• Ali Bell

Kate & Jez

I often find myself writing about the uniqueness of each wedding I have the pleasure to photograph, some because of the theme, some the story behind the romance or even a tale behind the location, this time though I truly cannot compare any previous wedding or couple. Before I tell the story let me make a note right now, you will search the land for a more selfless couple and family and I am positive you will struggle.

So I was contacted last year by Kate who asked me to photograph their wedding and explained that their whole day was to be used to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK, Kate explained that she asked local businesses for support, had been arranging fundraisers and even planning to run in charity races all in aid of a charity that she clearly held very dearly to her heart. Clearly this was a subject that both Jez and Kate hold very personal and emotive thoughts and ambitions too, and it's not for me to write about, let me assure you though, now knowing this story well, their bravery and commitment to using one of their most precious days to making other peoples lives better should be commended in the highest possible way.

Quite obviously I immediately offered my services to Kate and asked that any charge would be directly donated to their chosen charity, She gratefully accepted and then it was onto planning for the big day! As any Wedding Photographer will know large scale weddings with multiple shots and angles can be tricky at the best of times and certainly alone, and so I was very glad to discover that Kate had also enlisted the help of a second photographer in the shape of Emma, from EP photgraphy and prints. From the moment I spoke to Emma on the phone I knew we would have a great day, and so it was. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her and say what a wonderfully skilled and calm photographer she is, Thanks Em!

I would love to say I didn't feel any pressure in the lead up to this wedding....and that may have been the case until one day I picked up the local newspaper to find a double page spread with Kate and Jez's story all over it! Their story had gripped so many people and by this week, so many fantastic people had donated to their cause. Raffle prizes, makeup, hair treatments...the dress! and so I knew that capturing these moments and telling this story had to be successful. My plan as always was to maintain a very candid documentary style of photograph as possible. At times catching the look of a couple as they gaze at each other can be tricky and require patience, not Kate and Jez...i'll come on to that in a moment or two though.

So the morning of the wedding was here, and on arriving at Kate and Jez's house at 10 o clock, the temperature was already in the mid 20's! absolutely no breeze at all and the sun was high up in the sky, perfect for the happy couple and a little bit of a challenge for me and Em, especially with an array of beautifully ornamental stain glass windows that allowed an array of techni-coloured light streams into the church, this means that getting a steady exposure and focus changes by the second, good fun though.

So the Grooms Men shoot was so much fun! Jez, Carl and Mike were in the mood right from the off and as Kate will see from the images were on their best behavior! The dogs however were a little confused why dad and his friends were bouncing on the trampoline together in their best suits! I really loved the bond between these guys and Carl and Mike were always willing and able to make sure Jez was appropriately dressed and smart for the occasion, although the blood stain he carried to the church on his button hole may have been accidental. I really got a sense of just how much this wedding meant to Jez from this time, not to mention the speech he gripped so tightly throughout the morning!

A few glasses of champers, a game or two of fussball and a quick go on the trampoline and it was off to meet the love of his life at the church. On arrival I met Al the vicar and if he officiated every wedding I ever do again I would be a happy man. He was suitably bonkers but in a brilliant way and clearly ridiculously intelligent, warming and funny. He made us feel welcome and talked us through the service perfectly before hand. I fully appreciate that a photographer could be seen as a bit of a nuisance to a clergy, given that we are snapping away and trying to move around however he was absolutely brilliant and a credit to St Saviours Church in Oxton on the Wirral.

After a short wait, Its a lady's prerogative :) the moment had arrived and the look on Jez's face (seen above) said it all. The beams from the rooftops were replaced with the beams of pride on his face and any lacking light within this amazing building was quickly filled with the radiance of Kate as she made her way towards her man flanked by her father and baby Eloise in her arms, and led by their son Reuben who confidently walked with his head held high. Either side, very proud parents and family filling the rows of antique wooden benches, literally their world in one place, an incredible moment to be part of and capture for them.

The service was one of humor, emotion and happiness, The reverend spoke of the meaning of love and in doing so gave Kate and Jez a period of reflection as they sat side by side listening carefully to his words of wisdom. You don't need to tell these two the meaning of love, the pictures speak for themselves, if you needed any reminder though that look they have in their eyes, that is love. As they exchanged rings and sealed their marriage with a kiss an eruption of applause followed from their faithful family and friends and I truly could not have been happier for them both.

Following the ceremony Kate and Jez held their reception and wedding breakfast at the classy Riverhill Hotel in Oxton, just a short walk from the church and the mood was set with soulful pianist and singer Tony, who had also very kindly offered his services to the cause. It didn't take long to realise just how important family is to these two people, every detail was made to ensure that those in attendance were cared for. The children were entertained with a bouncy castle and a magician, the adults were entertained with a bouncy castle and a magician :) but seriously they go out of their way at every turn to ensure other peoples happiness is of the upmost importance. They even brought a TV from home to ensure guests didn't miss the football!

The speeches gave us an even greater insight into their reasons and passion to continue to offer their support to the cancer research charity. Over the years and in the present both have suffered the pain of caring for a loved one with the illness, both know what it takes raise awareness and what is needed to improve future hope. Kate's parents we were told, have for many years campaigned for charitable causes and in doing so gave their daughter the same ambition and direction that have made her who she is today, well done to you both. Jez made sure every person present was left under no illusions as to how proud he was of his wife and in doing so painted a smile as wide as any that day on Kate's face, even with daughter Eloise desperately trying to play "climb all over mummy" throughout :)

Following the very personal and intimate moments of the speeches by both Jez and the Father of the bride the day times events began to wind down, as thoughts quickly shifted towards their big charity bash in Liverpool. It is vitally important to say also that for all of Kate and Jez's efforts and determination their wedding day raised well in excess of £8,000 for CRUK, an incredible achievement that will most certainly change lives and create many more happy memories, just as they are experiencing today. The sun began to set then behind the amazing tree lined gardens and following the group shots it was time to say my good byes.

In closing I would like to make a point created by one little bit of research I made in the build up to this blog, I quickly googled the meaning of the word "hero" and this is the direct quote copied and pasted, "a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. a hero gives their own for the sake of all others without thought or hesitation"

There we go then, that has me convinced...a couple that have done so much for charitable causes and were willing to give their one big day for the sake of helping others, hero's in my book.

To Kate and Jez and all of your family and friends, thank you so much for having me and I wish you all the very best of luck, love and happiness in the future.


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