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A Staffordshire Marquee Wedding | Joanne & James
Autumnal Vibes at a Staffordshire Marquee Wedding
Joanne got in touch in June THIS year to see if I was available to photograph her Staffordshire wedding in a marquee on a local cricket club to where she grew up. With it being an early November wedding I was actually free and loved the idea of her DIY wedding focused on the spending time together aspect and not an over inflated budget for things they didn’t hold dear.
Their original plan was to get married at either 15:00 or 16:00 on a Saturday at a St Lukes Church in Endon, Stoke-on-Trent before moving on to Endon Cricket Club where there would be a wedding marquee to hold the rest of the evenings events including a hog roast and a happening dance floor. As soon as I started speaking to Joanne I explained the kinds of photographs they would get with such a late service and it wasn’t long before we were replanning the day ever so slightly to ensure they got the most out of everything. The service was eventually at 14:00 giving us loads of time to capture those all important family photographs and couple photographs before the sun went down.
How the Day Unfolded
I arrived early in the morning to Joanne’s family home. A DIY wedding is super rewarding but also very tiring and should be approached with this understanding completely as the work you think you’ll do will make up about 1/3 of what you and your family will have to do.
Joanne’s mum and dad were off saving the day in the morning for the most part. They were at cricket club turning the sodden ground into a decent pathway with straw at last minute to ensure people could actually get to the wedding reception. They were also at the church putting some final touches to decor. Actual super hero’s of the day for sure.
We had a lovely time in the morning at Joanne’s home with make up, hair, food and dress reveals all playing a major part. Time quickly escaped us though and before we knew it I was on my way to the church. One of Joanne and James’ core principles was they wanted to invite everyone they loved and not feel burdened into not inviting them. For this reason the church was pact out at max capacity with extra chairs drafter in for the 140 wedding party.
A lovely service followed by the most confetti I’ve ever seen quickly saw us at the cricket club celebrating with food speeches and an incredible dance floor. Joanne and James then left the marquee wedding through a sparkler tunnel in their mini covered in shaving foam of congratulations and tin cans attached to the bumper. I’ve never actually seen a bride and groom leave a wedding before. It was a lovely experience as they waved everyone off to head for their overnight stay before starting their honeymoon.
A few of my Favourite Moments from this Staffordshire Marquee Wedding
I feel Joanne put so much faith into my work and my personality so as on the day I felt like we knew exactly what each other were thinking so it was so easy to respond accordingly and partly run the day as well as taking photographs.
I often found her looking towards me just for a moment whilst I was snapping her. Spiking the camera and looking straight down the lens isn’t my favourite thing to do but this is when it’s more intended for both parties. Joanne getting into her dress just glanced straight into my lens and it was such an honest expression which I feel partly responsible for having given all of my personality to this wedding. This natural expression is just such a great cry for how comfortable my couples feel for even when they’re staring down the barrel of my lens they photograph so naturally and comfortable.
I’m not afraid to admit I have some little non cringe bits I bring to wedding days which really help ensue natural reaction create great atmosphere.
Just before we headed into the ceremony the rain suddenly stopped and I was able to photograph the bridesmaids along with Joanne and her dad outside. This is where I managed to grab this great portrait of them all laughing whilst he singles me out with a huge pointing arm. I won’t ruin the fun by telling you my secrets but this was such a hilarious moment.
I absolutely love photographing the dancing at weddings and this was definitely a strong feature at this wedding as people filled and overfilled the dance floor right to the edges of the marquee. Gone are my days of standing on the side lines and taking photographs. I often can’t get photographs from this point and it’s a real pointless task. I go full teenage gig goer and get embroiled into the
mosh pit dance floor often cracking my own dance moves whilst snapping great intimate snaps of people throwing shapes. The photograph I caught of James with Joanne in the foreground you can see looks so much more intimate with me literally centimetres away from them. This does sound quite invasive but I can ensure you my terrible dance moves fit right in with any wedding party.
Photographing a DIY Wedding
As described many times before I always have to be more at the forefront of a DIY wedding especially this Staffordshire marquee one. There are no day planners present or people around almost all of the day who know the events preceding and proceeding each other.
I can bring control to the day in such a subtle and influential way. The least you’d want to do is be in charge of planning on your wedding as people ask you what’s happening next and where this and that is. I let all of my couples pile all of this information on to me and I just go with it popping into the foreground and background when needed. Often not even recognised as organising and the day is just presumed to be following its natural state. This is how subtle my influence is.
My huge personality came into a strong force when we left the church just before heading to the marquee as letting 140 people greet two people would have erupted in utter carnage eating into time immensely. With the rain on the edge of a downpour I made the decision to get everyone out as fast as possible and hold Joanne and James off to one side then reveal them in a lot more room through a confetti tunnel which followed into all the family photographs and their couples portraits.
The best couples portraits are usually taken towards the end of the time I spend with them as the couple are more comfy and my ideas are peeking. I made the decision to use this burnt orange tree along with their turquoise Morris Minor wedding car as a back drop. The strong colour clash brought a great background to my photographs. I strongly believe we wouldn’t have been able to get this photograph had I not grabbed the wedding by it’s what-sits proceeding the church service. This is one of my strengths for sure as I come to the foreground when needed and sink into the background when not needed.
Check out another two DIY weddings I helped to support in the background here and here.
Planning a Marquee Wedding in Staffordshire?
I photograph weddings all over the UK. So wherever you are, give me a shout.