Photographing my first wedding at Leonardslee Garden, West Sussex
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.
For more details on me photographing your wedding please head over to my wedding page
The background story
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 and believed in me!.
Holly made it clear that she wanted to document the day and NOT spend all day posing for photos. 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.
The 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 The low key garden party wedding was no longer low key!
However, they are the most relaxed couple I think I’ve ever met!!! Photographing their wedding was so relaxing! 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 everyone had a brilliant 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 the rest looking down from the balcony.
As a guest, I was told 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 about enjoying the day and helping the happy couple celebrate.
True to her word Holly only wanted a few official photos. A short time was spent 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 stunning 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)
Hollys priority for the day was spending time with the guests, so we only spent 15 minutes by the lake capturing some relaxed photos of the newley weds 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 was 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.
So my verdict… would I recommend doing a friends wedding and how did it feeling photographing my first wedding?
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 for photographing your first wedding?
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.
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.