Sunderland Wedding Photographer – Nikki & Steve Leachman – 1st October 2011

Nikki Bridal Prep

On October 1st, 2011 I travelled up to Sunderland to be the wedding photographer for Steve and Nikki. I’ve known Steve for a few years now – he’s a photographer friend of mine and we’ve had a few camping excursions and photography workshops together – so I was honoured to be the official photographer at his wedding.

As I’m based in Leicester, I travelled up to South Shields the day before the wedding and checked into the ‘Little Haven Hotel’ which Steve & Nikki had put me up in for the weekend, and which would be hosting their evening reception the next day. After unpacking all my equipment I headed out to acquaint myself with the local area – find the church for the wedding the next day, find the bride & groom’s house (where I would be shooting the bridal preparations) and identify some locations between Sunderland and South Shields where we could take some of the Bride & Groom photographs after the wedding. Research complete, I headed back to the Little Haven to have dinner, and rest up for a long day the following morning.

I arrived at Steve & Nikki’s house in Fulwell just before 11am. I arrived to find Nikki and the Bridesmaids ahead of schedule – in what must be a bridal first! I got straight to work, photographing Nikki as she prepared for the biggest day of her life.

The bridesmaids lacing up the dress

After capturing the preparations I said goodbye to Nikki and the Bridesmaids and headed down to All Saints Church to meet up with Steve, his best man and the ushers. They arrived shortly after me, and promptly decided to nip down the road for a quick pint to calm the nerves before guests started arriving.

Steve at the Cambridge pub, Sunderland

Unfortunately, when they arrived, the pub was closed. The disappointment was clear for all to see. In fact, it was so clear to see, that the Landlord obviously saw a groom in need of a pint outside his front door and opened the pub early.

Steve relaxing with a pre-wedding pint

Normal service was now resumed, and after getting a few photos in the pub I headed back to the Church to capture the guests as they arrived.

All Saints Church, Sunderland

After not too long, the lads made it back from the pub, and before we knew it the Bridesmaids had arrived. The car went back to pick up the Bride and her Father and we knew it wouldn’t be long until the Bride arrived.

The Bridesmaids waiting the Bride's arrival

As the Groom and the guests made their way into the Church, the Bridesmaids and I waited outside for the Bride’s arrival. Again, in what must be a world first, the Bride was ahead of schedule – with the car having to wait in the entrance to the Church for a few minutes in order to let some last-minute guests get in before the Bride!

The bride in the bridal carriage

Dead on time though, the car carrying Nikki pulled up to the front of the Church…

Nikki arriving at the Church

 – and the bride got out, looking radiant.

I quickly dashed inside and rushed to the front of the Church so that I could capture the moment that Steve turned around to see his Bride for the first time.

The ceremony got under way, with the congregation looking on expectantly.

Exchanging of rings

After the exchanging of the rings and the saying of the vows, the vicar pronounced the couple Man and Wife…

Steve & Nikki first kiss

… and the Groom kissed his Bride!

Receiving the blessing

After receiving the blessing…

Signing the register

… and signing the register …

The new Mr and Mrs Leachman

… Nikki and Steve left the Church as the new Mr & Mrs Leachman!

After getting outside I gave the happy couple a few moments to themselves to soak up the atmosphere and to chat with their guests before taking the formal group photographs.

Steve & Nikki leave the Church

Once those had been completed, Nikki and Steve left the Church for the short drive back to South Shields and the Little Haven Hotel.

Whitburn Windmill, Sunderland

From my drive around the previous day, I had identified this windmill at Whitburn as a potential place for a few shots. Steve and Nikki agreed, so we stopped there on the way to the reception venue. Because the sun was so strong, I brought out my flashguns and Pocket Wizards so that I could darken the ambient light and bathe Steve & Nikki in a pool flashlight to create the above photograph. After taking a few shots here we got back in the cars and headed off a few miles further down the coast.

Souter Lighthouse, Sunderland

Steve had previously mentioned to me that he would have liked a few photographs taken at Souter Lighthouse which was on the coastal road back to South Shields. Of course I was more than happy to do this, so we stopped off there and again, because of the harsh ambient light I brought out my flashgun and pocket wizard so I could shoot with a shallow depth of field and light Steve and Nikki perfectly.

After a few shots here, we got back in the cars, and I went ahead to the Little Haven so I could capture the Bride and Groom arriving at the reception.

Steve & Nikki at the Little Haven, South Shields

After a couple of shots outside, I left the Bride and Groom alone for a while so they could mingle with their guests prior to the Wedding Breakfast and the Speeches.

Candid wedding photography

I took the time to get some natural, candid photographs of the guests…

Reservoir dogs on the beach

… as well as some ‘old favourites’ of the Groom, his Best Man and his Ushers.

Wedding Breakfast

The room was prepared for the wedding breakfast, so the guests all made their way in and the speeches began.

Groom speech

First up was the Groom, who had the room in fits of laughter with his humorous, yet tender offering…

Best man speech

… followed by the Best Man who continued the hilarity with some great stories about Steve!

Groyne Lighthouse, South Shields

After the meal, I took the Bride & Groom back out for a few more evening shots. Unfortunately the sky failed to light up at sunset like I had hoped, but again using the Pocketwizards and my flashgun we got some great shots.

Groyne Lighthouse, South Shields

Just outside the Little Haven was this rather interesting Lighthouse – called ‘The Groyne’. Naturally we had to use it for a few shots!

Juan Munoz's Conversation Piece

And as the sky got darker we moved around to Juan Munoz’ ‘Conversation Piece’ – again right next to the hotel.

Steve & Nikki - Sunderland Wedding Photographer

Making full use of the scenic elements at the hotel, we finished off the Bride & Groom photography with this backlit shot in the car park.

And finally, to end the evening’s photography I set up my lights to capture the first dance. Steve then insisted I take all my equipment back up to my room and then come down and join him for a beer. Naturally I wasn’t going to argue with that!

It was an absolute pleasure to photograph Nikki & Steve’s wedding – made all the more tough by being friends with the Groom – and even tougher knowing he’s a photographer himself! The locations chosen by Steve were spot on, and there was so much scope between the ceremony and reception to use the scenery for some interesting photographs – and I wasn’t going to object to using it!

Nikki and Steve – I wish you all the best in your married life!