Autumn is almost here..

Can you believe the summer is over and its only 11 weeks today until Christmas!

BUT… between now and then is my favourite time..

AUTUMN!!

Around Horsham and Crawley there are some lovely places to spend a glorious autumn day with your family or dog so I thought I would share a few of my favourites, plus a few of my dedicated followers have given me their ideas too.

Tilgate Park, Crawley, is my absolute favourite park! No matter where I have lived no park has ever been as good as Tilgate. Not only is it absolutely stunning but there is so much to do, whether it is building dens and climbing the trees in the woods, walking round the lake and having a picnic or visiting the nature reserve. Other things to do here include Go Ape, play park, rowing boats, Smith and Western. It is so easy to spend the day here and is a wonderful place to tire out the children without spending a fortune. Parking is £1 per hour but all proceeds do go back into the park and for the nature centre it is only £4 for an adult and £3 for age 3-16yr olds.

Buchan Park is a place where I spend many days during my childhood climbing trees and having picnics. This is definitely a back to nature kind of place. There is ample free parking and its only a short walk to a beautiful lake and the perfect paths for kicking leaves or walking the dog.

Sheffield Park this National Park is absolutely stunning in the autumn. The colours around the lake are like no other. There is no tree climbing in the actual gardens but they do put on events for children to do throughout the year. However, there is a natural play area a short walk away and this includes a den area and soon to be replaced huge swing!

Southwater Country Park is another great park in the area. The lake provides a great place for swimming and water sports during the summer and then year round is the Dinosaur Park. A great place to spend the afternoon with lots to entertain the children. In the summer it gets extremely busy with families picnicking either around the lake or in the dinosaur park but as the nights close in and days get cooler it definitely gets much quieter.

Petworth Park is another National Trust place which is home to hundreds of deer. There is a paying car park (free for NT) which provides easy access to the park. It’s a beautiful place to sit and watch the deer or wander along the many paths around the park.

Wey and Arun Canal is not a park but it is a beautiful place to go for a walk and it’s lovely to see the canal boats and at Christmas you can even go one to meet Father Christmas.

All of the above places are dog friendly, although most of them do require your dog to be on the lead.

I hope you like my list and feel free to message me with your favourite place

I will be running autumn mini sessions in various locations over the next few weeks so feel free to get in touch or like my Facebook page Claire Wilders Photography

Mini Session Prices are:

£49

20 minute session plus 3 digital images

£65

20 minute session plus 5 digital images

£95

20 minute session plus all images

Prints/packages can be bought extra but will include a 10% discount.

“The Wedding” what happened next? A photographers first wedding!

They say never mix business with friendships but I have to say this is the best thing I have done and I don’t regret it for a minute.

Holly asked me if I would photograph her wedding to Shiraz, even though she knew I wasn’t a wedding photographer. I had taken lots of photos of her daughter at school sports events and I also did her new daughters newborn photo session, so she knew what my photos were like.

She made it clear that she wanted to document the day and NOT spend all day posing for photos, so everything would be very relaxed. My first thought was “well that’s great but what does Shiraz want?”… maybe he will hate my photos and will want everything…..

My second panic came when they told me who some of their guests were and where the wedding was to be held. Jason Roberts the professional footballer was best man and had flown in just for the wedding and Shiraz’s family had flown in from all over the world. The venue was the absolutely stunning Leonardslee Gardens My low key garden party wedding was no longer low key…

All I can say is they are the most relaxed couple I think I’ve ever met!!! And I am so glad that I photographed their wedding. First of all they’re both gorgeous so taking photos of them was easy and they were just so relaxed with each other that natural photos were just free flowing! Although their wedding was absolutely stunning and in such a lavish place it really was just like a garden party!

The whole day was just relaxed from start to finish and I just had THE best time!!

Prior to the wedding Holly hung out with her bridesmaids while Shiraz chatted to arriving guests and enjoyed the sunshine (in what had been a week of rain).

Children were able to run around on the lawn and guests relaxed on the patio.

The actual ceremony was gorgeous because Leonardslee Gardens has a beautiful little entrance hall where the ceremony can take place with some seated guests and then the rest looking down from the balcony.

As a guest I was told to to relax during the ceremony and watch the special moment, although I still couldn’t help capturing a few photos.

The rest of the afternoon was enjoying the day and helping the gorgeous couple celebrate.

True to her word Holly only wanted a few official photos so we spent a short time capturing the family together plus the obligatory confetti shot before heading off for some fun… in the way of a golf buggy!

Leonardslee Gardens is just gorgeous for the couples photos and it was great fun driving through the grounds on the golf buggy..(they even grabbed one of me en route)

As before Hollys priority for the day was her guests so we only spent 15 minutes by the lake capturing some relaxed couples photos before heading back to the house for dinner.

After a bumpy, slightly worrying drive back up the hill, wondering if the golf buggies/drivers AKA Holly ( would make it) we were greeted by some very excited children.

Holy and Shiraz wanted speeches before food, which was a great idea because it meant everyone could relax.

It was then time for the group photo before heading off for an extremely delicious dinner!!

After catching up with friends over dinner the final photo of the day I wanted to capture was the first dance.

My job was then finished and it was time to enjoy the rest of the evening. I want to say a HUGE thank you to Holly and Shiraz for believing in me and allowing me to attend their wedding as both guest and photographer. It was an absolute pleasure!

What did Holly and Shiraz think…

“Claire is an incredible patient talented photographer.

We are honoured to have had her Photograph her first ever Wedding.

Claire you are a star and we can’t thank you enough for your photos which will last a lifetime of memories for us.

5 ⭐️”

So my verdict… would I recommend doing a friends wedding??

Absolutely!!

Should you follow the advice of everyone else that says don’t do it?

NO! If you feel you’re ready go for it.

Do you need a second camera?

It would be handy to save swapping lenses but I made it work. I also had a back up card in my camera but if the camera went wrong I was stuffed. If I do weddings in the future I will definitely have another camera.

What would my tips be?

Be clear on the expectations of both yourself and bridal party.

Follow your gut feeling.

Doing the wedding was terrifying but I am so glad I did it.

Research the venue.

Read up.

Have a list of photos you’d like. I was lucky with my bride and groom as they were so chilled and were happy with whatever I took.

Think about where you need to stand for the photos you want.

GOOD LUCK!