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A Wedding at Stoke Register Office and Getliffes Yard 

A Winter Wedding at Stoke-on-Trent Register Office

Cara & Andy got in touch in December 2018 looking for someone to photograph their marriage at Stoke-on-Trent Registry Office followed by a Getliffes Yard wedding after party. They didn’t want a huge day full of formalities so in the end settled on the only formality which matters followed by a great big party.

Cara & Andy like many others have never really done this wedding lark before and really just needed a few pointers in the right direction of how they could have their big day but on a smaller scale. I love getting involved in the planning of my couples days as much as they would like me to.

When I first went round to talk about their wedding day we sat for ages just discussing the best way they could possibly do their timings for the day. We took into account everything from guests enjoyment to everything I would personally need to capture them some lovely photographs. One thing we couldn’t really budge though was the timings. They’d planned to get married at 16:30 after the sun had gone to sleep at 16:00. A true horror story for most photographers but not me! I was so excited for this challenge. I knew we could create something unlike anything else before.

Getliffes Yard has long been a favourite place for me to go when visiting Leek. The old cobbled path and wrought iron walk way full of fantastic independent shops and galleries is a meca for shopping local in the area. So when Cara and Andy said they were having a Getliffes Yard wedding after party I was super excited.

My Favourite Part About Intimate Wedding Services

I feel incredibly grateful to be at any wedding I’m invited to whether I’m shooting or maybe a guest for a change. It’s such a privilege that the couple want to share this momentous occasion with me. 

Being one of only 15 people in the Stoke-on-Trent Registry Office sure makes me feel even more privileged. As I describe to my couples all the time, I will be there at some of the most intimate moments of one of the best days of your life so it kind of helps if you think I’m a decent person.

When there’s 80 people at the service or maybe 130 then I can quickly become lost in the crowd and slip in and out of aisles to capture some inconspicuous candids. With just 15 people in the room, 1 being me, 2 being the registrars and 2 being Cara & Andy then it’s incredibly hard to make myself disappear! It makes it even harder with my tall genes.

So being my personality-full self has never mattered more. I’ve got to put the whole room at ease because no matter where I stand, they can see me. The shutter inside my camera is the loudest thing in the room most of the time meaning there’s just no escape from the giant alarm bells ringing in guests heads. Through my intermittent rambling and my personal approach with chatting to guests and making everyone feel relaxed I enable them to sub consciously let their guard down and think “this Peter Crouch lookalike photographer isn’t half bad after all”.

How I Created The Lead Portrait

It’s super important I listen to my couples. They give clues and ideas which if moulded right can see them love a photograph even more.

When I went around to my final meeting with Cara and Andy they mentioned they’d like a photograph on this old bench in Getliffes Yard. On arrival the bench had been moved and sat in front of a shop window which had a poster saying “shop for let”. Not the most incredible background I was hoping for.

I get these little spirts of inspiration on wedding days.  I wanted to create something with this bench as it would mean so much more to Cara and Andy then any random photograph but I didn’t know how to take it. So I said let’s move the bench. After a full 360 degree spin in any which way I was finally happy with it. Sitting Cara and Andy down I knew I needed just a little bit more light to hit them on this very dark winters night.

The Secret Portrait Sauce

I have to admit, I’ve used this next technique before but this was a great time to do it again. With the path we were sat on being the main route to Leek Bar and Grill through Getliffes Yard and us just minutes away from guest arrivals there were a few early birds who were in the back of my attempted photographs. Letting them through I asked if one of these three children wouldn’t mind helping me, mum couldn’t have said yes quick enough! Next minute he’s stood like a mini 5 foot light stand with his arm outstretched high above his head lighting Cara and Andy with my small LED panel. Now I could easily have used a light stand, but I wouldn’t have got what I actually wanted from the situation.

Unbeknownst to Cara and Andy I haven’t asked this child to help me because of his technical abilities but rather his comedic abilities. Just imagine sitting next to each other on a bench whilst a relatives small child stands feet away from you like a miniature lamp post. His family are stood a little further back just laughing so it’s hard not pull at least a small grin or crack a chuckle.

How the Day Unfolded at this Getliffes Yard Wedding

I met Andy and his close family at Stoke-on-Trent Registry Office at 16:00 on a cold clear winters evening. I was so happy with the weather as it seems it had been raining for weeks on the run up to their big day. To get a clear sky was so great as we managed to capture some quick family portraits with the last glow of the “dying” sun.

Shortly followed Cara and her nearest and dearest. It almost felt like we’d been let into Stoke Town Hall after hours by some special order of the Lord Mayor as the corridors and were like a ghost town only filled with a few whispers from the small intimate wedding party.

The service although short at 20 minutes was a beautiful moment and I had a smile from ear to ear the whole time. Following on from the service we played around with the worlds biggest chairs for the signing of the register before a few quick family photographs then it was off to Getliffes Yard we flew.

With Leek being such a small quaint shopping town the high street was completely empty and I managed to park with ease enabling me to capture Leek Bar and Grill all decorated incredibly by Cara and Andy’s family before any guests arrived.

The rest of the evening unravelled in a lovely laid back way with food, drink, cake, MINCE PIES and a few photographs for good measure. With the dance floor on one side of Leek Bar and Grill and the cake on the other outside in the courtyard we had a logistics problem when it came to the only other formalities in the day, the cake cut and the first dance which quickly followed each other. I made the call and got the cake moved next to the dance floor to create a much ease of the evening.

Experimenting with a few new silhouette poses I got carried away with myself and didn’t leave until close to 22:00 after meaning to have finished at 21:00. Upon realising Cara and Andy apologised profusely. I told them it was perfectly fine as I explained in my straight forward manner, “If I didn’t think it was worth staying then I wouldn’t have stayed.” Haha.

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