Wedding Photographer at Hampton Court House
When I first photographed a wedding at Hampton Court House for Bozenka and Greg’s wedding (above), I was blown away. The venue seemed perfect for wedding photography – the 18th century architecture, the setting but most of all the gorgeous light spilling in through the French windows off Bushy Park. Light is paramount to all photography and is the first thing I look for.
Hampton Court House is one venue that has beautifully diffused light coming in from all sides – especially in the grand hallway. This is where the wedding ceremonies are held and it means that photographers can shoot weddings with a minimum of artificial light.
The moment I saw Bo and her father pull up outside in her hired Rolls-Royce and enter the venue through the large front doors, I knew it would be a fantastic day.
Also, important for any wedding photographer is the ability to move around discretely and unhindered. Hampton Court House provides this ability in spades and the large space meant I could photograph the couple’s marriage ceremony from all angles and utilise the light well to create very pleasing images indeed.
The venue is licensed for civil marriage ceremonies and civil partnerships by the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. The Richmond Registrars are very relaxed about wedding photography and even allow the signing of the register to be photographed.
Read on as I take you through a wedding day at Hampton Court House…
The Preparations and Arrivals
There are rooms available for the bride and groom to get ready or ‘hide’ in if they arrive early. When I arrived for the wedding of Neema and Matthew, she had already arrived and was in a room off the Main Hall adding her finishing touches and keeping out of sight.
Whilst the groom greets guests and at times looks rather nervous yet excited about the day ahead, the photographer will spend their time taking candid shots of all areas. They’ll photograph arriving guests outside, take natural shots of family and friends greeting each other and taking their seats inside, and check on the bride if she’s arrived and is preparing.
Bridal Arrival at Hampton Court House (& Goings On Inside)
There is rarely a more splendid doorway for the bridal entrance than that into the Main Hall of Hampton Court House.
As the car pulls up, I photograph the arrival of the bridal party outside, then as they prepare on the front steps for their entrance. There’s often a good chance for some portraits of father and daughter at this time too as well as any bridesmaids or other friends and relatives present. Then shortly before they enter the building, I nip inside for any last-minute shots such as the one of Greg below.
At the decisive moment, I train my lens solely on the door and wait for it to open and the bridal procession to begin…
The Wedding Ceremony & Richmond Registrars
I always make a point of introducing myself to the presiding registrars before the ceremony starts. I like to reassure them that I shall be discrete and find out any house-rules they have before proceedings get underway.
Happily, I am very familiar with the Richmond registrars and can tell you that they are amongst the most relaxed in the London area. They are very keen that the photographer is able to move around unhindered and have no rules regarding use of bounce flash. The only restriction they imposed is that the register signing is not photographed. This is common.
The front of the Main Hall at Hampton Court House is decked out in amazing floral arrangements and the ceremony takes place around a period table and almost throne-like chairs. These are placed just infront of the central ceiling full-height window which offers pleasing natural light.
Your photographer won’t need to use much (if any) artificial light when shooting at the front of the room.
Wedding Bookings at Hampton Court House
Useful to Know When Booking Your Wedding:
- The house is just 11 miles (18 km) from Central London.
- Head of Events is Emily Fryer. You can contact her by calling 0208 614 0860 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Your legal wedding ceremony must be booked through Richmond Borough Council. Contact them before booking the venue to ensure there is availability on your preferred date.
- The venue has a list of approved caterers. There is a hefty fee if you wish to arrange a different company.
- The venue is exclusively yours for the day.
- For larger weddings, a marquee with a capacity of 500 can be erected in the gardens.
The Register Signing and ‘Dummy’ Setup
As noted above, photography of the signing is not allowed, but there is a blank dummy register provided for some posed shots. I always find this a point of some amusement and self-consciousness and couples’ often ‘ham it up’. I feel this rule is slightly silly as the register is a public document but one has to abide by the rules laid out.
Presenting Mr & Mrs: Exiting Hampton Court House as Husband and Wife
After the ceremony, and they are wed with their certificate safely tucked into a pocket (or given to a friend or relative for safe keeping), the couple walk back down the aisle and exit into the (hopefully) sunshine to enjoy the rest of the day.
I back away towards the door with my camera firmly trained on them as they walk towards me. I always ask couples to take their time at this moment to enable me to take a great sequence as they enjoy their first moments of marriage.
Sometimes I ask them to pause just before exiting to allow me to change the camera settings for the outside light.
Confetti & Congratulations
Sadly, confetti is not allowed at Hampton Court House,but I can understand why. It would be so difficult to clear up from between the gravel on the drive.
Bubbles can make for a stunning visual alternative and are used to good effect in the photos below.
Setting up for the bubbles shots isn’t as seamless as it appears:
The couple exit after their ceremony, then go back inside via a side door. Next the guests slowly exit whilst I try to arrange them into an ‘aisle’ for the couple to pass through. I then ask everyone to blow bubbles and keep blowing until the air is filled enough to look striking in the photos.
Finally, the couple exit into a shower of… BUBBLES! Cue some great wedding photography…
Posed Group Portraits
It’s easiest to photograph any group set-ups as soon after the couple’s exit as possible. Everyone is still pretty much in the same place and the photographer can announce how they’re going to work it.
I ask the couple to provide a list before the day to work from. At Hampton Court House, I usually start at the front of the building, then move to the gardens if they’d like a change of scene.
The Hampton Court House gardens are extensive, and central is a heart-shaped lake – although you probably won’t realise it is heart-shaped. There is also a ‘shell grotto‘, a garden patio, and all sorts of other unique elements that help make the venue so special.
Newly-Weds Portrait Shoot
After the group shots, I steal the couple away for about 10-15 minutes to take some photos around the grounds. This shouldn’t be for too long as there’s guests to chat to and drinks and canapes to be had!
Here’s a few taken at different locations around the house before the couple joined their guests and I concentrated on more natural moments…
Your Hampton Court House Wedding Breakfast
Wedding breakfasts are held in the Great Dining Room, which has the capacity for up to 150 guests seated around round tables. The dining room has a glass skylight ceiling – a photographer’s dream. It meant I could shoot far later into the summer evening without the use of bounce flash. This is off the Conservatory with its bar and which leads out to the patio and gardens.
Your photographer will probably have their meal at the same time as you and it’s helpful if the venue provides one for them. They should ask you if you need any meals for your suppliers but if not, do make sure they are catered for.
After Dinner Speeches at Hampton Court House
After the main course, the wedding speeches are normally held. This is always a fun time where the unexpected can happen, so your photographer should be on the lookout for this. Sometimes the speeches can be long, but from a photographic point of view, that is good to enable them to capture the speakers and reaction of you and your guests from all angles.
Evening Party in the Conservatory
After dinner, the couple and their guests can go through to the Conservatory for the cake cutting and first dance. The dining hall is still available for people to sit and talk if they like.
During dinner, the DJ or band will set up and should be ready for you to take to the dancefloor and dance the night away…
What a wonderful end to your perfect wedding day at Hampton Court House!
Hampton Court House Wedding FAQs
Q. WHY GET MARRIED AT HAMPTON COURT HOUSE?
A. This is one wedding venue that is truly something very special. Round every corner there’s something new and of interest with loads of beautiful backdrops for your wedding portraits.
From your ceremony in the Victorian peace of the Main Hall to your reception in the Conservatory and Patio Garden, a wedding at Hampton Court House will be very a stunning occasion. Look through my page on the venue to see many photos of every space being used on a wedding day.
Q. HOW LONG BEFORE OUR WEDDING CEREMONY CAN WE GAIN ACCESS TO THE HOUSE TO PREPARE?
A. Guests are allowed an hour or more to arrive and there are rooms for the bride and groom to get ready in. Time is never a problem at this venue, but do communicate any wishes and requests to Venue Manager, Dee.
Q. IS PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED OF OUR WEDDING CEREMONY AND VOWS?
A. The London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames registrars are really very relaxed and ‘photographer friendly’ – believe me, some are not! They are happy for your official photographer to move around during the ceremony to take the best shots. They even allow photography of the marriage register signing. Obviously there has to be a balance, and your photographer should also be discrete and unobtrusive. I always try to balance this with getting ‘the shot’ in my approach.
Q. IS CONFETTI ALLOWED AFTERWARDS FOR A NICE SEQUENCE OF PHOTOS?
A. Unfortunately, confetti is not allowed at Hampton Court House, but that’s fine. Bubbles have become a popular substitute and can look quite stunning when there’s lots in the air. Just beware small soap spots on your wedding best!
Q. WHAT IS THE LIGHT LIKE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE THE VENUE?
A. As with most wedding venues, the light varies throughout. But the areas where it counts, (the Main Hall, Great Dining Hall and Conservatory) all have excellent light during daylight hours. Summer weddings will have no problem for the photographer to utilise the natural light. But whatever the time of day or year, a good wedding photographer is adept at working with natural and artificial light to produce a set of wedding photos that you will be proud to show off to your family and friends.
Hampton Court House,
Hampton Court Road,