Fort Belan Wedding
I’m so excited to be sharing this wedding with you! But first, a little background to explain how anxious I was about Gav and Jess’s big day: I am convinced that Wales and its weather system form a world unto their own. Legend has it that Wales hears me cross the border and turns on the rain. In my six years of regular visits, I had six – SIX! – dry weekends in the cold and bitter north. Fort Belan is a gorgeous venue on the Menai Straits in North Wales; it has a beautiful courtyard, and the surrounds are just plain awesome. However, there are almost zero choices for locations if the weather turns really, truly awful, so I can’t even begin to describe how desperately I was hoping for clear skies. I always approach events at venues with few options for ‘dry’ photos with a healthy dose of nerves, but then came Paul and Gemma’s wedding last year and the tide started to turn on my bad luck with weather.
As it turned out, Gav and Jess’s June wedding continued the trend for glorious weather and I can’t help but think that it will forever be one of my favourite wedding weekends for so many reasons, not the least of which was the weather (which was absolutely perfect, by the way). Gav and Jess’s family welcomed me with excitement and open arms from the minute we arrived at Fort Belan (just outside Caernarfon) on Friday afternoon. We visited with Gav in the deck chairs by the cannons (!), enjoying nibbles and wine in the sunshine as we looked out over the Menai Straits and welcomed other guests as they arrived; I listened to stories as we all shared dinner in one of the cottage dining rooms, and began to get some insight into the friendships and family that have made Gav and Jess into the wonderful human beings I know.
One important detail to note, since I didn’t quite recognise the impact this would have until I saw it happening: Jess, her parents, and her two siblings spent six years of her childhood living aboard a boat that her father built, five years of which was spent sailing around the world. While this could potentially destroy some relationships, it became very clear that their experiences together forged bonds between them like few others I’ve seen.
Saturday morning coffee by the cannons overlooking the strait was a beautifully serene way to clear my head and prepare for the day to come, before heading off to explore the marquee for some detail photos. While Jess calmly set about assembling her beautiful wedding cake over in the marquee, Gav was in great spirits and his ushers trickled into his cottage one or two at a time to start getting ready. Gav is very outgoing and gregarious by nature, so it was no surprise to find that his five ushers arrived full of banter. Over in Jess’s cottage, she had finished assembling her cake and was enjoying a calmly sentimental morning with her mother, sister, and cousin, all of whom are very dear to her heart. Her magic trick for the day was taking a pretty dress off a hanger and turning it into a stunning gown on her figure. The tears began when Jess walked out into the dockyard outside her cottage to see her father, Phil. When confronted with the sight of his exquisite daughter, Phil allowed me to share one of the more beautiful father-daughter moments I’ve seen, and I was touched to see tears in his eyes. The second – and most unexpected – quiet moment of the day happened purely by accident, when Jess’s brother arrived to deliver a message. Tom rounded the corner of the kitchen and was brought up short by the sight of Jess in her gown, at which point he joined the waterworks parade and triggered both of his sisters, who began frantically flapping at their eyes to keep them dry. So cute; so funny; so telling of the bonds between these three.
The ceremony was held in a room whose closeness helped add to the feeling of intimacy already apparent at this wedding. Winnie the Pooh triggered more tears; the struggle to get the rings on brought laughter and levity. The reception was a combination of the best wedding meal I’ve ever eaten, highly entertaining stories about Gav’s “recreational” interests, and touching moments between four parents and their two children. Insider tip: if you ever want to see your bride get really nervous, take the book she created for you out of all of your long-distance relationship emails and announce that you’re going to read one aloud at random. (Keep an eye out for those photos!)
Both families were so emotionally honest with me and with one another that I couldn’t help but feel like I was one of them while working with this group. Trust in a photographer – that they know what they’re doing, that they are covering all the bases, that you can be yourself in front of them – is so crucial on a wedding day, and I’ve never felt more trusted than on this day. Gav and Jess, thank you for your faith in my skills, for allowing me to document your inner circle, and for inviting me to share in the biggest day of your lives. You two are amazing.
Here’s a highlight reel of my favourite moments. Some key images to keep an eye out for: the beautiful paper-and-fabric bridal bouquet, Jess holding her breath as she gets into her gown, Gav and Jess receiving one another’s wedding gifts (coincidentally, each gave the other a gift on the same theme), big thumbs up to spectators during bridal portraits, Maureen getting misty, massive air guitar effort on the dance floor by an uncle, and the priceless look on Jess’s face when “Dancing Queen” came on. Oh, and that photo of Phil letting loose with his hands on his chest? He’s howling, all right, but not because he’s rocking out to his favourite tune – Pat had just hauled on his suspenders and let ’em fly. :)
I’m Ang – a Cornwall, Ontario-based photographer with a passion for capturing light and photographing natural moments as they happen, whether during a wedding in Canada or a wedding anywhere else in the world. I always have a great time in Wales (even if it rains) and would love to talk to couples about their plans for a Fort Belan wedding. My goal is to capture memories that you will cherish once your wedding dress is wrapped up and the flowers have dried. I love meeting new couples and getting in amongst the wedding day bedlam so that I can document the emotions and truly special moments. Please explore more of www.momentusstudio.com to see more examples of Cornwall, Ontario and international wedding photography.