Back in July I had the unbelievably cool chance to shoot the wedding of two amazing people at Chester Zoo, which is located in - you guessed it - Chester. Cheshire. I had gotten speaking to Cassie the bride the year before sometime, and I basically threw my dignity in the bin and begged her to let me shoot her wedding because I knew how fun it would be at Chester Zoo. Having grown up nearby and loving animals I've been hundreds of times so the thought of shooting a wedding there was really exciting. We met up to discuss their plans, and it was obvious how genuinely they loved animals too, and I felt like we really just clicked overall. It's so important to me that the couple like who I am as well as what I do because when I know we're on the same page I can do my job properly and honestly. When they got in touch to say they had chosen me I was over the moon!
So the big day finally arrived, and although the forecast wasn't looking too favourable I headed to the bridal prep full of optimism having left the brolly at home. I met the rest of the bridal party and started snapping away whilst my assistant for the day Dave Thornton headed to Chester Zoo to start capturing all of the venue details as I knew we'd be on a tight schedule later on. Everybody was so relaxed and just looking forward to the wedding, I got a real sense that this was a big moment for everybody. Later we were joined by Cassie's Dad who looked as proud a Dad as I have ever seen. This will be me one day I thought.
When I arrived to meet Andy at Chester Zoo ahead of Cassie it had unfortunately started raining. Better get it all done with now though we thought as it was later on that we would be touring the zoo. My assistant had done a brilliant job of staying with the groomsman and capturing them getting ready whilst I stayed with the bridal party which was a huge bonus as I rarely have the chance to show both sides of the story. Andy and his best men were looking extremely dapper, something as rare as two suns in the sky I was told by their other half's. Andy seemed more proud than nervous, and I got the feeling that he was ready.
As the car arrived everyone turned their heads to see the bride through the window, which isn't something you can normally do but they were elated at how amazing she looked. Helped out of the car by her umbrella wielding Father, she made her way inside and the wedding began. There were beaming smiles all around from both sides of the family and it was a surprisingly intimate service given that we were technically in the middle of thousands of Zoo goers.
The love and laughter in the room had clearly convinced the gods to give us some good luck on the weather front as all of a sudden the sun was beaming down through the tall trees right outside the ceremony, so we dived right out and went headfirst into group shots. I never like to spend too long on these anyway but like I said we were on a very busy schedule and had a whole zoo to explore. The sun stayed with us the for rest of the day and just made the zoo like that bit more amazing.
Group shots complete, me and the happy couple left the guests to enjoy their drinks whilst we ventured off to some of their favourite parts of the zoo for our couples photos. I knew that I wouldn't need to really set anything up here and that the shots would fall into place all by themselves so I tried to keep my distance and just let the new Mr and Mrs Downton enjoy their time together. Zoo goers in their thousands were in awe of Cassie's Dress and congratulations were being thrown from every direction, and I felt really blessed to be there, not to mention I got to see all of the awesome animals and photograph them as well!
Once we were back and the couple had managed to sit down for 5 minutes and catch their breath, everybody then headed out again for an exclusive tour of the zoo from the staff now that it had closed. This was really cool and something that I'd never had the chance to do before. I don't tend to take my camera with me on many family days out for fear of being 'That guy' but I was snapping away at lots of animals throughout, whilst being sure to pay the odd bit of attention to the wedding guests, too. Cassie and Andy opted for a BBQ later on that evening instead of a sit down meal, and that meant that we had time to do all that the zoo had to offer a wedding party which was really great.
With a beautiful, calm evening setting in they opted for the speeches to be outside against the backdrop of the BBQ being set up and it gave me a real sense of summer. Considering that when we met up for our last consultation at the zoo a few weeks before there was torrential rain, I think that we were all very relieved at how well it had turned out. Three emotional speeches and lots of stuffed guests later, we headed inside for the final piece of the puzzle in the cake cutting and first dance. It had felt like a long day but so much had happened that I was grateful for that I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
I'd like to thank Cassie and Andy for giving me the honour of capturing their day, I had so much fun and ticked off a wedding photography goal of mine in Chester Zoo as well. I'd also like to say that it was a pleasure working with the amazingly talented Natalie Simone Makeup again, head over to her Facebook page to see some of the other amazing work she does.