Maerii and Neil came to me well over a year ago looking for a photographer to capture their wedding day at Chilham village hall near Canterbury in Kent. The guys live in south London but wanted to create their dream wedding from scratch with a blank canvas to work from. At the consultation they had so many great ideas for the big day such as party games on the lawn area in between the ceremony and wedding breakfast, games such as Jenga, croquet and a huge bouncy castle where but a few on the list. Some of the other finer detail included fresh meadow flowers and a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Maerii was born in Hong Kong and Neil from Somerset so they were to bring two very different cultures together for what was to be an incredible wedding!
Today I had the pleasure of working with James Riley videos who very much like myself shoots unobtrusively to capture the day as naturally as possible. The day started with the buttonholes being passed around and soon led to a traditional Chinese bridal snatch ceremony, which was a first for me. This great idea is based on the groom and ushers proving their worth to the bride and bridesmaids by undertaking a number of dares in front of family and friends. I have to say this was awesome to watch while guests had a good laugh at the boy’s efforts. The dares included getting Neil to act as a pole while his best man danced around him as provocatively as possible :)
After wiping the tears of laughter from my face it was time to break off for the ceremony at Chilham village hall. The day had started perfectly and the weather had decided to match with glorious sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky.
The venue looked incredible! I’ve shot here a few times before and never seen it dressed this well. You could smell the wild meadow flowers as soon as you entered the main hall, close family were still carrying out some final tweaks as I captured all the small detail that had been put into making the hall look amazing.
Neil waited at the end of the isle with his best man as the bridesmaids individually made their entrance, soon followed by the stunning Maerii and her father. Neil’s face was priceless when he had seen them take that short walk to greet him. The ceremony was lovely with some funny readings to add a little humor. After the vows were made and the rings exchanged the new Mr and Mrs Challis made their way out on to the lawn with toast drinks in hand to celebrate with closest family and friends.
I waited for the crowd to settle down before rounding up the guests for some group photos followed by some bridal party shots and romantics. Chilham has some great photo opportunities and I think we made really good use of not just the grounds but just down the road was a field full of golden wheat which made for some awesome shots at dusk.
Party games and drinks were in full swing, we had a small bouncy castle malfunction as it deflated twice while the entire bridal party bounced around inside. This did make for some great shots though as they attempted to escape its grasp while the generator stopped and it collapsed around them :)
The evening started to draw in with a great sit down meal and speeches that still make me chuckle today, especially when Maerii’s father threatened to sing instead of give a speech. The guys had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony planned for after the meal, which was also a great experience. They were to kneel on some traditional cushions and offer tea to their closest family and friends; in exchange gifts were received along with kind words of wisdom for their future together.
It was soon time for the 1st dance and unknown to anyone else these guys had had six cheeky private dancing lessons! Well all I can say is let the pictures speak for them selves! Amazing!! A live band carried the music through till late and as a closing photograph we used foot-long sparklers to create the most dramatic final shot of the night.
I loved capturing the day for these two and I sincerely wish them the very best future together. Please enjoy this handful of my images that tell Maerii & Neil’s incredible story.