Real Wedding – M&S’s wedding at Clearwell Castle

by | Feb 11, 2021 | Real Weddings | 1 comment

These two wonderful guys approached me at a wedding fair to discuss their photography. I was smitten in about 10 minutes and knew I wanted to shoot their wedding! I mean, what not to love? Two handsome guys, with clearly great taste and a breathtaking castle wedding… how could I not want to shoot this?!

Wedding with two lovely grooms at Clearwell Castle, Gloucestershire.

I have talked about the benefits of a DIY wedding before, but sometimes, when you are both already busy professionals, you can save yourself a lot of bother. That was the case for these two, both already busy with their respective careers and they left some of the more intricate planning details to the venue itself. They were both certainly creative and had their own ideas which they inputted perfectly, they whole day felt dignified, relaxed and very luxurious in feel.

Driving to the castle

Probably not something I should blog, but it is the truth and the reality of being a busy wedding photographer, so… I had a wedding in Essex the day more M&S’s, a huge wedding which had been due to finish at 9pm and actually finished at nearly midnight. I have done enough weddings to fully grasp how often I will finish late despite best intentions, so I had prepared and left my second shooter Gosia to finish the Essex wedding, whilst I did the 5 hour drive down to Gloucestershire armed with audio books and iced coffees.
I actually love driving (handy when I do weddings all over!) and made it my hotel in time for a good nights sleep, waking refreshed and enthusiastic about the day ahead and heading down to the castle after brekkie. I checked in with the guys first (who were busy with last minute details), then had a chat with Charlotte, the brilliant co-ordinator to ensure we had all our timings correct, then off for a wander around the grounds to find the best spots for later in the day. Clearwell Castle was built in 1728 and boasts 20 acres o f gorgeous grounds to explore, plenty to shoot and plenty for the guests to discover.

The morning of the wedding
The grooms had decided to get ready at the venue, something I always think is a great idea. They picked rooms nice and close together for their close family and wedding party members, which resulted in delightful hustle and bustle between the corridors and rooms and they all got ready. M&S gave each other gorgeous, personal gifts and then got themselves looking dapper, whilst their ‘groomsmaids’ finished their own preparations.

The Ceremony 

The ceremonies at Clearwell take place in their church-like ball room, huge ceilings and beautiful windows mean very little additional decoration is required. They were given away by their mums, which I just loved and proceeded down the aisle by the beautiful groomsmaids. M&S chose to have the traditional registrar service to conduct their ceremony and made it more personal with some special readings and a four-piece orchestra. M is incredibly creative and used his considerable talents to create the artwork for the wedding, including the beautiful orders of service available to the guests.

The Reception
These clever grooms selected about the perfect amount of group photographs, meaning they were all completed in about 15 minutes. This left plenty of time for everyone to just relax and enjoy themselves. I am always a fan of a minimum of 2 hours between the ceremony ending and the wedding breakfast starting as this always seems to create a well balanced day for the couple and guests. So group shots completed with minimal incidents, I stole away with the guys for a few minutes after everyone had enjoyed some drinks and games on the castle lawns.

The Reception and wedding breakfast

The ballroom had been transformed by the time the wedding breakfast was called. Elegant, classic and not over-stated, it really is a beautiful space. M&S dotted personal items around the room and gave their guests a beautiful designed and personalised candle as favours and the meal was delicious! I was famished by this point and inhaled my own generously provided dinner to get back out in time for the speeches, each of the grooms best-ladies performed a speech about their respective grooms and the usual fabulously amusing facial expression ensued.

natural wedding family photograph in buttercup fields

Wedding Party
I know many photographers like to get the groups shots ‘out the way’ as early as possible and I generally do concur with this (so much easier!). However, the exception to this is the wedding party, I love to do these after the meal for a few reasons, everyone has usually had a drink and dropped some formality by this point and are usually up for my ridiculous suggestions “chair fight?!” and suggesting their own.
I loved how M&S had thought about everything and even brought along some smoke bombs to add to the fun! More commonly used in the colder and darker month, but they can be great additions at any time of year, I have a little about these options in my winter wedding blog.

The Couple Shots
M&S did have some specific ideas about what they wanted from their wedding photography. We had discussed these in detail beforehand, so that I could work out the best opportunities to achieve them without wasting any of their wedding day traipsing around the grounds. I never like to take the couple away from the wedding for too long, not in one go anyway, preferring instead to sneak away with them for just 10 minutes or so at a time, this works so well…. allowing us to move into a different direction each time, take advantage of the changing light, keep smiles fresh and ensure they don’t miss out of any of their own wedding day! After we took the ones that the grooms had wanted, I got to play and be a bit creative and cannot thanks these guys enough for going along with it!

Sparklers and Fireworks

M&S wanted to make sure that the day felt amazing for them and their guests the whole day through and arranged some entertainment for the evening in the form of sparklers and fireworks! You can find my blog on this type of wedding addition HERE as there are some precautions it is sensible to take. This was the perfect way to begin the evening portion of their wedding and the guests had an amazing time creating a sparkler filled ‘tunnel’ for them to walk through, producing lots of laughter and some great shots. Topped off with a spectacular professional fireworks display in the castle grounds!

The Evening

Downstairs to the Celler Bar for the evening celebrations. More personal touches greeted the guests, with a photo booth, cupcakes and a saxophonist to play the couple on to the dance-floor. M&S didn’t want a full first dance (a popular option among more and more couples), they instead did just a few moments on their own before summoning everyone else to join them… they didn’t need to be asked twice!


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