Larmer Tree Gardens Wedding Photography : Julia & Simon

In opening his speech on his and Julia’s wedding day, Simon pointed out that whilst it was considered traditional for the groom to make his thanks for having been welcomed into the bride’s family, he didn’t need to employ such words at this juncture as he had been included immediately and fully in that family since his and Julia’s relationship had begun quite some years earlier. His saying this struck a resonant chord in me; it spoke clearly of a family that act in an inclusive manner, open, warm-hearted and welcoming and I myself have enjoyed and appreciated that shared spirit in my encounters with them now dotted across several years.

I had first met them in early-2010; a family gathering of seventeen – sixteen humans and one characterful dog – joined to celebrate three birthdays; an eightieth, a fiftieth and a seventeenth. Julia was then working as an events coordinator at a lovely rural Dorset venue – Holton Lee – where the year before I had photographed one of my earliest weddings and having seen my photographs from that wedding she asked if I might be interested in photographing a family gathering that they had planned. Accustomed already to immersing myself amidst throngs of people up to a hundred strong or more, I wondered if my presence as a stranger, as a photographer might prove a little unsettling to a relatively smaller and tight knit group but all seemed wholly accepting of my presence from the off, were thoroughly welcoming and they proved to be the most enjoyably enthusiastic subjects that I might wish for as I went about my craft. It was a great pleasure indeed to experience the dynamic of this group.

Five years later, I had a throughly enjoyable time in photographing the wedding of Julia’s sister when Nicola married another Simon and it was fantastic to be able to do my thing amongst these same people once again. Some months either side of that wedding I also had the pleasure of working alongside Julia at a couple of weddings, she in her capacity as a wedding planner demonstrating complete command of the role wrapped in a demeanour imbued with grace.

Then came 2016, the final month of the year and it was Julia and Simon’s turn to tie the knot, another family gathering of great note and an excited me along for the story-telling ride. In some sense I’d been photographing Julia & Simon for seven years at this juncture, albeit not continuously but invariably a fun thing to do what with Julia’s aforementioned grace and her particularly kind spirit and Simon’s irrepressible humour and bonhomie. They married at Christchurch Priory in Dorset and celebrated into the night at the Larmer Tree in Wiltshire. This is the story of Julia & Simon’s wedding day…

It was lovely turning up at Julia’s family home to an unreservedly warm welcome once more; especially lovely to catch up with her parents, Anne & Steve, again. It was good too to connect the virtual with the real world. I’ve followed Tara on Twitter for some time and it was great to see her make-up expertise in action…

Re-charge :~)…

Meanwhile, at a conveniently located hostelry…

Simon appeared to know everyone on Christchurch High Street…

He made it to the Priory on time though, despite the ambush…

Indeed, we may never know…

Looking forward to photographing this fine chap’s wedding too, come September of this year…

I was mightily impressed throughout the day by the visual touches that Julia had brought to bear in orchestrating various aspects of the wedding; visual tone steered through decor. As I often say and always will say, my focus first and foremost is on people and what they are but I very much appreciated the ambience that was moulded in setting the stage that people would move around on this particular day.

And the other half of that September wedding equation, image left :~)…

Point scored for capturing a double hug. Double sibling hug adds a score multiplier :~)…

There is a photograph out there somewhere that features me taking this photograph. Luckily though, I didn’t get caught in a recursive loop and was able to continue my journey through the timeline of the day…

The new function room at the Larmer Tree, beautifully decorated for Julia & Simon’s wedding celebrations with furniture by The White Chair Company and arrays of floral decor and candles by Arcade Flowers. (A quick aside, as we’re here, as we’re there; it was great to catch up with the Larmer Tree’s wedding coordinator, Gail, when I made it to the venue. Gail is an exemplar in the role she undertakes. If you find yourself marrying and celebrating at this same place, you’re guaranteed to be in the best possible hands)…

Rather than have a formal sit down meal, Julia & Simon elected to have a lounge party – which made for a fantastic ambience – sumptuously and deliciously catered by Forkingout

I was particularly looking forward to hearing the speeches, having enjoyed so much those delivered at Julia’s sister’s wedding a year previously.

Testament to the aforementioned inclusivity displayed by Julia’s family and immediately evocative to me of my first encounter with them at their celebration of three family birthdays all those years back, three guests celebrating their birthdays around the time of the wedding were called up by Julia’s Dad, Steve, to receive congratulations…

Everyone loved the slideshow Steve produced for the occasion…

A ‘welcome to the family’ gift for Simon, echoing the welcome he’d received on his first visit to the family home many years earlier :~)…

I particularly loved witnessing just how much fun Julia’s sister, Nicola, had constantly and consistently throughout the day; the exemplary Maid of Honour working ceaselessly to ensure Julia had the best day possible and as I’d fully expected, delivering a moving speech to boot…

Likewise my expectations of a quality speech from Simon; fully met…

It was good to see Simon’s Mum, Ann, again. I was sat as a guest for dinner at the wedding of Julia’s sister – at the same table as Ann – and will always remember her kindness in ensuring that I was properly hydrated (ensuring a good intake of water is a very big thing in photographing weddings!)…

Worth clearing your ears to hear, Simon’s brother and Best Man, Tim, delivered with aplomb too…

“Is that thing loaded?”…

Time to cut in to the beautifully crafted Cakes By Ana cake…

The icing on the icing on the cake; The Regular Joes

As well as looking on at the first dance here, I’m playing a game of ‘Where’s Alex?’ I’m ever impressed and ever so impressed with Alex’s work as a wedding videographer; always a fantastic pleasure to work alongside (very difficult to capture in a photograph); you’ll likely not spot him unless you know what he looks like…

See you both in September! :~)…

And see you both in September again, too! :~)…

Congratulations Julia & Simon! It’s always been a pleasure and on this occasion an enormous one at that. A great big thank you to you and to your families and friends for providing such great material for me to weave a visual story from and for being such a great pleasure to spend time amongst and with.

Contact Dorset Wedding Photographer Phillip Allen : phill@misterphill.com