I met Hazel and her mum, Lottie, at a wedding fair back in 2018. We hit it off right away as we ending up chatting about our love for Studio Ghibli films amongst a tonne of other stuff. We simply clicked. Since then we stayed in touch and I had the pleasure of meeting her sweetheart, Paul, and their gorgeous pooch, Kirby. Whilst keeping in touch we arranged their engagement portrait session and discussed all of their ideas for their big day.
The day started off at Paul’s families Airbnb, just in the centre of Norwich. It was a gorgeous space with quirky yet elegant interior design- I wanted to move in the moment I walked through the door. I arrived just in time to capture them putting on the final details of their outfits, as they were all congregating in the living space, having a game or two, with beers in hand and having a good ol’ laugh. Some of the groomsmen really enjoyed being in front of the camera and decided to work their best poses! It was in the small, candid moments where magic happened, like Mark (Paul’s Dad) helped him to put on his jacket and the small, yet meaningful, looks between the groomsmen whilst they were gaming.
Over at the Maids Head Hotel, Hazel got ready with her bridal party. They got ready between two rooms; Hazel was having her hair done whilst her mum lovingly watched and supported her. Her bridesmaids, relatives and friends got ready next door. I have never seen a bridal party be so hands on with helping Hazel get ready. They all gathered round whilst she was putting on her dress and each member had a part to play in making sure her outfit was complete. It was really magical to witness this moment unfolding. As we went down the stairs to go to the taxi, we discovered the taxi had left without notifying anyone. The hotel staff kindly called the taxi people to try to solve the problem, whilst I called ahead to let Paul know what had happened. Some people might have had a meltdown or at least felt sad or angry that this had happened - but not Hazel. In fact, she took it in her stride. Hazel and her bridal party decided to walk to the ceremony venue, strutting through the streets of Norwich as passersby congratulated her and complimented her. One girl said to her mum, “She looks like a princess!” Lottie later expressed to me how much this moment meant to her and how it was really special to walk through Norwich to have so many strangers say such lovely things about her daughter.
Paul was waiting at the top of the aisle with his best man, Theo. They were chatting away and waiting patiently for Hazel and her bridal party to walk down the aisle. The ceremony took place at Norwich Castle, in the Benefactors room which was built over 900 years ago by the Normans (how cool is that?!). Hazel walked in to music featured in Studio Ghibli films, this added a whimsical, magical touch to the ceremony. Lottie provided a beautiful reading which brought a tear to many of the guests’ eyes. After the ceremony, we were greeted by Kirby, who was dressed up and ready to take some pictures! However, he wasn’t so keen for the confetti line and thought that it was a bit too much for him. Once the confetti line was over, we made our way to the location where Hazel and Paul had their first date to take some couples portraits. We slowly made our way to the reception venue (Anteros Art Foundation), stopping along Elm Hill to grab more portraits as more passersby congratulated the two of them.
At the venue, the guests were waiting in the courtyard to welcome the couple. Decorated with Studio Ghibli themed pieces, retro gaming models and objects they had collected from their travels to Japan, the venue truly told their story and love for the Japanese movies and gaming. They even had a chill out room set up with retro board games, colouring books and retro computer games. The food was a gorgeous, vegan Japanese buffet which kept the guests coming back for more! To finish the meal were cute, vegan cupcakes in a wide variety of delicious flavours. Shortly after the meal, I noticed Hazel had taken herself to the chill out room to read through her speech quietly to herself. She explained she felt nervous and emotional about reading it because she felt like certain parts would make her cry. Before long, the guests gathered in the courtyard to hear the speeches by Lottie and Hazel. Both speeches were truly heartfelt and moving, bringing smiles to the guests and lots of happy tears for Hazel too. During the speeches, the evening guests had started to arrive, which meant party time was nearly upon us! The cake was brought out and Hazel and Paul cut it with gusto! They explained to me they had been practicing cutting bread at home to get ready for the main event! I love these two so much! :) <3
We then wandered into the main hall, guests gathered around the sides to watch Hazel and Paul’s first dance. Theo was the DJ, poised and ready to press “Play” when the time was right. It was a really lovely first dance, full of laughs and singing, with a spin or two thrown in to the mix. Once the song was over, everyone clapped heartily. Paul called up his mum, Mary, and danced with her. Moments later, their close family and friends all got involved as they grabbed each others’ hands and danced the night away. I really didn’t want to leave!
There are so many photos from this wedding which I would love to share in this blog post, but I chose challenge myself and narrow it down to just 20 - damn you, Katie! If you would like to see more click here to see the full gallery.
Ceremony venue: Norwich Castle
Wedding reception: Anteros Art Foundation
Cake: The Iced Vegan