A Real Story of a Real Wedding: Lisa and Steve at Slaley Hall Spa Hotel, Near Hexham in Northumberland – a documentary wedding photography approach.
Slaley Hall near Hexham in Northumberland is, to date, the further distance I’ve travelled to shoot wedding photography – easily beating the distance I travelled to shoot Kara and Jason’s wedding at Rowton Castle in Shropshire, back in 2012.
So loving travel, nearly as much as I love photographing weddings, how could I resist the opportunity when Lisa and Steve asked me to be their official wedding photographer? Although they both now live in Berkshire, Lisa is originally from the North East whilst Steve was born in Scotland. So it was only naturally they chose to tie the knot at a small, intimate wedding in the North East.
So after a short flight up to Newcastle and a 40 minute taxi ride from Newcastle International Airport I arrived at the impressive and beautiful Slaley Hall Spa Hotel, deep in the wild but stunning Northumbria countryside.
On arrival the sun was shining and I met up with groom-to-be Steve to have a look around the hotel and grounds it is set within, including an impressive golf course, so as to be ready for the nuptials that were to come the following day.
Waking up the following morning it was disappointing to find the sunshine of the previous day had disappeared, instead to be replaced by a persistent drizzle and misty, dank conditions. Still, as a wedding photojournalist, I’m prepared for any circumstances and I firmly believe in making a feature of the weather, whatever it is. After all, you can’t do anything about it and my job in providing wedding reportage photography is to document the day as it actually is. Besides, I’m sure when most of you think of the wild countryside of the North East you think of dank, misty but atmospheric weather more often than glorious, warm sunshine.
After a hearty breakfast, I headed out into the drizzle just to get some location shots of the Slaley Hall. Even in the wet conditions there was no denying this was a stunning Northumberland wedding venue.
Once those shots were completed it was down to the hotel’s spa where Lisa and her 3 close friends Gillian, Janki and Michelle were having their nails done ahead of the big day. Now, as a guy who rarely gets to see the inner sanctum of a manicure, it was a real eye opener!
Once nails were done, gelled and set it was up to the bride’s room where her hair and make-up was to be done by the bubbly and highly fun Michele Bailey. If it’s laughs, singing and dancing you want as you’re made to look beautiful for your wedding day, then Michele is definitely the girl for you.
As always, during the bridal preparations, there were lots of laughs, smiles and tears – especially when the mother-of-the-bride and father-of-the-bride dropped in. It was clear that there was a very special and loving bond between the bride and her parents.
Steve also didn’t miss out on the make-up fun – as Michele paid him a visit for some complexion touching up. She was a bit a concerned about me documenting Steve’s make-up session – but Steve seemed fine with it and as a wedding photojournalist there was no way I was going to miss out documenting this for their wedding story!
Both bride and groom looked stunning during the intimate wedding service – as did the small number of friends and relatives. At this point I do have to mention the special guest of honour, Lisa and Steve’s highland terrier, Hamish. And, of course, Hamish stole the show as during the part of the wedding ceremony where everyone was asked if they knew of any lawful impediment as to why the bride and groom couldn’t marry Hamish gave a bark! You really couldn’t make it up. It was pure comedy gold!
Following the ceremony, drinks and canapé’s were served in the Hotel bar and the more formal portraits were undertaken. Thankfully the rain had stopped, but the grounds were far too saturated for us to venture down to some of the areas I had hoped to do portrait shots in. Never mind though – we still got some lovely portraits in the bag.
Speeches and toasts were given ahead of the wedding breakfast – and, of course, there were plenty of tears, laughs and tissues on show – especially when those not present were remembered. After the wedding breakfast and cutting of the cake it was into the hotel’s whiskey snug for the rest of the evening for pleasant conversation and background music (each guest having pre-selected 3 songs to be included.)
As a wedding photojournalist, documenting the real wedding story, I couldn’t have asked for any more. There were plenty of genuine and decisive moments, lots of real emotions, a beautiful bride, a handsome groom and a stunning location in Slaley Hall. Such combinations really does make my job providing wedding reportage photography a completely enjoyable task.
And I’m sure you’ll agree, from the small selection of photos that follow, this Slaley Hall wedding was a very special and memorable one…for everyone concerned!
Part of my real Wedding Stories series.
Getting married at Slaley Hall near Hexham in Northumberland or elsewhere and are interested in my candid, natural and wedding photojournalism approach to your wedding day? Then lets have an informal chat about your plans. Call me on 07920 422144 or leave me a message here.
Here is a very small selection of photos from Lisa & Steve’s real wedding story at the Slaley Hall Spa Hotel near Hexham in Northumberland. I hope you enjoy them as much I did shooting them! Click on an image to view larger version.