The Hartnoll Hotel near the Devonshire town of Tiverton was the venue for Laura & Justin’s wedding in September. Although I had lived in the area for many years and driven past on numerous occasions this was my first visit to the Hartnoll. In advance of the wedding I visited the day before, meeting Claire & Simon, the driving force of the Hartnoll team and taking the chance to look round the hotel and it’s grounds to pick out good locations for photographs the following day. Although the Hartnoll doesn’t have large grounds, what they do have is beautifully designed, and ideally lit through the day for portrait photos. I was also able to identify a lovely bridge and a traditional red telephone box that had been converted into a quaint village library.
Saturday morning started with me and my trusted second shooter Liz arriving at the Hartnoll. When we arrived the team were hard at work preparing the venue as they had also had a wedding the previous day. Beautiful hessian and lace sashes were being applied to the chairs whilst the amazing semi nude cake was receiving its final decorations. The hessian and lace was a theme carried on throughout the day with style. From the invitations the guests received in advance, to the stationary and decorations on the day, and even on to Laura’s dress, and oh what a gorgeous dress it was, purchased from Kate Walker Bridal, elegant would be describing it in its simplest terms.
Upstairs bridal prep was underway with Laura Elstone Freelance hard at work perfecting hair and make up for the bridal party. Bride Laura was joined for the preparations by her mum Geraldine and her Bridesmaids Maria and Elin.
The flowers were next to be delivered by Jen of The Floricultural Cabinet. The cream/white theme for the flowers co-ordinated perfectly with the lace and hessian, the ceremony room looked beautifully balanced with rose tree arrangements at either end of the aisle, whilst small buckets lined the rows of seats before a pair of stunning large pedestal arrangements framed the ceremony table.
Whilst I was upstairs for Bridal preparations, Liz moved downstairs as Justin arrived along with family members, and also his best man Steve. It’s during this time in the day that me & Liz utilise our other skills and don’t just photograph. Whether it’s holding a speech folder, updating the bride with decorative progression or helping a family member organise somewhere to get changed, we are there to be helpful and hopefully allow the day pass that little bit smoother. Everything was totally under control with Claire of the Hartnoll at the helm, except the weather that is, that had frustratingly decided it needed to rain, but that wasn’t going to put a dampener on the day for anyone.
The ceremony itself was beautiful, surrounded by their nearest and dearest, with readings from their siblings, the emotions were clear. I love to watch faces during ceremonies, the reactions from both the bride and groom when they see each other for the first time, and when they say their vows. Also their guest’s faces bursting with love and pride, this is why I love weddings, they are such brilliantly emotive days how could you not love being a part of them?
To our delight as the ceremony concluded the rain cleared and the sun came out. Guests spilled out to the gardens with drinks in hand and I was able to sneak off with Laura and Justin to capture some bridal portraits. With the ground still rather wet, guest Luke was our saviour, helping keep the dress from getting wet and dirty in between photos. A highly underrated skill I tell you now! 😀 We were able to capture some beautiful photos including on the metal bridge over the stream at the bottom of the garden. Whilst we were away the guests took the chance to enjoy a glass of Bollinger, Laura’s horse Bolly, may not have made the day in person but he was there in name!
The wedding breakfast was chance for the guests to enjoy some utterly fabulous food (which I was lucky enough to sample myself), whist also having chance to appreciate some of the smaller details that Laura had worked so tirelessly to bring together for the day. From the engraved wooden hearts, guest book pen and holder, the macaroon favours mirrored with those on the cake and even the large topiary hedge initials. Justin & Steve’s speeches were lovely, Justin admitted Laura organised the vast majority of the day, but you couldn’t deny what a fantastic job she had done with the help of the Hartnoll team.
Starting the evening caricaturist Ailin Chambers joined the party producing fantastic works, which were photographed and combined into an additional guest book for Laura & Justin. After Laura & Justin’s first dance I stole the couple outside for one last photo. We had actually hoped it would be raining (as forecasted) for this photo, as when backlit rain shines through like hundreds of tiny gems, but the weather had other ideas. Instead as it was dry I positioned my studio lights one behind Laura & Justin and the other behind the topiary letters to create a unique photo (in the below gallery). I also then created a double exposure shot with Laura’s flowers which is to the left.
I felt privileged to be part of Laura and Justin’s big day and it was a delight to work alongside some exceptional suppliers. The Hartnoll team were really second to none and thoroughly deserve their excellent reputation.
Hair & Makeup // Laura Elston Freelance
Venue & Food // The Hartnoll Hotel
Flowers // The Floricultural Cabinet
Stationary // Inspired by Lisa Handcrafted Wedding Stationery
Cake & Sweet cart // Mandy’s Classic Cakes
Dress // Kate Walker Bridal
Topiary Letters // Prop Factory
Caricaturist// Ailin Chambers