Wedding photography at Woodlands Hotel, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Jess and Nick’s wedding at The Woodlands Hotel, Leeds
Back in September, I was lucky enough to attend the wedding of the fabulous Jess and Nick at the amazing Woodlands Hotel in Leeds. The day was brilliant and I was around fantastic people all day.
I headed over to Jess’s parent’s house in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire early doors. I know I say it every single time but I do love starting the day with team bride. There was a lovely sense of excitement in the room when I arrived which is perfect for me as I can just concentrate on capturing the story of the day and natural moments. There was a lovely moment when Jess’s parents were looking through their wedding album with Jess and Gemma (Jess’s sister) it once again reiterated the importance of printed wedding photographs and albums.
The morning was lovely and I met lots of the key people, but it was time to head off for the main event.
Woodlands Hotel, Leeds, West Yorkshire
I have photographed loads of weddings at The Woodlands Hotel in Leeds and it’s always a pleasure. It’s a stunning location and they just know what they are doing. However, over lockdown, The Woodlands has invested lots of money and created an Orangery instead of their marquee. As soon as I walked in I was gobsmacked, it’s absolutely stunning and I was very excited to be able to photograph Nick and Jess’s wedding day in these new locations.
Documentary wedding photography
The majority of the time I am hired because my clients want a photographer who can capture the true wedding story and not spend the whole day creating posed pictures. As soon as Jess arrived I went into documentary wedding photography mode, by this time everyone is used to me so I could freely walk around without any pressure.
Once again I was blessed as both the bride and groom were at the hotel which is brilliant as it enables me to be able to capture both sides of the story. Nick the groom was in good spirits and I could sense excitement and nervousness.
If the bride wants cheese
Here’s the truth, I am very careful with the pictures that I show on my website and social media. I usually only show pictures that are documentary moments but it doesn’t mean that I don’t take other pictures. Jess had told me in a bit of an apologetic manner that she wanted two particular pictures. The first picture she wanted was one of the bridesmaids/flower girls standing in the brides wedding shoes which I was fine with.
The second picture that Jess wanted was a group shot of everyone in a heart shape with the bride and groom in the middle. This is not usually my style, however, what the bride wants the bride gets. But for the rest of the day, it was documentary wedding photography.
I’ve said it loads of times but I never underestimate how privileged I am to capture peoples wedding days and those special moments. One of my favourite moments of any wedding is when the father of the bride sees the bride for the first time in her dress. Once again I wasn’t disappointed and there were floods of tears in the room. A wedding without any tears just doesn’t seem right. It was now go time. The moment of truth where Jess could walk down the aisle.
The ceremony room had now filled up, one thing that I was made aware of was Jess and Nick’s ceremony was the first one to ever take place in the new room. Wow, no pressure! It’s amazing to think that, the room will have thousands of couples married in there but I had to photograph the first one. Nick was looking a little nervous but his nerves were eased a little when he had to reorganise the guests.
The moment came and some musicians started to play some music before Jess and her father walked down the aisle. The ceremony was fabulous, there was a lovely moment when Nick and Jess’s son Harry presented the rings in his unique way. It was certainly evident to see how close all of their friends and family were.
Drinks and canapes
As a documentary wedding photographer, I am at my best when I am capturing people having a good time. I love it when it’s outdoors drinks and canapes, I can just walk around documenting their little moments. My philosophy about wedding photography is I want my couples to enjoy their day. I often have lists of group photos to shoot but first and foremost I want everyone to enjoy themselves so if I can help it, I will only shoot the group photos after everyone has relaxed with a drink and some food.
Believe it or not, I do photograph them, I also encourage them but they don’t have to take all day. The secret to them is being prepared. Have a list, speak to guests who can help gather folk and just get them done. They are massively important and the bride and groom usually ask for them. Once they are done everyone can get on enjoying their day.
Once we had finished organising heart shapes (not my idea) it was time for the wedding breakfast. I will say the orangery at The Woodlands looked unbelievable and I could have spent hours shooting it and all of the detail. Once the couple had been welcomed into a room full of cheers then it was time for everyone to eat.
Here’s a question, do you feed your photographer? I will probably actually do some videos on this but I was actually fortunate to get fed at this wedding.
In the morning Jess’s dad had pulled me to the side and told me that he and his wife had organised a special surprise for Jess and Nick. They had booked some singing waiters which I was very excited about. When everyone was eating I had a good chat with the undercover waiters and found out what was going to happen so I was excited to see how it would turn out.
After the dessert, I headed into the room and stealthily waited to capture the performance of the waiters. It was brilliant, one of the waiters fell over near the top table and then burst into song. For the next thirty minutes, the atmosphere was electric, people were dancing on chairs, tables, a conga went around the room and we even had a cancan to New York, New York. Needless to say, the undercover waiters were fantastic!
After the undercover waiters had finished it was time for speeches which were fabulous.
After the meal, the speeches are always a fun time at a wedding. The rain had started and the night had settled in but the bride and groom wanted to get some people outside with sparklers. Lighting sparklers in the rain isn’t the easiest but we managed. This is the time of the wedding day when I have to read body language. Do the bride and groom want more pictures or do they want to just relax and enjoy time with their guests. Speaking from experience it’s usually about ninety per cent that they want to chill.
The cake was cut the first dance done and was party time. Everyone danced all night long, there was even the full rendition of Meatloaf’s – Paradise by the dashboard light which was a first. The whole day was amazing, I loved being a part of the wedding.
Thank you, Jess and Nick.