From the moment your turn into the half mile drive to St. Audries you immediately know this venue is about exclusivity. Unlike hotels which try and squeeze two or three wedding in on the same day, St. Audries is exclusively all yours for the whole day. And again unlike hotels, that means you can access all the rooms, the Orangery and all the gardens. Now the downside to all this freedom and wealth of potential imagery for the wedding photographer is quite simply where to start.
If you have never photographed at St. Audries before I strongly urge you to have a pre-wedding photography session with your couple beforehand to work out with them the important images they want. The reality is that if your couple did nothing else all day other than pander to their wedding photographers whim you still couldn't get every possible image your saw or wanted. As the wedding photographer you are going to have to make choices, what story do you want to tell, Stately Home or Rural Grandeur, Intimate or Imposing, Wuthering Heights or Downton Abbey. Without that kind of forethought you are likely to end up with lots of great images which won't necessarily work smoothly together in a wedding album
Civil Ceremonies are held in the beautiful glass Orangery in the grounds of the main house. The glass lets the light flood into the ceremony. Beware however, there are harsh highlights on the roof trusses and so you need to be careful how you handle these otherwise you will just end up with blown out highlights above the couple which will look dreadful. You don't need fill flash either. Our solution was to shoot RAW, expose midway so the couple were one stop under and then boost exposure in your raw converter and selectively reduce exposure 2 stops on the highlights using exposure brush in CS5.5. Result is overall correct exposure, you can see what I mean from the highlights above.
The weather is not really a problem at St. Audries as there are plenty of opportunities for great photography inside the main house. On this day the weather was very changeable and so we had to work inside and outside. For the dramatic sky shots we use Elinchrom Quardas for the main light and SB-900s for rim lights and hair lights, yes we have a complete lighting system with us at every wedding, its the only way to do what we do. But the results are wonderful as you can hopefully see.