To My Beloved.

You met, you fell in love and then you got engaged, after which many months of planning the W-day of your dreams ensued. The day was beautiful, the photographs captured all of the magic and the memories to perfection….and before you know it you’re one year on and you would LOVE to do it all again.

Well you sort of can actually.

At least the photograph part anyway. Because along with pre-wed engagement shoots you can now have a post-wed beloved shoot, a way of capturing all the years after the Big Day.

This is the love story of Jude and Dave. He looks like Matt Damon and she has that effortless glamour of a 50’s screen siren. And there is lavender. Lots and lots of luscious lavender.

All of the gorgeous images are courtesy of Lily and Frank Photography.

Jude: We met in London nearly seven years ago through Match.com (see, it really does work!) and got married in May 2010 on a rather cold, wet and windy day at a wonderful venue called “The Swan at the Globe” which is part of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the Southbank in London, overlooking the Thames.

Luckily for us the weather didn’t stop us having the day we always dreamed of; a whirl of friends, family, laughter and much merry making!
The photographs from our wedding give us huge amounts of pleasure and our home is filled with them. They really are one of the only things that keep the memories crystal clear and I am so glad we didn’t compromise when choosing our photographer; Catherine from ‘Lily and Frank’. She is one of the loveliest and most talented people you could ever wish to meet!

Typical for me, I managed to randomly google my way into the wonderful world of wedding blogs only a few weeks before our wedding which completely opened my eyes to what was really going on out there! Don’t ask how I had missed them before, I guess I just wasn’t that into computers or something – god, how old do I sound!

Just when all our own wedding decisions had already been made and the details chosen, there was no time or budget to change anything or incorporate the goldmine of inspiration I had unearthed!

The realisation that there was a whole community of people out there having unique, quirky, imaginative and just darn stunningly beautiful weddings, it hit me like a thunderbolt. Up until that point I had just my trusty folder of clippings from wedding magazines and my own imagination so it was much to my surprise to find our wedding was rather ‘in demand’ as it was featured not only on a fabulous blog but also in my favourite bridal magazine and the venue’s own wedding brochure. I know this sounds sad but since the wedding I just haven’t been able to give up my blog addiction. Weddings, dresses, love, sunshine, flowers, prettiness.. I just can’t stop following them and it’s during the months following our wedding that I noticed a few things.

The concept of engagement shoots had entirely passed me by prior to the wedding but now I was starting to wish we had done it too. Different to wedding photos in many ways, I loved the shots of couples looking happy, relaxed and in the prime of their lives – it would be lovely to have some coupley photos that weren’t grainy snaps taken on nights out or on holiday. Photos that you would be able to show the grandchildren and say; “look how handsome your grandad was in his heyday!”

I came across a few couples that had anniversary shoots, then I read about Beloved shoots and couldn’t get over how relaxed and in love all those couples looked. I was amazed at the closeness and intimacy the photographers were able to capture and so when I saw that Catherine had posted on her blog about getting involved in the Beloved movement I thought, yup, this is it!

I just needed an excuse to be able to go and get those photos that I so desired of me and my man so I made a little list of justification that kinda went like this:
Honey, you know it’s our one year anniversary soon…. and that the gift for one whole year of marriage is paper… and well photos are printed on paper aren’t they?!!
Hmm.. shakey start, but then I followed up with the fact that when we get around to having a family we won’t have a single penny to spend on frivolous and selfish things for ourselves so my final wish before this great sacrifice is to have these photos taken to capture the young, carefree, freshly marrieds that we are!

Dave reluctantly agreed and so I booked up with Catherine straight away before he could change his mind… The shoot itself evolved over the coming months into the retro diner location followed by the glorious lavender fields. It sounds very self-indulgent I know, but because I’d missed out on being inspired by blogs for the wedding I wanted to take some of the bits I loved and apply them to this occasion instead.

The diner was a place that we had been for breakfast a number of times and we loved all the shiny aluminium, the booths, the black and white checked floor and the milkshakes and I knew it would make a fabulous backdrop.

I already had a lovely navy silk prom style dress so I went to town with the red accessories and had the lovely Natasha from “Lipstick and Curls” to do the full vintage curls and red lipstick look to match. My red vanity case is a treasured possession from my nana who was one stylish lady when she was around. I adore these photos, even though we weren’t using Beloved methods here, we both felt very relaxed and enjoying the moment, mind you we were distracted by the milkshakes! It was a great start to a wonderful day.

We moved onto the Mayfield Lavender fields which is a location that Catherine had heard of as being fabulous, one look at their website and I knew it was just the place for us. Since our wedding day weather was so rubbish I had hoped this day could have some sunshine and warmth and we were just about lucky to get some of both. The location was extremely peaceful, private and beautiful which is exactly what you need for a Beloved shoot. I felt we had magically arrived in Provence rather than somewhere just inside the M25!

With a quick change into a summery outfit, we started the Beloved session in earnest and although I don’t want to give the game away as part of the fun and enjoyment is not quite know what you are going to be asked to do, I can assure you the “tasks” are not difficult or hard and you get the option to whisper things to each other so the photographer can’t hear if that suits you more. Some things will take you by surprise but that’s all part of the experience and it gives each photo a story behind it rather than just being a posed couple staying still for the camera. I can remember what he said that made me laugh just like that, or what I said to make Dave go all coy and blush!
I have to say that Dave is a pretty typical bloke when it comes to showing emotion and all things fluffy…

This is the guy that at my cousin’s humanist wedding ceremony, when the congregation was asked to shut our eyes then open them and give a sign to a loved one, I opened my eyes to find Dave doing that ‘hilarious’ school-boy act of flipping someone the V’s whilst pretending to scratch his nose, all the while giggling like a child. You can imagine that it takes something special to get him past that but amazingly this shoot did this and I think he did actually enjoy it!

There are very few occasions in our current busy life where we just sit and talk, completely absorbed in just each other without the distraction of work, TV, iPhones and computers. It’s also funny how you can forget to kiss and touch as much as you used to and these indulgent few hours when we were asked to think just about each other and our feelings for each other makes me feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

Unlike our wedding day, when everything had to fit into a busy schedule and we were all whirly and buzzing about getting back to the party, this occasion was all about taking your time, relaxing, enjoying the calm and having a laugh with your best friend. I think for different couples this experience will bring out different emotions but for us it was a light and happy occasion that we look back to with fond memories in years to come. And we now have “those” photos to show the grandchildren. Apparently Dave looks a bit like Matt Damon in them…. I wonder if they will know who he is!

To all you marrieds out there, do you think a beloved shoot is something you would consider in the future?

How do you feel about capturing every (or any) year of your relationship professionally?

I think these are some truly beautiful images for Jude and Dave to treasure forever…. and definitely show the Grandkids.

Big Fields Of Lavender Love

Charlotte xxx

Author: Charlotte O’Shea
Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
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