An outdoor humanist wedding in County Durham with Yoko and Stuart
Yoko and Stuart had a humanist outdoor wedding ceremony in County Durham. That tells you a lot about them and their values. What's important to them.
I was really nervous.
I've lived in the North East of England my entire life and it's been raining constantly here since 1973. In the end I needn't have worried because the weather was glorious and I ended up sunburned!
Stuart especially is a dog lover and I knew they were going to be a big part of the day when I arrived at the initial consultation and was assaulted by a blizzard of beige and brown fur and wet, raspy tongues. I love dogs too, so the consultation went well and I knew I'd be down on my hands and knees on the wedding day trying to include them in the wedding photos. As you can see in the bride and groom portraits below, their dogs decided to photo bomb us at every opportunity. And if anyone is a fan of smartly dressed dogs, look out for the cheeky pug showing up his owner.
I always scout new wedding venues ahead of the wedding day. In part that is for logistics, so I know where to park and how long it takes to get from one location to another, but I also like to get an idea of the layout of the venue - what's behind each wall and where each path leads. That pays off when it comes to the bride and groom portraits so that I can react instantaneously to the timings and the weather on the day.
In Yoko and Stuart's case I had previously walked to the far corner of the field and found a break in the fence that led to a forest clearing with tiny stream running through. I knew that it would be an ideal location for portraits whether the sun was beating down and we needed shade (as was the case) or it was raining and we needed cover. If I had not scouted the venue in advance I doubt I'd have ever come across that location by chance on the day.
After the portraits everyone retired to the tipi for the wedding breakfast and speeches, which were accompanied by the strongest cocktails known to man. Stuart's reaction can be seen below which was swiftly followed by the same reaction of all the guests.
The whole field was bathed in golden sunlight as the sun set and the wedding guests spilled outdoors to drink beer in their sunglasses or play with the dogs and children. Yoko and Stuart's daughter Erica loved playing on the grass and in the sun, which is such a contrast with kids I often encounter at more formal weddings who are bored and restless by this stage of the proceedings.
It was a magical day which all came about because Yoko and Stuart took a chance on the North East weather.
Here's to all the risk takers - may the sun shine on your wedding day!