Wedding / Finchcocks Oast – Kent / Alice & Alex

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Alice & Alex

Wedding Photography at SALOMONS ESTATE & FINCHCOCKS OAST

Day One

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Day Two

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Alice & Alex Blog 31

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Finchcocks Oast Wedding

 This wedding was the totally unique. I absolutely adored it!

When I first met Alice and Alex, both gentle and unassuming, I listened to their plans with intrigue. With each idea they revealed to me, I ‘ooh-ed” and ah-ed’ and felt increasing excitement at the prospect of capturing a wedding with such a different approach! Firstly, they had opted for a two-day celebration (which was actually more like a week, which I’ll explain later!) beginning with a very intimate alfresco marriage ceremony on a Friday evening on the steps of Salmon’s Estate, a ‘Victorian mansion nestled into 36 acres of picturesque gardens, woodlands and lakes in the heart of the Garden of England’. Sounds nice, yes? Indeed, it was. Their parents were the only guests and Alice wore a simple, elegant evening dress (in a colour I’ve been sitting here wondering how to name – what do you think? See ‘Day One’ above!) and she and Alex let me accompany them on their buggy-ride through the grounds in the rain! That was a first for me and I’m surprised I even survived to be honest! Talk about gripping on for dear life (to my cameras, you understand)! We didn’t stop laughing the whole way! It was a beautiful, simple and very honest sort of evening and the family went onto a restaurant to quietly celebrate their new legal status.

It was ‘Day Two’, however, which really blew me away. I drove the long and winding hop-filled country path to reach Finchcocks Oast, another converted Victorian relic (those Victorians really did something right, aye?) which has appeared on TV (it’s that impressive), complete with swimming pool, tennis courts and private gardens. Their exclusive use of the oast house enabled them to fill the nine bedrooms, giving each of their 30-odd guests (as in, around 30 of them, not actually odd people) the opportunity to stay, which the majority of them did. I loved the intimacy of having just their nearest and dearest in one house all together.

Since Alice had a second dress (how cool?!), the couple opted for a ‘First Look’ on Day Two at my suggestion. I’ve understood this to be a largely American thing whereby couples have a private moment in which they see each other for the first time. This worked especially well in this particular context because there was to be no ceremony on this day during which the groom would first lay eyes on his bride, so it was an ideal way to officially mark their reunion. It was also the first time I have capture this tradition and it was so sweet!

The one long dining table also emphasised the sense of ‘togetherness’ in their celebrations as this kept the entire family together in conversation and in interaction. So often at weddings, where they are frequently 60-150 guests, it’s difficult for the bride and groom to have the chance to talk to everyone and for some guests to really part of the celebrations. This was completely different. I have often wondered whether a small wedding might lack the energy that can come from a big room of people, but honestly, this wedding felt every bit as alive and celebratory as any I’ve ever attended.

Alice and Alex hired Kent Collection to cater for their guests, providing a Raclette. I’d never heard of this before but have since explained to people that it was like a table-top BBQ. This, of course, is inaccurate and a sign of my highly uncultured approach to food! If you’d like to know more about this tradition, visit the ever-useful Wikipedia entry here. Essentially, it’s a series of table-top grills to which people are invited to heat ready-sliced cheese with meat and vegetables. It looked great fun and brought guests together. Much like a celebrity event, their personal chef worked visibly in the enormous but homely kitchen next to the dining room and, unusually for me, I was able to capture shots of the preparation. The chef even gave me a desert which looked far too sophisticated for someone like me but which was absolutely delicious! (Thanks!) I would whole-hearedtly recommend Kent Catering for any event.

Between courses, everyone headed to the lounge area and made themselves comfortable on the luxurious sofas and armchairs whilst the various guests made the speeches we have come to expect at weddings. This sense of informality made for a cosy, intimate and very engaging element of the day. There was a beautiful blend of poetry as well as the usual hilarity of embarrassing stories, following by… wait for it… a bow-tie competition! What?! Again, a bonding experience for the guests, many of whom had gone to extraordinary efforts with their entries, all in the name of a competitive spirit!

We then had photos by the pool before heading back for a silent disco! I knew of this concept from my brother who is a Lighting Designer and created a silent disco for his university dissertation project some years ago. I hadn’t heard of it actually used in the real world so I was intrigued to see whether it could beat a good old-fashioned boogie to a DJ or, as is usually my personal preference a live band. Amazingly, it did! A silent disco is basically a bunch of wireless headphones with various music channels which guests can choose from and dance to! It was absolutely hilarious, as a non-headphone wearer (initially!), to hear people all singing (?) along to different songs and to watch them dancing in contrasting ways, yet all being together on the dance floor! You could see people trying to figure out what everyone else was listening to! A total hoot! And no complaints from the neighbours either! Not that there were many anyway! What a fabulous way to include everyone, regardless of their age or musical preferences!

When I left at the end of the evening as the surprise photo booth took over, I learned that the guests were expecting Alice and Alex’s friends to join them all on Day Three for a BBQ. Alice and Alex and many of their guests were due to stay at the oast for the rest of the week, so they sure planned to make their wedding last! The whole celebration was wonderfully entertaining, engaging and personal, that I sense the union of these two families will be lifelong.

Thank you to the families for making me feel so included. At such a small event, I was nervous about my potentially intrusion but everyone welcomed and included me to the point where I even did my stint on the dance floor… yes, well, we shall discuss that no further… ;-)

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