Young at heart lovebirds Dave and Sue were looking for a Yeovil wedding photographer for their wedding day at Sparkford Hall. They contacted me pre-covid and in the run up to their wedding there were lots of changes and nerves shattered. After photographing their Yeovil wedding, I asked them about their wedding day at Sparkford Hall and their experience of using Moment Photography.
How did you both meet?
Sue: We met online. 16 years ago I think it was, 16 1/2 years ago. It was one of those dating websites; Dave’s beaming face was shining out at me, it was my last night on the app or whatever it was because the subscription had run out and I thought “I’m not doing this anymore.” So I thought I would just try one last time, I won’t read their profile, I’ll just go for someone who looks fun.
Dave: That was me!
Sue: And there was Dave having consumed a large amount of Sambuca, I think just before he took the photo.
Dave: Sambuca smile. That swung it for her.
Sue: Dave was in Bournemouth and I was in Yeovil at the time, and yeah our courtship was conducted between those two places.
Dave: We continued our courtship online and texting for a while and then we first met up physically in Shaftesbury.
What was in your mind when you were looking for a Yeovil wedding photographer?
Sue: We wanted someone who would take the more informal shots and not do things that would look heavily posed or really lined up and formal.
Dave: When we came to see you and sat down in your lounge, you showed us your portfolio and that was the sort of thing we were looking for basically. Something more relaxed rather than just posed or formal.
Sue: We could tell from your website that you did that kind of thing and also we wanted someone who was free on the date [she laughs].
What convinced you to book me?
Sue: I think it was that and you were really quick to respond to the things what we asked, because we did ask quite a few photographers and we didn’t get a reply from some people. And meeting you, we felt quite relaxed with you and thought that you seemed quite fun as well as very professional. It was just the right combination.
Describe how I took photos of you on your wedding day at Sparkford Hall?
Dave: I think there were two sorts of photographs, those that were posed ones in the garden, which I think you organised very well. You told people what to do in a very nice sort of way. You weren’t being dictatorial, but they knew that you wanted them there.
And then there were the second type of photographs, we didn’t even know you were there because all of the photographs you’ve taken, we didn’t know what angle you were taking, this is in the hall, the dining room whatever. Honestly I didn’t even know you were there half the time.
Sue: Yes very unobtrusive. Quite a few guests have actually commented without us asking, how fun you where, what a great sense of humour, you know a great laugh, and really liked you. My mum said that she heard someone chuckling behind her, she turned round and it was you taking the photos and chuckling as you were taking them. So yeah you just fitted in seamlessly. It’s difficult herding people sometimes with the formal ones, but you did that really well.
How did Covid affect your plans at Sparkford Hall?
Dave: How long have you got?!
Sue: We were a week out of the wedding happening when lockdown happened. we had to rearrange everything, and we went for a year hence thinking it would not happen then. And luckily everyone came with us, all the things we booked.
Dave: So 21st of March Sparkford Hall phoned us up and said you can’t have your wedding.
Sue: And so it was just trying to figure out you know how to hold onto our money and our booking, you know and make sure it could all happen. We were moving house at the time. We packed it all up in boxes and left it at my mother’s. I lost weight, so I had to have my dress taken in by the time it actually got round to happening.
Dave: I didn’t lose weight!
Sue: Yeah, so then we kept trying to find the soonest day we could, and of course they kept getting shut down. It was just on tenterhooks all the time because every time we thought it might happen, you didn’t dare believe it would happen because it got shut down so many times. And then Sparkford Hall just before the real event, they came back to us and said they “don’t think it can happen because we are not allowed to do a ceremony inside.” This was about two weeks before the July date, and they said “it has to be an outdoor ceremony and we are not licensed to do an outdoor ceremony,” so yet again there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, I’m just trying to line up all the ducks every time we thought it might happen.
Who were the flowers by and what have you to say about them?
Sue: That was Paul and Helen Stickland at Black Shed Flowers in Sherborne. They actually grow all the flowers on site, so like two weeks before the wedding I went and walked around their acres and picked the flowers that we wanted for the arrangements; it was amazing. Any that we didn’t have because it had been such a wet season (there was some that I wanted in particular, big, big heads) they bought in. But in general because we like to the more natural look, the foxgloves, all of that, grasses, they came from these acres they’d got at Sherborne.
They were incredible because they took on board the sort of wedding we wanted and how informal it was. The decoration we had in front of us on the top table, they called the ‘wild meadow’ and the little ones going down the table, they were ‘mini meadows.’ They just kept it really informal and just wild looking. My bouquet as well, very informal, just such beautiful colours. And of course they were told that it had to in some way match my hair as well, which they did perfectly.
They delivered to Sparkford Hall, all the men’s buttonholes, the ladies’ corsages…
Dave: I don’t know whether you noticed Ross, but on the mantelpiece and also on the piano in the barn there was one of my old boots, one of Sue’s old boots, one of my Stella (beer) arrangements.
Sue: I had a large jar full of champagne corks from champagne bottles that we have drunk on special occasions because I keep those.
Dave: She says “we,” but actually it was Sue who drank it!
Who was the cake by and what have you to say about them?
Dave: it was a fantastic cake, fandabbydozy, we couldn’t of got a better cake, because we made the bloody thing.
Sue: We made that probably January 2020. Then I iced it and decorated it, so that was a home-made affair.
Dave: It’s been in storage for about a year.
Sue: It’s full of alcohol so it was never going to go off.
Who was the Wedding dress by and what have you to say about them?
Well the dress was by a number of people. I’m going to give the credit to a lady who lives in Podimore called Ellen LeBrun, Who when I lost weight, she almost redesigned it; she did lots of bits and added to it. By the time she’d finished, it was just perfect! I don’t know if you’ll find a website for her because I think she was word-of-mouth.
Who were a suits by and what have you to say about them?
Sue: We put them together really, the jackets and the top half were from Slaters Menswear. Just off the peg we bought those 15 months before when we thought it was going to be a March wedding.
Dave: With a woollen waistcoat and a tie that had to be done up.
Me: as you can appreciate I’ve been to a few weddings and I’ve seen a lots of suits that look a bit roomy, but they all seemed to fit pretty well. Nice finishing on the edges I thought there was as well.
Sue: We let the men get their own trousers, they were all wearing black jeans and we got them the shoes from eBay I think it was
Why Sparkford Hall and what was your experience?
Dave: It all seemed great when we first met them in September/October 2019
Sue: We wanted a weekend party with a wedding in the middle, so we wanted everyone to be able to stay and just have a weekend in a country house that wasn’t formal, just for fun really because it was a small wedding. So when we looked for houses that could offer that, there weren’t really that many. Sparkford Hall was in the perfect place!
Dave: It was the right amount of rooms.
Sue: Then when we walked into the barn, because my dad was a farmer, and straw bales always make me think of my dad (we grew up with straw bales)….When we saw the barn, that was it, it had to be Sparkford Hall.
So yeah, forget all the bad bits, they kept tipping it forward, they held the date for us.
Dave: They didn’t charge any extra did they for a July wedding.
Sue: Kyle the guy that became the event manager, he couldn’t have done more to help us. The weekend was very comfortable and it all went off very well.
What’s the story with George?
Dave: Again, how long have you got?! I’ll let Sue do this one because George is Sue’s pride and joy.
Sue: I’ve had him since 1995. I’m only his second owner and he’s just part of the family really. I just adore George, I think I have gypsy blood in me somewhere. He just allows us to be footloose and fancy free. Yeah I just adore him so he had to be part of the wedding.
First of all we thought we’d be able to drive him up to the barn door, but then Sparkford Hall changed the access so that was why we did what we did on the day [they did a circuit in George the campervan].
The kids; they’ve all grown up knowing George. When I first had him, they thought it was very embarrassing, but now they think he is really cool because camper vans are cool aren’t they.
Me: Why is he called George then?
Sue: I thought when I saw him, he looked like a George. His numberplate is MNG which obviously stands for “my name’s George.”
We’ve been to the north of Spain, we’ve been down around north of Portugal, all down to France.
I had a pickled egg business before and we used to take him to festivals and events for our accommodation all over the country.
He’s been a workhorse as well as a umm playhorse.
Yeah he’s just got Great character. You kind of become part of this club when you own a Volkswagen. We are in a convoy of I think six Volkswagens at the moment in a lane waiting to get on the ferry and we are all chatting to each other and saying “How are you, how’s your van?”
It’s just a nice thing to have and suits our easy-going lifestyle.
What individual things did each of you bring to the wedding day planning?
Dave: We talked about this last night and we said Sue was the organiser and I was, what did you call me, the gopher?
Sue: It was a team effort, but most of the ideas were mine, although Dave did add to it. He just kind of ran around……
Dave:…. Got things and did things. Sue did all the planning and the table settings, what speeches were going when, the barn dance, the pizza night. So yeah it was basically 80% Sue’s planning I would think and 20% input from me with some muscle I suppose. I did some lighting as well and general dogsbody to be honest Ross.
What was your favourite part of the day?
Dave: Okay for me it was the barn dance when I went Head over heels.
Sue: I think for me it’s difficult to decide between when we sang “I’m a believer” (and everybody joined in signing) that was a brilliant sight.
Me: Can you remind me what the signing was, the reason behind the signing?
Sue: Because we weren’t allowed to sing and it was meant to be a join in where everyone would have sung along to “I’m a believer” and we would have given them the words.
Me: You weren’t allowed to sing?
Sue: No because everyone had to have masks on and singing isn’t allowed in the ceremony. So we thought how can we get around it and still have everyone joining in, and we said “you must be allowed to sign.”
Dave: We had four signs; face, love, believer and mind. So every time that word came up in the song we were meant to sign.
Sue: And everybody did it and Dave and I were looking at everybody sitting and they were all doing it wonderfully and it was just a great sight and I just loved that.
Dave: I think Sue looked behind at one stage and all the registrars were signing as well.
Sue: My second favourite was my brother doing his boozy toast. That was absolutely hilarious, I loved that.
Dave: You’ve got photos of Sue’s sister Sarah doing the wigs.
What was the best part of the speeches?
Sue: Well Sarah has to get a mention doesn’t she, that was brilliant, absolutely hilarious with the wigs.
Dave: And I liked Sue’s bit where, I don’t know whether you picked up on it; Black Adder fans?
Sue gave a couple of quotes, I didn’t know the first one, but my son who was down on the left of me, knew it straight away because he’s just as bad on Black Adder, so he got it before me on the first one, but I got the second one.
Sue: My children, The speeches they did; that was hilarious, where they were talking about my character building escapades, that was funny.
What did you do the next day?
Dave: Got wet!
Sue: Well some people left, but quite a few stayed until the Monday. So we kind of had a lazy breakfast and then we went out walking with I think it was about 10 of us. Went out, just had a walk about in drizzly rain and then came back and had a few drinks. We had so much food left from the Saturday that we had a lovely second meal from it. It was just really a chilled day because everyone was just talking about what happened and relaxing. Sometimes you can leave very abruptly at a wedding, but this was just a nice way to slide out of the weekend.
In hindsight if you could change one thing about your wedding day apart from how Covid affected it, what would that be?
Sue: Well for me it would be that I was probably more excited than Dave ended up being about the entrance music that I walked into. A student in Gloucester had done that for me so I had told him what songs I wanted joined together and then he joined them together in early 2020. They didn’t know about that, I’d been listening to that bit of music for probably the last year and a half and just smiling to myself. Then of course when it happened, I don’t know what happened, it got played a little bit and then it got stopped and then it had to be started again. So the surprise element had gone, so I thought that was a bit sad it didn’t get its full impact that I was hoping for.
What are your honeymoon plans?
Dave: We are in the midst of it.
Sue: We started off with 10 days in Cornwall then a one-way ticket to Europe for three months in George.
The first two nights we have booked in a campsite in Spain just above Madrid. We haven’t booked anything else, we are just going where the wind takes us after that. We would like to get through quite a few countries, so at the moment we are thinking something like Spain, France, Italy, maybe across to Greece on the ferry. Then up to Germany, maybe down to Croatia.
Dave: Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg.
Sue: Anywhere around those places would be very nice.
Me: Either you’ve got lots of language books or you’re going to say “doo yoouu speeak En-gl-ish?“ very loudly and slowly.
Sue: There’ll be a lot of that and I think a lot of sign language, which obviously we can do as long as they say those four words!
Dave: Face, love…
Sue: We very quickly learn the word for beer!
Dave: …. And what the Bill is. We’ve done it before on several occasions, so there is no difference now. We’ve got Google translate if we need it.
Me: Well I wish you all the best on your fabulous adventures.
Sue: Thank you very much it’s been a real pleasure actually Ross getting to know you and we will give you a big shout out when we get a bit more organised in Spain and we have a good look at the photos. We will make sure that we do let people know how pleased we’ve been with the things that you’ve done.