Sophie and Rob’s Eridge Park wedding was definitely one I was looking forward to photographing. For one thing, the reception was at a beautiful country estate venue that I hadn’t worked at before and was very close to where I live in the Tunbridge Wells area. It also had a Russian Orthodox ceremony and again I hadn’t photographed one of these. I had been filled in as to how it would run and briefed on the elements that take place during a ceremony of this kind.
This was an Anglo/French wedding – Sophie, from France with Russian heritage (hence the Russian Orthodox ceremony) and Rob, a local from Tunbridge Wells and fluent French speaker. As usual with most weddings these days, their guests had flown in from all over the world.
The ceremony itself took place at St Alban’s Church Frant. Byzantine Rite ceremonies consist of chanted psalms, hymns and prayers proclaimed by the priest and largely inspired by biblical writings, as well as litanies, which are requests addressed to God.
The Orthodox sacrament of marriage has remained almost entirely unchanged since its origination more than ten centuries ago. The bride and groom do not exchange vows; instead it is their presence before Christ through the priest and the congregation that signifies their wish to be joined and to accept the Lord into their new home.
The wedding ceremony is actually two services in one. The first, which is the briefer of the two, is the Service of Betrothal, during which the rings are exchanged. The second, the Service of Crowning, is longer and includes many prayers offered for the couple, the crowning of the bride and groom, sharing of the common cup and the celebration procession around the table.
I have to say that this made for a nice change with the different parts to the ceremony that aren’t usually seen in the weddings I photograph. When it was all over, Sophie and Rob were given an impromptu umbrella guard of honour as by now, the rain had set in and remained for most of the day. Except that is, miraculously, for a brief moment as they arrived at Eridge Park and we were able to do a quick ten minute walkabout to get some couple shots before it hammered down again.
The majority of the reception was spent inside the large marquee on the lawn but it was fun and lively throughout the day and great to photograph. The weather is the one thing you can’t control on a wedding day, but it certainly didn’t dampen the atmosphere of this one.
Eridge Park wedding
If you like what you see and are planning an Eridge Park wedding (or anywhere else), do get in touch. I travel all over the UK and further.