I remember when Chatal got in touch with me about her garden tipi wedding in Curry Rivel in Somerset. She was so excited to be marrying Ben and so excited that they were holding the ceremony and the reception in Ben’s parents garden.
Now, I’ve photographed a few garden tipi weddings before; actually, quite a few, I seem to be attracted to them. So as we were taking about their plans I just took it all in my stride and thought about my past experiences of doing similar weddings.
It wasn’t until close to the day, as I was doing my planning, that I decided to have a look at the venue. I put in the postcode and the name of the house into Google and then I was shocked. This wasn’t any old back garden or house. The house is stunning and the garden huge with incredible views out into the Somerset countryside.
When I arrive a very nice man looking very smart showed me where to park and I head towards the house where I meet Ben’s dad Chris. He shows me to the room where Chantal is getting ready. I was already worried how I would ever find my way back through the house and outside.
As is usual on wedding days the prep room is chaotic with things all over the floor but I am not one for tidying up to make things look perfect. I love to capture that chaos, that sense of reality. Don’t get me wrong, if a Sainsbury’s carrier bag is potentially going to ruin a killer shot then I’ll pounce on it, but usually I prefer to go with the flow and let things be natural. Too much interference can lead to the bride getting even more nervous than she already is.
Chantal and her bridesmaids are pretty much ready in terms of hair and make-up when I arrive so all that’s left is to get into the dress. It’s so great at weddings that I am privileged to witness the touching moment of a bride being helped into her wedding dress by her Mum or her friends. It’s a real special moment for the bride and the person doing the helping and I always make a big deal of it when I am shooting.
I leave the girls spying out of the window at the guests congregating in the garden beyond the tipi to meet up with Ben. He is super keen and has already taken his place at the front of the aisle where they will be married along with his best men and ushers.
Thankfully the weather Gods are with us that day over Curry Rivel and we have some lovely sunshine mixed in with a bit of wispy cloud, perfect wedding photography weather in fact.
Emerging out of the tipi are the bridesmaids, who look stunning of course, shortly followed by Chantal and her Dad. A few of my favourite photos of the day are of the two of them as they walk across the grass together arm in arm, sharing a joke, a nervous smile and then a huge embrace as he steps back, passing his trust on to Ben to care for her.
The ceremony is funny, sincere and touching and it’s clear that Chantal and Ben are very much in love and so thrilled to be sharing this day with all their family and friends.
After their vows and the completion of the nuptials the two of them head back, hand in hand through the crowd of well-wishers who smother then in confetti. Always one of the most photogenic parts of the day.
The drinks reception is in front of the house, some folk inside the tipi while others roam the gardens. Things get serious when Ben’s sister rides up on a Segway and some of the guests fancy their chances of becoming an expert. I’m sure a touch of Dutch courage is involved.
It’s time for speeches, before the meal, so everyone can eat without feeling too nervous about what’s to come/ They’re all perfectly pitched, funny and most importantly of all for hungry guests, not too long.
After dinner I grab a few minutes with Chantal and Ben for their portraits. The harsh sun has given way to soft light over the Somerset levels and we wander around the garden. I just let them be themselves while I take photos. First from a distance and then a little closer as they get used to having me there. They’re complete naturals, despite them not thinking they are, and the images flow and their conversation flows as well. It means I capture some beautiful, natural moments of them enjoying their day.
As the sun starts to disappear over the horizon the party gets started in the tipi and it doesn’t take long for it to turn into a bit of a rage. Packed dance floors always make for the best photos so be sure to encourage your guests to get up and dance. My favourite moment is when Chantal and Ben are hoisted onto the shoulders of a couple of guests and the place goes wild.
Could the day get any better? Oh yes, a Land Rover just turned up with a pizza oven in the back. Happy sweaty, hungry guests and a happy photographer.
If you’re planning your own garden tipi wedding head over to my contact page and get in touch.
Garden Tipi Wedding
Chantal and Ben’s other suppliers
Dress: Jesus Peiro – @jesuspeiroofficial
Boutique – Miss Bush Bridal – @missbushbridal
Shoes: Michael Kors
Hair – Kelly Rouse – PHLICK
Hair Accessories – Hair flowers by Windmill Farm Flowers, Langport
Tipi – Wedding Tipi
Floral Design – Windmill Farm Flowers – @windmillfarmflowers
DJ – MC Entertainment – @mcentertainmentdj
Caterer – The French Kitchen – @the_frenchkitchen
Pizza van – Soul Dough Wood Fired Pizza – @soul_dough
Invitations – Atelier Rosemond