Smedmore House: when a wedding enquiry comes in that describes their planned wedding day as 'looking for colourful photographs that capture people's natural reactions, we do not want lots of posed photos or Instagram-esque filters in the editing!' and says there will be a Maypole on the lawn, you hope the couple will book. Becky and Steve came to me via another wedding photographer. I made my pitch. Silence. I didn't hear back for a month, then 'we have been whittling down our shortlist of photographers and we think we are getting close to making a decision however as it has been around a month since you confirmed your availability so I was just wondering whether you are still available?' I was, they replied to book.
Smedmore House in Dorset, just next to Kimmeridge Bay and the Jurassic Coast. Much of all this land belongs to the Estate at Smedmore. I arrived a bit early to get some shots of the Bay (see above) to start off the coverage, but no discount on the daily £6 parking fee for just being there a few minutes (Estate upkeep...) I've walked along this coastline many times and never noticed the big manor house set back towards the hills. An imposing Grade II* listed eighteenth-century country house, although with earlier origins. The current owner is a direct descendent of the man who purchased the Smedmore Manor, from the Smedmore family, over 600 years ago. They only stage about ten weddings a year I believe, although 2022 will see almost double that, as postponed weddings from 2020 and 2021 are held. Unusual for a big country house like this, the wedding is not just restricted to the grounds, as the wedding party can stay in the house for the weekend.
Smedmore House wedding photography
Coverage starts in Smedmore House. Becky was getting ready in a large room overlooking the marquee and down towards the ceremony spot. A vantage point to watch wedding guests arrive. The guests made their way to their seats - the weather perfect - blue skies, small white clouds - for a view of the Dorset coast. A view across Limmeridge Bay. The walk to the ceremony spot, from Smedmore House, is perhaps the longest walk I've seen a bride have to take for the start of a wedding ceremony. Becky had rehearsed it and timed it. Just over six minutes. With the wedding rules not finally changed in the K, there is no need for an arch for the ceremony - finally, we can have fully open-air wedding ceremonies here. Hard to beat this spot for an open-air ceremony (although you are very dependent upon the weather laying ball...)
Milk tanker and a Maypole...
If you are going to photobomb a wedding ceremony, you might as well use a big Milk Tanker heading down a dusty track to the nearby farm... The ceremony over, Becky and Steve led the wedding guests back up towards the house. Guests having been asked to carry the chairs back to the marquee. This was a relaxed wedding. Some confetti and then drinks in the walled garden, before the guests were directed towards the Maypole. A wedding in May, why not have a maypole? Then dinner and speeches in the tent. But first, each guest had draw their portrait and sign it on a small square of paper at their place settings. Becky planned to create a tea towel showing all them.
Then delaying the band by five minutes, a quick picture at sunset or as the sun set behind the nearby hills. Here are a few images from this Smedmore House wedding...
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