Wedding Photography at St Martin’s Church, Caerphilly
A Victorian Church at the Foot of Caerphilly Mountain
St. Martin’s is a large Victorian church designed in the neo-Gothic style. It stands at the top of the town, very close to Caerphilly Station. Built in 1879 it is striking if somewhat imposing in appearance. The church is the perfect setting for your religious wedding ceremony if getting married in Caerphilly.
Fr. Mark – Rector in the Benefice of Eglwysilan & Caerphilly
I make a point of introducing myself to the officiant at every wedding I photograph. Whether the registrar for civil marriages or vicar or priest, it’s essential to introduce myself and reassure them that I shall remain low-key and observe the sanctity of the occasion.
I found Father Mark to be very approachable, likeable and fully invested in making the wedding day as memorable and personal as possible for the couple. Not all rectors are as easy-going, and it is good to find one in Caerphilly where I now live.
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St Martin’s Church Wedding Ceremony & Vows
A wedding ceremony at St Martin’s lasts about 45 minutes, including hymns, readings and a personal address from the rector. It is the perfect length as far as wedding photography is concerned. It’s long enough to capture a wide variety of shots, but not too long that the guests (including the children – see photo below) start to get restless. Children are positively welcomed at St Martin’s Church, and the website states, “...if they make a noise, we are glad because we know they are there!“
St Martin’s Church in Caerphilly: Photographic Rules of the House
There is only one strict rule that Father Mark insists upon whilst photographing a wedding at St Martin’s church:
No flash photography!
OK, that’s not strictly true – flash is allowed but only outside of the ceremony itself. It’s a standard rule for churches and is understandable. I can see that a photographer flashing away (so to speak!) may be distracting both for the rector and the couple, and I’m pleased to abide by this. However, by the very nature of their design, churches are dim in spots. St Martin’s benefits from the large stained glass windows, but these are set back from where the action is taking place. Sparingly using a little bounce flash may produce slightly more striking images, but a good professional wedding photographer will deal with this. Conversion to black and white helps as the images brighten more effectively in the edit – there is no colour to consider, just shadow and light. Compare the above and below photos.
The main thing is that your photographer can move discretely throughout, enabling them to capture a more diverse set of images. Father Mark allows them to shoot from the chancel, which means that I may photograph them from the front and the back and side. This is great for the capture of expression and glances between the pair.
There is one more rule that the priest announces at the start of the service. That’s is a polite request from Father Mark for guests not to take photographs during the ceremony.
After the Ceremony & the Register Signing
After they are married, the couple are guided into the vestry to sign the Caerphilly marriage register. Father Mark seemed to give Emma and Alex a little time alone which was a nice touch. I took that time to photograph the wedding guests and caught the little fellow above having a walkabout.
Father Mark told me that I could photograph the signing but not a close up of the register. I always welcome this as the photos end up being much more natural and less staged, which is what reportage wedding photography is all about.
Exiting St Martin’s Church as Husband and Wife
Finally, there is a final address from the rector, and the couple walk back down the aisle together with their guests looking on. Cue another sequence of shots for the wedding album!
At the door, I ask them to pause for a moment. I shoot everything with the camera on manual so frequently adjust the settings for the changing light. When I’ve set up for the change in light between the dim church interior and daylight, I beckon the newly-weds out to take the very first pictures of them outside as a married couple. At moments like these, I realise what a privilege it is to do what I do. I try never to lose sight of that!
Wedding Day Congratulations Outside the Church
Time constraints outside the church do not limit the couple. Unlike register office weddings, theirs will not be followed by other weddings, so there is ample time for them to greet and talk to all of the guests as they leave through the porch doors. It’s a very special time, and I set about capturing as many shots with as many guests as I can squeeze in.
Wedding Confetti at St Martin’s Church, Caerphilly
Confetti is allowed but away from the church on the path leading to the road outside. It’s underneath the trees in the below photo, so the light is not ideal. At Emma and Alex’s wedding, we chose to set it up later on at the reception venue as it was threatening to rain.
Further Info>> How to Approach the Confetti & Congratulations Photography.
Posed Wedding Photographs
There is also plenty of time for any posed group and couples photographs that you require. St Martin’s church does provide plenty of attractive backgrounds for these, but I start at the porch door, as this is where the bride and groom both enter separately and then exit as a married couple.
After any posed group shots, it’s a good idea to ask most guests to move on to the reception venue where they can relax with a drink and canapés. I then spend 10-20 minutes with the newly-weds to capture their couple portraits without everyone making them feel self-conscious by watching.
Moving On to the Reception Venue
There are a couple of options as to what to do on leaving St Martin’s. Emma and Alex toyed with the idea of having some photos on Caerphilly Mountain but decided against this. So your photographer could travel with you to take pictures elsewhere such as on the mountain or at Caerphilly Castle, or you could go directly to the reception venue and join your guests. Either way, after an exceptional service and wedding ceremony with Father Mark at St Martin’s Church, you are well set to enjoy the rest of your day…
Parish Church of St Martin,
3 St. Martin’s Rd,