Halo Photography doesn’t just photograph weddings. We feel variety is the spice of life. Our perfect week would include something different every day. We have some great commercial clients. Kate, at Northumbrian Flowers, has become one of them since this shoot. The location was to be Blackfriars in Newcastle. A former 13th Century friary is now a Medieval Banquet Hall and Restaurant in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The brief was to document Kate on a typical wedding day. Not that any of her creations can be described as “typical”. Northumbrian Flowers are based in Wark on Tyne. Kate has her own unique flower farm where she grows organic and sustainable crops to use in her floral arrangements. We were overjoyed that she had chosen us to help advertise her beautiful work.
Halo was going to shadow Kate & her colleague, Suzie, for Amy & Matthews Wedding at Blackfriars in Newcastle. We were going to focus on preparation and the creation of a fabulous half foliage arch to adorn the entrance to the Medieval Banquet Hall. Blackfriars Banquet Hall was going to be the venue, for both the service and the wedding breakfast. It was going to be an odd perspective for me at a wedding.
The Crack of Dawn at Blackfriars in Newcastle
It was an early start. Kate from Northumbrian Flowers was planning on arriving at about 8 am. Halo hadn’t been to Blackfriars in Newcastle for ages and I couldn’t remember what traffic & parking was like. I thought I’d set off bright and early, just in case. I got there stupidly early after hitting no traffic and there were loads of spaces outside Blackfriars. It gave me a chance to have a scout around. The grounds have open access. Early morning commuters walk through as if it was a park.
On arrival Kate and her husband, Pete began unloading what seemed like a mountain of foliage and crates full of beautiful flowers accompanied by various vessels that would eventually hold the displays. Kate had all of her supplies arranged around the courtyard border. I was starting to wonder if this was a royal wedding as I’d never seen this many flowers outside of a garden centre.
Blackfriars Banquet Hall
Once Susie arrived, Kate explained the plan for the day. Firstly, to get the Banquet Hall dressed for the Wedding Service. The Blackfriars Medieval Banquet hall is stunning. A medieval hall lined with stained-glass windows, antler chandeliers, hanging banners and large oak dining tables with matching chairs.
As amazing a location as it is, the banquet hall is a tough location for a photographer. Its aged walls are dark, the stained glass lets little natural light through with what little it gives being all on one side of the room. The artificial lighting is minimal and mainly projects onto the sandstone walls. The room isn’t large and the multitude of banners and chandeliers make it almost impossible to bounce extra light into areas without creating shadows. It’s what gives the hall its charm and make it the ultimate, intimate venue.
These sorts of jobs are learning opportunities. Extreme circumstances push you out of your comfort zone. I was thanking the gods for our recent camera upgrades. Their added latitude and ISO range were going to be very useful today.
The foliage, Northumbrian Flowers used to line the red carpet, suited it perfectly. Likewise, the table vases were beautiful, but not overpowering. We often photograph weddings where the flowers on the service table are so big, often you have to remove them, just so you can see the bride & groom.
The Floral Arch
I had the opposite problem outside. It was a beautiful bright day that was cutting through the trees of the
The arch gradually built up. I couldn’t resist comparing it to me trying to space the lights and baubles on our Christmas tree. Spacing objects of focus without them looking regimented. Susie was a true artisan and is an artist in her own right.
The Wedding Bouquets
As the ladies of Northumbrian flowers added the finishing touches to their work of art, I pinched the wedding bouquets and buttonholes. This part of the day was a lot more familiar to me. We always give Flowers a lot of love. I just don’t normally have this much time to photograph them.
The wedding itself was approaching and Amy & Matthew’s Wedding photographer arrived. I introduced myself and made him aware of what I was doing. Just to reassure him that I wouldn’t get in the way and that he had priority. He asked, “What happens at a Christian wedding ceremony?”. This had me concerned. He seemed to be more used to attending Asian Weddings. He wasn’t sure how the ceremony would be conducted. I hope he did a great job for them. The flowers were going to help make this an amazing wedding. It deserved to be remembered properly. I quickly told him what would happen and assured him everything happened on that day.
The Wedding Begins
As part of Halo Photography, I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings. This was the first, a florist, putting the groom’s buttonhole on for him. Normally the florist delivers the flowers for the venue to set up. The Bridal parties flowers normally arrive in a box and they are left to fend for themselves.
Northumbrian Flowers also greeted the bride as she arrived. Amy & Matthew were blown away with the flowers and the Floral Arch. Their official photographer was nowhere to be seen. Therefore, I was able to be more proactive with the wedding party than I thought.
Preparing Blackfriars in Newcastle for the Wedding Breakfast.
Retiring to the Parlour Bar, we grabbed a quick cuppa and relaxed for a little. Afterwards, we waited for the staff to “turn the room around” ready for the wedding breakfast. Northumbrian Flowers finished the room off beautifully. Almost every aspect of the room had their finishing touch. I felt like a third wheel getting in the way because the Northumbrian Flowers team and Blackfriars Staff working so well together.
This was the first part of the day that I had been pushed for time. I used a flash unit to help with the dark side of the room and balanced it with the natural light from the stained-glass windows.
To think that King Edward III once dined in this ornate Medieval Banquet Hall. He used it to receive royal Scot, Edward Balliol, in 1334. Apart from some electric lighting it may have looked very similar.
As Amy & Matthew entered their reception room our job was over. Northumbrian Flowers is a recommended supplier at Blackfriars in Newcastle. Kate does an outstanding job. Far beyond that of traditional florists. We will be recommending them to all of our future couples. If you want bespoke service that compliments your day perfectly, I know no one better.
Update February 2019 Medieval Wedding at Blackfriars in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Kate invited us back to Blackfriars to document Mark & Anna’s medieval wedding breakfast. I need to point out we didn’t photograph the wedding, just Northumbrian Flowers’ amazing table design. We had minutes to from the room being complete to Mark & Anna being present with the room. There were so many details I ready didn’t know where to start. As the staff were laying out the huge banquet tables I was making a plan of attack in my head to squeeze every second out of the room.