Black Tie is hard to beat isn’t it? Rachel & Tom’s Botleys Mansion wedding was a thoroughly classy affair that felt effortless from start to finish. This was my first wedding of 2023 and although relatively cold, the weather gods offered up some pretty decent conditions for early Feb. After a pretty relaxed morning getting ready at Botleys, we headed for St John’s Church in West Byfleet for the wedding service. 

Rachel & Tom’s day was also my first wedding since shifting to a Tesla Model 3 and I was pleased to say that everything went super smoothly on that front. No range issues, no hiccups; reassuringly everything just worked! Over the winter we installed solar panels on our roof and added a home storage battery, so electric cars were the obvious next step. My wife has been driving a Renault Zoe (which she loves) for nearly a year now, and I’ve been keen to make the leap to electric. Running an ethical business matters a great deal to me and I’m pleased to say that Tony Hart Photo is now another step closer to being a zero-emission operation!

The vicar at St John’s was definitely on the strict side of things, banishing both myself and the videographers to the back of the church for 99% of the service. This is never ideal, but it’s always manageable and presented another opportunity to roll out my remote camera setup. I’ve been using this increasingly during ceremonies over the past few years. It offers me an alternative perspective, either for locations where shooting would be problematic due to noise/visibility/accessibility or because, for whatever reason, the spot I’d like to shoot from is deemed off-limits. While I never fully rely on remote cameras because the results can be somewhat hit and miss, but as an additional string to the bow, they’re really rather useful. The more I use mine, the more successful I seem to be. 

My remote camera setup is built around a Fujifilm X-T3, usually running on an intervalometer, mounted either on a tripod or bracket. Where possible I always like to attend the church wedding rehearsal, for the advantage it gives me on the day and, mixed with a bit of pre-visualisation, it’s usually possible to end up with some great images from a judiciously placed remote camera. With the exception of the bridal entrance and the signing, all the photos from the front of the church were captured by the remote. 

With Rachel & Tom married we headed back to Botleys where they greeted their guests in the gorgeous Palladian Entrance Hall. February weddings are always tight from a light point-of-view and, with sunset before 5pm, we packed in a few portraits and groups before everyone made their way down to The Atrium for dinner and speeches. I’d promised Rachel & Tom that I wouldn’t take them ‘off-roading’ when we snuck off for portraits. Despite a few hairy moments that called for plastic bags round shoes (thanks to the lovely Ground Films for sorting us out!) we made it back looking just as suave as when we left. I should mention how much I adored Rachel’s Lyn Ashworth dress from Sass & Grace Bridal. The arms/sleeves stole the show for me, giving a really clean silhouette just the right amount of romance. 

The announcement of the Bride & Groom into the Atrium at Botleys Mansion is invariably fun. The staircase down is really dramatic and with all your family and friends cheering you on, it always has real energy. The Atrium had been styled by Laura of Eventie alongside Flowers by Daiva and the surfeit of candles looked incredible in the fast-fading light. Speeches were delivered before the meal and, once everyone was well fed, Rachel & Tom cut their cake with Rachel’s father’s sword. Rachel’s dad was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 2019 for his services in the field of Healthcare Law and Bioethics and I enjoyed hearing the story about his rather swish ceremonial blade! I remain, at heart, a ten year old boy!

Rachel & Tom’s dance floor was super lively, something I always appreciate, and partial credit for such an epic party has to go to Electric Kicks, who were awesome. I see a lot of good bands, but Electric Kicks are going on my list of great ones. Rachel & Tom were an absolute joy to shoot for. Charming people who couldn’t have been more welcoming. It was a real pleasure getting 2023 underway with their immaculate Botleys Mansion wedding. Thanks for having me!

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