Ashridge House Wedding – Berkhamstead, Herts

Photographing a wedding at Ashridge House in Berkhamsted had been on my wishlist for a while. So I was thrilled when I met Elsa and Graham at a wedding fair last Feburary and they asked me to photograph their wedding this Spring.

The weather over the Easter weekend can go either way, but the sunshine Gods were smiling on us and the weather was utterly glorious – clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Bright sunshine is often a bit of a challenge to photograph in but for me it’s always preferable to grey and drizzly, which is generally the alternative in early April!

Elsa was getting ready with her bridesmaids when I arrived at Ashridge House and I made sure I had allowed myself plenty of time to have a scout around the beautiful gardens first so I knew which locations I was going to use later for bride and groom portraits.

I was joined by my 2nd shooter for the day Zelda Philps of Zelda Rhiannon Photography and we found the most amazing door, with perfect light to photograph Elsa’s wedding dress, shoes and all the other details. Have a look at the embroidery inside Elsa’s shoes – it was her ‘something blue!’

After lots of candid photographs of the girls getting ready it was time to head over the the church, where Zelda had been photographing the boys and the guests arriving. (The beauty of having a 2nd photographer is that none of these moments get missed. It’s something I always recommend because I simply can’t be in two places at once!)

Little Gaddesden Church is stunning but a little (very!) tight for space and Zelda and I were asked by the Minister to only photograph from the back as he didn’t feel there was enough room for one of us to be at the front. I will never try and go against a Minister’s request and photos from the back of the church are just as beautiful as those from the front. Couples face each other during the vows and ring exchange, and I use a long zoom lens so the final photos look like I was much closer than I actually was.

After the ceremony we had time for a few ‘OMG we just got married!’ photos and the confetti run before making our way back to Ashridge House for the wedding reception. Again, Zelda had gone ahead so she was ready and waiting to photograph the newly weds as they arrived.

Once everyone had greeted Elsa and Graham we cracked on with the (informal) formal group photos. We really were spoilt for choice for locations as the gardens at Ashridge House are vast, but given the bright midday sun we decided to use the same soft flattering light that we used for the wedding dress. My decisions about locations for photographs are nearly always based on the quality of the light. When the sun is high in the sky, shadows are cast into peoples’ eyes by their brows, making them look like they have panda eyes in the photos. I can compensate to a certain extent by using flash to fill in the shadows but there are limits to what’s possible. My clients hire me because they love my natural style and if I try and overpower the sun with flash (which is possible) my images will lose that soft natural feel that everyone loves. 

After the group photos I made sure that Elsa and Graham had plenty of time to relax with their guests before we wondered off around the gardens for a few minutes for their bride and groom portraits. I try hard not to take couples away from their guests for too long so the portraits usually take 15-20 minutes and then we’ll do a few more for about 10-15 minutes later in the day. Elsa and Graham were amazing to photograph – I know it’s not everyone’s favourite thing but the key is simply to relax, be yourselves and forget that you’re being photographed. Easier said than done I know but I help by not ‘posing’ my couples too much, I prefer to make suggestions and let them interpret them in their own way, so they still look like themselves in the final photos.

It was soon time for the wedding breakfast and as we hadn’t taken any photos by the iconic water fountain in the Italian gardens at Ashridge House (the light was too harsh), Elsa and Graham agreed to pop out in between courses when the sun had gone down a little and I’m so glad they did! The light was at the perfect angle to illuminate each water drop and the effect is stunning.

After everyone had eaten, we had time for some fun photos in the gardens and then it was time for the first dance, followed by what I can only describe as an epic dance floor – Elsa and Graham’s guests really know how to party! So after taking many, many photos in amongst it all on the dance floor, Zelda and I said our goodbyes and left everyone to dance the night away.

I absolutely adored photographing Elsa and Graham’s wedding at Ashridge House and I can’t wait until I can work there again!