Warkworth in Northumberland is a little gem! I typically English village with a medieval church, a castle, several pubs and tea rooms, all encased in the loop of the River Coquet. It’s my favourite place in Northumberland and somewhere I spent a lot of my time growing up. I’ve not had the opportunity to do any Warkworth Wedding Photography to date so when Gary and Antonia asked me to capture their day I was bowled over.
I’ve only known Gary a few years. We got to know each other when we were recruited into a band with me on the drums and doing a bit of backing vocals to Gary’s lead vocals. We hit it off immediately with a similar sense of humour and love of football and music. In that time we have been come really good friends so when he asked if I’d shoot his wedding there was no consideration on my part; I had to do it.
So, August 2016. A bright sunny and very hot day in Northumberland. I began the day at Roxbro House. It felt like I was walking back through my childhood as this was next door to the Sun Hotel where my parents used to work and I used to play with the kids who lived there. Nowadays it is a boutique B&B and featured on Channel 4’s “Three in a Bed” which it won!
Antonia was getting ready there. She arrived having been to the hairdressers down the road in Alnwick. Sitting in the window getting her make up done, the view she had was spectacular. Warkworth Castle’s imposing keep was opposite and she could see cars going by and every so often wedding guests walking by. She waved out the window. She said she felt like the Queen!
I headed down to St Lawrence’s Church to meet Gary. This is a beautiful building at the bottom of the hill in the Market Place. A proper “ye olde” church that is older in it’s origins than the castle up the hill. This was also a very special day for Christine the vicar as it was to be her first wedding ceremony. Her husband was the bass player in mine and Gary’s band so there was a lovely tight knit personal feel to the day. In the church Gary was busying himself and pointing out where things needed to go etc.
The church was packed. It’s a measure of the popularity of this couple that there were even more people outside waiting to see them! When Antonia arrived she headed down the long aisle to meet Gary. I pegged it down the side of the church and took my place in the choir stalls just over Christine’s shoulder. By the time is took my seat, she was already handing tissues over to Gary who had lost it. Drying his eyes and wiping his nose he composed himself. However this would be a pattern throughout the ceremony. My favourite shot of the day was during Christine’s sermon when she talked about Gary and Antonia. Gary was welling up again and Antonia was holding his hand, looking at him and smiling. Everything about the shot I love. The lighting, the ambience, the moment. It’s why I love my job. That for me tells the story of this couple.
After the ceremony and a quick stroll around the village, we headed up the hill to the Memorial Hall. This is a particularly special place for these two as they both do a lot of work in amateur dramatics and spent a lot of time together here putting on plays. In fact, the bunting that was all over the hall features the posters of all the plays they’ve worked on. The decor for the day was blue to signify the sea which has formed a huge part of Gary’s life and upbringing. Each table had a boat in the middle displaying the table name. It was very much a DIY wedding. A huge effort by a lot of people close to them.
This wasn’t going to be a day about formalities, rules and regs. It was very much go with the flow. Gary kept asking me “What shall we do now?” so I did my best to guide things based on my experience. But it was a lovely relaxed day. One by one each table queued up to get a serving from the Hog Roast. I’ll admit….I was a pig (excuse the pun!). I went up for seconds!
The top table was on the stage of the hall. I knew from experience that Gary would deliver an amazing speech. He has been on somewhat of a journey personally over the years and gone through some pretty tough times. He didn’t shy away from this in his speech and it only added to give you the sense of just how thankful he was to have everyone close to him there that day! And then his brothers took the stage! How can I describe these two?? Like chalk and cheese. One gave quite a polished tribute to his brother. The other, whipped out a William Hill Betting Slip onto which he’d jotted a few notes.
After the speeches we headed across the street to my Auntie’s house as she has the most beautiful country cottage style garden which was perfect for some some and to give Gary and Antonia some time out before heading back to the hall for the first dance and evening entertainment.
Being back in my old stomping ground where I grew up and also worked (and socialised once I was old enough to be able to buy myself a pint!) was lovely. Seeing two close friends of mine so happy and sharing the day with them meant the World to me. And I got to save their memories for them which is even better. Thank you Gary and Antonia….it was a real honour!