Somerset Wedding Photography : Anna & Matt : Part One

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All the signs were there when I first met with Anna & Matt in London. They mapped out their plans for their Somerset wedding and I knew it was a route that I very much wanted to follow. I would bring all of the image related metaphors that I could muster, along for the journey.

I do rather wonder myself though what paths those metaphors will lead me down, so safest, perhaps, to focus on that which I saw and that which I heard too, lest my lexicological gambolling disorientate even me  :~)

So, I met with Anna & Matt in London, seven months before they were set to marry. Anna is a Londoner, of Polish heritage, Matt a Somersetian (I’ve had an enjoyable several minutes then several more again researching the correct noun to describe a person from Somerset and I’ve found some interesting claims along the way. I’ll leave the others to those interested, to research for themselves though. Whilst navigating this diversion however, and seemingly still directed by signed metaphorical links, did you know that Somerset is home to one of the world’s oldest known engineered roadways? It dates back to 3807BC, apparently; the Sweet Track. It was the oldest dated timber trackway in Northern Europe until a 6000 year old trackway was discovered in London, in 2009).

Back on track… I met with Anna & Matt in London, seven months before they were set to marry. Anna is a Londoner, of Polish heritage, Matt a Somersetian; the union of a triad of cultures with deep roots that promised great things in terms of celebration, on top of the fact that both the central players in the wedding day to come were warm hearted, effusive and enthusiastic souls.

My particular excitement to photograph their wedding day was particularly well placed, and this is what I saw on that day and some of what I heard too.

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I have a particular personal fondness for those places where coincidence evolves into serendipity.

To date I have photographed several weddings in Somerset. Most of those have seen the marriage of a couple where neither party was born or raised nor had ever lived in the county; they chose to do it all there simply because it’s a marvellous place. I am, one might say, a great fan of the county myself. It has a certain magic about it; there’s something in the soil.

Anna & Matt’s was one of only two weddings that I have photographed thus far in Somerset where there was a direct link to the county by birthright.

The other such wedding was that of Jo & Jim.

Jo & Jim had married at the Tithe Barn in Dunster before celebrating a few miles down the road at Knowle Manor. Anna & Matt married a few miles down the road from Dunster, in Timberscombe (just five minutes from Knowle Manor) before celebrating at the Tithe Barn. What in itself may appear to be a simple coincidence of locations is already a significant one for me as it is so rarely that I photograph weddings in the same places, my commissions see me travelling so far and wide.

When Anna & Matt had visited the Tithe Barn as a prospective venue for their wedding celebrations, they happened to spot a thank you letter pinned to a noticeboard adjacent to the main entrance, one of a number of such notes of gratitude. The letter had come from Jo & Jim. It featured a photograph that I had taken of them during their first dance and included mention of my Web site, where the recipients of the letter might view more photographs from their wedding day. Anna & Matt took note of the details and thus coincidence crystallised and became serendipity.

I have photographed only two weddings that featured an after-party (one that included the couple, at least). My day’s work done on both occasions, I attended both such parties (and might have let my hair down, too :~). One was Jo & Jim’s. The other, Anna & Matt’s.

To wrap up this series of coincidences rather neatly, Jo & Jim’s wedding took place exactly one year to the day before Anna & Matt’s (in the interests of accuracy and honesty the two weddings fell a year and a day apart in terms of calendar date but on the same September Saturday, so that’s one year to the day as far as I’m concerned :~).

So yes, I have a particular personal fondness for those places where coincidence evolves into serendipity.

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When Anna & Matt sent me a copy of their schedule for the wedding day, one entry in particular caught my eye. “10:00 Anna Blake to set up wedding cake (it rhymes!)” declared the entry. I assumed that Anna must be a friend. I assumed correctly. I felt, therefore, that the setting up of the cake was something that I must get some photographs of, for Anna & Matt, and 10.00am wasn’t that much earlier than the time that I’d originally presumed to commence coverage.

Schedules do change however and with the wedding day approaching fast, the needs of people to be in certain places at certain times and for certain things to be completed before certain others led to the cake set-up being rescheduled for 8.00am. Anna & Matt told me that they would certainly not expect me to start so early in the day but by then, ‘Anna Blake setting up the cake’ had become something of a rhythmic, rhyming mantra in my head and I couldn’t shake off the notion that a photograph or two of a friend’s generous and creative act must be taken.

As chance would have it though, I’d found accommodation just three minutes walk up the hill from the Tithe Barn. I stayed at Higher Orchard in Dunster, a really rather beautiful, homely, and welcoming bed and breakfast establishment (and to add to the chain of coincidences surrounding my involvement in this wedding, it transpired that the proprietor’s daughter was the picture editor for Brides magazine, she had been the best friend, throughout their school years, of the wife of a friend in Oxford whom also photographs weddings, and subsequent to the day, I spotted the landlord’s name in a photograph that I had taken, carved into a wooden beam at the Tithe Barn along with the names of a larger team of volunteers that had aided in its restoration). So I popped down to the Tithe Barn, took a few photographs of Anna Blake setting up the cake, then went back up the hill for a sumptuous home cooked breakfast :~)

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There should have been a big, bold tick in the Yes Please! box, of course :~) It’s just that I’d not wanted to deface any of Anna & Matt’s beautifully (self) designed wedding invitation material before photographing it. An appropriately placed tick would not have made for an unwanted defacement though, I realise now!..

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Anna had hired a cottage on the edge of Dunster village where she stayed on the eve of the wedding…

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A card had been delivered to Anna, from Matt, in an envelope also containing a romantic set of photographs :~)…

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(It all made sense later in the day. The photographs detailed, though did not fully reveal, the construction of a set of giant initials lit with an array of light bulbs, that would feature at the entrance to the Tithe Barn.)

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Meanwhile, back in the heart of Dunster village…

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Decisions, decisions…

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When the paradox of choice gets you, spread your bets…

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Meanwhile, etc… (it made for a lovely walk back and fore between village centre and village edge)…

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I followed the signs…

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And sensed that they had got me to the right place…

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Now you see Matt…

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Now you don’t…

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Dapper chap :~)…

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Matt had grown up in the village of Timberscombe and he and Anna would marry in the village church. It spoke to me warmly of village personality that a couple of locals waited with enthusiastic curiosity to see the arrival of the bride as Anna’s bridesmaids in turn awaited her arrival…

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A little earlier, I’d enjoyed an entertaining conversation with the lady on the left. She told me that she had known Matt when he was knee high to a grasshopper and remembered when he had left the village a man. She also regaled me with tales of her wedding day. She had married in the same church. Some impish guests had stuffed a kipper up the exhaust pipe of the wedding car and it had made a loud pop and given off a distinctly fishy smell as the couple made their getaway. When on honeymoon, she opened her purse and confetti fell out of it. I loved hearing these anecdotes :~)…

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Take your seats for the ceremony >>

Contact Somerset Wedding Photographer Phillip Allen : phill@misterphill.com : 07870 696248