Wedding at the Church in the Wood

Wedding at the Church in the Wood

In East Sussex, Hastings Weddings, Wedding Stories by Stephen Cousins

Brad and Stacy’s big day consisted of a wedding at the Church in the Wood, a horse and carriage ride along Hastings seafront, a pink cake shaped like a post box and a race on the pebbles of the beach.

Horse and Carriage

Wedding at the Church in the WoodI’ve photographed weddings in Hastings plenty of times before, notably for Ben and Emma’s wedding at Bannatynes Spa Hotel, Tanya and Shane’s windswept wedding at Beauport Golf Club¬†and Debbie and Steve’s wedding which included a reception at the Double Dragon Chinese Restaurant. But this was the first time I have been car-less. I had to get the train to Hastings and, rather than pay for a taxi, I decided to walk the 2 miles to Brad and Stay’s house.

I arrived to the usual bustling house full of bridesmaids and helpers getting dressed and doing each other’s hair. However, today there was no limo waiting to transport the bride to her wedding, no vintage car cranked and ready to go.

Today the sound of hooves echoed through this quiet housing estate in East Sussex. They pulled a Cinderella carriage. Those who recall Jordan’s wedding to Peter Andre or an episode of Big Fat a Gypsy Weddings will know the type of carriage to which I refer.

Wedding at the Church in the Wood

Brad and Stacy's Cinderella Wedding CarriageThe bridesmaids and our bride Stacy travelled to the church in the horse and carriage, whilst the rest of us squeezed in to a diddy car for the short journey.

St. Leonard’s Church is known as the Church in the Wood because of its isolated setting in the middle of an ancient wood. The building was founded in the 13th century, most likely to replace an 11th century chapel. It is a Grade II listed building and has gradually lost it’s complete isolation as the parish of Hollington and the town if Hastings has grown up around it.

The trees of the wood made for a beautiful scene as the horses arrived bathed in sunlight, dappled through the branches. I made my way between the nervous Brad waiting in the church with his Best Man and Stacy with her father and Bridesmaids outside.

Nervous Vicar?

Wedding at the Church in the WoodStacy told me that she was a bit worried about the ceremony, because in the rehearsal the vicar seemed rather uncertain and kept making jokes to cover his nerves!

It turned out that the vicar was quite experienced and just came across as a little chaotic. He certainly cracked jokes during the ceremony but I felt this was more his nature and his way of trying to relax the bride and groom, rather than to cover any nervousness. Unfortunate that on this occasion it seems to have had the opposite effect! We did laugh a lot during the ceremony and I managed to get lots of shots of the newlyweds smiling.

I took the big main group shot outside the church, whilst standing on a huge gravestone. I have always felt a little uncomfortable doing this and I now ensure that I take a step ladder with me to all jobs. A few more shots of the horse and carriage, this time with Brad and Stacy inside, and that was it for the wedding at the church in the wood.

Royal Victoria Hotel

Brad and all the men at the weddingThe reception was held at the Best Western Royal Victoria Hotel on Hastings Seafront. I am never entirely sure where the border of Hastings and St. Leonard’s is but the hotel must be pretty near. I have written a short review of the Royal Victoria Hotel which can be found on their Google Plus page. There is a nice grand staircase leading up to a mezzanine area where Brad and Stacy were greeted by their guests, following their carriage ride along the seafront, and holding up a long line of vehicles in the process!

Prior to the wedding breakfast I took the couple over to a nearby park for some photographs and after the meal we took as many as would come over to the beach for group shots and more of Brad and Stacy on their own.

Photos on the Beach

Heart shaped group photo on Hastings BeachThe weather was absolutely beautiful all day, but often this can be a bit of a nightmare for photographers. The sun casts harsh, contrasting shadows and causes subjects to squint. On the beach their is no shade at all and so we had to manage the light as best we could. I took a number of shots in to the sun using fill in flash to illuminate faces. We also shot side on to avoid people looking directly in to the sun.

I think overall we did pretty well. There are certainly plenty of usable photographs and some really lovely ones. It is always the same, and any professional photographer who tells you different is probably lying. For every 100 shots you take, you will probably choose 50 which are useable and 10 great pictures. It’s the nature of the digital age that we can snap away as much as we like.

In years gone by a photographer would have to be very careful to get the shot right first time. Due to the cost of film and because there was no viewfinder on film camera, you had to be more aware of focussing and exposure so as not to waste film stock on unusable shots. These days we can take three or four at different exposures to see which one works best.

We finished our excursion to the beach with a race along the pebbles – Hastings doesn’t have a sandy beach – which I photographed and then it was back across the road to the hotel.

Pink Pillar Box Wedding cake

Brad and Stacy on the seafront at HastingsBrad and Stacy’s wedding cake was covered in bright pink icing and shaped like a post box. I do not know and I did not ask, but I am guessing that Brad is a postman! There was also a chocolate fondue fountain for the evening reception, which I had to try. Very nice indeed, but not something one should indulge in regularly if you want to remain relatively healthy!

I photographed the cutting of the cake and Brad and Stacy’s first dance immediately after, before it was time to catch the train home. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day with a very friendly couple, who are clearly very much in love. The wedding at the Church in the Wood felt special as it is such an ancient building, the weather was perfect and photographs on the beach is always fun.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. What could be better than a job where you get to work with people what is usually the happiest day of their lives. Everyone is in a good mood and up for a good time and all I have to do is capture that joy in still or moving pictures. What a pleasure and a privilege.

If you would like Occasion Photos to take the pictures at your wedding or film your big day, please get in touch. I would be delighted to help out. You may now want to read Rebekah and Joseph’s wedding at the Bannatyne Spa Hastings.