Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

February 16, 2011  |  Weddings
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Did you hear the one about the two vegans who wanted to get married at a centuries old castle on Valentine’s Day?  They got their wish.

It was slightly unusual to be at a wedding on a Monday but Monday was a very special day (and a great day for a wedding – after all it was my 11th anniversary…).  It was also a genius piece of planning.  Sunday – torrential rain.  Tuesday – grey dull and significant rain.  Monday?  It was for a few brief hours spring in Kent.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

[BTW, settle in, there are a lot of pictures in this one]

Hever Castle is an amazing wedding venue – especially in winter.  Guests gather in one of the more historic looking rooms in the Astor Wing and talk about their journey and how nice it is to be in a castle.  Pretty much nothing prepares them for the view as the walk over a small bridge, turn a corner and there’s the real castle!  Even better if it’s looking gorgeous in the sun.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Like most castles, photography by the general public is restricted at Hever Castle.  Partly that’s so the flash doesn’t damage the priceless works of art, partly I suppose it’s in case disreputable types are casing the joint for a burglary.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Mmmm-hmmm…….

Anyway, we’re going to fast forward a little through Gemma and Ben’s wedding (you’ll see why in a minute).

Here’s Gemma and her father John walking into the ceremony room.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

And shortly afterwards….that moment.  The one when you glance down and realise.  It’s real.  You really are married.  And the rest of your life is just beginning.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

There are lots of reasons people choose wedding venues.  It may be close to their home, or awaken childhood memories, have a great room for dancing or just be the one that you feel most comfortable with.

I asked Gemma and Ben why they had picked Hever Castle for their winter wedding.  “Pictures”.  OK, I can work with that.  I was even more delighted with their next question.  “Do you think 2 hours will be enough for portraits?”.

Often I get pushed down to 15 minutes or even less and that’s never a problem but it’s a genuine pleasure to meet a couple who want nothing more than beautiful pictures in a fabulous setting.  Especially when it’s one of those magical days when the light changes from shot to shot but looks amazing and all you have to do is try your hardest to capture it with a camera.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Like this…

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

And you have a bride who trusts you not to make her fall in the water…..

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

…and a groom ready to look like this at a moment’s notice….

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

….and a couple so much in love that the sun smiles on them all the time….

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Now, I use some pretty expensive equipment for a wedding.  Nikon have spent years perfecting their nano coated glass to avoid unwanted internal reflections (or something, really I just read that somewhere) but sometimes you really want flare in a picture.  Which can be awkward.

No worries, Ben has a PhD in optics.  So he has two roles in this shot.  (1) Carry his new wife out among the snowdrops and (2) explain to me which angle is going to give us just enough flare.  Teamwork.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

In fact, Gemma and Ben asked me to spend so long out in the gardens that they almost missed the fabulous vegan canapés the castle had made for them.  Fortunately, there were a few left…

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

And then just time for one more picture before we left for the reception.  Any regular visitors to the castle who can figure out where this beautiful room is?  Hint: gents would never find this….only ladies know about this room….

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

So then….on to the reception.  It’s possible that Gemma and Ben had thought of sneaking quietly into the Ramada in Tunbridge for a peaceful evening.  Nah, that was never going to happen.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Yeah.  There was quite a lot of confetti.  And bubbles.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Then it all got a bit technical.  Invite a load of physicists and your wedding speeches are going to contain jokes about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  Fact.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

But attend a wedding hosted by a couple of vegans and your wedding cake is going to look (and taste) totally awesome.  Also fact.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Remember the bit earlier when Gemma looked down at her wedding ring and realised she was actually really properly married to Ben?

It just hit her again.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

And then there was the dancing.  Ah the dancing.  Many words could be used to describe the dancing.  “Crazy”, “70s” and “potentially dangerous”.  Fun too.  LOTS of fun.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

And plenty of it.

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Now you probably think that after a couple of hours at a castle I’d be bored of photographing Gemma and Ben.  How little you know me…

weddings  Gemma and Ben at Hever Castle

Hear the one about the two vegans who wanted to get married at a centuries old castle on Valentine’s Day?  Dreams come true.

Get in touch is you want me to take pictures of your dreams.

I know Gemma and Ben will be thrilled to read your comments below.


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  • http://www.cateyefotos.com/blog Carlos Thomas

    Beautiful venue, and beautifully captured Ryan.

  • http://www.wedding-muse.com Wedding Muse

    I absolutely adore the first photo in this post. I keep going back to look at it!

  • Gemma Mills

    LOVE the photos, thank you so much. I have stolen them all for my Facebook. NEED to stop looking at them now and get on with packing for the honeymoon tomorrow!

  • Zee Wyatt

    These pictures are absolutely beautiful. Congratulations!

  • Ben Mills

    Great photos! Looking forward to seeing the rest when we get back from the Maldives.

    I’m glad you got the Physics joke. I’ve been explaining it to people all day!

  • Jackie & Bill Brocklesby

    Amazing photos! What a fantastic record of a perfect day. Congratulations from us both, have a wonderful time in the Maldives!

  • Daren king

    Wow!!! You were so lucky to be asked to take photos of a couple that by the sounds of the story seemed the model wedding couple with the model venue.

    Well done. Fab images.

  • Karen Chadwick

    Ben your Mum got me to check these out. Wow what a fantastic day you had. Looks like Mum was having a great time on the dance floor too(70’s are her thing!). Lots of love to you both, hope the Maldives is everthing you want it to be.xx

    Well done Ryan great photos with a great story :o) xx

  • Candy

    These pictures are gorgeous, I cannot wait to see the pictures for my own wedding coming up by Jonathan!

    Gemma- What a beautiful dress!

  • Gorge-bb

    Dearest Gemma Charlotte Georgia Mills and her husband dearest Ben-
    Some gorgeous pictures! I especially love the top photograph…it’s AMAZING!! The castle was just the right setting for all the romantic photographs you had taken on St. Valentine’s Day.
    What can I say to describe events, it’s so difficult to express everything in such a short space….but it was a truly magical day! The perfect wedding for a perfect couple who are made for each other. You both must have worked so very hard to bring together such a wonderful day from start to finish in a relatively short time. The sun shone on your special day. Every time I listen to the Land Before Time song it will make me cry but with tears of happiness as I recall your wedding. Nobody will top that wedding day, not even the Royals! We love you both very much. Enjoy your honeymoon and be safe.
    Mother of the Bride. Mother in Law of the Groom lol X

  • Andrew Brown

    Umm, i’ve seen a lot of your wedding pics, but that headline shot is amongst your best. If the B&G like it as much as i do then i’d say you’ve earned your money! Some great additional shots, but i really loved the headline shot!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I kind of smiled when that one popped up on the screen :)

  • Edwinmundy

    We were so proud of you both on your magical wedding day, the photos show the happiness and joy that we all shared. The castle was the perfect setting for you Dr Ben and your Princess. The memory will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
    Granny Maria and Grandad Edwin.