Sam and Katie – Polurrian Bay Hotel Wedding Photographer
Ok, so this is going to be a bit different to the standard wedding blog that I post. With the weather starting to turn colder I have been thinking about this wedding a lot. Not just due to what happened on the day itself. But also what happened the week after the wedding. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin.
So firstly, let’s talk about the bride and groom. Katie and Sam are lovely. Hard working farmers from North Devon who work pretty much 365 days a year. They had chosen to marry in March as this fitted in well with the farming year. They had also chosen to marry at a location close to Katie’s family farm – The Polurrian Bay Hotel on The Lizard (which is a lovely place to get married). Ok, the scene is set. Let’s get to the day itself.
On the day of the wedding I arrived at The Polurrian Bay Hotel just after after 9am. The ceremony was due to be held at the small rural church in St Martin, about 10 miles away at midday. Snow had been forecast for the day (which to be honest in West Cornwall normally means, at best, a short burst followed by the disappointed faces of children as they head out to throw slush balls and to make slushmen). West Cornwall just does not do snow. Interestingly, the forecast kept mentioning The Lizard as being the main location that would be hit, but the consensus of opinion was that this was once again the local media struggling to find anything of interest to talk about. No news is apparently snow news.
As I drove to the The Polurrian Bay Hotel, there were a few small snowflakes falling. Still nothing to really write home about. All I could think was that it would be a tad chilly when we headed down to Poldhu Cove for the bride and groom photos later in the day. Within half and hour of getting to the hotel things changed. In a big way. Real snow. Genuine real snowflakes were falling. In fact, within half an hour, the snow was a good six inches deep. Then the reports started to come in. Blocked roads, abandoned cars and it was still snowing. In fact it was snowing harder. The general view from amongst the wedding party on the viability of getting to the church ranged from it being impossible through to challenging. Being from local farming families, the wedding party had more 4×4’s than the average wedding. This did roll the dice slightly in favour of getting to the church. But not by much. It really was bad out there.
Sam had now arrived at the hotel and had gone up to talk through the current predicament with Katie. There was a discussion through a half opened door in which all the options were discussed (including the idea of getting the vicar to the hotel in order to marry them there). Katie, however, was really keen to get married at the church. I can understand why. It is right next to her parents farm and she grew up within the sound of its bells. After some discussion, Sam agreed to go on ahead to see if there was a way through. The reports suggested that this may not be possible, but where there is a will…………
Now the bit that I have always held core to my approach to photographing weddings is that you need to ‘follow the story’. I chose to follow Sam’s for this part of the day. That is why I found myself in the front of Sam’s pickup driving through a snow encrusted landscape that was virtually unrecognisable. We headed off via Poldhu Cove reckoning that there may be a way through the back lanes. Having stopped to help a stranded motorist (who was blocking the road). We eventually found ourselves sitting at the bottom of Poldhu Cove with the a long hill up to the next village ahead. A local resident was providing useful advice such as ‘the road was blocked / unusable’ and when Sam stated he had no choice as he was on the way to his wedding ‘he should have chosen a different day to get married’. Yep, it was becoming more surreal. We waited as a car slid sideways down the hill past us before pressing on through the through ‘snowpoliptic’ landscape. The ten miles to the church were starting to look ominously long (the abandoned cars we passed just served to emphasise this more).
What really makes this tale a thing of wonder is the way that the local farming community were rallying together to make this event happen. There was a constant two way communication updating everyone involved as to what was open and where you could get through. Katie had also left the hotel and was taking a different route to get through to the church. We met up with a local farmer who reckoned that he could find a way through. Somehow we did. I am not sure how. We had made it through. There was a palpable sense of victory. It felt like we had won. Except, we still did not have a bride. There was no victory to celebrate, yet. As an added bonus, however, the snow had stopped.
The vicar had been found earlier wandering the back lanes near Helston in full regalia, having abandoned his car. A wedding guest had recognised and rescued him. Some of the guests had also managed to make their way through as well. With the snow restarted I stood outside of the church in a swirling blizzard waiting for Katie to arrive. It felt like something from a Dickens novel. A small rural church, with a congregation huddled inside hiding from the storm and praying for a brief respite from the maelstrom.
It came. The snow stopped and for a moment there was brief ray of sunshine while Katie arrived. As the ceremony began, the snowfall started again. But it didn’t matter. Sam and Katie had beaten the weather. They left the church to the all consuming blizzard, but now it was forming the perfect backdrop to the day.
On the long journey back to the Polurrian Hotel we headed down to Poldhu Cove for the bride and groom photos. Once again, there was a break in the weather. Up on the cliffs above we stepped out into the freezing cold easterly wind. The light just was incredible with shafts on sun illuminating patches of the sea. On the beach, Sam and Katie waded into the shallows (it was bitterly cold, but by now they just did not care). The pictures that I took were of a place that I know well, that on the day looked like another world.
Back and safe in the hotel, the rest of the day ran without a hitch (all except I was stranded so needed to stay at the Polurrian – not a problem, it really is a lovely hotel).
Which leads to what happened the next day………….the really surreal bit.
I returned back to my office to start backing up the images from the day and also edited a quick sneak peek for the bride and groom. I chose an image of them on the cliffs high above a snowy Poldhu cove. I posted this out on social media as a sneak peek for Sam and Katie. Half an hour later, my phone rang. It was a local paper, the West Briton, asking for a copy. They asked me a few questions about the day and I explained how the story had unfolded. I also pointed them in the direction of Sam and Katie for an interview (it was after all their day). I edited a few more images because they helped put the day into context. All done. Then the phone rang again. It was a regional paper, The Western Morning News, asking for a copy and asking more about the story. Not a problem. I went to make a cup of tea. The phone went again. It was a BBC newsdesk in London. Ok, now things were getting really surreal. Same thing, the images went out and I gave a quick interview and pointed the reporter in the direction of Sam and Katie. At this point I thought we were just going to see the images on the back end of a BBC website. But no. They were not destined for a wider audience. Which is way I found myself sitting, with a cup of tea, watching the 9 o’clock news whilst images from the day flashed up on the screen and Sam and Katie were interviewed about the day. It was utterly surreal.
So there you go. The snow wedding. Surreal, weird and wonderful (and slightly stressful at a few points of the day). Enjoy the images x