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 photo shoots. Thankfully, 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. 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. Brinkburn Priory looks and feels like a secret garden. The question was, would it be as inviting at the end of December?
Newcastle Civic Centre Registry Office
The day was to be split for Andy & Emma’s Wedding. Newcastle Civic Centre Registry Office at sunrise. Then a blessing in the White Room at Brinkburn Priory and reception in a wonderful double “Tepee” tent. The registry office was to be very informal and low key. Andy & Emma weren’t even sure if they wanted any photos taken. 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.
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 jeans. I was very aware that as far as this couple were concerned this was a formality that would lead to a much more romantic afternoon and evening. Forcing myself not to rattling off loads of images. It was going to be a 14 hour day so pacing ourselves was going to be important.
Arrival at Brinkburn Priory
While I covered the registry office, Lisa headed to Brinkburn Priory to meet the bride & bridesmaids. There was frost was on the grass and the champagne was flowing. The girls looked cosy though in their pyjamas.
Bridal Prep with Lisa
What a great venue for their wedding day! Arriving at this beautiful place, the feeling of cold sensations and chills ran through me. Lisa knocked on the door. The Bride &
A Beautiful Winter Morning at Brinkburn Priory
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 beginning 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. 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. Emma’s Bouquet also used book page flowers.
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. 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 them.
When the last touches were getting put in place nothing was too much trouble, everything just fell into place.
The White Room Blessing
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 Church itself. Emma & Andy opted for the White Room, worried it would be impractical with the temperatures. 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.
From the moment of the amazing service, the guests couldn’t be happier for the beautiful couple. 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 church behind them. It was stepped and kept everyone on
The Priory Church
After letting most the wedding guests head back to get warmed up and grab another drink, we took the wedding party into Brinkburn’s, Priory Church 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.
The atmosphere was fabulous. The bridal party came through to the Priory Church, it was so cold, but the smiles and the laughter from the kids to the adults
Brinkburn Priory’s Manor House
Next to the priory is the Manor House. It has great charm, stripped right down to plaster. 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. Working with Emma & Andy was such a pleasure. The Priory was so cold but the feeling of warmth shines through in the images.
The Tepee Wedding Breakfast
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.
After the speeches, one of which from Andy’s brother really tugged the heartstrings, we left family & friends to their meal. Meanwhile, the staff were preparing the White Room for the night time reception. We got to see their unique cake for the first time.
Party Time at Brinkburn Priory
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.
Back in the party tent everyone joined in on the dance floor after the first dance. It’s great when everyone is up to danceBridesmaids can just let things happen and catch the great times.
We called it a day at Brinkburn Priory about 10 pm. 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.