Anybody who has caught even the smallest glance at Walcot Hall can tell exactly why so many couples fall in love with the place. There really isn't another venue anything like it in Shropshire, and you would be hard pressed to find another like it in the country. This was my second visit to this very special place and I was SO excited to be back!
The estate sits quietly on a hill at the end of a long tree lined bumpy driveway and across an enormous lake nestled in the tiny village of Lydbury North near Bishops Castle, and it really is a hidden gem. There's something incredibly magical about the unkempt wildness of this grand country house and gardens. Nothing is quite perfect, and that really is part of the charm. A house full of trinkets and mysterious objects with paint peeling off the walls, a beautiful blue ballroom across the courtyard that just screams 'WOW', and acres of gardens you can easily get lost in, and to top it all off, an uber cool chapel in the woods.
It's all a bit Beauty and the Beast, and the house feels alive with mystery and intrigue.
When I met Kerry and Fraiser a few months before the big day, I was slightly surprised to discover that despite all of this, the incredible scenery and endless photo opportunities, the couple weren't at all interested in having their pictures taken. All they wanted was for me to stay in the background, shoot away for the whole day, and naturally capture exactly what was happening with as little posing as possible. As I got to know this fantastic pair a little more, I could see exactly why they wanted such a relaxed approach. Never before have I met a couple with less of a pretentious attitude, informality, or a more unadulterated child-like joy as these two. They were getting married, but really all they wanted was an enormous party to celebrate the love they have for one another, and it was glorious. Kerry wore sensible white walking shoes and a simple elegant gown, no make-up or professional hairstyle, just a big bouquet of beautiful blooms and later on a flower crown, and she looked naturally gorgeous. All the decorations were simple but effective, letting the venue do the talking.
It became clear from the incredible variety of people they chose to spend their day with that they were good, kind, open-minded and loving people. Guests had come literally from all over the world and from all walks of life and it was amazing to hear so many different languages. And best of all, EVERYONE was up for dancing the night away, both young and old. The first dance to The Proclaimers '500 Miles' where Kerry and Fraiser leapt, jumped and spun eachother around the ballroom with gay abandon was just brilliant!
There were too many special moments to mention, like Fraiser's face as he saw his bride for the first time, a family member playing the concertina as Kerry made her way across the gardens, guests bursting into song and rocking at the grand piano, it was an unforgettable day that touched my heart.
But my own personal highlight, which for me really summed up the day, was this line in Fraiser's speech.
"There are so many terrible things happening in the world, but just for now in this moment, know that we are all here because of love, and the love I have for this woman...and that life is good".
Needless to say, I cried.