Stoneleigh Abbey Wedding

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Last July on what was one of the hottest days of the year during England’s big heatwave of 2018, C & A married in a beautiful ceremony at St Mary’s Church, Warwick before heading to Stoneleigh Abbey for the reception.  There are fewer places as this with such a wealth of beautiful photo opportunities around every corner of the grounds designed by famous 19th century landscape gardener Repton, but of course the most striking is beyond the orangerie and down the sloping lawn to the stone balustrade that overlooks the wide slow, meandering waters of the River Avon.  Pure unspoilt English country house heaven!

The couple who are now based in New York got in touch with me last Autumn and right from the start it was clear that photography was an extremely important part of their wedding day.  The bride is a picture editor for a well-known fashion company and told me of her desire to maintain a sense of tradition in the wedding photographs with an emphasis on family photos and portraits over guest candids, which was very refreshing to hear in a world of fast-moving trends and pressure from social media.  It makes such a difference when a couple are really invested in working together with me to achieve a wonderful collection of portraits and I know their beautiful Queensberry album is going to look absolutely amazing!

Bridal Gown:  Rivini by Rita Vinieris  |   Bride’s Shoes:  Jimmy Choo  |  Bridal Boutique:  Kleinfeld of New York City  |  Bridesmaids’ Dresses:  Lace & Beads  | Groom’s Attire:  Moss Brothers  |  Florist:  All Seasons  |  Cake Designer:  M&S  |  Videographer:  Ground Films  |  Vintage Car:  |  Church:  St. Mary’s, Warwick  |  Reception Venue:  Stoneleigh Abbey  |  Lighting:  Revolution Weddings  |  Band:  Silk Sapphire  |  Caterer:  Amadeus  |  Stationery:  Designed by Bride

English Garden Wedding

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They do say that Kent is the garden of England and so it was in a beautiful back garden of a private residence, the very special wedding of S & R took place back in the summer.  Literally the only day in months of absolutely blistering heat that was different and the kind of weather that keeps a photographer really on their toes with the sun and clouds jostling for position with each other every few seconds and the sudden gusts of winds that would send everyone’s hair flying in all directions and pink tissue pom poms bouncing across the lawn.

A photo booth in a vintage airstream trailer, cocktail and coffee bar, an enormous dessert table overflowing with macarons, giant chocolate lollies and panacotta shots, which seriously need to become a thing.  The band The London Sensations that hugely entertained everyone during the wedding breakfast and the outdoor cocktail reception is officially The Best Event Reception Band Ever.  The client requested that their personal photographs remain private, but here are a selection of the amazing details super-planners Claudia & Jemma from Beattie Bailey brought together to produce a truly epic day.

Event Planning & Design:  Beattie Bailey  |  Bridal Gown:  Augusta Jones  |  Bridal Boutique:  Isabella Grace Bridal  |  Bridal Shoes:  Jimmy Choo  |  Bridesmaids’ Dresses:  Monsoon  |  Groom’s Attire:  Gieves & Hawkes  |  Floral Designer:  Jenni Bloom  |  Hair & Make Up:  Peacock Rooms  |  Caterer:  Kalm Kitchen  |  Evening Caterer:  Kay’s Kitchen  |  Marquee:  Arabian Tents  |  Furniture Hire:  Velvet Living  |  Honeywagon:  Site Equip  |  Reception Band:  The London Essentials  |  Evening Reception Band:  The London Sensations    |  Magician:  Nigel Mead  |  Photo Booth:  Airstream Studio  |  Mixologists:  Beetle Juice  |  Videographer:  Gorgeous Films  |  Transport:  Kiwi Executive Travel

Warren House Surrey Wedding

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I’ve been thoroughly spoiled with weddings at some beautiful English country houses and Warren House near Kingston upon Thames did not disappoint.  A beautiful Victorian rambling house with an array of cosy intimate reception rooms and beautiful grounds.  J & J married in the garden’s pretty gazebo, which with the wonderful summer we had really was a must.  I love outdoor weddings, as the light is so nice and there’s a really relaxed, joyful feeling about them, particularly in England where any outdoor activity achieved without a shower of rain or cool temperature is something to really celebrate!

After the ceremony we went into the gardens for portraits whilst the guests enjoyed drinks on the lawn, before everyone went into the orangerie for the wedding breakfast.  The day went beautifully and I must say that the marvellous MC was really worth his weight in gold – efficient, knowledgeable and never bellowing, his reassuring presence meant that the bride & groom enjoyed their day all the more!

Bridal Gown:  Mikaella by Paloma Blanca|  Bridal Boutique:  Pure Couture  |  Bride’s Shoes:  Dune  |  Bridesmaid’s Dresses:  David’s Bridal  |  Page Boy’s Attire:  Dapper  |  Floral Designer:  Rose & Mary  |  Cake Designer:  Sugar Plum Bakes  | Stationery:  Grace & Bramble  |  Guitarist:  Liquid Strings  | Band:  Ear Candy  |  Master of Ceremonies:  Steve Eggleton  |  Venue:  Warren House

Elegant Icelandic Elopement

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After over a year of waiting with increasing excitement the closer it came, the day finally arrived.  Destination Iceland for K & M’s magical elopement.  Definitely no run of the mill thing here – the couple planned their day meticulously bringing in details to create a day they could truly remember forever.  And ladies & gentlemen, may I just bring your attention to the dress.  There could never be a more perfect dress for the land of fire and ice with its bodice beading delicate and dark like Odile’s snowflakes and layers of loose tulle in shades of ice blue and volcanic black.

They said their vows, silenced to any audience but each other by the crashing waters of Skógafoss waterfall.  There’s something truly elemental and raw in the Icelandic landscape, like an echo of the creation of the earth itself so that it was the perfect place in which to bare one’s soul to another for all eternity.

Bridal Gown:  My Wood Nymph  |  Bridal Shoes:  |  Ribbons:  Nettle Textiles  |  Floral Designer:  The Blooming Wreath  |  Stationery:  Rachel Johnson Calligraphy Co.  |  Ring Box:  The Mrs Box  |  Locations:  Skógafoss  Reynisfjara Jökulsárlón

London Family Portrait Photographer

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Just before Baby J’s arrival, his parents had a portrait session on a beautiful summer’s day in Hampstead – (which you can see here), but one sunny Sunday when he was six months old I photographed the family of three at their home in North London.  With lots of coaxing and whooping behind my shoulder by the other parent to grab this little tinker’s attention we had our shoot in the can.

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A Unique Christmas in Cuba

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The next few years are likely to bring big change to Cuba and I felt a real urgency to go before it all changes a bit too much, as part of the charm (for visitors anyway) is the time warp, the decay of buildings in old Havana.  If you’re not a huge fan of Christmas (I’m not on Grinch level, but just don’t like the excess and three month build up to what is effectively a large Sunday roast!) then Cuba could be the place for you as Fidel Castro effectively banned Christmas in the 1960’s as he considered it too disruptive to the sugar cane harvest.

Havana is a city full of music – live bands play latin beats everywhere and it is a rare moment when you can walk down a street and be surrounded by silence.  With an infectious rhythm and performed by some very accomplished musicians, you’ll soon be tapping your feet as you sip your mojito.  I ignored all the Hemingway stuff and preferred to beat my own path by wandering the streets with my camera and on Christmas Day I roused my feverish self from my bed and took a bus to Vinales, the cigar producing valley for a change of scene.  The streets in the little town of Vinales are lined with pretty cottages painted in bright colours and the view over the valley of Vinales is amazing and well worth a visit.

Cuba probably has the most careful drivers anywhere, but the incentive or rather necessity of not pranging their car is that the parts are extremely difficult, if not impossible to source, particularly for the vintage American cars.  Most Cubans would find the cost prohibitive anyway, so the cars are driven respectfully, slowly and carefully and in front of the large hotels where the American cars congregate en masse there is always someone to help guide the giant automobiles into a parking space.

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London First Birthday Party

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After our morning portrait shoot in Regents Park (see it here), Baby G and his parents went home to warm up and prepare for his very special first birthday party.  With a Korean heritage, the first birthday is considered a special celebration and it is customary to predict a child’s future by laying out several objects to represent law, banking, medicine etc in front of the child and see which they naturally goes towards.  With a career in banking sorted, baby G then headed for some cake.

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Regents Park Family Portraits

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With the last of the Autumn leaves on the trees, Baby G and his parents and I went to the lovely Regents Park to photograph some portraits.  I love London early on a Sunday morning, as it’s quiet and pretty still.  After our shoot the family went home to prepare for G’s first birthday party Korean style, which you can view here!

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You & Your Wedding Editorial

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Hampstead Family Portraits

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I was so honoured to be asked to photograph C & J as they prepared to welcome their first child, the beautiful Baby J (more of him here!).  C is a fellow photographer and friend who I adore – she’s one of the few people who effuse genuine warmth and kindness all of the time.  I honestly believe there’s no better place in London on a balmy July day than heading to Hampstead for a stroll on the Heath.  The next time I saw these two they were a family of three.

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Copyright © 2018 Sarah Hannam · London & Destination Film Photographer