Fairytale Outdoor Tollymore Forest Wedding: Jessica & Charles
Charles and Jessica are one couple that I will never forget. It isn’t every day that you get to photograph the wedding of a couple who live on the other side of the world in the middle of a stunning forest with just ten of their closest friends and family. Before the wedding day itself, I had only ever spoken to Charles and Jessica on the telephone and by email. I will never forget our first conversation as the bride told me all about how they were eloping in the middle of Tollymore Forest Park thousands of miles away from home in the United States. It sounded perfect, and beautiful… and it was.
On the day itself, I met Charles and his best man at the Slieve Donard Hotel in the seaside town of Newcastle in Co. Down. We had a good chat and the boys had a nice pint of Guinness (or two) before Jessica and her ladies came down to meet us in the lobby.
Now, something that is very different from what we do here in Ireland is, that in the US the bride and the groom see each other (and have photos taken with each other) before the marriage ceremony takes place. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it meant that we were all able to head together in the mini-bus off to the beautiful surrounding of Tollymore Forest Park. (Jessica is a big Game of Thrones fan, so she was crazy about pictures in the park itself).
My brief was simple. Four hours of coverage (that was fine, we sometimes do smaller weddings that don’t require a full day of coverage). It was the next request that I was unprepared for, but super excited by: the bride and groom wanted three hours of photographs of themselves. Wow I thought, I just hope we can pull it off… and I think you will agree, we did.
We arrived at the stunning and ornate entrance to the park and all got out – by all I mean me, the mini-bus driver, the bride, the groom and the other 10 guests. We stopped off for a while – guests with cameras in hand and took our time taking some couple shots, some bridal portraits and even a few family snaps. The guests were brilliant and got involved too by helping me out. Some guests held lights, some held reflectors and some even fixed the brides dress. They were fab! Rather than having just Hannah assist it was like having a whole team assist!
Back on the bus we got and it wasn’t long before I shouted “Stop!” to the driver. Out we got again and just had to stop off amoung the blue bells. It was a little trek across the grass, but nobody minded. In these shots the off camera flash was held by one of the group and a blanket placed on the ground so the bride didn’t get her dress wet!
Further on down the road we discovered a beautiful stone bridge over the river. The bride didn’t blink twice when I asked her if she minded stepping in to the middle of the river for some shots on the rocks. This time another member of the party held the lights for me!
Back in the bus and on we went again. This time we were lucky and the driver was able to get us right in to the heart of the park. A place were very few brides would even dare to go on their wedding day. First things first as always, it was time for the boys – so we stopped off, found this great trunk and got some great shots of the boys (all looking very serious!)
With the ceremony fast approaching we made our way to Tollymore’s famous Stepping Stones. I don’t know of any bride ever venturing this far in to the park to have her picture taken on the stones. It was just stunning.
We headed across the river to a quiet and secluded patch of grass among the trees. You could hear the water flowing in the background and the birds overhead. The perfect spot for ‘I do’s’.
After the ceremony it was time for, yes, you guessed it… more pictures with the bride and groom. Jessica and Charles were both fantastic! They just wanted to keep on going and so did I! What a great spot for some really artistic pictures.
This next shot was my favourite from the whole day. A slow shutter speed to get the water moving and the groom instructed not to drop his new bride – we were all set.
Another question I ask a lot of girls is “would you climb a tree?” – there was no question of Jessica not climbing it!
Another beautiful shot lit using an off camera flash and held by another fab member of the bridal party. Now if only they didn’t live on the other side of the world they could help me out more!
So back on the bus we headed to Maghera to a little pub for a spot of dinner. Of course the day would not be complete without a few more pics in this beautiful surrounding and I couldn’t leave until the groom had had a chance to pour a pint of the Black Stuff for himself. A really fab day, so different from what I am used to but one I will never forget, and neither will the couple I am sure.
Graham Crichton is an award winning professional wedding & portrait photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With 10 years of experience and having photographed hundreds of weddings he has photographed weddings all over Ireland, the UK and abroad.
Hannah Crichton is the principal photographic assistant, blogger and studio manager (and other half of Graham Crichton Photography). Hannah and Graham recently married themselves in Ynysybwl, Wales, where Hannah is originally from. Hannah loves “everything wedding"!
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