Shameless opportunity to invite you to open a post, appallingly so, or is it? Well, no, not entirely. Andy Murray did indeed get married to Hannah at a venue called The Vineyard at Stockcross in Berkshire and it was over the summer during Wimbledon fortnight too. But this isn’t the Castore wearing, Head Graphene wielding Scot you may immediately associate with the moniker. Our Andy in this story does indeed sport a kilt and there were famous folk around him at the venue, although they were taking a break during filming of a certain celebrity food show, not the kind able to serve up 135mph woollen covered rubber balls over a 3 foot 6 inches high net. This, as you have by now worked through, is a different flavoured A.M. While we’re talking doubles (note a top spin return to tennis references) there are two notable quality Vineyard hotels in the world; one located in the shadow of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, and one firmly established sixty miles west of London, famed for its links to a Californian vineyard with a Michelin starred heritage and known to be a watering hole for those in the know who like their luxury and privacy away from the ‘familiar’ English country hotels. You come to The Vineyard because you like your food and wine, period. If I’m doing any disservice to the other reasons you may stay, such as luxury accommodation, spa and service, then I apologise – but truthfully this is a place where your top trouser button can and should easily feel like it has tightened just a tad following a stay. I’ve eaten here professionally, if being fed whilst photographing counts as professional consumption and I’ve eaten and stayed as a guest. I’m yet to report less than satisfactory movement on the top trouser button. There you go, the kind of down to earth good grub guide you won’t get from those fancy food critics who consume a thesaurus as they chase Ambrosial adjectives. Of course a wedding isn’t just about food, so here are some of my favourites from Andy and Hannah’s Vineyard wedding, from start to finish. Or game, set and match, if you will.
Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire has a long and winding road, both literally like many English country piles and equally historically. This place is rich with highly charged historical and showbiz narrative including it being the location for Roxy and Ronnie’s untimely swimming pool exits from Eastenders in 2017; note to brides everywhere not to attempt a midnight dip in your wedding gown! Former owner, William Lamb, Queen Victoria’s first serving Prime Minister has an unfortunate but intriguingly racy Wiki entry for the period of his ownership. Lady Caroline, his wife, infamously dallianced with one Lord Byron, the English romantic poet. During a banquet held for Byron at Brocket Hall, the lady of the house had herself served from a large silver dish, naked – much to the embarrassment of PM Lamb, who was known to entertain the Queen at the house quite often. I am assuming this was a banquet not attended by royalty. As a wedding venue, Brocket Hall is one of those list tickers in terms of grandeur and grounds and if ‘meandering river running through said grounds’ is also on that account of wishes, then strike that one from your directory too. If you want dreamy Englishman’s castle, it’s perfect. And so here we are for this blog posting; an American bride and expat now Californian groom celebrating the start of married life in one of the south’s more cherished Pillars of Quaint. For my photographer friends who listen to the FujiCast podcast, I’m happy to share that the following wedding pictures are all shot on the superb Fujifilm X-T3.
Wedding planning by Susie from the incredible: Revelry Events
At bedtime tonight my eldest asked what I thought he’d need to do to become an F1 driver. “Well now,” I thought. “At least we’ve moved on from YouTuber.” So I suggested the first thing that came to mind. “Press ups or a long plank,” I said. “Well, F1 drivers have to be fit don’t they?” He then outplanked me by a whole minute. He’s into cars is my eldest, has his own Instagram channel about them and all that jazz. So when I rolled up to the wedding of Dan and Sofia and found a near perfect condition Shelby Mustang GT500 as old as me, with Carroll Shelby’s original signature above the glove box trim as the ‘bridal transport’, I knew it was a story I could take back to our Jack. Hence we start this wedding blog post in rather unlikely fashion; a picture of a car. No emotion, bar the connection that Sofia, our bride, adores heritage muscle. And so does her Italian family. Italians ooze style and whilst I was surprised to see the Mustang horse emblem chosen above that of the Italian one that rides aboard a Ferrari, I have to admit, of all the cars I have seen at weddings, this one, this one, is the artistic automotive version of Night Watch or Guernica. But what has all this to do with a wedding at Cain Manor, I hear you ask? Passion. Italians are the living embodiment of the word. Italians embrace differently. Italians love differently. Italians dance differently. Lunga vita alla differenza.
The Ritz, London. One of the most famous hotel landmarks in the city. There aren’t many venues, and particularly ones catering for weddings, that can boast a Royal warrant for banqueting services. Well, The Ritz can. The Ritz it seems, can and has done many things. It’s an hotel that qualifies as a must visit place for callers to the capital and there are few famous eateries where the look of disappointment can be judged more markedly, than the discouraged expression on a casual visitor’s face, turned away at reception because they didn’t know a forward reservation is most certainly required for simply taking afternoon tea. And it’s probably worth noting that; ‘Proper attire for tea is a must.’ The Ritz famously refused to serve Mick Jagger tea because he wasn’t wearing a jacket and tie. Churchill, Eisenhower and de Galle met exclusively in the Marie Antoinette suite to discuss operations during WWII. I learned this fact whilst sat in that same suite at the wedding you’re about to view. I was eating a five star banqueting Bolognese practically sat in the place Winston is pictured holding court with world history’s most distinguished. It’s even possible I was sitting in the same chair. Certainly plausible. And now, with but a week to go to Christmas Day in 2018, I was photographing a different historical story. This one may not necessarily receive a Wiki entry, but it made news in the show jumping arena as international show jumper Ricki Hill, married business and life partner Charlotte. Winter weddings produce a very different type of photographic experience. This particular day was raining, raining a lot. To use a northern colloquialism; raining stair rods. We did venture outside by the hotel’s Arlington Street entrance. I say we; I stood in the rain, whilst my new friends Charlotte and Ricki smiled sympathetically in my direction. Thank heavens for water sealed cameras! This being The Ritz though, the hotel itself is enough to qualify as a landscape in which to photograph. Here are a few chosen pictures from the day. A December Ritz Hotel wedding.