As you may know by now, I am a big fan of post-punk-rock genre, especially the band Arctic Monkeys, but I also love the pioneers of the punk movement – the Clash and the Sex Pistols. In addition to loud guitars and a bit of the old rebellious attitude, these bands have one more thing in common: their root was in London, which is to this day the largest scene for the genre. When Alla and Joe invited me to document their wedding in the birthplace of punk, I was just blown away. It was London Calling, like literally! Ever since I’ve started working as a destination wedding photographer the famous town has been on my bucket list and I finally managed to check it off, thanks to Alla and Joe.
I hardly ever write about how the bride and groom met, but this story has something quite unique. Alla and Joe liked each other – on the Tinder app! So what, right? Thousands of people, sometimes continents away, meet online every day through the social networks. Well, these two also met online, liked each other profile, and through the Tinder app, they found out that they lived in the same apartment building! Even though they lived just one floor away – they probably would have stayed complete strangers, had they not used this type of match-making. For these two, the dating app actually worked – they decided to get married!
Town Hall Ceremony
They had their wedding ceremony at the Town Hall. I understand that the Londoners are quite used to this monumental building, but to me, it was a blast. The ceremony was short, but emotional, which is in my book the perfect balance.
British wedding photographers are probably quite bored with this venue, as it is quite common. On the other hand, as this was my first gig as a London documentary wedding photographer, I felt like a child in a candy store.
After the cheers and congratulations at the ceremony, the newlyweds took a break from the crowd. We did a little photo session, however I have serious doubts that Alla and Joe were even aware that they were being photographed.
They hugged and kissed like they were the only two people in the world.
Wedding on the river Thames
The next part was a bit of a surprise, for me. Our mode of transportation to the dinner party was – not a red double-decker bus – but a boat ride down the River Thames. What added to my excitement was the fact that this was not just any tour boat. This particular vessel was one of the Little Ships of Dunkirk – civilian boats which were recruited to help evacuate the Allied troops who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk in France, during World War II. This one not only survived the rescue mission, but even went on to appear in the Christopher Nolan’s movie about one of the most pivotal battles in the Second World War.
The tour started at the London Eye and took us along some of the most popular landmarks and buildings of London – the Tower Bridge, the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The merry guests mingled and admired the unique view of London’s most famous buildings along the Thames, which marries the North and South London. While gearing up for the dinner with delicious finger food and drinks, everyone was spontaneous and relaxed.
All of this made for some fantastic material for me as a documentary wedding photographer. The boat ride was a great idea, and these images I took along the Thames ride are more akin to photojournalistic style photography than standard, run-of-the mill wedding photos: wherever I turned, there was either a historic London building, or a memorable moment with the newlyweds and their friends and family. The two hour ride flew by quickly, even though I must have taken hundreds of photos, and the next thing I knew, we were at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel.
The Night Sky
The dinner was fantastic, with terrific speeches, sprinkled with the traditional British humor. Even though I split my sides laughing, I could not retell any of the jokes if my life depended on it – because the delivery is far more important than the story. We decided to end the day with the final photo session – just the young couple, with the night skyline and the city lights in the background.
Usually the final photos in the wedding galleries are from the dance floor, but this was a refreshing and truly romantic idea. Simple, yet perfect. This one had it all: it was my first destination wedding in London, UK, one of the most famous cities in the world. My documentary style photography and this location were a perfect combination. Alla and Joe, as well as their guests, were completely natural and carefree, which allowed me to take some great creative photos without anyone becoming camera-shy.
The famous London locations must have been photographed by hundreds of top wedding photographers in the world, but that only motivated me to do my own thing even more. I think I managed to channel some of that rebellious spirit, and become a sort of alternative wedding photographer during my London gig.
Documentary Wedding Photography by Damir Plavotić
Destination: Thames, London, UK