When Mel and Andy asked me to be their Tithe Barn at Bolton Abbey wedding photographer, I was very happy indeed. Bolton Abbey remains the Yorkshire seat of the 12th Duke of Devonshire and has been managed by the Devonshire family since 1755. Such is the beauty of the natural landscape that is has attracted such creative types as Turner, Ruskin, Royle and Wordsworth. As you can imagine, a location of such inspiration to so many artists is undoubtedly a perfect wedding venue. The ruins of the priory, the River Wharfe and the surrounding woodlands and moors are the perfect backdrop for some stunning photos with your significant other.
The Tithe Barn is a wedding venue steeped in history. Built in the 16th century it overlooks the priory ruins, River Wharfe and stepping stones below. At 55 meters long, the Tithe Barn is a spacious wedding location that can cater for both large and small wedding parties, catering up to 200 people for the ceremony and feast / wedding breakfast, and up to 300 for the evening reception and party! It even has a state of the art Funktion-One sound system so that even the largest wedding party can be assured of a good boogie!
I arrived mid-morning for bride prep at Beckfield Cottage in Silsden, not far from Bolton Abbey. I entered into a busy living room full of bridesmaids. Normally, bride prep can be a challenging part of the day for me as a photographer. Everyone is excited, but also nervous, about the day ahead and it can be strange for people when the new guy shows up and starts taking photos. But I really didn’t need to worry with these guys at all. They were already in high spirits and I could already hear the laughter as I approached the front door to the cottage. Mel’s nephew was pretty reluctant to have his photo taken, even writing ‘stop’ on a post-it note. I was still able to catch a few nice ones when he wasn’t looking.
After a few hours I left Mel and her bridal party to join Andy and the arriving wedding guests at the Tithe Barn. It’s around this time of the day that I sometimes get a could feel for the how the day is going to play out. I could tell by the laughter and hugs around me that this was going to be a really fun party and I wasn’t disappointed. As Andy greeted guests, magician Olivier Parker Twist entertained guests with some cool magical tricks and I had a lot of fun capturing their hilarious reactions on camera.
All the guests took their place in the beautifully decorated ceremony room and Mel soon arrived in a cool retro VW camper van! The ceremony was full of emotion and laughter, and the readings from family and friends brought on a few tears, a few laughs, and plenty if applause. When our bride and groom were told they were now husband and wife, I saw one of the best ‘yay, were married’ reactions that I’ve ever seen. Just look how happy they are!
Not long after the guests congregated outside, a giant horn skilfully tooted by one of Andy’s groomsmen alerted to everyone that Mel and Andy were ready for the confetti run. This horn would be brought out periodically throughout the day to get everyone’s attention. It would also be used by several guests as a useful, if slightly oversized, beer drinking straw. But more on that later! The confetti run was a lot of fun and then there was some time for mingling with guests, catching up with old friends and having a few group photos.
The wedding breakfast began and short while later and throughout the meal, the magician Oliver Parker moved round the tables dazzling guests with his skills. I was really happy to capture Mel and Andy’s reaction to his flaming card trick. Before the speeches, the bride and groom and I set out to down to the prior ruins for a few couply photos. By this time dusk and was setting in and there was some mizzly rain too…..not that Andy and Mel cared. These guys were too awesome to care!
Back to the Barn and time for the speeches. The father of the bride’s speech was particularly enjoyable, as he produced a sack of memorabilia from Mel’s childhood! The crescendo was a reading of Mel’s early contributions to the world of poetry. It drew laughs and applause from her family and friends, and a few embarrassed looks from Mel. I won’t pretend to know much about poetry, but it was all much better than I could ever hope to do! The speeches were wrapped up with a fun game of guess the theme. Andy’s groomsman made for an excellent host and had everyone in stitches.
Just before the first dance, Mel’s dad and sister entertained everyone with a few acoustic numbers. Mel’s dad on guitar and her sister taking vocals, it was impressive, and I’m not kidding around when I say they could’ve been the sole entertainment in their own right. Our bride and groom’s choice of music for the first dance – and this is truly awesome – was ‘Praise You’ by Fat Boy Slim! They were soon calling all their loved ones onto the dance floor, and this is where the party really began!
Have you ever seen so many people having fun on the dance floor? I don’t need to describe the photos, they speak for themselves. I think EVERYONE had a toot on the aforementioned horn, and it became a drinking tool towards the end of the night. The wedding guests lifted Mel and Andy onto their shoulders in a crescendo of emotion!
Massive congratulations to our newlyweds Mel and Andy! Thanks for having me a ong, I had an absolute blast shooting your wedding. All the best!