he was definitely totally unaware of the plans the girls had obviously been practicing over the last few weeks!
Both of us had such a great day capturing the Ratcliffe's special day, it just flew by with so many things going on during the day and I am so happy with all the moments we captured for the couple to look back on forever. After a little while longer of capturing some impressive dance moves and some less impressive ones it was time for us to leave them to the rest of their evening!
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