Suzie and Alan’s Kentish Town wedding was definitely a day to remember. All of the weddings I photograph are fun-packed, emotionally charged days, all have their special moments and I love being at each of them. But Suzie and Alan’s wedding was a bit different because it included a long walk from the Church for the entire wedding party. Fingers crossed it didn’t rain on the big day.
With every wedding booking I have, it’s important for me to get to know as much as I can about my couples, understand exactly what they’re looking for (see https://timpaynephotography.com/experience/ ), as well as finding out as much as I can about the venue(s) they’ve picked. Where possible I like to visit venues that are new to me, so I can get a feeling for the lighting (the more natural light the better), size, layout, and sussing out spots for group and/or couple shots if required.
This started with a zoom call in April and then a meeting with Suzie and Alan at the end of June when they took me to their Church, and then we walked to the Dartmouth Arms where the wedding breakfast and reception were going to be held. The plan was for the entire wedding party to walk through the streets of Kentish Town to the Pub – about 3 km.
We walked the route Suzie and Alan had planned and it was spectacular, with a beautiful mixture of colorful terraced houses, small winding streets, and a steep railway footbridge – perfect for a photograph of the Bride and Groom and all of their guests.
I love photographing Church weddings, particularly when the religious aspect is important to the couple. This was the case with Suzie and Alan. As with other Catholic weddings, the service (which included the wedding ceremony, mass, and communion) lasted almost an hour. It was a poignant and beautiful service and having a string quartet was the icing on the cake.
The Church was almost empty when I arrived, apart from Alan who was waiting near the Altar with his two best men, looking sharp, smart and as cool as a cucumber, as he moved around the front pews smiling and chatting with his friends and family as they arrived. No signs of nerves at all. Thirty minutes later Suzie arrived, and Alan quickly moved back to his place following a seriously delivered nod from the Priest.
There was a collective sigh from the packed Church as everyone stood. You could have literally heard a pin drop in those few seconds of silence before the organ announced Suzie’s slow march up the Aisle with her Mum, the flower girl, and page boy. I had my camera trained on Alan, to capture the moment he first saw his bride. I wasn’t disappointed – she looked beautiful, and he looked like the happiest man on the planet. The service was powerful and the Priest was definitely in charge, not to be messed with. It seemed to me that he had married hundreds of couples in his time, and Suzie and Alan’s wedding was as important to him as his very first.
At the end of the service, I scrambled to the front of the church to organise the confetti throw and was relieved to see that the weather had changed. The rain had stopped, and the sun was out. Perfect for the walk to the Dartmouth Arms.
Suzie and Alan, covered in confetti, popped back into the church to say goodbye to the Priest. That’s when I noticed that the rest of the wedding party had already left and were marching (almost running) to get to the Pub. Without the Bride and Groom. Whoops.
This is a great example of why I like to use a second photographer – to give my clients a greater selection of images, but also being able to have a photographer in two places at the same time. My second photographer walked to the pub with Suzie and Alan and took some lovely couple shots, while I ran to catch up and photograph the procession of happy wedding guests carrying balloons, presents, and cards through the streets of Kentish Town. This turned out to be a great result for Suzie and Alan, not quite what they had planned but an alternative they were really happy with. The one big disappointment was missing the photo on the footbridge, with the entire wedding party, but we managed to make up for that at the Pub. As a professional wedding photographer this is what it’s all about – having a happy Bride and Groom.
The images Suzie and Alan wanted, included a few formal group shots, but the emphasis for them was around me capturing plenty of candid and street-style photos. The venues they chose were perfect for this approach. The church, although being very traditional, had the most amazing stained-glass windows, which in turn meant I had tons of light and lots of room. For me, this was a perfect combination.
The Dartmouth Arms was a fantastic reception venue. It was large enough to comfortably seat the 80 or so guests, as well as having a large skylight that covered the area that was initially the top table and then became the dance floor. Perfect from a lighting point of view, but more importantly for Alan and Suzie, it was laid out so all of their guests could easily see and interact with them during the wedding breakfast and Speeches. On top of this, the Pub also had a large courtyard outside with an old but beautifully textured brick wall that made a great backdrop for group and couple shots.
Finally, the other brilliant component to this lovely day was the wedding party. Alan, Suzy, and all of their guests were a fun, vibrant bunch who weren’t shy of the camera.
The highlight of this amazing day for me was the speeches. I’ve lost count of how many speakers Suzie and Alan had, but it included parents, the two best men, two best women, as well as the Bride and Groom. Each of them was very entertaining, well delivered, and hilariously funny.
After the speeches the cake was cut and then they moved onto the dance floor. I’d been tipped of that Alan had been having Salsa lessons to surprise Suzie when it was time for the first dance, and he did not disappoint.
I’ve shot a lot of weddings this summer and this has to be up there at the top in terms of being a little bit different. Suzie and Alan were a fantastic couple to work with and it was an honour to photograph their special day, and being a Hertfordshire wedding photographer, it was a lovely change to have another London-based wedding.
A few things to think about from a photographer’s perspective…
If you’re planning a wedding, or looking at wedding venues try and remember to factor in the following:
- Are there good sources of natural light? If not, the photographer may have to resort to using other sources of light (e.g., Flash), for those all-important speech, cake cutting and candid pictures
- If you’re planning on having even a few formal group shots, has the venue got an area that you like the look of for these to be taken? Try to think about the end result. For me, the most important things to look out for are a selection of areas that have great backgrounds. For example, the old brick wall at the Dartmouth Arms provided a lovely combination of colour and texture. The other thing to look out for is space – especially if you want a shot of the entire wedding party (most couples do)
- Finally, make sure that your photographer is aware of the shots you want them to take – all professional wedding photographers should take the time to talk to you about this, but make sure you’re happy that they know exactly what you want on the day. This is particularly important for any “must have” pictures you want captured.
If you’re interested in finding out more about either of the venues, then please follow these links:
The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady Help of Christians: https://parish.rcdow.org.uk/kentishtown
The Dartmouth Arms: