Laura & Gerard - Farranree Church & Garryvoe Hotel, Cork
I had good reasons to look forward to Laura and Gerard's big day. For a start, after a couple of months away from photographing weddings due to a new arrival at home, it was to be my first wedding back in the saddle so to speak - one to kick start what is set to be another busy year. But more than that, this wedding would be a welcome return to the Speight household in Cork city - a location I first visited two years ago when Laura's sister Aileen celebrated what proved to be one of my most enjoyable weddings.
As often happens when sisters get married in succession, I think it's fair to say there was a desire to do things differently this time around. The church, this time, was Laura's local church in Farranree a mere three minutes from the house, and the reception was 45 minutes east in the lovely Garryvoe Hotel. All going well, weatherwise, we might even get to stroll on the beach. [Spoiler alert: we didn't!].
As an aside, I mentioned to a friend that I was photographing a wedding in Garryvoe and she asked "where's that" and I said it was in East Cork. "East Cork?" she said, with incredulity. "Is there an East Cork?". Well in case you, like her, were really only familiar with the better known West Cork, be assured there is an East Cork with its own lovely charms and gems like Ballycotton and, indeed, Garryvoe.
I too was keen to do things differently this time around, not wanting to re-take all the same photos in the house that I had taken on the morning of Aileen's wedding. That's not likely for most of the photography anyway, but for details like the dress, flowers and shoes there could have been a risk of putting things in the same places and photographing them in the same way, so I was determined not to do that.
Laura went to Glanmire for her hair and for some of the girls' makeup sessions and things ran a little over, as they are inclined to do, so when I got to the house a little after 10.30 only Karol (Laura's brother-in-law and a former client of mine) and his little fella Adam were there, but it wasn't long before the entourage arrived back from the hair salon and slowly but surely activity ramped up at the house.
I photographed the details, differently, upstairs while things got going downstairs and snapped away during the make up touch ups and while champagne was being had - all the usual stuff.
I spotted a child of Prague in the garden, but ironically it was a bit too wet to go out for a closer look!
By the time Laura was dressed and looking absolutely stunning it seemed as if all of Cork had gathered in the hallway below awaiting a first glimpse, camera phones and smiles at the ready.
Keen to not "ruin" her makeup, Laura adopted an interesting strategy to try to avoid tears. We were instructed not to tell her she looked lovely, or at least to tell her she looked "only alright". Which might have worked save for one undeniable fact. She looked far more than "only alright" and no one in the hallway, when they saw her, could think any differently. So that tactic failed and there were tears.
Incidentially the make-up artist had a different tactic for no tears, but I can't share it with you here. Let's just say it's not for a family audience, but it had the girls laughing then (and no doubt now as they read this too!).
As photos were taken and compliments given, I headed on to the church to catch up with Ger and his band of groomsmen before Laura arrived to say "I do" and enjoy Father Twomey's ever-entertaining ceremony. So far so good, and the day was only getting started.
There was talk of a stop off in KFCs on the way to Garryvoe - for the groom that is - but in the end Laura and Ger headed straight for the hotel so arrived there only a couple of minutes after I did.
Videographer John Mollaghan of Moments Videos, who was excellent to work with, as always, was there when I got there. Once the happy couple arrived it was straight into the function room for the obligatory photo with the cake and then, allowing them some time to mingle and catch their breath, I did a quick scout of the hotel. A few steps down from the lobby was a seating area with large windows letting in all of the soft afternoon light that the clouds responsible for the rain were giving us, and so once the bridal party were all together again it was to that area we headed first for a slightly more formal photo using two couches.
The selling point of Garryvoe Hotel's interior though is really the bridal suite - a two storey mansion on the top floors which you simply don't want to leave. We took the lift up - the boys making it into a photo before the doors closed - and used the lovely back light in the bay window for some less formal bridal party snaps, and Laura braved the balcony upstairs to get at least one outdoor shot.
My shot taken, John stepped into to film her and I focused on his screen for a more abstract photo that is a real favourite of mine from the day. Check out that posing from Laura too!
The girls had seen a photo on Pinterest with a mirror that they liked, and not one to turn down a mirror photo (I love reflections) I gave it a shot. We didn't have access to a full length free standing mirror that their "inspiration" photo required so I improvised with what proved to be quite a different photo but one I think works, using not one but two mirrors.
I had to put all my Applied Maths skills to use to get the angles to work - ok not really - but it took a bit of repositioning. I think it paid off!
Back downstairs and I got to snap a few guests mingling before we got the bride's friends and groom's friends for a couple of photos.
And the bell rang soon after announcing dinner, and bringing everyone's focus to the very lovely function room where one end held a large comfy seating area that would prove popular with guests for breaks in the dancing later on that night.
Laura and Gerard made their way in to much applause and it was straight into the speeches then, to allow the Dads, the groom and the best man the pleasure of eating dinner without having to worry about a speech afterwards.
The speeches brought more tears, but mainly laughter, and we all learnt - amongst other things - about how Ger eats his rice crispies (i.e. quickly!). Guests bet on the duration and the thank yous with the "winners" heading for the bar soon after to buy a round and no doubt end up out of pocket! All part of the fun.
After dinner a sweet table was unveiled, much to the delight of the younger guests (and this particular photographer!).
And a first dance to Ellie Goulding brought my role in the day to an end, while everyone else got the party started!
A great day with great people in a great location. What more could you want?!
Now, Emma - you're next :-)