Chris Woodman Photography

An exclusive & affordable experience from a creative Basildon wedding photographer. Delivering artwork & leaving lasting impressions for generations

Near disaster as 15th Century Church closes after ceremony with my equipment inside!

Quite the headline for this blog right? Well first let's go through how the morning unfolded before we get to what happened at the 15th Century Essex wedding venue - St Clements Church.

Originally we had planned to cover the groomsmen back at the family home nice and early in Benfleet before I made the short trip to Leigh on Sea to photograph the bride. The couple changed this at the rehearsal so I had more time with the bridal party which turned out to be really good fun. I began the day at the West Cliff Hotel just a stones throw from the famous Cliffs Pavillion. The spacious rooms with stunning views allowed for some gorgeous images for the couple to cherish and with the weather clearing up nicely, we were able to explore the surrounding areas to make the most of their chosen starting point.

The west cliff hotel
The bride on the balcony

I had planned days before so I knew where I wanted to take the party. We worked our way down to an area I found really interesting with large concrete pillars and great views of the Casino down below. After taking several shots which completed the getting ready section of their day,  I decided to stay ahead of the game and leave for the Church to photograph the groom for the first time.

Parking was quite difficult most days around the Church but particularly on a Saturday so I had to ask a resident if they allow me to park on their drive whilst I photographed the wedding. They were really nice about it & the day continued. The morning rain had cleared up and everyone eagerly awaited the arrival of the beautiful bride. I just remember getting into the drivers seat of the brides car, looking back and seeing an incredibly proud father gazing at his emotional daughter - a lovely moment now immortalised :)

Father and bride in car

So after clearing her eyes, the bride was ready to meet her future husband down the aisle. He remained fairly calm and I wouldn't mind betting that his earlier trip with the lads down the local pub contributed to this ;) ........ you can't blame him can you ?

We had all kinds of emotions during the ceremony & it was beautifully carried out by the welcoming priest at the church.

bride walking down the aisle
groom looking at bride
bride and groom laughing
official portrait

Now this is where the "fun" started if you can call it that! I had arranged to take a few group shots (4 in total) just to the left of the church and on the small patch of grass that had thankfully dried after the morning showers. I had assumed that during this time, the church would remain open until such time that we had vacated the area. My equipment had been left just inside the entrance to the church during the proceedings and had been locked inside whilst I had been taking the group shots. Everyone had packed up and gone home within what must have been 20 minutes of us leaving the church.

You could say I was having kittens when it dawned on me. How would I photograph the evening reception? what will I miss now all the guests are heading off to the Arlington ballroom? Well.....I have to say that I had THE best help possible by way of the bridesmaids on the day. They really were amazing and they had found an emergency phone number on the door of the church which (after a series of left messages) had managed to get through to a volunteer who had a key and subsequently made it possible for me to retrieve my equipment.

I was back in the game! I rushed to the reception just 6 minutes from the church and I hadn't missed anything after all that. I still had time to take some lovely images of the couples well thought through and beautifully decorated room before the guests entered.

From here on in, the evening flowed with live music, a touching, surprise song from the brides father to his daughter & a quick 10 minute breather across the road and into the nearby park where I had planned some alone time shots for the couple before we ended the evening with their first dance.

father singing to daughter
couple shot showing wedding rings
live musician
First dance

So a happy ending to a nervy moment at Essex venue St Clements church. A big thank you to all that helped me that day and a special thanks to Terri & Stuart who allowed me to be part of their big day :)

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Thanks for reading guys!

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