A Blake Hall wedding for Hannah and Billy last Saturday, near Chipping Ongar in Essex. On a mild October day that had some rain but also at the very end, a dramatic sunset. ( Although most people were eating in the barn at this point ) The reception and evening party was at Blake Hall, but the ceremony itself had been just down the road at St Helen’s catholic church. Tucked away behind the high street, St Helen’s is a modest mid-nineteenth century church but it has a link to a notable national tragedy. In 1906, Father Thomas Byles became the Missionary priest, he would become known as the ‘Hero of the Titanic’. Father Byles was popular locally, he would teach boxing to local boys and in 1912 set off for New York to assist in his brother’s wedding, setting sail on the Titanic. As the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank in the icy waters, after hitting an iceberg, he refused a place in a lifeboat. He was seen by eyewitnesses, together with another priest, still on the ship surrounded by a big crowd of kneeling people of all faiths praying, as the water came over the deck. There is a small stained glass window at St Helen’s in his honour and it’s what I start the story with in images below.
Back to Hannah & Billy’s wedding. Coverage kicks off at Hannah’s parents house, again just up the road from the church. It was a bit of a squeeze in the church and for some there was a distraction during the ceremony as a big(gish) spider made it’s way down the aisle. But by the end of the ceremony, rain was in the air, so it was straight to Blake Hall and the wedding reception barn dating from 1642. Listed barns like this are atmospheric but because of their listing, not exactly peppered with windows and light, but you can get interesting light if you look. The sun did come out just as the receiving line started. I’m not a big fan of these lines, they take a long time and often offer little in the way of interesting photographs. Thankfully that was not the case on Saturday. They held it in the sunlight and the greetings/emotions were genuine.
So time for the wedding breakfast. I mention this to every couple, but if the sun appears, as it so often does at the end of the day, then I will ask them to down their knife and fork and pop outside. This happens frequently – the best light happening during the wedding breakfast or speeches. You can’t control the light/sun, but it’s important to react when if it offers you something, regardless of the time. The sun did appear – just minutes before it had been overcast, dark, cold and bleak. Hannah & Billy came out and we had ( according the camera clock ) two and a half minutes of sunlight for some more couple portraits. It then clouded over again, until later, as I was walking around the grounds, as if from nowhere a beautiful sunset appeared, that lasted seconds.
The speeches were good and so was the heckling! Then it first dance and the party – with a DJ who kept shouting, “Come On!”. A cracking autumn wedding.
Here are a few images from the day…