Brinkburn Priory
{Mark} Lisa & I had been looking forward to Emma & Andy’s wedding all year. We don’t do many winter weddings as it’s our busiest time in the studio for portrait sessions but the date was just after our cut off point for orders before Christmas. It was also at a venue we hadn’t even heard of before. Brinkburn Priory looks and feels like a secret garden. Hidden away, Brinkburn Priory was a medieval monastery built on a bend of the River Coquet, some 4 miles east of Rothbury. I scouted it in the Autumn and fell in love with it instantly. The question was, would it be as inviting at the end of December?
Emma & Andy’s wedding was going to split, registry office at sunrise in Newcastle then a Blessing at the Priory and reception in a wonderful double “Tepee” tent. The registry office was to be very informal and low key and Andy & Emma weren’t even sure if they wanted any photos taken there but I thought it would be great if we did it as a “Wizard of Oz” style documentary black & white style at the registry office then bursting with colour at Brinkburn.
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{Mark} It was a very cold and crisp morning and as with all registry office weddings, it was short and sweet. It is my first wedding with the groom getting married in jean’s though and it was the start of a day of firsts. I was also very aware that as far as this great couple were concerned this was a formality that would lead to a much more romantic afternoon and evening, so I had to stop myself rattling off loads of images. It was going to be a 14hour day so pacing ourselves was going to be important.
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{Mark} While I covered the registry office Lisa headed to Brinkburn to meet the bridesmaids who were already there. There was frost was on the grass and the champagne was flowing. The girls looked cosy though in their pyjamas.
161217_Hall_5028 (1).jpg{Lisa} Arriving at this beautiful place, Brinkburn Priory, the feeling of cold sensations and chills ran through me. I knocked on the door to be greeted by the Bride & Bridemaids who were full of smiles, excitment and emotion.
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161217_Hall_5030 (1).jpg{Lisa}What a great venue for their wedding day!!
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{Lisa} As soon as I got inside the girls opened the champagne and made me feel so welcome. They could not have been more helpful. The girls looked so amazing, elegant and beautiful as they prepared for the big day ahead.161217_Hall_5040 (1).jpg
161217_Hall_5043 (1).jpg{Mark} So after a quick change at home I took a beautiful drive to the Priory, just in time for the lads to arrive. I think Andy had a beer open in about 30 seconds flat. I was extremely jealous of their suits. It was a great time just to take in the venue. The river running right next to us created a wonderful atmosphere and at this point of the day the sun was just starting to rise over the woods that surround the whole area. The frost was just starting to thaw, sheep were bleating on the opposite bank of the river and apart from it being cold, it was a perfect morning. The bride & groom are self-confessed bookworms and a couple of months previous we had shot their pre-wedding photos in Barter Books in Alnwick, their favourite place to be. Andy was excited to show off his handmade book arch which stood proudly in the entrance to the Tepee. Evil as I am, once the groom’s father & brother joined them, they had to put their beers down and we set off around the grounds to get some group shots of them. The yellows of the stone with the green of the moss and algae you get at that time of year made the perfect backdrop for them. We were so spoilt for locations to shoot in but as always, time is the best limiter and I had to cherry pick what I thought would work best. I was also aware that we wouldn’t have any light later in the day so chose areas we wouldn’t be able to use then.
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{Lisa} When the last touches were getting put in place nothing was too much trouble, erything just fell into place.161217_Hall_5093 (1).jpg
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161217_Hall_5125 (1).jpg{Mark} – The Bride & Groom had always kept in mind that this wedding was going to be in the middle of December and even on the best of days, Northumberland is brisk. They were given the option for the blessing to be held in the Priory itself but Emma & Andy were worried it would be impractical with the temperatures so instead used the “White Room”. Located within the main house it’s a wonderful space. To be honest I was glad it was winter, as I could imagine the light in there would be so bright in the summer. I normally stay with the lads at the front of the service and Lisa covers the back after the bride enters. The service went well for the second time that day but this one was far more aesthetic.
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161217_Hall_5172 (1).jpg{Lisa} From the moment of the amazing service the guests couldn’t be happier for the beautiful couple.
{Mark} – So after a lovely service, we let everyone grab a drink and mingle. Lisa and I had a plan to take everyone around for a big group shot with the priory behind them. It was stepped and kept everyone on solid ground. The catch was it was about 100 yards away (which doesn’t sound far, but in wedding clobber and heels it might as well have been a mile) and we had a guest in a wheelchair. Thankfully everyone was willing to brave the cold and joined in. I think I was the only one to get wet on the now defrosted long grass, but I’m used to it. At least I wasn’t in a fountain or a rose bush this time.
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{Mark} – After letting most the wedding guests head back to get warmed up and grab another drink, we took the wedding party into Brinkburn Priory itself. I’ve seen less impressive Cathedrals. It is stunning. English Heritage chaperoned us in this part of the venue and had it all lit really for us. I hate using a tripod… really hate it. It limits you so much but this was one situation that we couldn’t get away without it. One little note, we always prepare a bride for just how cold it can get. Brides always get to call time on this part of the day but Emma was a real trooper. It was probably only 2 or 3 degrees inside as there was no heating. Again, we could have spent hours here. Instead we had about 20 minutes and it flew over.
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{Lisa} The atmosphere was fabulous. The bridal party came through to the Priory, it was so cold, but the smiles and the laughter from the kids to the adults was truly warming.  The staff were commended on what a fantastic service they were doing, not only for the guests but for us, the photographers too.161217_Hall_5190 (1).jpg
161217_Hall_5199 (1).jpg{Lisa} To see how much these two are in love was adorable. Just beautiful. I could go on and on.
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{Mark} Next to the priory is the Manor House. It’s stripped right down to plaster but has great charm and I’ll keep it in mind for a fashion location. Again we could have spent all afternoon in this one building. There are so many great areas to explore and textures to use.
{Lisa} Working with Emma & Andy was such a pleasure. The Priory was so cold but the feeling of warmth shines through in our images161217_Hall_5206.jpg
{Mark} So although we were all buzzing from a great time in the old buildings, we were freezing. The sun was setting so we headed back to the Tepee for the wedding breakfast. Thankfully it was warm and toastie and felt like a completely different world.
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{Mark}  After the speeches, one of which from Andy’s brother really tugged the heart strings, we left family & friends to their meal. Meanwhile, the white room was being prepared by the priory staff for the night time reception, including setting up their unique cake.
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{Mark} Winter weddings seem to have less of a definition between the day time reception and the night time party. It was dark before they started their wedding breakfast. We then had to finish grabbing some family groups in the dark with only the cottage lights and some fairy lights to help us along.
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{Mark} Back in the party tent everyone joined in on the dance floor after the first dance. It’s great when everyone is up to dance, we can just let things happen and catch the great times.
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161217_Hall_5390.jpg{Mark} We called it a day at about 10pm. It had been a 14 hour day but was worth it. Note to self… wear warm thermals next December. All the best wishes to Emma & Andy.

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