The 8th September was a red letter day in my diary. It was the date of my first ever same sex wedding, and I was shooting it at Hintlesham Hall, located just outside of Ipswich, close to my birth town of Felixstowe.
I was excited about photographing not one but two brides, one of whom had a very big family, and capturing the whole event at such a beautiful venue. I had already been on a recce before the big day, so I thought i knew what to expect, but everywhere looked amazing after it had been decorated in preparation for the ceremony.
Hintlesham Hall has parts of the building dating from the 15th century, and is a Grade 1 Listed manor. It is stunning from the outside, and equally beautiful inside. It is set in 175 acres of gardens, providing me with ample opportunities photographically. My words simply cannot do it justice, so take a look at their About Page to read more and see pictures too. Sadly I didn’t have time to take any of my own pictures of the venue, I had to hit the ground running.
The brides, Kim and Nadine, had booked the whole hotel for their wedding, and I was fortunate to get a room so I could stay overnight. That was good news for me, I didn’t have to pack up late at night and drive an hour and a half home. It also meant that I got to test the facilities!
The service was impeccable. As mentioned, I had to hit the ground running and start on the getting ready shots almost as soon as I arrived. The lovely ladies at reception got me to my room as soon as they could, so I was able to drop off a load of kit and get my battery chargers ready in case I needed them. The room was very impressive indeed, and immaculately turned out.
Working with two brides meant that time management was crucial for me, as there were hairdressers and make-up artists involved for both of them, as well a bridesmaid, three flower girls that became two, and two young ring bearers. I was restricted to photographing the brides in their rooms whilst they were getting ready, which wasn’t a problem as both rooms were large and bright. The rest of the shoot was conducted around the venue, inside and outside. There were so many spots to choose from, I only had to walk 10 yards and the look of the shot was completely different.
The day went very well and was perfectly organised. I had a seat at a table for the wedding breakfast, a part of the day that I don’t normally attend, as I use it to review my images, charge batteries and change cards if needed. The food was perfect, beautifully cooked and presented. Everyone around the tables commented on how lovely it was.
After the meal it was back to work. There was still enough natural light available to make use of the extensive gardens and surrounds. I kept finding lots of little places tucked away from view but sadly there wasn’t enough time left in the day to use them all, even when using my lights.
I finished off my working day with some dance floor shots, then made full use of the overnight stay by heading to one of the bars. My brother was also at the wedding and we chose a bar that was a short walk away from the dance floor. It was there that we met an uninvited guest. Having ordered our drinks we were told that the bar was closing, so we moved to room outside. All the lights were turned off in the bar and the doors shut. I was chatting to my brother when the door to bar opened all by itself. There was nobody else around at the time, so that was a bit freaky!
I retired to my room well after midnight after a full and exhausting day. The bed was extremely comfortable and as soon as my head hit the pillow I had a full night of uninterrupted sleep and awoke totally refreshed.
Breakfast was included in my stay, so after one of the best hotel showers I’ve ever experienced I headed for the restaurant and enjoyed a superb full English. That set me up for the drive home and rest of the day.
I can’t rate Hintlesham Hall highly enough for a wedding venue in Suffolk. If you’re thinking of getting married and you live in the area – or even if you don’t – you really should give it a look. It is a fantastic place, with great service, facilities and catering. Top marks from me. There’s more detail here on the Hintlesham Hall Wedding Page.