Throw Back Thursday, James and Hayley’s Tudor Hall Wedding in Suffolk

Almost a year has passed since I attended James and Hayley’s wedding in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.

I was so excited by the prospect of photographing their wedding at Otley Hall that I had my fingers crossed all the way home from our first meet up consulation hoping  they would choose me so I could add the hall to my expanding list of locations.  I’m often asked by prospective clients if I’ve photographed a wedding at their chosen venue. There are so many fabulous destinations that more often than not, it’s a first time for me. I would alway say to anyone planning the big day, don’t be put off if your photographer hasn’t been there before, if they are good at what they do, it won’t be a challenge. For me the thought of a Tudor house, manicured gardens, woodland pathways and wild ponds was enough to get the ideas flowing for their photographs. Often fresh eyes on a venue can result in some stunning images, so don’t be put off. If I haven’t been to a venue before I try and meet up for an on site consult to get a feel for the location and find out what my clients want to see and include in their wedding photography so I met James and Hayley with baby Hector in tow, at Otley Hall on a cold late winter day for a walk round. I think they could tell I was very enthusiastic for their chosen venue and the fact I left with extensive plans for the day helped with any nerves they may have had.

A beautiful, early summer day blossomed the morning of 20th May 2017. I joined Hayley, her family and Bridesmaids at Hayley’s parents house where her mum had laid on a buffet of treats to keep everyone going through the morning. James and Hayley’s boys, Hector and Isaac were so good, they played, gurgled and watched the morning unfold as it went from calm to chaos over two short hours, as weddings often do.

Leaving the girls to make their way to the St Andrew’s Church in beautiful Redlingfield (I really was spoilt by the locations on this day) I arrived at the church to meet the boys. In typical farming fashion, a 4×4 and trailer was ready to take the married couple and the wedding party to Otley Hall, but for now, I basked it the sunshine, photographing the arrivals at the beautiful church, before Hayley and her bridesmaids arrived.

Her dress was an amazing sight, she wanted to be a princess and she certainly was, with a smile as big as any I’ve seen before. Complimenting her dress were beautiful, delicate flowers and the Bridesmaids wore dove grey, embellished dresses. They all had soft hair and makeup ensuring everything  looked beautiful against the ancient church, lush green landscape and big blue Suffolk sky.

The ceremony was lovely, their children, friends and family watched as James and Hayley said their vows, the Best Man checked, then checked again to make sure he had the rings and there were so many smiles I was blessed with an abundance of photographs.

After family photographs at the church, the wedding party headed off in the trailer to Otley Hall which meant I arrived in good time and was able to walk round the venue to see how it changed in the seasons since we had last been there. Otley Hall was resplendent in the sunshine. Barren winter had given way to summer and the nooks and crannies had sprung to life with glorious leafy trees and colourful flowers, each area of the gardens giving a totally different backdrop. Once the couple had arrived, we headed off to have some time alone for their couple shots making use of every corner of the grounds.

I joined the wedding party for dinner, it was such a treat to sit down and be a part of the wedding breakfast although there was so much good food I was worried I may not be able to get up again to work for the speeches! But as afternoon rolled into evening, Hayley and James came out again for more photographs, rain was threatening so we decided to get the early evening sky rather than golden hour which was the right decision, spring showers started and stopped for a while but not enough to put off their guests from being outside where I was able to mill around photographing the merriment as the drinks flowed into the evening. After photographing their first dance and saying my goodbyes, I drove off into the night with the anticipation of editing what had been a beautiful, colourful, country wedding at a historical venue with a family who, surrounded by their friends and loved ones, had a wedding day full of fun and laughter.

Venue: Otley Hall,

Hair: Carly Daniels

Dress: Lavender and Jude

Disco: Flame Entertainment

Cake: Mel Boon

Florist: Callendars of Framlingham

 

 

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Magazine star

So, you planned the big day meticulously, every detail, every favour, each flower, the perfume, the meal, the disco and the photographer.

Have you though about submitting your big day photographs to a magazine? Do you remember looking through all those real life weddings whilst coming up with ideas for your own? I know I did.

Lizzy and Gary at Woolverstone Hall near Ipswich in Your East Anglian Wedding
Tanya and Jonathan’s Norwich wedding at The Castle Museum and Elm Hill featured in Marry In Norfolk

With a wealth of information at our fingertips, become one of those features yourself, submit your wedding to local publications or blog. As a photographer I have contacts with many of the best who are always happy to receive submissions, it also gives you a lasting memory of your big day forever epitomised in print. Some of my lovely clients have been featured over the last couple of years in Your Wedding magazine, Norfolk Magazine and Marry in Norfolk. 

Celebrating my own Wedding Day, 10 years ago.

So last week I celebrated 10 years of marriage to my husband Paul. That’s tin right?

We held our party at Oak Lodge in High Lodge, Thetford Forest,  gathering together many of the guests who were there 10 years ago including our own addition in the shape of a demanding 5 year old!

The setting was perfect for us though but the March weather wasn’t kind. I still wonder what made me decide to have a March wedding, but then I remember the fantastic honeymoon to The Maldives which we got for a steal being out of season and it makes it a little bit better.

One thing I do know though, it doesn’t really matter what time of year you get married, it could rain all day in June or be sunny and crisp in January, your guests, your family and the person you are marrying make it the day you always remember. The memories do fade, but the photographs live on forever and I made sure to include many of these on display last week along with our original guest book which everyone signed again for us.

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Paul and I at Stower Grange
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Me and Dad outside St Mary’s and St Margaret’s Church in Sprowston
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First dance
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The welcome table featuring all the albums and the guest book at Oak Lodge
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Oak Lodge Anniversary Party, thank you to our guests for pictures
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My Bridesmaids, 10 years on
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My Bridesmaids 10 years ago

When we got married, the choices for venues and styles were not as varied as today, if I was to do it again however I wouldn’t change much except a little more lace on my shoulders and perhaps a more rural venue for the reception. I was lucky to have my pick of photographers and chose my colleague Nick to take pictures on the day, being comfortable with your chosen photographer is a must, you will, after all, be spending a lot of time with them!

Our wedding day truly was the best day and even though we had been together for 8 years by the time we walked down the aisle, we felt like it connected us in a new and different way than before. Sounds a bit corny but it’s a magical experience.

Thank you to everyone who came to High Lodge in Thetford last week, braving the rain and mud, the only downside was that we couldn’t invite everyone due to lack of space at the venue but we squeezed in.

Thank you to our families for helping us create some more special memories and to our friends for always being there. Also to Paul, it’s so often left unsaid but I’m lucky to have someone who truly loves and supports me in everything I do. My partner in crime and in life.

 

Here’s to the next 10 years, health, happiness and good times aplenty.

Are you getting married this winter?

Are you getting married this winter? I love a seasonal wedding, candlelight, snuggling under mistletoe, crispy, colourful, autumnal leaves. If you are or know anyone getting married this autumn/winter and they haven’t found a photographer yet, point them my way!  

Lizzy and Gary, Woolverstone Hall

Lifestyle shoot in North Stow with the Butterworth’s

Today we spent a couple of hours enjoying the sunshine in the company of Bob, Louise, Edward and Mally the dog.

Paul and I took Cameron and Darcey out for the walk too and I used the time to shoot some pictures of Edward for Bob and Louise before they become parents again in the summer.

The weather has been fantastic today for April and whilst bright sunshine isn’t ideal for taking photographs I was very pleased with the results. A full gallery of pictures will be on the website soon, http://www.sonyaduncanphotography.co.uk

Paris. Our first anniversary, March 2009

For our first anniversary in March we decided to go to Paris. We stayed at the Lovely Lepic apartment which I found via the holiday-rentals website. It was a traditional french apartment, clean and very commfortable. Situated up the road from the Moulin Rouge and a few minutes walk from the Sacre Couer and Montremartre.

The trip was lovely, flew with Easy Jet for the first time from Luton and caught the train from the airport straight to Blanche on the Metro.

Paris is an amazing city but with the weak pound means it is very expensive to eat out or even have a beer.

We did all the usual sights taking in The Mona Lisa and Eiffel Tower, watching the lights go out across the city for Earth Hour from the Sacre Couer and eating french onion soup in a smal bistro where the waiter was more interested in drinking wine with his customers than serving the food itself.

A highlight will always be The Catacombs, I can’t describe to you really about the sheer weirdness of the place unless you visit it yourself.

Memories will be, chocolate eclairs and baguettes fresh out of the oven, karaoke style buskers on the Metro, tramps with chihuahuas, the house boats along the Seine and the hustle and bustle of Rue Lepic where our apartment was located.