Annie & John at The Belmond Cadogan Hotel.

A London wedding after a 36 year engagement

When I first spoke to Annie over the phone, I already knew she was a legend. Instantly you could tell that she was funny and friendly. She explained to me that she had been with her fiancé John for 38 years, 36 of those were engaged! Choosing after all of this time to get married in the middle of a global pandemic to some might seem a bit odd, the sort of ‘why now?’ question. But to know Annie and John it actually seems rather fitting. ‘Well why not?!’ is the reply you would get. To hell with tradition. As Annie and John were having a small ceremony of just themselves and their witnesses it was important to them that their photographer felt like a guest, not just someone who had been hired. They invited me to meet them for a socially distanced coffee to get to know me and ask me some questions about their day. Conversation was so easy and it was so lovely to hear their love story from over the years and how they met 38 years ago.

An intimate ceremony in Chelsea

Annie and John had chosen the newly renovated Belmond Cardigan Hotel in Chelsea for their ceremony and wedding breakfast. An absolutely stunning hotel that had just reopened after a four-year remodel. The staff were impeccable and catered to the wedding parties every need, even making sure that I had a glass of water to hand if needed which means a lot! The registrars were some of the friendliest that I have met and super relaxed about where I was allowed to be during the ceremony. Annie and John entered the room together to Jack Johnson’s ‘Better Together’ and after 36 years finally got to say their vows to each other.

A few little surprises…

The ceremony was sealed with a kiss and the register was signed. It was at this point that Geraldine, one of the witnesses, told me that I had to get Annie to the front of the hotel as soon as the ceremony was over because there was a surprise for her. She wasn’t even allowed a glass of champagne…because her sister and her family had come to surprise them on their wedding day. Well instantly I started welling up just imagining her reaction and just thinking what an incredible gesture it was. So, thinking up my best excuse I got Annie and John out to the reception area where there waiting was her family. Face masks and all! I can still hear her laughter now at seeing them and the surprise on her face. It was such a lovely moment to capture and be witness to. The hotel was once again incredible and invited them to join the wedding party for a glass of champagne in the bar as the hotel was quite quiet. There they sat exchanging cards and gifts and reminiscing about times when Annie and her sister were younger. Annie had a picture of her mum and dad in the ceremony on the table so that they were there with her, an incredibly moving touch.

Couples photography in the stunning autumn colours

When the champagne had been drank we were allowed access to the hotel’s private garden. It had been raining from the moment I arrived at the hotel but by some miracle we managed to get a break in the weather to head over and get some couples photographs and some group shots of everyone. The colours in the gardens were absolutely incredible and the perfect backdrop for us. Annie and John were like two teenagers in love enjoying their day together. When we arrived back at the hotel a press conference had been called declaring there would be a national lockdown starting in four days time, they’d done it just in the nick of time!!!

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