Love is a Verb

Love is a Verb

The first time I met Vicky & Tim was a typically rainy post-work evening, we cosied up in a Shoreditch pub to talk weddings. Except we didn’t talk weddings, over crisps and London Pride we meandered through politics, Quakerism, protest and the power of direct action, social justice and feminism and when I couldn’t possibly love them any further it turned out that they too were massive board game nerds. By this time I didn’t really care if I shot their wedding, I just wanted to come and hang out with them and play Catan.

They met at an anti-war demonstration in Trafalgar Square while still Uni students, and have been marching shoulder to shoulder ever since. Being Quakers, they held their ceremony and celebratory tea and cake at the Westminster Friends Meeting House, only a very short stroll from Trafalgar Square. I was thrilled they were up for popping out for a quick re-enactment shoot of their first meeting, while the meeting house was buzzing with friends and family pulling flowers and final cake touches together. Trafalgar Square was silly and funny and the thronging tourists treated them like the fabulous celebrities they are meant to be. They already had the placards at home from the previous week’s Pride Parade and they could not have been anymore appropriate. Did I mention that I completely love these two?

Quaker ceremonies are very unique in that they are not structured or lead by a celebrant in a traditional sense. Everyone gathers for quiet contemplation and anyone can speak when they feel ready. There are no pictures, the focus is just on being present with the couple. Interspersed with periods of reflection; poetry, song, wonderful anecdotes, and again and again, deeply felt expressions of affection and respect for Vicky and Tim. Listening to a wide cross section of their favourite humans, especially the young men, articulating heartfelt love without the crutch of copious wedding booze, makes you realise what a beautiful and rare thing it is to be so openly loving with each other. We could all do with a bit more of that in our lives.

The ceremony is concluded with everyone (including the photographer!) signing a beautiful poster sized certificate, and then gathering for tea and cake. I really loved the moment when Vicky and Tim cut the cake and then worked together to slice it up and hand it out to their friends, a simple gesture that managed to say a lot. The guests then rolled their sleeves up to wash the tea cups and brush the last cake crumbs away, then we all piled onto the classic red double decker bus heading East. Hackney City Farm was our destination, a beautiful, lushly rambling social enterprise bringing organic farming and environmental education to the heart of inner city London. It was the perfect London Summer afternoon to rambled about, meet the animals, catch up and be merry.

Special mentions:

  • Vicky’s mum Pam made ALL the clothing for the whole bridal party, including her own. What a legend!
  • Vicky’s awesome Unicorn Doc Marten shoes, the glamorous wedding footwear that will take you from a demo to a wedding and onto the dancefloor. Shimmer right over those police kettles and farm yard puddles.
  • Internal feminist nods of approval for the excellent speeches by all the women including Tim’s incredibly funny Best Woman.

Getting prepared at Westminster Quaker Meeting House Preparations underway at Westminster Quaker Meeting House.Vicky & Tim with placards in Trafalgar Square Vicky & Tim with placards in Trafalgar Square Vicky & Tim walking hand in hand from Trafalgar Square to the Quaker House. Bridal & Groom portraits in the West End. Guests gathered before the ceremony. All guests sign the certificate.Vicky & Tim slice up and hand out cake at the post ceremony tea and cake.Catching the routemaster bus to Hackney City Farm. Arriving at Hackney City Farm for the reception.

Rain don’t stop play at Cleo & Ed’s South London Celebration.

Rain don’t stop play at Cleo & Ed’s South London Celebration.

I was really moved to be asked to photograph Cleo & Ed’s wedding. I photographed Cleo’s brother’s wedding a couple of years back and was great friends with their late father, the wonderful Mike aka Minimouse, co-conspirator, mentor and ESB drinking buddy. He was well remembered that day and everyone loudly agreed he would have most definitely approved of proceedings.

As we drove down the hill towards Peckham’s Asylum Chapel  we could see those disturbingly yellowish storm clouds that gather right before an intense summer storm, and the heavens truly opened just as we arrived. But despite the wall of water and the dripping tin roof, everyone’s spirits were high and a beautiful ceremony commenced. After drinks under the portico we all decamped to Brixton East to drink, swap stories and share platters of food. I loved the two personalised home brews prepared especially for toasting the couple.. though someone may have been a bit liberal with the brewers yeast!

Couple leaving

 

Nick & Leilee’s Hackney Pub Safari

Nick & Leilee’s Hackney Pub Safari

On a cold, February day with sleet on the wind, there is no where better to be than a cosy east London pub with your favourite people.

Nick & Leilee have a love for Hackney and a love for pubs, as do I! Their table setting’s were sweet little handmade signs of favourite pubs, totally an idea I will steal whenever the bearded one and I ever get round to doing the official thing. Everyone met in Stoke Newington’s Rose & Crown before heading over to the Town Hall for the ceremony, then a quick hustle over to the other side of Hackney to Clapton’s The Crooked Billet to warm up by the fire, drink, dance and be merry. The bunting, bouquet and boutonniere’s were all handmade by Leilee’s talented friends, and the gorgeous cake by Little Bear Cakery, another local Hackney supplier.

A super fun moment that made me laugh was the ‘First Shot’, a communal bottoming of hard liquor instead of the more traditional first dance shuffle. It was a good one to end on!

A Christmas Wedding at Trinity Buoy Wharf

A Christmas Wedding at Trinity Buoy Wharf

You can probably tell from the pictures that I am a very big fan of squidgy-licious toddlers and lustrous beards, for the very shallow reason that I have them too (in my life, I don’t actually have a beard, though my body sure did make a good attempts at a nice fine blonde one during pregnancy, thanks hormones!). I was so pleased to have this wedding explode into the middle of my grey long winter. Such a super cool, confident, no-drama couple. After the short, sweet but heartfelt ceremony at the classic Chelsea Registery Office, we all walked round the corner to the laid-back but still very Chelsea pub, the Coopers Arms. Once suitably refreshed we all piled into the big red bus which took us to one of my favourite London venues, Trinity Buoy Wharf, home of London’s only lighthouse. The Chainstore was transformed with olive trees and fairy lights into something both cosy and airy, perfect for fine food, great speeches, delicious cocktails and good times. Steve told me that his only real request for the wedding was to have a Mariachi band, and they nailed it. I think I need to have a Mariachi band at my wedding.

 

Rousing wedding party sing-a-long on top of a London bus.
Gareth & Dan

Gareth & Dan

A lovely, understated yet utterly joyful wedding. Emotions ran high during the ceremony at the Chelsea Register, the tears of a groom created a chain reaction of sniffles and tissues around the room (including me). Then it was off to The Lodge in Clapham, an alpine styled pop-up restaurant upstairs of The Clapham North Pub. On entering guests were presented with a choice of delicious cocktails and an oyster stall with all the trimmings. Beautiful, abundant food was a priority for Gareth & Dan and boy were their guests in for a treat, the boards of grilled octopus a stunning highlight. Something that really struck me about this celebration was how warm, affectionate and social the whole party was. You could really see the pleasure the two handsome groom’s, their family and friends took in just being there with each other. Love is the answer!

Ernestina & Mark

Ernestina & Mark

Lo-fi back yard fun times for a very family-friendly celebration. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more sequinned dress, it was so awesome! The pop-up nail salon for added extra evening glamour was also a real treat for everyone too. Thanks for having me along Ernestina & Mark, was so much fun!