Highcliffe Castle is without question one of Hampshire’s absolute jewels as a wedding venue. I can’t really think of another quite like it when you combine the magnificence of the building itself – both inside and out – with its proximity to the beach and those views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Even better when the couple has it for the whole day, both for the ceremony and the reception spreading right through into the evening, as that means you have it all to yourself for the party and, of course, you get to head on down to that famously beautiful sandy beach at your own pace for some couple photos. If you can save those until the golden evening light is washing over the sands and the beach is pretty much empty of people then you’re in for a real treat… I really couldn’t have asked for anything more from this day: wonderful couple, stunning venue, blue skies and sunshine… but enough waffling from me – let’s see some photos!
Bridal prep was taking place a short enough distance away as the crow flies, in Swanage (itself no stranger to sandy beaches and beautiful views), but a bit of a stress if you plan to put your faith in the chain ferry to get your car over the water and on to the venue ahead of the bridal car. I’d kicked this option around for a while but nothing gets my nerves jangling quite like the fear of cutting it fine getting to the ceremony venue before the bride has started walking down the aisle so I opted to play it safe and take the longer overland route, figuring that at least if it all went horribly wrong it would be my own fault. Happily the journey around Poole and Bournemouth stuck to its usual and predictable traffic jams and snarl-ups and I’ve had plenty of experience of those, so no nasty surprises waiting for me that time.
Lovely to see Caroline from Amazing Face doing the hair and make-up as I walked through the door; always a sign that things are off to a cracking start, and it all kept rolling on with the other suppliers through the day (there’s a list of them all at the bottom of this post if you want to see who did what). Absolutely beautiful work as ever and Alex just did not stop beaming through the whole day. Also now is as good a time as any to draw attention to that incredible dress courtesy of Minster Bridal Boutique, another big favourite of mine.
Highcliffe Castle was looking perfect in the Summer sunshine and all the guests were soaking it all up, along with the shots which Tom was dishing out to everyone as they arrived. They’ve got a really nice system here were the bride kind of ‘pre-arrives’ and can enter the building from the other wide for the meeting with the registrars, before then getting back into the car and sweeping round to the big stone staircase and glass doors leading through to the ceremony room. All that means that you don’t have the last-minute panic that can sometimes happen when everyone is trying to guess how long they can stay outside before going in to take their seats, and risk still being there when the car pulls up.
And then it was time: Tom stood down at the front waiting for Alex to walk down the aisle on her father’s arm. I always love this moment from a photography point of view, and lucky me; I’ve usually got the best seats in the house to see it from…
Such a beautiful place for a reception. As if the sense of occasion being out on the lawns in the shadow of the castle isn’t already enough, everyone then gets called to the great hall for the wedding breakfast and this room really hits the mark if it’s a bit of grandeur you’re after. (The party room is a good one too!).
On the other side of the wedding breakfast, speeches and cutting of the cake I was able to whisk our couple away for a few moments to catch their breath away from all the crazy, and head down to the beach for some portraits as the evening light faded to gold. I’ve always loved this beach (perhaps the staircase up the cliff a bit less) as having grown up on the other wise of the Forest this is the first spot as a kid that you get to enjoy a proper sandy beach. Southampton Water’s not exactly famous for them. It only seems to have got more beautiful over the years, and once all the day visitors have moved on you’ve got it pretty much all to yourselves or couple shots. Unless that is all your family decide to come down ten minutes after you to see what you’re up to! Anyway, we all managed to get back up there and into the party room to kick off the evening’s celebrations eventually and having seen how they kicked off I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still going on as I type…
So there we go. Another gorgeous day, another gorgeous couple… how lucky am I to do this for a living! Huge congratulations to Alex and Tom – I can honestly say it was a total pleasure to get to know you both and capture your day for you. I hope this selection of images gives a decent account of just how awesome it all was.
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Making it happen…
Venue: Highcliffe Castle
Makeup: Amazing Face
Hair: Hairy Cactus Bournemouth
Dress: Minster Bridal Boutique
Flowers: Simply Flower
Catering: Merlins Catering
Cake: Karen Cake Couture
Band: Ubermeister Party Band
If you are currently planning your Highcliffe Castle 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!