Purbeck Wedding Photographer : Kataya & Richard : Part One

I have a great fondness for the Isle of Purbeck, regardless of the fact that it is not technically an island; it’s a peninsula of the Dorset coastline though with a local flavour all of its own that differentiates it markedly from its parent county. Kataya’s fondness for the locale is irrefutable, her having been raised there, and when she brought Richard to visit a lasting enchantment with its environs was equally guaranteed. They married at St. Nicholas Church and marked the occasion at the nearby Studland Bay House that in turn formed the base for a weekend of celebrations.

In four years of photographing weddings it has been rarely that I’ve found myself at the same location a second time round, two weddings at Milton Abbey in Dorset and a further two combining Poole Guildhall with the nearby Hotel du Vin constituting two of a total of three locations that I have thus far returned to again. This was my third wedding that combined St. Nicholas Church with Studland Bay House, which marks it as something of a personal record making occasion. There are no end of venues that I would be very happy to visit again for a wedding day but first and certainly foremost it’s about the people and I’ll follow them wherever they might choose to go. Maybe there’s something about Studland though that attracts a certain type of person to marry there (aside from the fact that in all three cases to date, one party to the marriage grew up on Purbeck) and this gels with my love of the area, how that stems from my outlook on life and in turn how that outlook is at the core of how I unconsciously choose to photograph things.

Whatever the case may be, once more I found myself immersed in a wedding day that was again laid back in temperament yet highly energetic in its manifestation, deeply personalised whilst still embracing the comfort and enjoyment of its guests and with people at the heart of it all that were a genuine pleasure to work with. Kataya & Richard were a delight to be around, calm and calming characters with a penchant for fun combined with a disposition to care for those surrounding them. Those attributes combined with the potency of setting foot on Purbeck again made for a fantastically enjoyable day out for yours truly.

Kataya’s father, Paul, honing his oration for the evening…

Whilst upstairs, serenity personified, Kataya admires her wedding dress (and rightfully so)…

In one of the downstairs rooms at Studland Bay House a Sofreh-ye Aghd, a traditional Iranian wedding spread was laid out. The spread bearing the display would traditionally be passed from mother to daughter. The items it bore would serve various symbolic purposes, for the bringing of good luck or more so, driving away bad luck, and for the promotion of good health and prosperity. The centrepiece of a mirror between two candelabras is representative of the couple and brightness in their future and again, traditionally, it would be within the mirror that the groom would first see the face of his bride-to-be.

I asked Kataya’s mother, Nahid, if there was a specific significance to the decorating of a life ring. She informed me that it was to add a bit of a seaside theme to the wedding celebrations. Ever the anthropological adventurer, I like to think I’d rediscovered an age old Purbeck wedding tradition…

Over at the Bankes Arms, a fantastic Purbeck pub neighbouring St. Nicholas Church, Richard and his crack unit of groomsmen were to encounter a highly alien ritualistic phenomena (alien at least to a great many men)…

The uncertainty, the trepidation, each was palpable. Well versed at dealing with novel scenarios though, Richard called out the order to buddy up. Typically I encounter men struggling valiantly with their buttonholes for a good while before they concede defeat and call for back-up, and I’ll admit it’s fun to photograph. This immediate resolution to team work though made for an equally enjoyable visual scenario for its symmetrical display of best practice in problem solving.

It is of course important to carefully balance the additional weight of a rose being added to one’s attire…

A musical interlude (not that it was in the slightest a Leonard Coenesque kind of day)…

All still serene back at Studland Bay House…

Raising the Bride on Iwo Jima…

And time to make way for St. Nicholas Church…

St. Nicholas Church is an especially beautiful, rather compact Saxon-era architectural marvel. For a while I feared I would spend the entirety of the ceremony discretely wedged between the pulpit and the frontmost pew but during the hymns I was able to relocate to a spare seat in the choir stalls. The perfect viewpoint…

Outside the church, I sensed there was loitering with intent afoot…

Evidence, image left, that somebody had smuggled in some contraband small-gauge confetti to discharge amidst the flower petals. Far better for accuracy in skilled hands, it has to be said…

With the day’s celebrations taking place in BH19, we were a little way off from WC2 but it was good of the driver to make a detour to pick up all the guests…

I know I don’t usually feature posed group photographs (though certainly do take them, as requested) but with Christmas approaching and in the spirit thereof, and more so in recognition of the resolute effort of Kataya’s sister, Tara (centre-shot in the two central-most… shots) in coordinating them all so efficiently (such grand effort should not go unrecognised) I present a selection for your viewing pleasure…

Rain stop play…

I don’t actually recall it being a rainy day, perhaps as it rained very little and for just a short period of time; the bright disposition of the day cast it from my mind. Amidst what was a rather poor summer, weather-wise (if I’m allowed to include a mid-October wedding within the boundaries of summer) every single weekend I’ve found myself photographing weddings where the weather in the preceding days has been shabby to say the least, or during the succeeding days and sometimes throughout both but on the day itself, the weather has invariably been fantastic (even if a few minutes rain may have come and gone on any one occasion). I’m not sure it’s something I could rightfully guarantee as part of my service but somehow I’ve developed a perfect weather related track-record for this year at least.

Rain came. Rain went. They seemed worried as to what I had in store for them…

I have a reassuring manner though…

As the line grew longer, its members grew shorter, and shorter…

So we made the most important ones much, much taller. I sensed I wasn’t getting everyone’s full attention though…

So there was only one thing for it; the wedding photographer’s line charge*…

(*perish the thought, that there should be such a thing, universally at least). And no, he didn’t run from one end of the group to the other in order to appear twice. A breakdown of foresight on my behalf, I’m afraid to say. My decision to photograph Kataya & Richard together meant that I ended up with just 11 images rather than one for each of the 12 persons present. Had I left a gap bottom right the composite image might have toppled over.

Anyway… attention fully gained…

After all that, I preferred the one where they’re not all paying attention…

I can’t show what followed this next one because then, everybody would start asking for the same type of image and it would lose its innovative appeal…

I sensed he had empathy with my plight…

I braced myself for another attention gaining charge…

But they all spotted me in time. Well, almost all…

Then back undercover I went. More posed group photographs next Christmas…

Richard’s brother, Will – also his best man – seemed preoccupied with something or other…

I found myself instinctively taking some more posed group photographs…

A little less close together; yes; that’s perfect…

Onwards to Part Two >>

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

Rob Dunning - Mr Phill,

You are quite simply one of my most favourite wedding photographers … EVER!

Pure brilliance.

Lots of love,

Rob xx

Kate - What a fantastic wedding, beautifully captured and retold.

Sam Gibson - Wonderful. Most excellent.

Howard Lucas - Well Mister Phill I throughly enjoyed looking through and reading this post, what a day….wonderful stuff.
I live in Swanage and fully understand what appeals to you, and those that choose to get married here on the Isle of Purbeck.
One of my neighbours got married last year at St Nicholas and then headed over to Studland Bay House, which they had hired for the weekend, for their reception. I am certainly looking forward to the possibility that I may one day be commissioned to photograph a wedding there.

Olivier Burnside - particularly like the one of the bride getting into the car – timeless and brilliant

Nic Skerten - Beautifully photographed Phill. I’ve spent many a day on the Isle of Purbeck – a great place for a wedding

Tom Weller - Loving your non people shots as much as those with human beings in them in this post Phillip.

Steve and Sandra - Some amazing images, love your work, Steve & Sandra.

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