A hush….And then the first notes of The Queen of Sheba filtered through the Painted Hall and down the steps to where my bride was standing. Deep breath and picking up the skirts of her bespoke Suzanne Neville dress she made her way up and through her guests to her man, waiting at the end. Large candelabras and urns full of lush green foliage decorating the end of the aisle, and line by line they said their vows to each other.

This was the start of a week long celebration spanning two continents and the first wedding in the Painted Hall of the Royal Naval College since its restoration. And after the vows and the lamp lit signing of the register, they opened the doors and spilled out on to the colonnade walkways, laughing, just as the sun was setting. They were alone in the dusk as the lanterns flickered into light. A glass of champagne and a moment together before going back to their guests and more toasts, group photographs, laughing with their international guest list, sitting for a delicious three course dinner followed by the ‘ships of the line’ a showstopper of chocolate ships being carried out with sparklers as petit fours after the speeches and dinner.

And then…the cry went up that the party had started in the Undercroft – following an underground passage illuminated in red and gold to where the music was loud and the expresso martinis were on tap. As the moon rose over the turrets of the Old Royal Naval College and the river Thames the sound of laughter and music filled the crisp winter air….And I am told the guests headed back to the couple’s house where the party continued until the wee hours before they headed over to their hotel further down river. Congratulations to my gorgeous couple and everyone involved in creating such a beautiful, baroque style, wedding where the feasting and dancing made it a celebration of epic proportions! Vendor details at the end.

Vendor details: Venue: Old Royal Naval College (Painted Hall), Wedding Planners: Holly at Revelry Events, Dress: Suzanna Neville (Rosa), Shoes: Emmy London, Hair: Makeup: Makeup by Lou Flowers: Lavender Green, Caterers and Venue Coordinators: Lizi and Ben at CH&Co, Videographer: Gorgeous Films, Stationary: Emily & Jo, Menu and Escort cards: Oh Wonder Calligraphy, Music String Quartet: Camilli String Quartet, Cake: Blossom and Crumb, Cars: Lords Cars

In the UK, its actually rather difficult to have an outdoor wedding. Wedding licenses are only given to venues (rather than people like in the US), and only then if there is a permanent roofed structure, a table, a glass of water on said table and tissues (very randomly British?!). If you are looking for an outdoor ceremony venue I would absolutely recommend The Manor House Hotel in the Cotswolds which has an outdoor pagoda and The Pergola and Hill Garden (a very secret venue in London on Hampstead Heath which I cannot wait to photograph this summer).

Alternatively, if you have a reception space in mind, you could always do the legal ceremony elsewhere (a Registry Office etc), and then have a ceremony where you want, and create something that is meaningful to you both in a location you love and hire a celebrant instead to conduct the ceremony.

For this, my top tips would be threefold. First, get someone who is familiar with not only public speaking but weddings! There is nothing quite like someone who is familiar with the flow of a wedding ceremony (however great they are at being in front of a crowd). Secondly, your backdrop is crucial. As you have the freedom to choose exactly where to have your ceremony I would suggest making sure it is in shade! Neither of you want to be squinting at each other during your vows, or indeed having photographs taken of this. So a big tree which you can be underneath (and the right side of, to make sure you are in the shade), or the shade of a building which itself is a great backdrop. If you are going for a ‘view’ for your ceremony – Im thinking rolling hills, mountains etc, make sure you the sun will likely be in front of you rather than behind you (otherwise your photographer may need to use a flash – yuk, destroying the very reason and look of an outdoor celebration!).

1 THE SOUND SYSTEM for your outdoor wedding

For those spaces that are registered for a wedding check what their sound system is like. Remember sound doesn’t travel so well outdoors as it does indoors. Some outdoor ceremony venues have invested heavily in a PA system (The Paper Mill Woodland Wedding venue). If not, have that conversation early and hire your own PA system or ask to hire from your DJ or Band earlier in the day.

2. THE WEATHER for your outdoor wedding

Stick to your guns! Often, in England, the weather is never awful all day…Find out when you have to make that decision whether to stay outdoors or bring your ceremony indoors. Some venues will ask you to do so the day before based on forecast. It may also depend on what is outside. If you have chairs that are wooden or metal this may allow for the rain to be light without having to bring the ceremony inside. Also just check if you do have to bring it indoors where it will be and what it will look like. Id say though, as much as you can, have the strength and confidence to stick to your guns and have an outdoor ceremony. Even if its cloudy, spitting with rain, or forecast rain later. Because this is what you envisioned and it will very likely not be so terrible that you cannot have an outdoor ceremony. One thing to suggest – if you do want to safeguard guests, choose BLACK umbrellas. Yes thats right, not white ones that can look cheap and dont look as good in photographs.

3. DECORATE your outdoor wedding

GO BIG! You have an outdoor space and you should go for BIG rather than small on EVERYTHING! Flowers are always beautiful and can really enhance a space. Big urns, Big sapling trees lining the aisle (like Kate Middleton), Large candelabras with multiple candles. Lots and lots of fairylights everywhere (even in the daylight they will show up). Make sure you decorate the space behind where you will be standing (ie where the registrar or celebrant will be standing). Think of this as the theatre stage which needs to be dressed because this is what your guests will be looking at and also all photographs shooting down the aisle at you both at the end with have this as the backdrop.

4. BACKDROPS for your outdoor wedding

An arch of flowers, a wrought iron style arch decorated very simply with flowers. Big draping and white or coloured drapes. Chains of jasmine hanging down,  big candles, candelabras, or strings of lights if its a twilight affair.

5. THE TIME OF DAY for your outdoor wedding

Id suggest at its best either a morning ceremony or late afternoon (if summer). If you can choose your location Id suggest the shade of a tree. Because you then wont have the strong overhead sunlight which can cast shadows on your face and look really unflattering, plus you have a ready made backdrop to decorate. Alternatively, old stone arches look beautiful too. And if there is no shade look at where the sun will be during the ceremony and then locate to have the guests looking in to the sun so to speak at you both. Being backlit will mean better photos and that you wont be squinting at each other. (guests looking on if it is bright sunshine will invariably have sunglasses on anyway).

To end – here are some beautiful photographs from The Manor House (part of the Exclusive Hotel family) where my couple married outside. Yes, they were asked whether to bring it indoors because the forecast was cloud and it did actually spit with rain a little just before the start of the ceremony. My couple also used big urns at the start of the aisle, and drapes in the pagoda which were great. Photographed on film using my Contax645 film camera.UK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremonyUK outdoor wedding ceremony

Abbey at San Galgano Wedding in Italy. The birds flew in and out of the arrow slit windows, the sun broke out from behind the clouds and there was suddenly a hush as Sally-Ann and David made their way to the end of the Aebby, only the sound of the gravel crunching under foot….They were alone and it felt like time had momentarily stopped. Taking in their surroundings – the vast columns stretching up to the open sky, the arches on either side, the smell of fresh grass outside and the sun warm on their faces. They had just got married….but not here, where they were initially planning to, instead under an ancient olive tree….If their wedding story tells us anything, it is that whilst you can make plans, life often has other ideas. Its then how we choose to embrace these unplanned things that will tell us who we are – and make us braver, stronger, more caring and ultimately you may just find… that these unplanned changes enhance your wedding day.

Sally-Ann and David’s Tuscany wedding in Italy was filled with beautiful and heartfelt touches….an olive green colour scheme, an amazingly beautiful dress by Savin and stationary by my previous bride and artist Gemma Milly. I will leave you with a glimpse of their day under the Italian sunshine (phew – it wasnt forecast to be!).

Vendors: Venue: Abbey at San Galgano and Villa Podanovo, Tuscany Italy, Wedding Planners Wiskow and White, Bridesmaid dresses Jenny Yoo, Dress Savin

San Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha Hurley

San Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha HurleySan Galgano Abbey Wedding by Natasha Hurley

 

The white buildings of Islington Town Hall shone in the Spring sunshine as this couple said their vows surrounded by their closest family in the Chamber Room. After taking a moment for each other in the gardens outside they walked in to their ceremony – very much already a couple. From laughter and tears as the emotion swept them up, the private looks and the feeling that this was a very real team – Poh and Alex were the epitome of style and grace. Elegance and a little bit of magic sprinkled in the warm weather, the popping of champagne and the food that Salut! cooked up for their private reception. This Islington Town Hall Wedding was an absolute joy to capture!

For anyone planning a Registry Office wedding in London where style is still very much a part of your day as well as wanting to plan something which is quintessentially you, the couple have these words of wisdom for you.

What piece of advice would you give to couples planning their wedding and on the day?
Be ruthless about what is important to you for your wedding. There were a number of traditions that we chose to omit from our wedding because they were neither important to us nor were worth the money as our budget was fairly limited. People will make you feel bad about it, but it’s not personal and, ultimately, they don’t care on the day! I felt like we had our perfect wedding and I firmly believe that’s because we just did what we wanted to do. Similarly, Alex and I didn’t always agree about what we wanted but we did decide that we could each choose one thing we wanted for the wedding that the other didn’t want – simple!

And if you want to find out about Registry Office package details for 2019 just drop me an email (contact.natashahurley@gmail.com)

A list of Vendors: Dress (details given on request – it was a secret steal!), Shoes: Manolo Blahnik Sedaraby, Groom’ suit: Reiss suit and tie, Moss bros pocket square, TM Lewin shirt, ASOS cufflinks, Aldo shoes, Happy feet socks, Groom’s ring: Jens Hansen (from Lord of the Rings maker), Bride’s ring: Everett , Earrings: Haati Chai, Hair and Makeup Artist: Chhimmi Dholkar Gurung, Florist: bride’s friend, Georgia, Caterer and reception: Salut! Islington
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Today Im sharing this gorgeous London winter wedding held at the Queens House in London. Shades of emerald green, with deep red and pure white. Sometimes it just works having a beautifully elegant and classic colour palate. Especially if you are getting married in London in winter! Nicola and Richard’s stunning wedding was such a classy mix of style – black tie evening wear, the emerald bridesmaid dresses and Nicola’s amazing wedding dress! Different yet classic all in one….And what a day!

They are simply two of the kindest, loveliest people ever and together with all their friends and family really did know how to put on an amazing celebration. From the candlelit church ceremony, the quiet moments on the balcony at the Queens House, the tears and laughter as they swept in to the Great Hall for their reception, the speeches bringing more laughter, the sparkler exit leading the way to the Undercroft where a DJ and sax and bongo player were belting out tunes which got everyone dancing, and the late evening moments walking hand in hand under the stars taking it all in.

Congratulations to you both Nicola and Richard from the bottom of my heart for such an amazing wedding and inviting me to document it all for you. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness, fun, love (and scuba diving) adventures. Love natasha xxx

A list of Vendors are below for anyone who wants to find out more. Dress: Pronovias – Tatiana, sourced from With Love Bridal Boutique, Suit: Dress to Kill, Cufflinks: Mulbury, Bridesmaid Dresses: Ghost Claudia Dresses in Emerald Green, Groomsmen suits: Black Tuxedos from M&S Luxury Collection, Shoes: Jimmy Choo Romy in Green, Hair: Blink Salon (Eliza Austen), Makeup Blend Make Up London (Kerry Colvin), Venue: The Queens House, Greenwich London, Events Coordinator on the day (Jenny from Queens House), Flowers: Karen Woolven Florist, Caterer: Suzanne James, DJ: The Piano DJ, Sax player: Stationary: SilkBeau

And if you are interested or having a winter wedding in London or at the Queens House (where Im recommended photographer), lets chat! Just email me contact.natashahurley@gmail.com

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