The Keel Row for Helen & Jason’s Wedding Photography
Sometimes weddings are a glorious explosion of all sorts of ideas. Helen & Jason’s wedding at The Keel Row in Seaton Delaval was going to be a fabulous mix of challenges & surprises. Helen & Jason have full lives. Both run their own busy businesses, they have 3 great kids at least 3 dogs and a parrot. I have no idea where they found the time to organise a wedding.
It had been a long time since I’d shot a wedding for Halo Photography by myself. Come on, which wedding photographer takes a holiday in June??? Lisa does. But I’m a big boy and can talk to people without my security blanket. Instead, I roped my gorgeous teenage daughter to assist at her first wedding.
The Trouble with Parrots
We always give our couples a last call before the wedding. We like to let clients have confidence we haven’t forgotten them and it doesn’t hurt to check they haven’t lost the plot. Sadly, Helen had lost something. Her pet parrot had gotten out and they had spent all week searching for him. Thankfully, he was spotted by a neighbour the day before the wedding and was home, safe & sound before the big day.
As we arrived that morning at Helen & Jason’s home, the kitchen was the hub of activity. Helen was already in the makeup chair and the other girls were getting the finishing touches to their hair. Lisa normally doesn’t let me anywhere near the brides before a wedding but, as the son of a hairdresser, I grew up in these situations. I’ve taken many a curler out and I’m immune to hairspray. The camera lens, however, is not, so I left the fun & headed for the wedding dress to get some detail shots.
Helen’s dogs were so cute and were desperate to get involved. I thought they would have made a great addition to the wedding party. Helen knew they would be chaos on legs.
All Ready for the Keel Row
Time was starting to slip away from me, Helen had a great garden. Unsure of how much “green” we would get to see at the Keel Row, I really wanted to make the most of it. I had some unfounded concerns that we wouldn’t have areas to photograph groups. It would all be down to how busy the car park got. I had back up plans but that would mean high heels in a cornfield. Two things that rarely mix. The girls were in a great mood and taking everything in their stride.
The Keel Row Pub
The Keel Row is a great family run pub, beautiful inside & out. My concern had been the position of the marquee that Helen & Jason had planned for the service, wedding breakfast and their night-time. They wanted it positioned right in front of the pub so that if it rained, their guests wouldn’t get wet getting to the bar. This blocked the most obvious background, the beautiful beer garden for big groups.
Normally, I would have suggested taking a short trip to Seaton Delaval Hall but it was being refurbished and covered in scaffolding.
The rear of the pub is a kids play area that kept them safe from the car park that wraps right the way around the Keel Row. The marquee was to be decorated with a fabulous Alice in Wonderland theme throughout the day. From my experience, any space that needs to be “turned around” for different parts of the day is a no go area. Get in a wedding co-ordinators way at your peril.
Arriving at the Keel Row, I hunted down Jason & his sons. We were all struggling with the beautiful weather that day. The boys’ eyes were sensitive to the strong sun and my hayfever was raging. Oh, and it was HOT! So the jackets came off and shades on. Jason was mobbed with guests and then the registrars grabbed him so more boy stuff was going to have to wait.
A Wedding in Wonderland
It was 27 degrees outside, thank goodness the marquee opened up. It would also let me move around discreetly. Without a second shooter, I was glad of the scope. Helen & her Dad arrived in Jason’s his Sierra Cosworth. Jason’s business is in classic cars and his one request for photos was to for them to feature in the photos. Helen looked stunning, smiling from ear to ear.
The marquee was glorious and great to photograph. The service was full of laughs and giggles and slightly unconventional. The Keel Row is licenced for weddings but the marquee isn’t. So the service was going to have a short pause for Helen & Jason to sign the official register back in the pub. The idea was for everyone to remain seated in the marquee but the registrar wasn’t quite clear enough. When the wedding couple retreated into the pub all of the guests scattered. No one blamed them because of the heat but it took a while to round them all up again to finish the service.
Up a Ladder Without a Drone
Lisa won’t buy me a drone!! The one day I could have pushed the point that a new toy would have been useful. Instead, I had to do things the old fashioned boring way… with a ladder. My lovely assistant, Holly, clung onto the ladders for dear life, as I climbed as high as I could. I was amazed I managed to fit everyone. For the family groups, I used a gap between the cars against a hedge that bordered the pubs play park.
The Boys & Their Cars
Jason wasn’t the only fan of Cosworths. His friends added another two cars to the collection and it would have been a shame not to get them together.
Eat Me, Drink Me
The wedding service was just a taste of the Alice in Wonderland theme in store for the guests. The marquee was transformed and moved further down the rabbit hole. The table centres were amazing and Helen & Jason’s guests were blown away. The speeches had everyone in tears, especially from their son. The little shot bottles were a huge hit and they all went down very quickly.
No Corn was Harmed at this Wedding
After the wedding breakfast, I spotted Helen & Jason’s boys starting to strip off. Have I mentioned how hot is it was? We’d only gotten one Seymour family photo before the meal so I put the boys back together and promised them they could get their ties and waistcoats off after just a few more photos. Behind the Keel Row was a wonderful cornfield that I’d been holding in reserve. We headed for the field and had some great fun. Even being hot & sweaty they were great and so patient. I lost my sunglasses about 3 times jumping around.
Holly escorted the kids back the pub for a water break as their parents joined us. It doesn’t look like it but we stuck to the flattened corn and the tractor tracks so we didn’t spoil any of the crop. Jason did really well. He wasn’t keen on having his photos taken but I think they both enjoyed some alone time and that helped them both relax. As the kids returned we took some more relaxed family photos. They all did really well considering how hot it was.
Walking back from the field with all the family I had to step in to save a wedding dress. All we saw was a huge Great Dane (well I remember it as a Great Dane. It definitely wasn’t a Yorkshire terrier) bounding down the lane, straight for Helen. I heroically dived between the dog and the dress until an apologetic owner retrieved it. I’m gutted I didn’t get a photo!
Keep the Cake Cool
Having taken some great shots in the field we just had one last thing to cover. The fabulous Alice in Wonderland Wedding Cake. The Keel Row staff had been desperately trying to keep it cool so it wouldn’t collapse. The white rabbit had taken a fall from his perch but otherwise, it had survived until we got to cut the cake. Helen did a quick fix before we took them. It was nice to do some shots inside the pub, out of the sun, too.
Helen & Jason had great family & friends at the wedding. We took loads of candid shots of them. The front of the Keel Row is a great space to catch people enjoying themselves. You can keep your distance so not give away that you’re pointing a lens at them and capture some fab expressions.
I loved Helen & Jason’s wedding. It had its challenges but that made for some memorable images. I’d just like to thank them and their kids for being so patient in the heat. A lot of kids would have just refused to join in with those temperatures and they were real troopers. I’d also like to thank the staff at the Keel Row. It was one of there first weddings and they did a brilliant job. Nothing was a problem and they never stopped making sure Helen & Jason’s day was perfect.
We wish them all the best and hope to see them in the future.