As we near the end of our 2009 weddings we come to Peter and Mel, who booked us only a couple of months ago. Their big day was on Saturday 7th November and ‘Big day’ in this case is quite literal as Peter and Mel had about 300 guests and had chosen two grand venues to accommodate everyone. The wedding ceremony was held at the wonderful Birmingham Cathedral with the reception party at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, neither of which we’d worked at before. St Philip’s Cathedral is a particularly important venue as it hosts relatively few weddings and special permission must be gained in order to get married there. In Peter and Mel’s case, this permission came from the Archbishop of Canterbury. I suppose you can’t get much higher than that!
We began our work with the girls who were getting ready at Melissa’s mum’s house near Kenilworth. We later met up with Peter and his ushers at the cathedral just prior to the wedding service, so there was quite a bit of driving to be done. This was also by far the longest wedding ceremony we’ve seen at around 2 hours. Peter and Mel had many of their friends participating in the service, some playing instruments and singing, some giving readings – even one dancing.
Birmingham Catherdral is big place and fortunately we were granted permission to do pretty much as we pleased. We were able to move around unimpeded and without drawing attention to ourselves which makes a huge difference to the variety and quality of photographs we are able to take. At the close of the ceremony Peter and Mel walked down the aisle as per usual, but instead of exiting the building they stopped at the end of the aisle to greet everyone over mulled wine and biscuits.
With time ticking on we arrived at the Botanical Gardens at the same time as the couple and luckily before any of the guests got there (mulled wine was too good, I suspect). As the light was starting to wane we had to make use of every minute of daylight and went straight into the photos of the two of them alone. There’s certainly no shortage of photo opportunities at the Botanical Gardens but I suspect however much time we’d have, we would always be wanting just a few more minutes…
Despite their huge guest list, the couple decided they wanted only a small handful of formal group photos, which we got done just as the usable daylight was starting to disappear. Had the couple wanted lots of groups, our time with them alone would have been severely curtailed, so this was a very welcome decision from our point of view. After a short drinks reception everyone made their way in for the wedding breakfast and we were invited to tuck into the buffet meal and sit with the guests.
Once most people had finished their meal there was quite a break before the speeches were due to start, so we made use of the time by capturing lots of candid photos of the guests relaxing and enjoying themselves. After the speeches, Peter and Mel went straight into their first dance followed by a salsa dance lesson for everyone!
This really was one of the most unique weddings we’ve undertaken this year. Peter and Mel obviously have a very close family and (huge) circle of friends and the church is central to their daily lives. After they return from honeymoon, they begin their move over to South Africa where they will be working with the church for the next few years.