Gate Street Barn Wedding Photographer
“Your work reminds me of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the way you capture a narrative in one shot. Your photographs are beautiful works of art. I saw a wedding shot you took of the top table during the main meal, and the way you captured the people in it reminded me a little of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, so clever!”
Under normal circumstances, dropping a couple of big names like that into an e-mail, would be more than enough to grab my attention (making me feel slightly embarrassed in the process) but have me chomping at the bit to photograph the wedding. But as I continued to read Sue’s initial enquiry to me, it soon became apparent just what a special occasion this was going to be, and just what a tough journey she, and those closest to her, had been on in recent years to reach this point. As wedding photographers we drop into peoples’ lives on this most momentous of days, knowing precious little, if I’m honest, about the couple and their history together. Except for what little gems we might pick up over a cup of tea before the wedding, in snippets of conversation on the morning of the wedding or what embarrassing childhood stories we’re treated to in the after dinner speeches, we’re left to react to things as they unfold, telling the story of the day with images that we hope will resonate with our couples. That’s why each year I like to offer my services to a couple that I feel have had a particularly tough time and deserve a break, not only to document their wedding day, but to understand what brings people together, to empathise and to give something back. Shortly after Ray (Sue’s now husband) had proposed four years ago, Sue was involved in a serious accident in which she was knocked down by a van as she crossed the road. Fortunately she was rushed to hospital but after waking from four days in a coma there were still serious injuries that required major surgery and months of physiotherapy. In her e-mail Sue went on to describe what a traumatic time this was and how after loosing her job as a result, and partly because of the ordeal, she had decided to re-train as a child psychotherapist. She writes “I hope to use my experience to strengthen my therapeutic role and specialise in trauma.” Writing about the wedding she says “if there is one thing that I have learnt from my recovery it’s that you have to celebrate the milestones in your life. After everything else falls away, all that is left is love.” With words like this, how could I refuse? Sue and Ray it was an absolute honour to be your Gate Street Barn wedding photographer. It’s a day that I’ll certainly never forget. To read a full account of the day from Sue’s perspective please scroll further down the page.
It was a beautiful and unexpectedly sunny early November day, and it was our wedding day. After having been together for 12 years, we decided to get married on our ‘anniversary’. The venue was Gate Street Barn, a gorgeous venue in the heart of the Surrey hills, just outside of Bramley. We chose the venue because it best represented to us what we wanted the feel of our wedding to be – intimate and laid-back, but still with an (informal) sense of occasion. Lisa and the team at Gate Street were a pleasure to deal with – warm, friendly and helpful – whilst always remaining professional.
My sister had created a spectacular backdrop of 1000 origami cranes (said to bring 1000 years of good luck) in various tones of blue, a real labour of love which had taken six-months to complete. We had a big task ahead of us as we were only able to decorate the venue on the morning of the wedding. I had a great bunch of friends who arrived early to help out (my ‘decking crew’). As well as the cranes, there were Mexican wedding banners to be hung and flowers to be arranged; they did an incredible job, the barn looked beautiful.
In typical wedding tradition, there was quite a dramatic moment when the zipper of my wedding dress broke whilst I was getting dressed. Luckily for me, Antonia Krieger (the amazing make-up artist of Elle Au Naturel) was on hand to fix the faulty zipper and save the day! She was a great calming influence pre-ceremony, and did an excellent job on the make-up for both my mother and I – very natural but still with a touch of glamour.
The moment had arrived! Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of emotions that I felt throughout the ceremony; seeing the faces of all your favourite people in one place is special enough – but the feeling of love that was radiated back to me when I was walking down the aisle was unforgettable. There was a moment of comedy when I managed to put Andrew’s ring on the wrong finger when saying our vows (I blame the nerves…!), and David captured the moment – which is one of my favourite images of the day. With the sun streaming through the barn windows, looked on by our family and friends, we stood in front of the backdrop of the cranes and we were pronounced husband and wife, a very beautiful moment. We have been through a lot together and one of the biggest lessons we have learnt is: ‘when everything else falls away, all that’s left is love’. The wedding felt like a chance to celebrate love in all its forms: romantic, familial and companionship. To be able to declare our commitment to each other in front of our community of family and friends was intense! It was truly a milestone moment.
The rest of the day was an enjoyable blur. Delicious food was served by our lovely caterers, Carole and Tom (of Tandem Catering): they created a South-American inspired stew for our main course (a nod to my Bolivian roots) – which was a huge hit with our guests – and their service prior to and on the day was absolutely first rate. We all ended the night on the dancefloor, with music provided by Chris Haslam (of Chess Disco), a brilliant DJ who consistently played joyful dancefloor fillers. I actually had to be pulled off the dancefloor at the end of the night and awoke with throbbing feet the next day!
The whole day was defined by ‘love in action’: from the hard work of friends who arrived early to decorate the barn; to the tangible emotion of the ceremony; to the words of love that were spoken in the speeches; to the spontaneous moments of joy felt by good friends dancing and having fun – we couldn’t have asked for better memories from our wedding day.
It is only now, a couple of months after the event, that I realise just how important it is to have a top-notch photographer on your big day. A lot happens around you that you actually miss seeing on the day itself. I think the secret to a great photographer is someone who not only has a great artistic eye, but who is also able to capture spontaneous moments of emotion by having an intuitive sensitivity to the mood around them. This enables them to be at the right place at the right time. The secret to an amazing photographer, however, is someone who is able to do all that, but do it in a completely unobtrusive manner. We were very lucky to have found that person in David to be our Gate Street Barn wedding photographer. His super-power is being able to be a human fly on the wall, with bags of emotional intelligence! I have no idea how he does it as I am one of the most camera-shy people I know – and to have captured any natural photographs of me is a wonder indeed.
A good photograph can bring everything back – even decades after the event. I have no doubt that the beautiful and special images that David has created for us will be able to evoke all of the love, laughter and high-emotion of our wedding day when we look back on our lives in the years to come.
I love working with easy-going, creative couples who are looking to put their own personal stamp on their wedding day and have the time of their lives. Dates go quickly, so if that sounds like you, I’d love to hear from you!