Tips for a Relaxing Wedding Day by Katherine from Nova wedding photography Devon

Relax, its your wedding day…

When invited by Aimée at Devon wedding venue Rockbeare Manor, to write a guest post I thought it would be helpful to share our experience in what makes for a relaxed wedding day. ‘Relaxed’ and ‘wedding’ are not usually synonymous but with a bit of fore thought and planning you really can float effortlessly through your wedding day, enjoying every, single, joyous minute of it. 

Fountain sprays in the forefront whilst the bride and her guests dance in the background on a courtyard with a band playing, trumpet midair

We’re very fortunate to have photographed many lovely weddings at Rockbeare Manor and the venues luxurious but unpretentious vibe is perfect for a stress-free wedding and well suited to the un-staged, discreet way in which we shoot weddings. Rockbeare Manor seem to have a niche in couples that are seeking a relaxed, chilled-out event in Devon.

A highlight for us was shooting the wedding of the owner’s Aimée and Andy last October, an informal but incredibly special wedding that we were honoured to capture. Of course there will always be some last minute stresses in the build up to the day but thinking about a few things before hand can help to make your day flow effortlessly, from that first glass of fizz to the very last dance.

Bride and Groom stand on stone steps, leaning for a kiss with rolling parklands behind them


Silhouette of bride and groom with champagne in-hand watching the firework display

Its about time

During our initial meetings we always have a chat about getting the timings right on the day to achieve the ultimate in relaxed weddings. We always consider the time of the year and making the most of the natural light. Sunsets at Devon Wedding Venue Rockbeare Manor are exceptional and as a wedding photographer you sleep with your fingers crossed the night before in the hope to be blessed with one.

Bride and Groom stand on a small wooden bridge kissing with the meadows and trees behind whilst the sunsets

The views from the Rockbeare Manor are stunning; Devon hills layering off into the distance with poplars framing the picture. At our first meeting with you we will talk about what time sunset is on your chosen date so we make sure you’re not mid-speeches when its all turning golden outside. Planning in plenty of time between the end of your ceremony and going in to dinner to enjoy simply being at your own wedding is so important too. Its such a sublime part of the day, with the formalities out of the way you should be able to mingle effortlessly with your wedding guests, enjoying the canapés you carefully chose and not feel in the slightest bit hurried through your day.

Rockbeare Manor does this ‘down time’ exceedingly well and we are in our element unobtrusively capturing relaxed scenes and interactions in the gardens, from casual banter between guests to tense Jenga moments and competitive connect four! Do make sure you have time to enjoy this time too.    

Guests relax on the lawns under parasols in the sunshine whilst sweets are served from a vintage camper van

Flower girls play with an oversized connect 4 on the lawn

Guests sit side-by-side along a stone wall in the flower meadow in front of the Manor House

A month or so before the big day we'll have a final catch up, preparing a shot planner so we're fully prepped for the day. We make a list of your ‘must have’ group photos and finalise the days timings so when the day arrives you have NOTHING to do apart from be your amazing selves. 

Location, location, location

Or actually just one location. Having your ceremony and reception in one place saves a load of stress, no logistics to plan and no chance of being stuck behind an angry caravan driver on a skinny Devon lane when you could be enjoying a cocktail seconds after your ceremony. There is a very definite flow to a wedding that is all in one place and your guests will thank you for it!

Bride and Bridesmaids lean into a mirror in the elegant drawing room under the chandelier Bridal gown hangs in a large bay window behind a grand mirror, encased by beautiful curtains

Being able to get ready just a few steps from your wedding ceremony makes for a very chilled preps and you would have to work very hard to be late for your ceremony! On the subject of getting ready, Rockbeare Manor has the coolest back drops and we LOVE shooting preps here. The Billiard Room is insanely cool room for those final touches and the bridal suite is out of this world with its palatial proportions, tons of natural light, beautiful antique mirrors and plenty of space to get back for a full length bridal wedding dress portrait. Our un-staged style means we shoot preps unobtrusively but are always on hand ready to help with a button hole or a second opinion if needed.

The groom adjusts his colour whilst the groomsmen prepare around him in the Billiard Room, surrounded by low hanging lampshades and a renaissance portrait painting

As wedding photographers Steve and I have the privilege of witnessing some very poignant scenes and capturing them respectfully and as unobtrusively as possible is very important to us. We’ve had lots of lovely feedback about how we were a calming presence before the wedding ceremony, so if you are a little nervous about having a photographer around during this part of the day, don’t be, there are some incredibly special moments to be captured and we see it as an absolute privilege to be the ones to capture them and you will cherish being able to look back at them.

Break the rules

If the thought of walking down the aisle, making a speech or dancing self-consciously in front of 100 pairs of eyes makes your palms clammy - then simply don’t put yourself through it. Have the day that you both want, not the one you think you must have. Question everything you think you know about weddings! Take the ceremony, you could walk down the aisle together or you could do the legal bit at a registry office the week before and have a best friend or celebrant create a completely personal ceremony or blessing on the big day.

Bride and Groom walk down the aisle from the garden room celebrating, bouquet in the air and guests upstaged and applaud

Rockbeare Manor is an incredible wedding venue in Devon has some beautiful outdoor settings for your ceremony and getting hitched outside feels much less formal. Whatever you decide make sure you talk through the ceremony details with your wedding photographer. If you are releasing 300 doves after ‘the kiss’ then its really good to know about it before hand! (NB.The dove thing has never happened, but you know, be prepared for curveballs)! If you’re having speeches but you know a certain person isn’t too comfortable with public speaking you might consider having your speeches during your drinks reception. Its far less stage-like, feels more spontaneous and means the ashen-faced speech giver can get it over with enjoy their dinner. So right at the start of your wedding planning think about what you ‘don’t want’ as much as what you ‘do want.’

Bride and Groom giggle together during their vows between the pillars whilst guests watch from behind in front of the parkland

Don’t let rain dampen your spirit

You may be weather obsessed in the run up to the big day, I know I was, but in our experience, the weather has never spoilt a wedding day - come the day with all its excitement and emotion, the weather will actually be the last thing on your mind. Rockbeare Manor have a wonderful stash of brollies and some of the sweetest pictures are taken in the rain. Embrace this before the big day and get mentally prepared for the possibility of a wet wedding. The beauty of shooting a wedding at Rockbeare Manor, if the heavens do open and going outside is off the cards then we have a wonderfully elegant interior to use! It rarely rains ALL day and we keep an eye on the weather and be ready to whisk you outside if it dries up.

Bride and Groom stand under an umbrella infant of an old tree

We're so fortunate to be recommended photographers at this stunning Devon Wedding Venue only 5 minutes from our home in Whimple and after a very tricky year for everyone planning, hosting or working within weddings, we can’t wait for 2021 and being back here capturing many chilled-out long, hazy relaxed weddings.

Do get in touch with us if you’re planning your Rockbeare Manor wedding we’d love to hear from you. And some final words of wisdom from one of our couples…

‘Don’t sweat the small stuff!’ 

Katherine and Steve Pankiewicz

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