Northern Ireland Wedding Photography : Emily & Matt

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Preposterous. The word kept vaulting around my mind throughout Emily & Matt’s wedding day, though entirely stripped of any unfavourable connotations, clad instead in entirely positive tones. Positively preposterous. Preposterously positive. The enormity of… everything. Emily’s dad cooking for what I estimate to be around 200 people. Her mum spending weeks scouring the north-eastern quarter of Northern Ireland for flowers, wild and cultivated. A host of family and friends worked double-time and more to bring everything together come the week of and the day of the wedding itself. A palpable and enormous sense of community in it all. Aside from the marquee, I was the only thing they didn’t make themselves. I was totally made up by the experience though, which is an awful pun but that’s just what I was; totally made up by the experience.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised though if they got back to me to tell me that one or more of their party had actually made the marquee from scratch.

I’d first encountered Emily – but then ever so briefly – at a wedding in Dorset four years earlier, that of Kataya & Richard. Amidst the flurry and whirl of engaging in observational photography, on request I’d taken a posed photograph that featured her before reverting to the hunt for unposed moments of human interaction. When it came time to edit the images from that wedding I came across that photograph and was struck powerfully by the sense of a particular spirit emanating from this individual. It’s only on a handful of occasions in my practice as a wedding photographer – and then so with at least a digit or two to spare – that I’ve allowed myself to behave in so presumptuous a manner but I chose to include the photograph in a blog post and tagged on a note to the effect that my services as a photographer were offered, should they be required in future. I practically scandalised myself in doing so but the resolute notion that there was something of worth that might come out of the intimation won the moment.

Three and a half years passed. Not that I was awaiting a response :~) Three and a half years passed then out of the blue I received an email from Emily which proved that I’d done the right thing. Or maybe she would have contacted me anyway, solely based on the results of the photographs I’d produced for Kataya & Richard. Well, at least my presumptuousness hadn’t scuppered the prospect of my being commissioned to photograph a certain wedding. Emily told me of a brilliant man that she was now engaged to, we discussed potential dates and my availability and everything worked out just perfectly, then of a weekend of cross-country travelling I was able to meet up with her and Matt and found that Emily was everything that I’d sensed from that one photograph and that Matt was exactly as she had described. The time that I spent with them throughout their wedding day built upon this estimation. If the world is a tapestry within which people are threads travelling hither and yon, their paths crossing to create patterns, a picture, then these individuals, these threads, are the type that contribute to the making of a picture I’d most like to see of that world. It was an enormous pleasure to me to make pictures for them and for the truly, really very excellent collection of characters that shared in their experience.

Emily & Matt’s wedding was set on the Ards Peninsula in County Down, Northern Ireland. They married at The Portico of Ards in Portaferry, an amazing building fashioned in the Greek Revival style. Two of Emily’s grandparents had themselves married there. Celebrations ensued on the coast of the Irish Sea in and around a giant marquee on a harbour-side, next to an old lighthouse keepers’ cottage where Emily had spent numerous childhood holidays and where she and Matt had become engaged.

This is the story of their wedding day…

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The spaceship…

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A wee aside: I’ve enjoyed countless visits to the Republic of Ireland over the years but this was my first visit to Northern Ireland and I thoroughly enjoyed all that I encountered in my visit. As my niece lives just a hour’s drive away from where Emily & Matt’s wedding was to take place I took my daughter – now ten years old – along for the trip as she would relish a stay with her cousin whilst I was off doing my thing. She was highly enthused by her visit, saying that everyone was so friendly wherever we went, a sentiment I concurred with fully. She was excited to see me editing these images. “Ooh! That’s Emily and Matt!” She’d met them both the day before their wedding as I set about visiting all the locations involved.

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Dozens of hand written menus…

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The ‘family photo wall’…

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The stunning Portico of Ards…

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Done deal…

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Emily’s brother, Sam, was assigned to the all important duty of wrangling guests for the group photographs. Not one to be daunted by the task – much – he did an excellent job of it…

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Star of the show, really…

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Dress rehearsal…

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It was when I bumped into these two (and a third guest again) at a wedding in Bedfordshire – that of Chris & Claudia – the very next weekend that I fully conceded to a lingering notion that I live in a scripted reality :~) Either that, or my desire for Emily & Matt’s wedding to never end prompted a spillover in… well, the script. So scripted it is, and a particularly pleasant script it is too…

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Ceremony, canapés, speeches and drinks enjoyed, it was time for ‘The Going Away’…

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I set off in hot pursuit. (Never over 30 mph.) (Private road.) (Stopped with the handbrake on.) (All true.)…

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The Going Away was followed by The Coming Back…

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The place where I derived the formula QoP = (SoP +/- SoM) x QoS

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(I might one day recall what it all stands for! :~)

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A huge thank you to Emily & Matt for seating me as a guest for dinner…

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And to Emily’s dad for the elevated culinary adventure (for the breakfast too, come the following morning. I got to sleep in one of the old lighthouse keeper’s bunks)…

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Shark-heads for the assigned sharers…

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One of my favourite things to witness at weddings; the sharing of food as an integral part of the celebrations; the elevated sense of community…

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Spoonie?…

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Time to light the flowers…

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Superstar DJfriendguests…

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Lost and found…

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Post first dance – and immediately so – the dance floor filled to the brim and didn’t wane for a second right through the night…

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We’re…

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lost…

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in…

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music…

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Caught in a trap…

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No turning back…

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We’re lost in music…

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Correct choice!…

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Dmp-tsch… dmp-tsch… dmp-tsch… dmp-tsch…

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Civil photographerneer…

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One of The Residents dropped in to see how the party was going…

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Family reunion…

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Matt Rap!…

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Fog on the Ards…

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QoS!…

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The time came that nobody wanted to come. More so nobody wanted to leave…

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But it happened and it was all utterly brilliant and the fact of it all having happened remains a fact forever.

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Dog tired…

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Emily & Matt… huge congratulations! Thank you so, so much for having me there. The beauty of spirit that I encountered in you, your families and your friends was a treasure to me and I’m made up by the whole experience.

Contact Northern Ireland Wedding Photographer Phillip Allen : phill@misterphill.com