Mixing with the majestic....
Out of the blue, I was kindly asked by the utterly awesome Tracy Butterfield of the industry community WEDx, (a woman with so much vitality and energy for all things wedding, shes a whirlwind), if I want to do a bit of work for her. Was to be a little hush hush at the beginning as it was the first attempt of what she was going to do, so she let me in on the details.
There was to be an FAM event (I had to ask what that was. Familiarisation event apparently) at the magnificent Chicheley Hall near Milton Keynes. This was a gathering of the great and the good of the wedding industry for an opportunity to have a tour of the facilities, get to know the staff and the venue, be wined and dined and generally network in return for promotion of the venue by all the people attending. My role was to take photos of the event as it happened, then the images to be displayed at a later date after Tracy had deemed it to be a success or not.
Well, would be churlish and silly not to forgo an opportunity like this, so I immediately said yes, then started to panic! Where is my place in this high falutin' world? Do I belong? Can I do it justice? I shouldn't be networking, so don't be tempted....All the usual creative type hangups before any job of course. But couldn't back out, so in for a penny eh?.....
The day of the event came, I got prepared and went in. Already there were Tracy and Steve Dean, magician extraordinaire, who was there to entertain the guests after dinner that evening. I certainly knew Steve through his interactions on social media, but it was the first time we had actually met and what a thoroughly lovely bloke he is! I had a quick recce around to check light, know where I was going, make sure I wasn't going to get in anyone's way (the idea was to capture it naturally, not formally, so wanted to get vantage points) and got introduced to the staff of the venue. You scratch my back and all that.....
Slowly people started to arrive. A flurry of people, champagne, introductions and greetings of the old and new, a chance to get to know each other and for me to shoot like a maniac as it was all happening at once. I wanted to try and get as much as the venue as I could, as well as the people involved.
Much milling and chatting and all things weddings were discussed while people were getting familiarised with the venue and the new faces and so on. It was a lovely and interesting thing to see for an avid people watcher like myself. Human interactions are some of the most fascinating things science only is just getting a grasp of. I love watching them, reading reactions, faces, comments etc. I digress....I also like to photograph it too. Sorry, went way off topic there.....anyway.....
Too many to show from this part of the day, but the tour was about to start....
The group was ushered out bit by bit (champagne of course, still in hands) by the staff of the venue and taken around and outside to the first part of the site. This isn't part of the house itself, but rooms and receptions built into other parts of the grounds buildings and modernised for use as conference halls, wedding rooms and so on. Its all very swish, tastefully done, modern, clean and a bit nice, I have to say.
Once everyone had a feel for this part of the grounds, it was then back slowly over to the main house to have a look around there and see what was on offer....
Then began the tour of the rest of the building.....
Once the tour was nearly over, it was time to chill a bit more and then just relax into the surroundings. Exhaustive, but very informative and the venue is quite something. Recently refurbished in and around a lot of the building, it definitely shows it.
Then, it was on to dinner. On site catering were doing the meal, but there were a few little delights and treats for us along the way. Monannie Luxury Cakes and Deserts had provided a little "take away" gift for everyone, and surprisingly, myself included, which was a lovely touch.
Shelley of La Belle Cake Company had made everyone personalised shortbread iced biscuits which were truly special (no, I didn't eat this all in one go. I was working!)
Generally, there were little surprise and delights all through the night, topped off by a fantastic table spread and decoration by the amazing Alexander Rose wedding designs who really pulled out all the stops to give us a very special occasion
Was then time for a few formal introductions before dinner and entertainment...
I was surprised to know that I had also been catered for and was to have a meal with the guests, which was a lovely gesture and privilege if I am honest. And the food was superb! Terrine, chicken, mushroom and gnocci and chocolate tart to finish, with an awesome sorbet between.....yeah, it was top, top notch food from the guys at Chicheley.
Once dinner was over, it was entertainment time! Steve Dean, as mentioned before, was there to entertain and I had a really good chat with him at dinner and was nice to speak to a face I had known from distance for a while. Thoroughly decent chap, what what?! But this was his manor now and boy, he didn't disappoint! I was zoomed in with the camera on a hell of a lot of what he was doing and even I couldn't see what he was doing to fool us all! He really is, in the literal sense of the word, a magician! Superb entertainment, great laugh, properly mind blowing illusions (we aren't allowed to call them tricks I assume) and had everyone scratching their heads. The effect is doubled when plenty of champagne has already done down.....
As you can see from the reactions and the fully immersed participants, Steve rocked it! Everyone was blown away, baffled, entertained, misled and thoroughly dumbfounded at what he did and long may that stay that way!
After getting many reactions like the one you see from Vanessa in the last shot, I knew I had it in the bag. Job done for me, time to let the evening continue without me. One last chat with Tracy to say thank you for the opportunity, a bit of feedback to her on how it all went, saying the last goodnight's to everyone and a big thank you for just being really entertaining, lovely, interesting company while I had the great job of capturing the entire event as it went. I hope the images above give you a flavour of this excellent occasion and good luck to Tracy going forward with more events like this either with Chicheley Hall itself or with any other venues that want to make use of this lady's expertise. I saw it as being a huge success, no doubt it will be going forward
Thanks to everyone that was there that evening. I am sorry if I didn't mention everyone by name during my long winded report above, but it was lovely to meet everyone. Just a quick shoutout to all those who were there.....
Andri Benson - Always Andri (wedding planning)
Siobhan Craven-Robins (wedding coordinator)
Lydia Yianni - Love Lydia
Vanessa Harness - Rocks and Frocks (wedding planning)
Alison Fleming - Cariad Personal Ceremonies (celebrant)
Tina Smyth - Tina Smyth Wedding Design (wedding planning)
Jennifer Swanston - Planned 2 Perfection (wedding planning and events)
Nadia Wood - Amulet Weddings and Events (wedding planning and elopements)
Tina Redding - Ultimate Wedding Magazine (wedding blog and magazine)
Rachel Harrison - Whimsical Wonderland Wedding Blog (alternative wedding blog)
Chicheley Hall (the venue, of course!)
Steve Dean - Steve Dean Magician
La Belle Cake Company - (provider of favours for the evening, but fantastic cake company)
MonAnnie - (that croqeumbouche!!! But another great cake and desert company)
Alexandra Rose - (the superb table spread, but also a wedding designer and planner)
And of course, last but in no means any way least....
Chicheley Hall.....the place is frankly amazing! A more traditional place, but with scope and space to do so much with it. The scale of the venue is vast, but the facilities, rooms and spaces on offer for weddings is fantastic. From gorgeous renaissance style paintings on the ceilings, to bronze busts of well known dignitaries and figures from the past, its a bit fairytale I would say. For that big event, to make your wedding that bit special, Chicheley is definitely worth checking out. No doubt!
The incredible Tracy Butterfield, founder of WEDx, Appleby Events and all round life juggling wizard! Thanks to Tracy for this amazing opportunity and the real fun and enjoyment I and the guests had on the day. Thanks to the venue for such welcome and great food and long may this be a partnership for the future!
Over and out!