Facebook has transformed the world. With a staggering number of subscribers (over 1 billion now), it has completely changed how many of us communicate, stay in touch and reconnect with old friends. I'm sure many people will agree it has huge time-wasting potential as well, but the benefits of maintaining and building a network of friends and colleagues - it's raison d'etre - are very real. Through restablishing contact with Neil - an old college friend from half a lifetime ago - I was recommended to his brother Simon and his fiancée Jackie to be photographer at their summer wedding at Lainston House in Winchester. Personal referrals are a valued way of receiving bookings because of the existing connection and trust in place. There is also an additional level of responsibility involved to the person who makes the recommendation. So thank you Neil, and thank you facebook.
Back to that word summer. Being British, we love to watch, predict, talk about and (usually) moan about the weather. It's probably sensible that whichever time of year you plan a wedding in the UK, you expect there may be rain. Plan for that and anything else is a bonus is the best way to look at it. Even in mid-July.
It was pouring.
When I arrived at Lainston, it was during some of the heaviest rain I can remember last year. The kind that soaks you right through. One man in particular fielded a few more questions and expectations about it on this day, and that man was Jackie's brother Chris who is a weather presenter for the BBC. No pressure Chris!
So with all my gear unpacked and knowing no one had to venture outside again as everything was taking place at Lainston, I explored the hotel to familiarise myself with all the layout before joining Jackie and her bridesmaids for the final stages of their preperations. After meeting with Simon and the rest of his groomsmen, we adapted our plans based around the weather and just got on with it in the true British sense.
Fortunately, the weather gave us a break after the ceremony. Family photographs were able to take place outside, as was a confetti throw and the portraits of Jackie & Simon in the grounds of Lainston. The gardens did look beautiful after the rains - green and lush - although there was almost a falling over incident (me) in the ruined abbey. Leather-soled shoes and wet, moss-covered stones do not a grippy combination make.
Dinner, speeches and the evening party all took place back in the Dawley Barn, which adds another look and feel to the elegant surroundings of the country house. I must give a special mention to one particular song just after first dance which Simon had particularly requested and sung with passion: Chesney Hawkes - The One and Only. Not easy to get that out of your head whilst driving home at the end of the day. DJ Richard Ellis did a superb job with a very contemporary mix and by the time I had to go, the party was jumping.
If you were a guest at the wedding and would like to see the full set of images, please visit the gallery or take a look on facebook. Comments are welcomed at the bottom of this post and always appreciated by the bride, groom and future couples.