Sam and Mary met when Mary moved down to Bournemouth for university. She lived in a house with 8 other students and Sam’s cousin started dating one of her housemates. He used to come over to visit her (as it turned out he only lived 1 minute down the road). She worried that he was someone else that she was going to have to clean up after and take care of (as I had taken on the role of ‘mum’ in the house) but then he smiled at me and the rest was history.
Sam proposed on the 10th April 2015, having been together since November 2011 (three and a half years). They had been bought a trip away to stay in a castle in Somerset and had driven up in his parent’s new car. They went on a lovely evening stroll, took some silly selfies and then Sam proceeded to explain that he was probably "never going to propose" to Mary, something they had discussed for a few years and something Mary was already prepared for. He got down on one knee that evening, in the gardens of the castle whilst Mary was sat on a bench, reading a book, having just got very excited at seeing a cat.
Sam and Mary both agreed that they didn’t want a wedding that was traditional and that there were many aspects of the day that cost a lot of money and were not for them. However a location that allowed them to invite whoever they wanted, was of the utmost importance so none missed the ceremony. Being very well connected, Sam knows A LOT of people and many of the people he works with have become good friends, so they knew they would have a large guest list.
Marys said that "finding somewhere that could cater to our guesstimate guest list of 250+ was a challenge but eventually we found Party Field, an outdoor venue near Sturminster Marshall in Dorset. Is it essentially how it sounds, one massive field, but when we visited, we both fell in love with the woodland area with a wooden platform where we wanted our ceremony to be held".
On site there was a marquee and lots of room for other activities. They decided they wanted this to be a camping wedding as they were both aware of how much it costs for guests to attend weddings and also knew they would have friends coming from all over the world, so wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to stay if they wanted. The site itself did not have a wedding licence so Sam and Mary decided to legally get married the Friday before in a registry office with just their immediate family in attendance – however they both viewed the Saturday as their wedding day as this was to be the day when Mary wore her stunning dress and Sam wore his suit.
Their theme became a mix of festival, woodland and village fete. Sam (and many friends and family) began to refer to it as SamFest (feat. Mary)! They also wanted their wedding to be as child friendly as possible as they realised if the children were occupied and having fun, the parents would be able to relax and have fun too! As the wedding was in a field, it was very much a DIY wedding and over the course of 6 months, Sam’s mum made almost 1000m of bunting in bright colours, along with fairy light pots, pom pom garlands and padded Sam & Mary signs. M
Mary, Mum, 2 grandmas, 2 aunts and Marys four Bridesmaids stayed at a stunning Barn Conversion B&B called Hilltop Barn in Winterborne Zelston. Waking up to grey sky’s and drizzle the following morning didn’t go down well with Mary but the day soon turned upside down from thunderstorms to the hottest weekend in May! I remember just getting to my car about 10:30pm and it just started to spit!
Mary said "getting ready with the girls was great fun and Nick slotted in perfectly as a fly on the wall, completely unobtrusive, making jokes and joining in with the silliness. One of my favourite moments of the getting ready process was tying my bridesmaids into their dresses (having previously worked in a bridal shop, I’m good with a corset). My dad and brothers arrived to get ready and they were able to update me on what was happening on site. Everything was running smoothly but the plan had changed and the chairs had been set up in the marquee because of the rain. This was disappointing to hear as we had chosen the site partially because it provided us with the opportunity to get married outside – and besides, the sun had come out. Dad left with the female elderly relatives in tow, promising to persuade Sam to move the chairs into the woodland. He returned to pick up the bridesmaids and confirmed that this was happening. Yesss!
Sam and Mary did not have a wedding car and instead Mary, mum and dad travelled together in her grandmas car with Marys dad driving. "It was lovely to have some quality time with both of my parents as I am equally close to them both and didn’t want to follow the tradition of it only being my dad in the car".
Arriving on site was magical for Mary as she hadn’t seen it since the day before. It looked exactly how I had imagined. There were lots of balloons and decorations up and it looked absolutely fantastic, Sam and the others had done a great job without my supervision/nagging. Walking down the aisle was amazing, we were surrounded by hundreds of people that loved us both and we had organised it in such a way that some people were encouraged to stand on the bank around the platform, so we were literally surrounded. Our ceremony was conducted by a very close friend of ours who did a wonderful job of making it personal and fun and not overly stuffy. We also wrote our own vows which was a really nice touch. During the ceremony, my mum did a reading from a book all about dinosaurs (yes you heard right) and one of our close friends performed a song which she had written just for us.
As they didn't want a sit down meal, they got the guys who were doing their food, serve all day, which was a superb idea and enabled the whole day to be very relaxed and make my job a dream as I was able to capture so many people with so much time on hand. They had 3 choices of Chicken Shawarma, Pulled Pork Burritos and Flat Bread Pizzas. Sam and Mary really wanted to capture the day naturally and with my love for reportage wedding photography and having the time to do so, made their photographs so good!
They had their first dance on the wedding platform, having moved all of the chairs into the second marquee (another favourite moment of the day for them, watching their wonderful guests help carry chairs for them). They did this surrounded again by their friends, with the fairy lights switched on and everyone holding little electric candles, which somehow ended up on lots of people’s heads! Sam and mary danced to the entire song alone, rather than encouraging people to join them, it was beautiful!
The rest of the evening was taken up with the speeches and dancing. Mary's dad played music first, having been a part-time dj for most of her childhood and he played a selection of Sam and Marys favourites, ending with 'Sandstorm' by Darude, which they did an impromptu daddy/daughter dance to. Sam’s friend Phil (ex Ministry of sound DJ) played music for the rest of the evening.
I can honestly say that Sam and Marys wedding was one of my all time favourite weddings. Not just because of the awesome relationship I built up with them but because of how reportage the coverage could be because of how much time we had to to just relax and enjoy the day.
Sam and Mary said some lovely things about me and my photography:
"Now, what to say about Nick... We will be forever glad that we chose him as our photographer. We had originally won our photography for free by another photographer but we were not as excited about his work as we were about Nicks so we booked Nick instead and it was completely worth spending the money! When getting ready in the morning, he slotted in perfectly and throughout the course of the day, captured so many moments that we had missed. It was lovely to see so many photos of our guests and was great to see who had socialised with who, who had danced in the Ceilidh, who had gone back for second helping of food and who had got emotional during the ceremony etc. The photos Nick took are nothing short of exquisite. Our group shots are wonderful and so brightly coloured, the reportage photos are fantastic and completely unobtrusive (one of our guests commented that they only occasionally noticed Nick was there, he blended in so well) and the photos of Sam and I are beautiful. Neither of us particularly enjoy having our photo taken, yet Nick put us at ease and the photos we have are of us just being ourselves, no awkward poses or forced smiles. The times we were whisked away were brief enough that we didn’t miss out on anything but regular enough that we have a variety of fab photos in different lighting and various settings. We both really enjoyed meeting with Nick a few weeks after the wedding and it was lovely to go through our pictures with him and relive our magical wedding day all over again!"
Wedding Dress: ‘Sansa’ by Provonias
Flowers: Flowers at 166
Getting Ready Venue: Hilltop Barn, Winterborne Zelston
Venue: Party Field, Sturminster Marshall
Make up and hair: Beth Hawker
DJ: Darrell Locke (father of the bride) and Phil Carr (friend of the groom)
Band: Black Sheep - Barn dance and ceilidh band
Decor: A combination of mother of the bride, mother of the groom and the bride and groom.