Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ashley & Will - St Paul's & Mid Ocean, Bermuda wedding

Ashley and Will had a fairy tale wedding steeped with as much love brimming over the sides as history woven into the very fabric of their day. In the romantic church where they said their I dos, they honoured tradition by standing at the very same alter Ashley's parents and grandparents had stood so many years before, exchanging their own promises of unending love. They longed to have their reception in the family gardens of the bride's childhood home, but with so many loved ones to share in the celebrations, there simply wasn't the space, so the couple stole away after the ceremony to share their first moments as husband and wife in the family home where so many memories have been made before.

I joined the boys first at Marionfield, the fabulous waterfront home the groom's family had rented for the week. The energy there was all a buzz and laughter abounded. How adorable is this image below - the bride's brother was trying to put his boutonniere on backwards - sometimes too many men in one place without a woman's touch is not ideal. Luckily, I was able to help show them the traditional way a boutonniere is worn is with the flower facing out, and not hidden by the cedar sprig, darling a detail as it is!

By the time it was Will's turn, the groomsmen were old hat at this pinning thing.

How dapper does Will look?

This watch was given to Will's grandfather when he retired. Will's father had it inscribed with the birth dates of the three generations of William Josephs, of which Will is the third. And love how there is still space for another date - perhaps the next William Joseph??

Love me some Bermuda shorts...

I then went to join the girls who were getting ready in Ashley's parent's beautiful home. They were all upstairs and everyone was almost ready and all so quiet as they chatted in excited hushed tones - there was something almost dreamlike about it. Ashley's sweet shoes were found online by her mum. The bride knew she wanted to wear flats and these are just so balletic and lovely - like Ashley. She had a six-pence and a threepence slipped inside her shoe for good luck.

I fell a bit madly in love with her dress. Ashley used to be a very serious dancer until her back was injured. She has since had surgery and now takes classes when she can, but doesn't do it as a profession. Nonetheless, everything about her way about her still speaks of dance. She moves in a way that one knows, without having had to ask, that she grew up in a world full of grace, music and pretty flowy dresses. So it only made sense that her dreamy Amsale gown would have layers and layers of delicate flowy tulle, and that sweet little bow at the waist is the perfect detail. I am smitten with the out of focus dreaminess of this image below.

How heavenly is it that Ashley's parents' room just happens to be a lighter shade of the divine sea foam of her maids' dresses - I felt like I was on a movie set - the palette was so perfect.

Ashley is about five inches taller than her mother, so wearing her mum's wedding dress was unfortunately not an option. However, when she saw the photo of this dress online, she knew it was meant to be. The mother of the bride's wedding dress had also had straps made of flowers, so Ashley's ended up referencing hers in a nice way. And just look at her mother's look at seeing her daughter in her wedding dress for the first time - this is why I just adore my job.

The bride's mother and grandmother both sewed pieces of their dresses together to pin inside Ashley's dress as her something old.

Will and Ashley have quite the history of writing to each other. When she spent a year living in Paris, they sustained their relationship by writing almost a letter a day. On their wedding day, they once again wrote letters, and I was lucky enough to capture Ashley when she opened Will's.

Ashley's grandmother loaned her the gorgeous jewelry for the wedding day as her something borrowed. The earrings had belonged to her great grandmother and the necklace was passed down from a great aunt, which her mother's sister, Tina, had also worn on her wedding day.

Hello beautiful hair... Ginny Jessey from Tangles came to the house to create the bride's exquisite up-do as well as the hair of all the girls. Elizabeth Martel from A.S. Coopers also came to do everyone's make up. The bride had had a few traumatic make up trials so Elizabeth was a saving grace in accomplishing the natural look that Ashley was after.

Suzan Sickling did the exquisite flower arrangements, boutonnieres and bouquets. The couple were going for the organic garden look and trusted Suzan's creative talent inherently and were utterly thrilled with the result.

 I photographed Will and Ashley's engagement photos a year and a half ago, and wrote then about their amazing love story and the romantic story behind Ashley's stunning engagement ring. The stone is from Will's paternal grandmother and he secretly had it reset in the most Ashley-esque way without any help at all and surprised her.

The garden was just lovely and lush despite so little rain this summer.

I love the symmetry between these two images. The above photo is of Ashley's grandmother, whom she calls Umma. They both have the flat shoes, the veil, the white flowers.  Isn't it divine that even the maids have such similarly coloured dresses?

The flies kept getting caught in all those layers of tulle and not being able to find their way out so we headed inside. It took a while for all the bridesmaids to lift each layer and get out every last bug - not so amusing at the time perhaps, but probably a fun memory in retrospect!

Ashley's mother studied fine art and so the dreamy painting at the top of the stairs was done by a friend of hers from university - would love to find out who - just adore it.

Some quick family shots on the way to the church. Here with her Umma and Papa, and below with her parents as well. Three generations of St Paul's brides!

Ashley admits that she tends to cry easily so in anticipation of any emotions brimming over, she carried a tissue case embroidered with "tears of joy" for her something blue.

Before the wedding, I had been sent several photos of Ashley's parents and grandparents on their wedding days. There was a famous framed photo of Ashley's mother and grandfather entering the church, and also shots of both her parents, and of her grandparents coming out. Ashley was very keen to get a similar shot as a document of history being made again for the third generation. The door faces west and it was still very early afternoon so I was very nervous as the light was so harsh. Digital just does not have the softness that film has, and is not nearly so forgiving. I have learned much more about light since shooting digital than I ever did when shooting film. I would never normally have had someone look directly into the camera with the sun in their eyes, but in order to capture the same moment, I had to. But it taught me a lesson. That capturing the moment is sometimes more important than good light, for the emotion of everyone is still there, even if the shadows are a bit harsh and their eyes a bit squinted as they stare into the sun.

Ashley's sister, Adrienne, is a very gifted singer. She was nervous on the day because she was fighting a cold, but she bravely decided to go for it and performed anyway. And sounded utterly lovely. I was over at the signing table and was so struck I had to ask who was singing and quickly rushed out to take some photos.

Will and Ashley - 25th June, 2011

Tom and Beth - 13th June, 1981

Peter and Barbara - 16th June, 1955

After the ceremony, while all the family, bridal party and guests headed to the Mid Ocean Club for the reception, Ashley and Will stole away in a horse and carriage to her family's home for some quiet moments together. We only had about 10 minutes compared to my usual half hour so I was a bit worried, but given how gorgeous these two are, coupled with how madly in love, I think we got just what we needed.

Since Ashley used to be a ballerina, we thought it would be fun for her to spin in her dreamy dress. She is so thankful that she and Will knew each other before she injured her back as he was able to see her perform in her prime. And on their wedding day, it was wonderful to capture the expression on Will's face as he watched her, even though she wasn't dancing in the way she used to, he was clearly loving to watch the elegant way in which she moves, and of course I was in heaven capturing the romance of the twirling bride in her gorgeous gown.

After our time at the house, the newly weds hopped in the car with myself and my lovely assistant, and we headed out to Mid Ocean where they joined the celebration. The family were all waiting so we slipped down to the beach to do the formal photos. The light was perfect and the backdrop stunning.

This fabulous table with the to die for centerpiece of wild flowers was the name card table. Sadly, most of the cards had been taken, but I found the most important one still there, partly hidden under the with all the sprinkled bougainvillea.

Juliette Jackson made the dramatic wedding cakes. Apparently, she is the only person left on the Island who makes these traditional Bermuda cakes in gold and silver leaf. The gold one is the groom's cake and is usually a pound cake symbolising wealth. The silver one is for the bride and is traditionally a fruit cake symbolising fertility. Mrs Jackson did a phenomenal job and even made a gluten-free tier for Ashley - a cake after my own celiac heart.

The marquee looked so dramatic with all the glowing paper lanterns, billowy curtains and elegant table settings. I was not actually officially there for the reception as I have my four hour maximum so sadly had to allow the lovely Zeudi Hinds take over to capture the rest of the amazing evening, but I slipped into the tent just to capture a few images of the romantic scene for myself. So happy I did.

Ashley and Will - I so loved our engagement session together when I was really able to get to know the two of you, how you love and who you are. It made the wedding that much more fun and also so much more intimate for me as I felt like I was shooting old friends. You are so blessed in having found each other at such a young age, and grown together. It is rare and wonderful and you are truly lucky. Thank you so much for including me in your historical third generation wedding - I hope my images do the special occasion that it was justice. Happy loving and living for many many years to come. And look forward to seeing you in the years to come when you visit the island. xxxx


  1. So beautiful. You did such a wonderful job of capturing how magical it was.

  2. Incredibly spectacular Sasha...fantastic job! made me cry all over again....

  3. Thank-you Beth for sending me this beautiful account of Ashley and Will's wedding. I dearly wished I could have been on the island at that time to witness your joyous event with that handsome husband of yours..."through the bushes". See you next May!!!! Fondest Regards....Pam (have taken some notes for when it is our turn...although i don't know where i can get Bermudian flowers and beaches here in Nova Scotia:0) Hugs


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