I’ve no idea how you got half the shots you did as I had no idea you were there (in a good way!) you felt more like you were one of our guests than someone we had hired to be there!

If I had a pound of every time my couples said they hated having their photos taken, I’d probably be able to give up this job. I jest, I wouldn’t but I’d probably be able to buy myself a nice bottle of gin with the cash… Ali + Tom were one of these couples, yet when we met up in the summer for their prewedding shoot (there’s a joke about 15% battery and why everyone should try it but that’s for another time!) I was totally amazed at just how effortless they were to photograph and I knew shooting their wedding at Dodford Manor would be just as easy.


How did you meet?

Tom: we were in the same maths class in year 10 (not that Ali was there much!)
Ali: I didn’t even know we were in the same class. We became friends in sixth form
Tom asked me out when we were 17 but I turned him down because to me he was just a friend…luckily he didn’t give up and tried again 8 years later!

Tell me your proposal story:

I proposed in a Premier Inn hotel room in Cardiff. I got creative and proposed ‘Love Actually’ style, by making cards with photos, etc which fitted the music and lyrics of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ (the cards were finished in a Tesco car park under the auspice that i was working late at work). Disappointingly, rather than crying with happiness, ali just laughed the whole way through.

Why did you choose to have your wedding at Dodford Manor?

We chose to have our wedding at Dodford Manor because from the moment we arrived we just knew that was the venue for us. I can’t really explain how I knew but I could picture myself there in my dress with our friends and family around us. The only way to describe it is that it just felt right. It was only the second venue we’d visited but we left knowing we didn’t want to look anywhere else.

What was it you loved about your outfits and accessories that made you choose them?

I went to book a dress appointment with my sister and ended up trying dresses on there and then. I thought I had settled on a dress until sally made me try one more that was a little over budget and not quite what I’d imagined – strapless, big pouffy skirt, basically the opposite of everything I thought I wanted. As soon as I had it on I didn’t want to take it off and spent ages just swirling it around me. I bought it that day. My tiara and veil were bought much later, and I loved them because they were simple.

I bought my shoes before we even got engaged! I had always known I wanted to wear Irregular Choice as my wedding shoes and they were half price in the January sales so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to get the perfect shoes. I made tom stand next to me as I tried them on to make sure I wouldn’t tower over him.

The pearl necklace I wore on the day was my great-grandmother’s and had passed from her on to my gran via my grandad as he was the one who originally bought it. 

Tom’s suit was Ted Baker and also slightly over budget but it just fit him the best out of all those he tried. His shoes were Ted Baker as well and bought using my staff discount! Toms cufflinks were a Christmas present from me the first year we were together and have the coordinates of our old school on one and of Franklins Gardens on the other because it was there that I realised I’d fallen for him.

Tell me about the vision you had for your wedding including your theme/colour scheme/styling/flowers:

The theme was the hardest part of the day to come up with. We decided on navy as the main colour as the traditional autumn colour of red would have clashed with Toms hair! I wanted all my bridesmaids in different dresses as they are all different shapes and sizes and I wanted them all to be comfortable in what they wore. 
The theme ended up just being “us”. The centre pieces and aisle decorations were marine themed to tie in with Ali’s degree in marine biology. The table names were all important years in our lives with photos of each of us from those years. Ali’s sister planted toys from our favourite Disney films (Finding Nemo and A Bugs Life) around the venue for people to find. The flowers were the least important part of the decoration for us, as we both felt spending a lot of money on something that will die not long after was a waste, but I knew I wanted something. I also knew which florist I wanted as I had seen her work lots before when I used to work in my local pub. I know absolutely nothing about flowers so I put total faith in Rebecca and she created the most stunning displays I could have hoped for with almost compete free reign (the only rules were neutral and no eucalyptus!)
Favours was another thing we didn’t want to waste money on and so we decided to give charity favours so that when they got left on the tables at the end of the night as favours often do, the money had still gone somewhere useful. We each chose a charity close to our hearts. Tom picked Mencap because his uncle has a learning disability and I chose Parkinson’s UK because my Granny used to suffer from Parkinson’s. (we were both really pleased to see most of our guests wearing their favours throughout the night)

What was your first dance and why did you choose it?

Our first dance was to Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran because it’s always been an important song to us but more so after the proposal.

What were the most wonderful parts of the day for you?

Tom: That I got to marry Ali. That and the main, oh no wait, the pudding! Definitely the pudding! Also, everyone seemed to be really relaxed and enjoying themselves and the feedback we’ve had from everyone has been really positive. 

Ali: Being surprised with the wedding cars was amazing. I had absolutely no idea they were coming and my family kept up the pretence of taking their own cars all morning, even putting ribbons on. But just generally the whole day was amazing, albeit incredibly blurred and fast! Looking back through the photos my main take away is how much everyone, but especially my dad, is smiling!

Why did you choose Hannah Hall Photography as your photographer, and what was your experience of your photography on the day?

We chose Hannah because we knew we wanted the less formal style that she does so well! After our first meeting, there was no question that we wanted her. We loved her portfolio and we loved her. She put us both at ease straight away, which can be tough as neither of us are good with new people! The pre-wedding shoot was a great bonus as well, as it meant we knew we had an opportunity to see her again before the day. 
On the day, Hannah (and Cat) was brilliant. I’ve no idea how you got half the shots you did as I had no idea you were there (in a good way!) you felt more like you were one of our guests than someone we had hired to be there. Plus, what other photographer would walk through sheep poo for a sunset?

What would be your best bit of advice to other couples planning their wedding?

– Try not to stress about the small stuff – but don’t worry when you inevitably do!
– Make sure it’s what you want and not what you think everyone else thinks you should want.
– Don’t worry when things go wrong.
– Hire Hannah!

Ali + Tom’s autumnal wedding at Dodford Manor features the following wonderful suppliers…

Hair: Style Hair and Beauty // Makeup: Cathy Argenese Beauty // Gown designer: Ladybird // Shoes: Irregular Choice

Flowers: Rebecca Marsala Flowers // Cake: Bride’s sister // Groom’s Hire: Moss Bros // Second Shooter: Cat Lane


Planning your wedding at Dodford Manor too? Get in touch!