Secret Wedding at the Asylum Chapel
Ashley and Connor’s Secret Wedding at the Asylum Chapel.
Asylum Chapel, London
This is a venue I have been wanting to photograph for a long time, it’s such a unique and photographically interesting building; when Ashley and Connor told me that they were getting married at the Asylum Chapel, I was practically salivating, I mean I don’t know any wedding photographer who wouldn’t be as excited as I was, however, I put my professional hat on and played down my excitement a notch and was grateful that they agreed to have me photograph their wedding.
The Asylum was not actually used as an asylum in the modern sense of the word. The older version of the word means sanctuary and the building was actually used as a rest home for elderly pub landlords, before it was bombed in World War II. Fortunately the stained glass windows are still original and the grade II listed building retains a lot of it’s charm, the distressed look that characterises this venue is all due to it’s battle scars from the bombing it suffered back in the war.
Ashley and Connor are Canadian Comedians and came to London to do some gigs with some of their friends. Unbeknown to their friends, they were married in Canada before the trip and asked their friends to meet them at the Asylum Chapel for an architectural tour and to dress up as they would be going off for dinner later. Ashley confided in me that she had enjoyed spinning the web of deceit but that she would be glad when it was over.
Ashley and Connor together with some of their guests are improvisational comedians and they incorporated this strongly in to their wedding. As they had been married prior to the day, they were able to have a friend marry them, however, the friend didn’t know that she would be marrying them and was just picked to come up and perform the ceremony, which she did masterfully and with great comic timing.
The whole ceremony felt like an exercise in improv, done really really well, and the alter at the Asylum Chapel added a degree of stage presence in some strange way. However, there were serious and poignant moments throughout the ceremony which gave the proceedings balance and gravity. After all this couple are very much in love and chose to spend their day with the people they care about most and this came across palpably in between the jokes and the humour.
Ashley and Connor were the most unruly, unfocussed, zany and quirky couple I have ever worked with and I loved them for that! Their personalities were so big, that you couldn’t help but be captivated by them, they and their guests truly entertained me the entire time. In fact I remember feeling frustrated that I was getting the shots that I thought I should be getting. It wasn’t until I got back home and reviewed the images in sequence that I realised this was never going to be a “normal” wedding and I believe that images I took did represent the couple, their guests and their day.
For example there were numerous moments where people were getting in the way or I would go to take a group shot and one of the guests put an umbrella up, or walks in to frame with sunglasses on, we were inside! Looking at the photos after I realised that these were very well timed and executed jokes, which made me laugh so much when I put the whole story together, I just wished I’d have concentrated more on these moments instead of trying to keep order (which was futile!).
There was a lot to love about this wedding, the Asylum Chapel, is a stunning venue but this couple and their guests where the real stars of the show and I feel very privileged to have been part of their special day, it was an experience that I won’t forget in a hurry.