Bride & Groom looking at each other in front of at Brinkburn Priory's Stained glass windows

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.

River God Tyne on the wall of Newcastle Civic Centre
Bride & Groom organising parents in the registry office
Parents chatting in the background while bride & groom wait at reception of Newcastle Registry Office
Grooms mum Laughing
Bride & Groom holding hands in Newcastle Registry Office
Bride & Groom kissing in Newcastle Registry Office
Bride & Groom signing register at Newcastle Registry Office

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.

Bride, Groom & Parents walking away from Newcastle Registry Office, Civic Centre
Bride, Groom & Parents in from of swan sculpture at Newcastle Registry Office, Civic Centre
swan sculpture at Newcastle Registry Office, Civic Centre

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.

Priory Church & Manor House on a winter morning at Brinkburn Priory
Frost on grass in front of the Manor House at Brinkburn Priory

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 & Bridemaids greeted her, full of smiles, excitement and emotion. 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.

Blue & Silver Wreath hanging on white door at Brinkburn Priory
Bridesmaids getting makeup applied
Bridesmaids enjoying champagne
Brides maids drinking Champagne in Kitchen
Bridesmaids snuggled on sofa at Brinkburn Priory
Bridesmaid hugging flowergirl
Bookworm Bouquet at Brinkburn Priory

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.

Groom & Bestman walking through Brinkburn Priory
Blue Tea light lanterns
Groom & bestman clinking bottles
Grooms button hole
Wedding rings in the grooms hand at Brinkburn Priory
Wedding rings on a bench at Brinkburn Priory
Groom under book arch
Groom in front of Brinkburn Priory Church
Groom posing
Family arriving at Brinkburn Priory
Groom and his brother chatting
Groom, Bestman & Ushers walking in Brinkburn Priory grounds
Groomsmen posing outside of Brinkburn priory church door

When the last touches were getting put in place nothing was too much trouble, everything just fell into place.

Bridesmaid dancing in her dress, watched by her brother
Bridesmaid applying lip gloss
Bride checking necklace
Bride getting ready at Brinkburn Priory
Bride having hair styled at Brinkburn Priory
Brides mum getting a sneak peek down a corridor
Bride and Bridal party waiting outside the white room

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.

The White Room at Brinkburn Priory
Groom checking time on his pocket watch in the white room
Brides proud mum in the white room
Bride beaming while her dad walks her down the isle in the white room at Brinkburn Priory
Groom seeing bride for the first time in the white room
Flower girl looking straight in the lens
Bride smiling at the groom in the white room
Bride & Grooms hands
Bride & Groom being blessed in the white room at Brinkburn Priory Northumberland
Bridal Party sighing the register in the whiter oom at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Guests taking photos of the bridal party
Bride & Groom about to walk down the aisle
Bride & Groom kissing in the aisle in the white room at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland

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 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.

Guests outside of the white room
Family & Friends outside Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Close up of bride & groom with their friend & family in the background.
Guests cheering behind bride & groom at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland

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 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. To see how much these two are in love was adorable. Just beautiful. I could go on and on.

Family photo in the priory church at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Bride & Groom being blessed with stained glass windows behind them at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Bride & groom looking at each other in front of the stained glass windows of Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Brides Vale lift in Priory Church
Bride & Groom walking through Priory Church

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. 

Bride & Groom looking out of Manor House window at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Bride & Groom in front of windows of the manor house at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Bride & Groom in the Manor House
Groom kissing brides forehead in the Manor House at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland

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.

The Wedding Tepee at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Christmas Crackers with the Bride & Groom name on them
Top table behind the flame pit
Bride & Groom pulling cracker together
Grooms speech addressing bride
Best Man reading speech
Guests watching speeches in the wedding tepee

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.

Black icing wedding cake
Close up of Black Icing Wedding Cake
Bride & Groom Cutting Wedding Cake
Bride & Groom toasting with champagne
Bride & Groom with their Wedding Cake in the White room

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.

Bride & Bestman in Tepee
Flower Girl & Page boy posing
Night time family photo
Bride getting tickled by Bridesmaids
Bride & Groom at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland at night
Bride & Groom at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Bride wearing her winter cloak

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.

Wedding guest cheering
Small Dance train in the tepee
Lads dabbing in tepee
Guests in portrait frame
Kids pulling faces in a frame
Bride & Chief Bridesmaid in photo frame
Guests watching cake cutting
Bride & Groom cutting black icing wedding cake
First dance in tepee
Flower girl & Page boy first dance
Father of the bride first dance
Hocky Cokey in the Tepee
Groom dancing with his family
Bride dancing with her brides maids at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Bride & Groom under Book Arch at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland

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.

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