A recent wedding at Southdowns Manor, nestled on the edge of the rolling South Downs just outside Petersfield, was a pleasant return to an old friend. This lovely exclusive use wedding venue appeared on the scenes a few years ago now and I was fortunate to be one of the first people through the door there with a camera, covering their initial launch event as well as several wonderful weddings since. (You’ll still find plenty of my photos up there on the website). Already coming from a great starting point following an initial huge investment, it was great to see how it has continued to grow and evolve as a venue as the grounds have matured, and additions such as an outdoor ceremony space have added to its attractions.
I was there on this occasion for Laura & Mike, one of those very pleasant occasions when as well as covering the marriage of an absolutely lovely couple you also get to catch up with previous clients, as I had first met Laura when she was a bridesmaid at Emma & Neal’s Sopley Mill wedding a couple of years ago. This time it was Neal’s turn to shoulder the responsibility of keeping everything running smoothly, serving as Mike’s best man while Emma assumed her bridesmaid responsibilities upstairs with Laura.
One of the things which struck me the very first time I visited Southdowns Manor is how great the accommodation is there. As well as hosting the ceremony, the manor also has a number of rooms meaning that guests can stay overnight, and they’ve been decked out beautifully – fantastic for all those getting ready shots. The girls were in the dressing room at the far end of the corridor while the groom and his party shifted about between bedrooms and the lounge downstairs as guests began to arrive.
Guests moved through from the reception areas to the main ceremony room, taking their seats in anticipation of the arrival of the bride. Mike stood at the front looking resplendent (there’s a word I don’t get to use as often as I should!) in full formal naval dress. What a uniform those guys get to wear! And then it was Laura’s turn, looking absolutely stunning in a beautifully detailed dress as she walked down the aisle on her father’s arm to the front of the room (behind a few assorted bridesmaids and flower girls). And so the ceremony began…
Walking back down the aisle together for the first time as husband and wife, there was one further little duty to perform before the celebrations could officially begin. There were a lot of dress uniforms present, and that meant a lot of swords. Enough, in fact, to create a full guard of honour so that bride and groom could walk through a sword arch. There’s no two ways about it, that is a very cool way to be presented to your guests! Once they’d safely negotiated the blades (no passage permitted until they had kissed) it was reception time; drinks and canapes, photos and wedding breakfast. Typically, it was at this moment that the weather which had been threatening all morning decided to break. No matter; the indoor spaces at Southdowns are a great part of its charm and we were able to make good use of the impressive reception areas for many of the group photos. And even when it does rain, it’s a rare wedding indeed that it comes down relentlessly. As the clouds parted we were able to head outside for couple photos against the beautiful backdrop of the rolling South Downs National Park.
The hard work done, Laura, Mike and guests could now sit back and soak up the rest of the day. Once the formalities of the speeches were completed of course. As the day rolled on into the evening everyone moved through to the party room for the cutting of the cake and first dance, before the evening celebrations kicked off in earnest.
Huge congratulations to you both Mr & Mrs Rydiard – what a stunner of a day!
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I hope you’ve enjoyed this little selection of images from the day. That’s just part of the finished set, and friends and family can view the full series, and the storytelling slideshow, in Laura & Mike’s private online gallery (although you’ll need to ask them for the password first).
If you are currently planning your Southdowns Manor wedding and would like to know more about my wedding photography services, packages and prices, please do get in touch to check availability and ask me any questions you might have. I’m only too happy to help however I can.
Thanks as ever for reading, and come back again soon for many more photos from many more beautiful weddings!