Natalie + Hugh
A super relaxed wedding full of fun and games at Parr Green Hall, Malpas, 4th May, 2024


Blog coming soon...for now enjoy some photos! ​​​​​​​
*For super up-to-the-minute posts follow my Instagram page @rodonnellphoto
Kerry + Jonathan
An intimate wedding at The Grosvenor Hotel, Chester, 5th April, 2024


I was honoured to be asked to photograph Kerry + Jonathan's beautiful Chester wedding. With just 3 guests, close friends of theirs, it was so lovely to be a part of such an intimate day. I felt very welcome and included, with the regular offer of champagne which I turned down once or twice and then caved in haha! We began with bridal preparations, all very classy, calm and elegant. Then onto the groom for finishing touches.
The ceremony was short but very sweet, held in the 'Drawing room' which felt more like someone's living room than a wedding ceremony venue. Again, perfect for the intimacy of this wedding. I joined them for aperitifs on the landing and then it was outside for confetti. Kerry, Jonathan and I then head out around Chester for some couples portraits (with the help from lovely assistant Jo!). Jonathan proposed to Kerry underneath Chester's famous Eastgate Clock and so we took a few romantic portraits there before moving on to one of Chester's most beautiful quaint medieval streets, Godstall Lane, a favourite spot of mine! We had some laughs doing tipsy walks and hip-bumps as well as some classic fake flirting! And finally back to the Grosvenor for our final portraits (to fulfil some crazy ideas of mine...which you'll see at the end of this blog) and some more champagne and nibbles! What's not to love?!
I often have mad or creative ideas at weddings for portraits and I love it when my couples are up for it and don't just give me strange looks! So we had some smooches in the lift as the doors were closing (which to my delight were shiny gold!). Head to my instagram page to see the Gif. The porter's trolley also caught my eye. I wondered if he'd mind if I borrowed it for a photo? The porters and doormen at The Grosvenor are always so warm and friendly and of course they were happy to lend it to us! And here are the results...​​​​​​​
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Engaged couple holding hands on beach at sunset with dog
Meisha + Joe
Engagement shoot at Cubbins Green beach, Wirral.
I have been wanting to do an engagement shoot on the beach for a while. Until now they have mostly taken place in the city (Chester), parks or forest. The beach at sunset, I think, is one of the most romantic scenarios and the perfect location for a 'love shoot'! When I suggested the beach to Meisha and Joe they instantly said 'yes!' and it turns out Joseph grew up just along from this very beach. 
The weather leading up to their shoot had been horrendous by the way! and I was checking the forecast daily, on the edge of my seat. We were due to shoot on Thursday but the closer it got the wetter the forecast became and so I made an executive decision to move it to the Friday, Good Friday. Luckily Meisha and Joe were free and happy to change it. The weather was still a bit iffy all day, but as I drove through torrential rain and got closer to the coast I could see blue skies ahead. We were so lucky! The clouds parted and gave us a beautiful golden hour. We had awesome shadows, sparkly water and a golden glow. 
The couple had brought along their 9 month old puppy, Gus. So we took a stroll along the beach as they would normally when taking Gus for a walk. It was super relaxed as if we were friends meeting for an evening walk. Stopping for photos now and again, having some laughs, feeding Gus treats. I like to start my sessions with a walk and a talk to loosen up my couples and get them simply interacting with each other. They often laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation or take the Mickey out of each other. A laugh whether it's awkward or not is still a laugh and makes for great natural portraits! I like to keep things moving so my couples are not stiff and wondering how to stand, what to do with their hands etc. (having a dog is a great ice-braker!). So we may try some dancing, piggy backs or tipsy walks to up the energy and encourage some laughs. It's only really once we've warmed up a bit I might try some more static poses. When I say 'poses' I don't mean I will place you into a position and ask you to hold it, I simply may ask you to stand or sit and connect with each other in some way, whether it be hugging, kissing, holding hands or resting your head on your partners chest for example. My aim is to relax you as much as possible and capture the most authentic you. I think if I were to offer no direction at all most couples would freeze or be unsure what to do and therefore look more awkward or false in their photos. By offering gentle direction and then adding prompts to encourage emotion or laughter your photos are bound to feel more authentic and natural. ​​​​​​​
couples pre-wedding shoot on beach at sunset kiss
Meisha and Joe are getting married on June 8th, look out for their wedding photos! 
If you are engaged and looking for a relaxed, fun, creatively inspired photographer please fill in the contact form and I will send you my Price Guide. All of my packages include a pre-wedding shoot just like Meisha and Joe's. 

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
​​​​​​​
Lace wedding dress through shop window
'The Dress'
Helping you take the stress out of finding 'the dress'.
Shopping for ‘the dress’ is (or should be) one of the most exciting tasks on your wedding ‘to do’ list, but it’s not for everyone. What should be a fun, enjoyable experience can often turn into the most daunting and stressful of tasks. My sister’s own search last year prompted me to write this blog – she finds it very hard to make decisions at the best of times and gets quite stressed out and anxious. She starts to doubt herself and whether she’s made the right decision. So you can imagine the self-doubt she had when it came to wedding dress shopping no matter how much my mum and I reassured her that she’d found the right one. 
I will let you into a little secret. I STILL, 9 years after my wedding, think I could’ve chosen a better dress. I see so many beautiful styles (especially now working in the wedding industry) I think I would have loved more. Don’t get me wrong, when I found my dress it was a lightbulb moment, I knew it was the one for me and I felt amazing on the day. It was only since being exposed to so many others online and while shopping for my sister's dress that the internal dialogue started to niggle at me! But I don’t think it would matter which dress I’d have chosen, I’d still doubt myself because that’s just who I am!
The problem is there is SO MUCH choice nowadays. You don’t even have to opt for a dress if you don’t want to, you could go jumpsuit with pockets, separate top and skirt or trouser suit if you wanted, anything goes. What is on trend at the moment? Wait, should I be original and go for something different rather than wearing what everyone else is wearing? and why go for traditional white when I could wear my favourite colour, hot pink?! Gaaahhhhh!!! The options are endless! And although this is great news for any alternative brides out there it’s no wonder brides are getting their garters in twist (lol) and lets not even mention the neuro-divergent folk between us! That’s another story altogether.  
"Heart over head all the way when it comes to your wedding day, I say!"
So, to hopefully take some of the stress out of finding your wedding dress, I have put together a few tips and suggestions on how to approach this huge decision making process:   
1. First up, it’s where we all start our search. Don’t get carried away online. By all means browse Pinterest or bridal shops online to decipher what styles or designers you seem to gravitate towards but note them down and move on. 
2. Pick a maximum of 3 dress shops. When you find a ‘wow’ dress, one that makes you feel amazing and most importantly feel like ‘you’…STOP!! If you don’t see any you love then try a couple more but if you start getting confused it’s time to take a break. 
3. If you’re not set on a made-to-measure garment, why not order some to try on at home. Have fun with it. Go crazy, order the ones that give you butterflies! Imagine yourself walking down the isle in them. Can you picture it? 
4. Think about your budget. Do you really need to spend 2k on a dress you’re only going to wear for one day? Does it really matter if it’s a mail order from ASOS, an esteemed designer or an off the peg bargain as long as you feel beautiful and confident in it? Think about your priorities. No one has to know where you bought it if you don’t want them to and who cares what ‘they’ think anyway? Easy to say I know. As much as we keep telling ourselves it’s our day, there’s something niggling in the back of our minds, a want to impress and wow our guests. But to me if a bride looks stunning, I wouldn’t care less how much she paid for it, in fact I think I’d be way more impressed if she’d got it for a bargain from a high street store. But if you have the budget and are of the opinion that it’s the one day you can justify splurging on an outfit then go for it! 
5. How do you want to feel? What vibe do you want to give off? Do you want to look elegant? Cool? Contemporary? Alternative? Vintage? Dramatic? Understated? Boho? Chic? Don’t worry about what will be expected of you or what you ‘usually’ wear, it’s your day, go off piste if that’s what your heart desires. Heart over head all the way when it comes to your wedding day, I say! 
6. Decide what is most important to you? That you look and feel amazing? That your dress is unique or alternative and will get your guests talking? That your future husband or wife will think you look stunning? That it fits in with the vibe of the day? Score these from most important to least and keep that top priority firmly in mind when shopping for your dress and trying them on.​​​​​​​
7. If after following these tips, you’re still stressed and confused. Just remember it’s only one day and the most important thing is, you’re about to marry your soulmate, the person who loves you for who you are and will think you look stunning whether you’re wearing a two piece or a full on gown. Hell, they should be happy if you turn up wearing a bin bag! ;-) ​​​​​​​
The dresses featured in this blog are all from Cheshire Brides of Frodsham. They are a lovely helpful team and have a superb range of designer dresses. Go check them out! Manager, Claire says:  
"Cheshire Brides have been helping the beautiful brides of Cheshire for over 40 years in finding their dream wedding dresses. Our stylists are experienced in knowing what style of dress will complement each body style. We are able to order dresses in sizes 6-30. We want every bride who walks through our door to feel special and we offer a relaxed and calm environment to browse through our collection of over 100 dresses."
I asked Claire and some of my lovely brides, if you have one piece of advice what would it be? Here's what they said: 
"My one piece of advice to an anxious bride would be to book an appointment, stay open minded and allow your stylist the opportunity to use their expertise in matching you to your perfect wedding dress."
Claire, Cheshire Brides of Frodsham
"Make sure when you set a budget that you include at least £200 for alterations especially if you are buying straight off the rack! Or ask if the alterations are included in the price of the dress."
Kelly (Chester Racecourse, October 2023)
"I didn't even do a proper wedding dress shop, mine was from Monsoon! So maybe to consider high street stores like ASOS, Monsoon, Coast, Debenhams etc. as they're really good quality nowadays, reasonably priced and you can try them on at home without all the faff of going into shops."
Charlotte (Bluebell Cafe & Chester River Cruises, April 2023)
"I personally would say to find something which makes you feel great, regardless to the price. I knew I didn’t want to spend a fortune and focused on photography as my priority. I definitely would advise trying the low budget dresses first and then decide what is most important."
Arianna (Cock-O Barton, April 2023)
"Take your nearest and dearest with you as you have spent a lifetime trying outfits on in front of them and they know what looks good on you! Do try on all the dresses even if they are not your style as it really is the one you don't expect, this was the case for my first experience trying on dresses. Although, I fell in love with mine online and tried a few on before I tried the one I had fallen in love with just to be sure! Smaller retailers really do go the extra mile for you."
Michelle (Ness Gardens, October 2023)
Great advice ladies! Now go rock that dress....or jumpsuit or whatever you decide to go for, girrrrrl!!!!
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Married couple outside Peckferton Castle
Angela + Matthew
Anniversary shoot at Peckferton Castle, 9th March 2024
Wow. What can I say? Stunning venue, stunning dress, stunning couple. 
When Angela contacted me a couple of months ago from the US to enquire about booking an anniversary Photoshoot at Peckferton Castle, I didn’t need to think twice. YES PLEASE!!! She and husband Matthew were travelling to the UK for their 5th wedding anniversary and Peckferton was one of their stop offs. I have never been to Peckferton let alone shot there and so I was very excited to see what all the hype was about. And it did not disappoint!
Before meeting, we discussed outfits but Angela didn’t need any advice or suggestions from me, she had it all planned, she would be wearing “a long black strapless dress with tulle train and tulle detachable sleeves”. I knew it would be stunning. We talked about accessories, red lipstick, potentially a red rose or rose petals to play with. So with that in mind, I got planning...
When you book a photoshoot, I don’t just turn up and take the photos. So much more goes into each session, behind the scenes. You will receive a questionnaire from me which will cover things like ages of any children, what things they are into, personalities, any concerns you might have about your shoot etc. This will give me a little backstory, just enough information for me to plan how I’m going to approach your session. It helps me picture it in my mind. Then in the run up to your shoot I start writing notes, these are usually broken down into 3 sections: Locations/settings, Poses or positions (walking, sitting, standing) and Prompts (tricks and techniques to encourage movement, expression, natural emotion). Each Photoshoot is different but I give them all my equal attention and write fresh notes each time. This way I am never complaisant or platoing? I come to each session with a new energy, fresh ideas. I am always looking for inspiration from photographers I admire; Eric Floberg, Taylor Jones, John Branch to name but a few and watch their videos online. These notes usually end up being a scribbly mess! So I will write out a neater more concise version to take with me on the shoot. This may not be everyone’s approach but it works for me. I find if I have some sort of plan in my head, tricks up my sleeve I can relax into it more and go in with confidence. Of course, you can’t plan for everything, especially when kids are involved! To quote Forest Gump “You never know what you’re gonna get” 😂 But that makes it more interesting. 
For Angela and Matthews shoot, I had a vision, a strategy and although some things didn’t come into fruition (I couldn’t get hold of a rose in time and to our disappointment the petals on the bed were white!) but hey ho, the results are better than I imagined and I’m super pleased with the final edits. And Angela’s words “OMG I am dying!!! 😍” when I sent the sneak preview said it all. Your reactions are what I live for. They make my job all the more rewarding. 
Here are some of my favourites below...
We started in their grand bedroom suite, which was fun and allowed us to get a bit creative and intimate! One of the questions I ask my couples in the questionnaire is: 'are you comfortable with being intimate in front of the camera?', the options are: 'Yes we are happy to be affectionate in public', 'We are a bit shy and may need some encouragement' or 'We are quite private and would rather not if that's ok'. That way you can opt in or out and I know in advance whether you are comfortable or not with being asked to kiss etc. 
We explored the castle interior, including the grand staircase Angela had seen online when looking at photos of Peckferton. And ventured into a large ballroom with a bright red carpet and huge windows, perfect for some dancing prompts! Their glamorous black outfits fitting perfectly against the red backdrop. 
Then outside for some stunning castle backdrops and portraits of Angela in her statement ball gown. She wore the same earrings she wore on her wedding day...
And finally to finish off, a double-exposed photo I created using one of my favourites from the shoot.
Creative double-exposed photo of couple Peckferton Castle
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Alice + Paige
Chester Registry Office, Saturday, 10th Feb 2024
A couple of Saturdays ago I witnessed (through a lens) the marriage of these two lovely girls. They approached me last summer to discuss their August wedding at Oddfellows and from the moment we met I knew we were well-matched and on the same page (pardon the pun) when it came to photographing their wedding. Paige had lots of creative ideas and got me buzzing with ideas of my own! 
Fast forward to December 2023 when I received a message from Alice to say that they were bringing their marriage forward due to a family illness and that they would love me to be there to capture it. The August wedding would still go ahead as planned. I was honoured and fully on board of course. Despite the solemn circumstances, it was a really lovely afternoon. An intimate ceremony at Chester Registry Office with just a few of their nearest and dearest, followed by some really fun couples portraits around Chester. Paige was keen to have fun with the photos as she knew it would be sad looking back on photos of her Nan:
“We want a few with my nana (she will be in a wheelchair) and then I want fun creative ones with Al as the memories as looking at pictures with people that have passed can be hard.”
So with Paige’s suggestions and props and my Pinterest board we came up with some really fun portraits!
Kicking off with a romantic milkshake in Five Guys...
Followed by some flirting outside a red phone box...​​​​​​​
Then heart confetti and sunglasses on the Town Hall steps and a quick swig of bubbly. ​​​​​​​
A trip to Chester New Market to freeze a moment in time amongst a busy crowd at the bar (where sadly a rude barman made sarcastic comments under his breath, I must add!)...
Oh and not forgetting a trip to the Asian grocery store and a quick smooch in the plant shop! Aaaaand breathe! The poor girls were exhausted 😂 What a pair of legends. I am so happy with the results. ​​​​​​​
It just goes to show, wedding photos don’t have to be traditional or ‘samey’, the sky is your limit! I am a firm believer that your day is your day and you should do it YOUR way. People will have their opinions and ideas but at the end of the day, your wedding should be whatever you want it to be.
If you want to ride a miniature railway on your wedding day. You do you.
If you want to share a milkshake in Five Guys. You do you.
If you want your dog to be the ring bearer. Well that’s on you (lol).
Just sayin’, go have the best day of YOUR lives! And however you choose to celebrate, I am 100% behind you and will be there to capture it all with a smile on my face. 
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Happy New Year
Tuesday, 16th Jan 2024
This may seem a bit late in the day but it can take time to ease into the new year, after the decs come down and the dust settles.  We take our decorations down on Jan 1st. They just don't feel as magical after Christmas and in our house it signifies a fresh start. Time to 'get crackin'! 
Some things I have promised myself this year...
More self-care; this includes more walks, more exercise, more water, more fruit and veggies and more time with my husband. I've started well with 4 walks already (including Helsby Hill, photos above), a HUGE new 1.8L water bottle which I'm swigging from regularly! and 25 press-ups most days. Pat on the back for me. The key is consistency. I HAVE to keep it up or it's down the slippery slope I go! 
Photography-wise, 2024 for me is about growth + education, pushing myself creatively and filling my diary with Weddings! I am one year into my professional photography journey (excuse the 'J' word!) and proud of how far I have come in such a short space of time. I truly believe if you consistently put the work in, you get something back. And so I will continue to educate myself and push myself creatively to give my future couples and families a product and service that's not just 'satisfactory' but outstanding, unique, memorable. 
Because photography is not a commodity, we photographers have to work extra hard for bookings and give something extra to our clients to justify the absolute value of what we do. And that is what I intend to do this year and into the future, build a product that is super special, charming, thoughtful and unique. Provide a service that goes above and beyond what the customer expects. When you are paying a lot of money for a service, you deserve to be wowed! 
Watch this space... 
Other things in the pipeline
My last shoot of 2023 was a super relaxed at-home festive photoshoot, where I captured the family hanging out, decorating cookies, reading together plus some details around the family home that caught my eye. It got me thinking, I want to offer a 'Day in the Life' type photo session, a nod to nostalgia if you like, where I capture what will be your children's memories of growing up. The details, the daily habits and routines, the games you play etc. These would then be displayed in a photo book, telling your unique story of family life, the home your children grew up in. I love the idea that this book will get passed down through the generations for future children and grandchildren to witness their ancestors home life. 
I have a competition running on Instagram to win a free at-home family shoot including photo book. Enter for yourself or a friend/relative and help me reach my milestone of 1k followers! Use this link or click the instagram icon below:
https://www.instagram.com/p/C2Amwy3tKok/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igsh=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
Here's to a year of growth!