This was a wedding that took me to an unfamiliar area and away from my normal commissions in and around my local county Surrey.
I’ve never been to Greenford before, and or even Uxbridge in all honesty – Heathrow was the only nearby area that I vaguely knew and that’s only because of the airport!
So, it was to prove an interesting adventure, and so like with all my bookings I conducted a pre-wedding meeting a month prior to Sharon and Raph’s wedding date to view the church and the reception venues.
I was pleased to discover that Holy Cross Church was a marvelous historic Grade I listed building with originals parts dating from the 14th century – it had plenty of character and delightful textured timber rendering on the exterior, all of which gave me some really nice options for some of the bride & groom portraits.
It was just as well that the church and it’s surrounding yard offered a healthy array of photographic options, as the reception venue at Uxbridge Football Club was naturally never going to be conducive to photography with it being exactly what it was; a football club!
I did also stumble across another potential area on that same day of the consultation meeting when traveling from the church to the football club; there is an extraordinary newly built public park/open space called Northala fields based upon the A40 Western Avenue. This is a relatively newly constructed park, and it boasts two impressive man-made mounds that offer viewpoints across central London (apparently an interesting fact is that the mounds were created using rubble from the demolition of the original Wembley!), plus also a natural lake area for wildlife as well as recreational play areas for children. It could have offered some really unique photo opportunities for portraits, and I did ‘frame up’ some potential shots when I scouted the area – sadly we didn’t have the time available to utilise the area on the wedding day, and in all honesty as fab as it would have been to have gone there it was never going to be an easy nor practical operation! Shame, maybe another time…
Anyway, back to the wedding day – this was an all day affair with full coverage, and so I set off to start shooting the bridal preparations at Sharon’s mum’s house to start with, before then moving onto the church an hour before the ceremony to then meet Raph the groom for some portraits of him and his best man.
Raph is of Caribbean origin, and let’s just say that he’s a very chilled and laid back guy – and this was reflected in the respect that he was meant to have met me at the church at 2pm, but didn’t arrive until around 12.35pm!
He had instead been sinking a couple of pre-ceremony beers with his cousin at one of the local pubs.
Fortunately we still had enough time to capture some shots of him and Vas his best man, before everyone then headed into the church to await Sharon’s arrival.
Sharon arrived shortly afterwards and everything went according to plan with regards to the ceremony, or at least pretty much everything apart from one small hiccup when Vas was called upon to give the rings to the reverend – he could only find what appeared to be one of the wedding rings! This cued some nervous laughs from the bride and groom as well as some of the congregation whilst Vas desparately searched his pockets and inner-lining of his suit for the missing ring… after a couple of minutes of frantic searching it then came to light that Sharon’s wedding ring had lodged itself within Raph’s ring so it had been there all along albeit not obviously!
Fair play to Neil the reverend, he made very light humour of the situation and I have to say that he is one of the most relaxed clergy that I’ve had the pleasure of photographing under; he was so accommodating and understanding, practically allowing me a free reign (within reason) which isn’t normally the case with some churches.
Once the missing ring saga had been resolved the remainder of the service ran without a further hitch.
After the ceremony we quickly conducted all the formal group shots to then allow the guests to then head onto the reception venue and leave us alone to photograph the bride & groom portraits.
Sharon and Raph were great, as at this point with it being a late service (3pm) time was getting on and the sun was withdrawing on us along with the temperature, so it wasn’t the ‘warmest’ of environments for posing for pictures but we got through them as efficiently as possible and I’m sure that they both would agree that having seen the results it was well worth it.
With the formals then in the bag we headed onto the reception venue, just leaving me the speeches, detail shots, cutting of the cake and the first dance to navigate.
The speeches provided various speakers – I’d go as far as saying that I’ve never attended a wedding with so many speakers in fact! That not being a negative thing, as it was nice to see so many people willing to give their own personal reflection on Sharon & Raph and wish them well for their future together.
There were certainly some characters amongst them, and these always create great pictures – their expressions whilst delivering their lines and memories and then the reactions of the engaged audience.
All in all it was a long but good day, and I was pleased with the images that we captured throughout, some of which I have added below.