Bristol, United Kingdom Photographer
http://www.richhowman.com firstname.lastname@example.org 07748 926117
I recently enjoyed photographing a wedding at Kew Gardens in London and wanted to share my a little of my 'behind the scenes' experience of a Kew wedding and the way in which the wedding went, as it may help Brides who are considering Kew as the venue for their own wedding. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are the most amazing venue to get married in, whether you're planning a ceremony at Cambridge Cottage or the Nash Conservatory, there is no denying it really is one of London's premier landmarks and the setting for a wedding is just awesome! Your family and friends are just going to be blown away by the beauty of the place.
Parking was really simple and as we arrived really early there was plenty at Brentford Gate. I am always concerened about parking, so generally arrive a few hours early! When I came back to the car later on in the day there was no space at all and cars queing for spaces, so if you have guests and family travelling a long way to your wedding, getting there early is a good idea.
So, back to reality for a moment, the couple had chosen a date in September. I always check the weather report for a week or so before every wedding I photograph and I had high hopes for them. Although it was looking cloudy, the past 5 years of weather showed sunshine at Kew Gardens during this period! I guess it was probably owed a little rain and annoyngly it this happened on their wedding day - it poured down with rain for the entire time during daylight hours. I joined the bride in the morning before her wedding just over the road from the Cambridge Cottage entrance to Kew, as she got ready at the Coach & Horses - just a short walk across Kew Green. I usually just accept wet weather as a part of a wedding in the UK, but I was so dissapointed for the couple as they chose Kew for it's stunning outdoor scenery. I'm quite robust when it comes to photography in bad weather, but on the whole, couples don't really want to get drenched or just cold and damp on their wedding day.
The wet weather had an immediate knock-on effect to the timings of the wedding day, which is quite normal. With post-ceremony drinks now being served in a cramped hallway/stairwell (as the ceremony room was being turned around for later), everything slowed down. From my perspective I wasn't so concerned about this, but that I now had nowhere to photograph their group portraits as every available indoor space inside Cambride Cottage was full with people. The next organised timing was that the guests would enjoy the 'Kew Explorer' train, and that timing couldn't move (as the train was required for another wedding at the Nash Conservatory). This then squashed the group photo timings further, in an already very difficult situation. None the less, with a mass of enthusiasm, humour and help from the Bride and Groom to happily squeeze their guests around I achieved all of the group photo's they'd wanted. A photo of everyone was only possible outside, so that's exactly what we all did... at speed and with plenty of umbrellas!
Once this was done and their guests were enjoying the Kew Explorer, I was able to take them away for the creative portrait photos in Kew Gardens themselves. It was at this point that I was happy we'd had a good chat with the couple about 'what ifs' well before their wedding day. I was able to adapt the plan we'd made for their shoot and we crossed off almost all of the locations we'd hoped to visit because of the very short time now available. I decided to take advantage of what I could in a single location (we were down to just 15 minutes at this point), and we zoomed off to the Palm House at Kew, with one of the Kew event staff driving the little electric buggy... very, very, slowly.
I chose the Palm House as it was an iconic symbol of Kew Gardens, I could achieve quite a lot with them there in a short space of time and also importantly it was indoors! Kew is of course still open to the public during a wedding and so you really rely on their goodwill to give way and wait whilst we worked to achieve their photographs. This was more difficult than usual as they'd had the same idea and all poured in to the Palm House to avoid the rain too! Three of the photographs from their creative portrait shoot in the Palm House can be see here and I was delighted that one of them achieved a 4th palce award from the ISPWP in the 'Venue or Location' category.
The evening brought a break in the weather and an opportuinity to achieve some creative and dramatic photographs in Kew Gardens in low light - something I love doing for my clients. What no one expected was that the event staff had locked the connecting gate leading from Cambridge Cottage in to Kew Gardens and then suddenly decided that we couldn't go in as it was dark and wet (they're 'elf and safetly' crazy). After 20 minutes of me begging and negotiationg with the two wedding coordinators, the Groom had to get involved in order to help us get access. I felt this was all very unnecssary and couples should seriously consider getting this sort of access detail agreed in writing / email before their wedding day (you'd assume you'd get access, right?!). To me it was a no-brainer that they should be allowed access to the gardens after dark - after all, that's why couples want to get married there! Particularly in the circumstances of extreme bad weather during daylight hours, or in the case of winter weddings where daylight doesn't hang around long. We eventually managed 15 minutes access only 100m in to the gardens and with the caveat that we stayed on the paths. Fortunately I'd planned for a 'worst case' scenario and was able to photgraph them at the stunning Davies Alpine House - it doesn't look much during the day but with our off camera lights it really pop's at night!
I can honestly say that none of this spoilt the day for them - the couple were absolutely lovely, but it was a big dissapointment that they couldn't go to some of the places they'd wanted to as a result. The party which followed was awesome and the weather was a little kinder to their guests in the late evening.
You can take a look at the highlights from their autumn wedding at Kew Gardens here, and if you're planning a wedding at Kew I'd love to hear from you... whatever the weather throws at us! ;) x
Rich Howman is an award winning wedding photographer based near Bath & Bristol, working throughout the UK and abroad. With an honours degree in Fine Art (Winchester School of Art) and 9 years experience in photographing weddings.
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