Back garden wedding - Hazel & Dan's Powys wedding photography

When we met to discuss their plans, Hazel and Dan downplayed everything to the point that I was literally just expecting a casual garden party with only a smidge of "wedding" about it. What I arrived to was a full blown, beautifully curated back garden wedding that would have looked at home on the pages of a bridal magazine.

The ceremony was held under an archway in the garden of Hazel's family home, which has been painstakingly built over the past few decades by her father, an artisanal wood carver. Personal touches were abundant at every turn, from the hand painted signage to the gigantic (and I mean GIGANTIC) hand carved wooden bowls that held the best wedding salads this veggie wedding photographer has ever seen! 

With the weather having been rather damp in the run up to the day, everyone was very happy to be gifted with a dry day complete with some beautiful evening sun, perfect for some golden hour wedding portraits!

Gorgeous blooms by Anne Whysall Florists; handmade salad bowls by Ockenden Timber; music by Chop Shop.

 

Olivia Moon Photography is a Shropshire wedding photographer offering UK documentary wedding photography, destination wedding photography, festival wedding photography and natural wedding photography.

Shropshire is the place to be... a wedding photographer!

Shropshire is a hidden gem. At a wedding I was photographing recently the father of the bride welcomed guests to the county by saying that he knew most of them “didn’t know where on earth Shropshire was before they came, and half of them still didn’t have a clue where they were.” He was only half joking; when I tell people I’m from Shropshire, I’m usually met with a blank stare. Either that or an exaggerated “Oh, THROPTHIRE” if I’m in Australia (a strange relic from a 1990’s coffee advert, apparently).

So why on earth did Shropshire pull me back to the UK after four years living and loving the long hot Australian summers? Sydney has an incredibly reputation as a hotbed of wedding photography, with some of the worlds best coming from her fair shores, but here I was packing up my life and heading back to 5 weeks of summer a year, unpredictable wedding weather conditions and living with a hot water bottle stuffed down my pants for six months of the year.

Well, here goes:

1.     Unknown equals unspoilt, dontcha know? I’m no city girl. Tried it, got the t-shirt, got fed up of the t-shirt and the city. Shropshire is a remote wilderness by comparison. Sharing a border with Wales, my home county is a dreamscape of rolling green hills, winding country lanes and cosy pubs. This equals plenty of beautiful rural weddings to shoot, which means mandatory welly wearing, wildflower bouquets and frolicking/trespassing in the open countryside.

2.     Family. They’re pretty important, I’m sure you’ll agree, and I was missing out on my family, albeit a tiny one. My gran is an incredible 96 years old, my dad is getting on a bit, and my family of friends has started expanding through the birth of some new small people. Now I get to see my gran three times a week, hang out with my dad on the farm, and be a physical presence in my friends kids lives.

3.     Old things. Australia is a pretty new country compared to England, and as much as I love art deco architecture, I was really missing higgledy piggledy buildings. This feeds into my wedding photography too – Shropshire offers a huge list of stately home wedding venues, and two of them are just down the road from me (Walcot Hall and Garthmy Hall).

4.     Proximity to…well, anywhere. England may be small in comparison to Australia, but she’s well connected! It takes five hours to fly across the breadth Australia, but now I can be in Greece, Turkey or Morocco in that time or less. Tack on two hours and I can be in the USA. A huge part of the reason I became a wedding photographer in the first place was the idea of being able to travel and work – it’s proving much easier to realise my dream of being a destination wedding photographer with the UK as my base, with weddings in Ireland, France and the USA already in the pipeline for next year.

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Incredible Ireland, a wedding photographer's dream

I'm definitely guilty of looking to far flung, exotic destinations for adventure, but Ireland has been on my radar for a long time and so when I was booked for two Irish weddings at either end of April this year I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a busman's holiday (quite literally, as I was travelling in my campervan, Sunny the Wonderbus).

Whether it was the sheer beauty of the place, or the endorphins coursing through my veins as my hyperactive boyfriend pushed me to cycle and walk my way through the most active couple of weeks of my life I'll never know, but it's safe to say that I was pretty emotional; every day something, someone or someplace moved me to tears of happiness.

Rather than write up the whole trip, here are my top ten, in no particular order:

1. The Ring of Kerry. Mind blowing scenery, towering mountains and ancient native woodland.

2. The Gap of Dunloe. We hired bikes in Killarney and caught the boat from Ross Castle to Kate Kearney's Cottage then cycled up to the Gap from there. Not for the faint hearted - the route is steep and winding, but so worth it when you get to the top.

3. The Connemara. Ponies, windswept wild scenery and lots of water. We didn't explore much on the way up, but I was doing the photography for a wedding at Cashel House Hotel, Connemara, so later I explored more and was blown away.

4. Galway City. A vibrant, musical hub with campervan parking right in the centre, perfect! We tried the sessions at Tig Cóilí and Taaffes Bar, both of which were packed with tourists like us, before heading over the river to Cranes Bar where it was much more local feeling and there were incredible sessions going on upstairs and downstairs.

5. Trad session at De Barras, Clonakilty. So many amazing musicians crammed into the bar at De Barras, the friendly locals made sure we knew where the craic was! 

6. Dingle and the Slea Peninsula. I loved Dingle for the colourful houses and the relaxed atmosphere. We parked up overnight on the Marina, and hired bikes the next day to cycle 52km around the Slea Peninsula - it was hard going as we were cycling into the wind for a lot of it, but the views were incredible and we saw a pod of dolphins really close to the shore.

7. Cliffs of Moher. Mindblowing cliffs, and a very very windy walk where I was sure I was going to get blown into the sea. 

8. Baltimore Fiddle Fair. My dad just happened to be visiting Baltimore with friends towards the end of my trip, so I ended up changing my ferry ticket and staying a few more days to catch some of the action at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair - I met some lovely people, incredible musicians and even spotted Jeremy Irons playing a spot of fiddle himself!

9. Matt Molloy's, Westport. Having cycled 42kms of The Western Greenway that day, we were thirsty for a stout and some good music. Everybody recommends Matt Molloy's, owned by its namesake who happens to be one of the Chieftans (a famous trad Irish band). We stumbled upon a huge session taking place, eventually realising that we'd actually walked straight into Matt Molloy's wedding! We were treated to the biggest session the pub had ever seen, apparently, and had a grand old time!

10. The Ring of Beara. Now, I'm not entirely sure that I was technically allowed to drive this in Sunny the Wonderbus  - the road is incredibly narrow and winding, and I'm pretty sure I was over the width and length limit! But I drove in nonetheless, with only a couple of hairy moments and one massively long and challenging downhill reverse. The scenery was incredible and it was well worth the anxiety!

All in all it was one of the best trips of my life, and being able to practise my Irish wedding photography while I was there was such a bonus! I'm hoping that there'll be some photography referrals from my lovely Irish couples, as I'd love to return photograph more weddings over there. Needless to say I'll be back in Ireland before long, as a wedding photographer or not!

Olivia Moon Photography is a destination wedding photographer and documentary wedding photographer shooting Shropshire weddings, Irish weddings, European weddings, Australian weddings and New Zealand weddings.

Cashel House Hotel Connemara wedding photography - Anna & Mark

Anna and Mark's wedding came at the end of a three week adventure up the west coast of Ireland in my campervan (more on that shortly). By the time I reached the tiny village of Cashel in the Connemara, Co. Galway, I had fallen well and truly head-over-heels in love with Ireland, and have to admit I shed a little happy tear when I first set eyes on Anna and Mark's venue, the beautiful Cashel House Hotel.

The hotel was set in abundant gardens, with a plethora of flower-filled nooks and crannies to escape to for our couples portraits, not to mention an atmospheric windswept waterfront across the road. The wedding came at the end of what I believe could be termed as something of a heatwave by Irish standards, and Anna and Mark were blessed with a mostly dry day.

Every part of the wedding was painstakingly considered to make sure it all had a personal feel, from their close friend leading the ceremony, to the hand gathered petal confetti which the couple had been collecting everywhere they went (including their Greek holiday). Guests enjoyed traditional Irish music in the evening, followed by a playlist put together by Anna and Mark - it must have hit the spot because the party was in full swing as I ducked out!

Suppliers as follows - Makeup: C Beauty with Fiona; Hair: Helga Kampff at It's Fabulous; Flowers: Yes Flowers (hair flowers by the Bride); Dress by The White Room

Ireland wedding photography by Olivia Moon Photography. Olivia Moon is a UK wedding photographer, Irish wedding photographer, destination wedding photographer specialising in creative storytelling documentary wedding photography in England, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.