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I want a wedding that is very different!

Written by Martin Neeves – Reportage Wedding Photographer

I want a wedding that is very different!All brides and grooms want to have a memorable wedding; one that will stick in theirs and their guests memories.  There will, be many ideas on what makes it truly memorable.  It might be a themed wedding, a different quirky venue, but some people do choose some very unique places and ways to get married.  Now I am not talking about getting married in castles, caves, on glaciers, or in the nude (yes it does happen) or anything as straightforward as this.  No I am talking REALLY different weddings.

I suppose what triggered the article was my recent tandem sky dive.  One of my wacky friends said “well now you’re qualified to photograph a sky dive wedding”.  Well yes I did know that some people had “non-standard” weddings, so let me cover a few for you.

A wedding that is very different


Sky Dive Wedding.  Well having mentioned it, I had better start off with this.  Jessy Schild and Ingo Mueller actually got married onboard of a plane before skydiving 13,000ft in wedding clothing.  In America there are businesses who will set up the weddings in aircraft before they skydive to cement their relationship.  But one couple even exchanged short vows in mid-air whilst in freefall. They had to work hard to find a vicar to perform the wedding.

Wing Walking to marriage.   Daredevil couple married Darren McWalters and Katie Hodgson on top of the wings of two planes.  This happened near Cirencester at 1,000 feet above the ground. They were strapped to the top wing of 2 separate biplanes flying alongside each other. They were wearing traditional wedding dress and suit and a third aircraft was positioned just ahead with a vicar on the wing.  The brave Rev George Bringham married the couple using an airborne communications system. The ceremony was played through loud speakers to the congregation who were still on the ground.

Martin Neeves on his tandem skydive at Langar Airfield - done partly as a midlife-crisis bucket list type of thing and partly to raise money for the Bamboozle Theatre Company.

Climbing to your wedding.   Enthusiastic climbers Jamie Lamb and her husband David Lamb climbed up a peak called the Chief, in British Columbia, Canada so that they could get married at the top.  The priest and guests were already waiting at the top (no brave souls there then). Luckily the weather was good and the guests had a nice view while they waited for the different style of arrival of bride and groom.

This had also been done in Scotland when a couple who are mountaineers (I only have their first names – Rob & Jo). With their best man and bridesmaid they climbed the North Gully of Buachaille Etive Mhor in Glencoe: and were married at the top.  No pink fluffy limousine for them!

Diving Wedding.  One couple in Hawaii got married underwater and another had an underwater ceremony under the Indian Ocean.  All vows were displayed on a board and the couple used signs to acknowledge each vow.  They even exchanged rings.  After the ceremony Chris and Janet emerged happy and married.

On Horseback. Naturally this happened in America. A couple in Texas got married on horseback, with the pastor also on his own horse.  Unlike a few “novelty weddings” all the guests were also on horseback.

Wedding in a Shark Cage.  Now why would anyone do this?  Well they both love the sea and sharks – well I guess you have to if you want to do this.  In June 2010, April Pignataro and Michael Curry from New York City got married in a 120,000 gallon shark tank at Atlantis Marine World in New York.  The bride was dressed in a white wetsuit and, naturally, the groom had a traditional black wetsuit.   The cage protected them from sand sharks, nurse sharks, moray eels and a giant grouper. Also, as part of their diving gear, they had microphones and the service was conducted over a radio system.  Their guests and the officiating registrar were less enthusiastic and carried out their roles on the pool side.

Bungee Jumping.  Well I guess someone had to do it.  Jeroen and Sandra Kippers from Belgium, had their wedding ceremony 160 feet up on a platform, held in place on a crane.  On that platform there were 20 guests and an officiant.  Interestingly, the guests were strapped into their seats – sensible folks in my book. Some musicians were on a nearby platform to provide music for the ceremony.  When they had completed their vows they bungee jumped off the platform.  Since then, the company that set it up have been inundated with requests for similar weddings.  The photographer did not jump but was on the same platform as the musicians.

Hot air balloon  Wedding.   Michael and Mackenzie Chavez, who had their first date at the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, decided that it seemed quite logical for them to get married in the basket of a hot air balloon.  A small wedding ceremony, with 9 guests and a vicar took off in the balloon baskets holding 12 passengers. They had watched balloon flights for a few years together and felt it was a natural progression to get married in one.

Wedding on a Roller Coaster. Bride Angie Brashares had to work hard to convince her husband to get married., After taking a long time convincing the bride to “take the plunge” she was prepared to do anything to make sure he did not back out.  He wanted to get married in a roller coaster so she agreed.  The wedding took place on the Millennium Force roller coaster at the Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio.


I am sure that people have great reasons for having exciting and different types of wedding.  Whether it makes a stronger marriage or not is debatable, but I am sure it will be remembered by everyone present for ever.

Even if you have a wedding that is very different, why not choose a Photographer who will complement your wedding  and contact me at Martin Neeves Photography or call me on 01455 271 849 or on 07973 638 591.

Prestwold Hall Wedding Photography – Cheryl and Tim’s Wedding

Here are some photos I took of Cheryl and Tim’s wedding at Prestwold Hall, near Loughborough, Leicestershire:

Prestwold Hall is a handsome stately home surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, set in the heart of Leicestershire’s countryside.  It is one of my favourite wedding venues in Leicestershire, so I was delighted when Cheryl and Tim booked me to photograph their wedding there.

Cheryl and her bridesmaids started the day by getting ready at her parents’ house in Loughborough.  Shell Edwards worked her magic with the wedding make-up and Claire Aston took care of the bridal hair.  Cheryl looked stunning in her wedding dress which she got from Maria Modes in Macclesfield, as did her bridesmaids in their dresses from Soar Valley Brides in Sileby.  All the bouquets, buttonholes and centrepieces were provided by Flowers by Sarah of Quorn.

Cheryl and her very proud dad were taken to St. Mary in Charnwood church in Nanpantan, near Loughborough in a beautiful 1950’s cream Cadillac from Surrey Cadillacs.  After the ceremony, the happy couple were whisked off in the Cadillac to Prestwold Hall for their wedding reception.  During the drinks reception the guests were entertained by Bow-Belles String Quartet who always create a classy atmosphere, then after the wedding breakfast, swinger singer Anthony Haslam of Garston Entertainment kept the party going on the lead up to Cheryl and Tim’s first dance and disco by Guy Morris of Mojito Discotheques & Events.

It was a fabulous day which I was honoured to share with Cheryl and Tim.  I had some lovely comments from the couple and their family.  I must have done something right as Cheryl’s twin sister Kay booked me to photograph her wedding, which was just a  few weeks ago – but more of that in a future blog article…


Here is a slideshow of photos I have taken at other weddings at Prestwold Hall:

If you are looking for a reportage wedding photographer for your wedding at Prestwold Hall, please contact me at Martin Neeves Photography or call me on 01455 271 849 or on 07973 638 591.

Helicopter Wedding Photography in Staffordshire – Samantha and Cameron’s Wedding

Here are some photos I took of a very unusual wedding in Staffordshire where I had to hire a helicopter to get some aerial shots of the wedding party!

I was initially contacted by the bride’s dad to take some aerial photos (as I regularly do aerial photography) of a site in Staffordshire.  As we got talking, I realised it wasn’t going to be just any aerial photography shoot.  He told me his daughter was getting married in the grounds of his house and he wanted a photographer to arrive in a helicopter to surprise the guests and to get aerial shots of the whole site as well as a group shot of the whole wedding party.  He needed shots of the whole site as they were having a festival over the whole weekend as guests were coming from all over the World and they wanted to make the most of their company and the guests were staying in a load of tents that had been hired in especially.  There would also be a marquee for the wedding reception, but the ceremony was to be held in front of a lake in the garden.  The bride’s dad had spent a lot of time and effort (and money) on his garden to get it looking at its best for the wedding festival.  I must say, it looked absolutely stunning as he did a magnificent job, so I can see why he wanted a record of how it looked on the day.

A few weeks after taking the booking for doing the aerial photography, the bride’s dad phoned me to ask if I could recommend a good wedding photographer and videographer as the company they had booked were not responding and had failed to confirm the booking.  At that stage, he had only seen my commercial photography website and he hadn’t seen my wedding website, so he didn’t know that I did reportage wedding photography too.  Even so, it was obvious that I couldn’t do all of it, so I suggested that he showed my wedding photography website to his daughter to see if she liked my documentary style of photography and if so, I could do the photography on the ground and I could book another photographer to do the aerial shots in the helicopter that I had already booked.  I said I could also hire a videographer for them as I often work with an excellent wedding videographer who I knew would do a good job and not be too intrusive on the day.  Luckily the bride liked my style of wedding photography and decided to book me for the whole lot as a full-service package so I ended up having another photographer, a videographer and a helicopter pilot working for me on the day – as well as the hire of the helicopter itself.

The wedding had a 1920’s theme and all the guests entered into the spirit with their outfits.  There were plenty of flappers and gangsters, that’s for sure!  The day went really well and it was such a personal wedding as so many of the couple’s friends contributed to the wedding.  Two of their friends sang and played guitar before and after the ceremony and another even conducted the ceremony.  The arrival of the helicopter went down very well with the guests and as soon as it appeared, I organised the guests on the ground for the photographer in the helicopter.  They all commented that they had never seen that done at a wedding before – well, neither have I!  After the wedding breakfast, the bride and groom served cocktails to their guests before having a “bandeoke” session where the couple and their guests performed songs with a live band to back them, before having their first dance.

I had some great feedback from the couple and Cameron (the groom) wrote in an email “Thank you again for the amazing job you did at our wedding.  We have received many comments about how great our pictures are.”.

Some of the other wedding suppliers who helped to make the day special, were Natalie Shea-Leigh of Creative Touch for doing the bridal make-up, A Perfect Day for supplying two amazing wedding cars and Fews Marquees for supplying the marquee.

If you are getting married and you are looking for a reportage wedding photographer (with or without a helicopter!) please contact me at Martin Neeves Photography or call me on 01455 271 849 or on 07973 638 591.

Where did the tradition of wearing wedding rings come from?

Written by Martin Neeves –Wedding Photographer Leicester

wearing wedding ringsWe take for granted the idea that the bride and groom will be wearing wedding rings as part of the wedding ceremony.  It has generated a multi-million pound industry.  A survey published in You & Your Wedding Magazine found that the average cost of a wedding ring is £1,772.  So where did this tradition for wearing a ring on the third finger of the left-hand come from?  It is so ingrained that we now even call it “The Ring Finger”. Some say it is the fourth finger of the left hand, but here I am being pedantic and saying that the hand has 4 fingers and a thumb – not 5 fingers.

Ancient History and wearing wedding rings

Ancient History and wearing wedding ringsThe first recorded wedding rings were used by The Egyptians.  It is thought that the husband put that ring on his wife’s hand to signify his confidence that she was capable of running his house.  In the past rings have not always been given to the bride or groom.  The Egyptians saw a ring as a circle of eternity that had no beginning and no end.

It is clear that Hebrews used “wedding rings” in biblical times.  Some seem to have been very large, possibly borrowed from the Synagogue, having been specially blessed for each occasion.

There are records in Greeks and Roman times of the groom giving a ring to the bride’s father.  This is thought to be part of the process of “purchasing a Bride”.

wearing wedding ringsIt is clear that in pre Roman times, rings were used, but were made of leather, bone, ivory, wood and other fairly fragile materials. Obviously the more solid and long lasting the ring material, the more wealth of the groom and the more he cared for his bride.

In Roman times, gold was very precious and her gold ring was only for wearing in public and not during the daily routine in the house.  To avoid it getting lost or damaged, the groom also gave the bride an iron ring for the routine of life.  Some also served as keys for small locks, hence the derivation of the term “key ring”.  Roman iron wedding rings were called “Annulus Pronubus.”

 Christian Use of Wedding Rings

Christian Use of Wedding RingsSometime around the period of about 860 AD, Christians started to use rings in marriage.  Interestingly the Cristian Church discouraged their use as being heathen or pagan symbol.  But as with many things, elements of paganism were allowed to be merged into the mainstream of Christian religious practice.

By the 13th Century it seems to have become more accepted as the norm. But why the third finger of the left hand.  Some say it is because it comes from the ancient world when it was thought that the vein in the third finger ran directly to the heart and the ring held the heart in trust.  Some Christians have claimed that the third finger is used because when the priest gave the blessing of “In the name of the father, the Son and the holy Ghost” he would place the wedding ring on then last finger he touched.  Others argue that this is just a way for a pagan symbolism to be legitimately used in the Christian religious marriage practices.

John Wesley and the Methodists declared that wedding rings were pagan and should not be worn.  Many of the more puritanical Christian religions like Mennonites, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists and Apostolic Pentecostal church also shunned wedding rings as being pagan.  Indeed in America, most Christian religions rejected the idea of wearing any form of jewellery, including rings.  This started to get relaxed in the late 19th Century.

Wearing wedding rings worldwide

Wearing wedding rings worldwideMany countries wear the wedding ring on the ring finger of the right hand, such as Norway, Russia, Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, Austria, Germany, Portugal and Spain, the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand and not the left. In Jewish tradition, the groom places the ring on the bride’s index finger, and not the “ring” finger at all.

In some countries, the wedding and engagement ritual differs. While the couple wears the band on the left after their engagement, they transfer it to the right upon getting married. Some countries that follow this custom are Germany, Norway, Bulgaria, Poland, and Russia. These differences in customs and beliefs exist all around the world.

Wedding rings do not form a traditional part of the religious element of the Muslim wedding.  Most Islamic countries tend not to use wedding rings.  Although in some countries like Iran a ring can be worn on either hand’s ring finger.    The tendency is more for the use of a betrothal or engagement wing to be used.   A more common tradition for the Muslim engagement ring is for men to wear it on the right finger and for women the left finger.

Despite rings not being a traditional part of Indian weddings, there is a growing practice to wear engagement rings for engagements but not wedding rings.

In Sweden, it is not unusual for women to wear 3 rings.  An engagement ring, a wedding ring and a motherhood ring.  In UK there is a similar 3 ring tradition, with the addition of an “eternity” ring to the engagement and wedding ring.

In the modern day, it seems that the giving and receiving of rings is seen more a commitment to each other. I suggest that fewer people will understand the symbolism of the past.  It has become one of those traditions that “you have to do that” or “we have always done that” without folk really understanding the historical significance of the practice.

Whatever you reason for wearing wedding rings, or not, why not choose a Photographer who will complement your wedding  and contact me at Martin Neeves Photography or call me on 01455 271 849 or on 07973 638 591.

Marriage Tips for Brides – Would I be so brave?

Written by Martin Neeves – Reportage Wedding Photographer

Marriage Tips for BridesA friend of mine was chatting about the way society has changed.  As he rambled on he noted the way marriage is now seen as a partnership and how he had read a short book from the early 20th Century that would be seen as not being politically correct these days.

He gave the example of a book called “Mrs Beeton and the art of household management.”  Apparently this was a standard wedding present for brides a century ago.  In her first chapter Bella Beeton notes: “I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly cooked dinners and untidy ways.” That was one of the less controversial comments she made at various times.

It got me to thinking about how Mrs Beeton would have approached modern advice to the young bride.  There is surely lots of it in magazines, newspaper columns, agony aunts, online forums and a myriad of other publications.  After much discussion we agreed that trying to do this today would be a minefield and make her a sitting target for criticism from all side of the debate.

It seems that in the modern era the sort of advice is not needed by brides, but by couples.  It would be based around practical living skills such as financial management, how to manage relationships and how to juggle busy lives.  There is no doubt some discussion between parents and siblings about such matters.  However, I am pretty certain that the tone is much more a discussion than a diktat about how the bride must pander to the husband’s needs.  I am pretty sure in modern Britain few men would be so brave.  Modern marriages (and relationships) are much more of a partnership of 2 people than the marriages of the Mrs Beeton era.

The amusing thing about Bella Beeton was that she was a journalist and she was not a good cook.  Many people do wonder where she got her recipes from, let alone her bridal advice.  Well there is some insight into this because Bella died at the age of 28 giving birth to her 4th child.  Her husband and publishers kept the news of the death quiet.  But more importantly, they kept updating the original book and… wrote some new books under her name.  So it is quite likely that much of her advice on how to be a good wife was already outdated because it was written by then men in her life.

You will be cheered to learn that I am not going to offer my Marriage Tips for Brides, nor am I going to give any advice to the bridegrooms.  Suffice to say that I believe that the best advice I can give is to talk things over with each other, treat your partner with respect and enjoy each other’s company.

When you decide to get married, do not ask me for marriage advice or marriage tips for brides, but I can give you some good advice on your wedding photography and I can deliver some excellent wedding photographs too.  If you want to find out more about a high quality photographer contact Martin Neeves Photography or call me on 01455 271 849 or on 07973 638 591.

Marriage Tips for Brides