Yesterday I photographed the first of my post-lockdown weddings at Chelsea Old Town Hall and I wanted to report back to you about the changes that have been made here.
We all know that lockdown has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but especially so for the whole wedding industry, and as such I am absolutely thrilled that after 4 months of no weddings at, all at least small weddings are now allowed to go ahead.
I appreciate the current rules on social distancing don’t allow for everyone to have the big day they may have had planned originally, but as someone who has specialised in intimate weddings and elopements for many years now, I can assure you that a small wedding with just your nearest and dearest is still a very special thing. Sometimes even more so, as it takes away some of the distractions and stresses of a huge event, and instead helps you focus, and really lets you appreciate, the importance of that lifelong commitment you are making to your loved one.
But yes, there are some rules in place, and following my first wedding back at one of my very favourite and regular venues, The Chelsea Old Town Hall, just yesterday, I can now share with you what changes have been made there to keep you, your nearest and dearest, as well as the registrars safe.
Primarily, most of the seating has been removed from the rooms, yellow lines have been placed on the floor to help you keep your distance, and most importantly, perspex screens have been erected on the registrars tables to keep a physical barrier between you and them.
Also, since fathers are currently not permitted to walk you down the aisle, the bride and groom now have their pre-ceremony interviews in the ceremony room itself, whilst the guests stay in the waiting room. The guests then enter the ceremony room to settle in for the ceremony itself. Effectively, right now no one is walking down any aisle, including the bride and groom.
So lets have a look at how the changes affect each of the rooms:
The Brydon Room
This room used to hold up to 40 people. It will now allow 8 people – the bride and groom, two witnesses and 4 guests. Please do note that children do count towards the headcount.
This really is the best space for photography, given that it has a good amount of natural light, and the new position of the bride and groom’s seating actually allows for a more flattering angle than before. The only thing that’s particularly affected are photographs of the bride and groom signing the register, as this photograph would need to be taken through the perspex, which obviously affects the outcome.
But as you can see, the screens themselves are not particularly intrusive otherwise.
The Rossetti Room
The Rossetti Room previous held 14 people and this is now down to 6 people – the bride and groom, 2 witnesses and 2 further guests. Again, for most photographs, the screens which are in place won’t materially affect the photography, except for photographing the signing of the register.
The Harrington Room
Now, I’m not going to lie to you – this one is a little trickier.
The Harrington Room previously allowed up to 8 people into the room for ceremonies. Now this is down to just 4 – the bride and groom plus their witnesses.
During the ceremony, the registrars sit/stand behind the screen, with the bride and groom sitting opposite them on the other side of the screen, facing the registrars, with their backs to the guests. There is not a huge amount of space between the table and the bride and groom – just enough to socially distance the registrars from the couple, but as the photographer, it can be difficult to get a good angle during the ceremony if we are to respect everyone’s space.
I may need to photograph from the back of the room, with the couple side-on. It will depend on the comfort level of the registrars on the day, where I will be allowed to photograph from, even if I am wearing a mask to do so. So when booking this room, please do keep in mind that I will have to respect the wishes and rules of the registrars on the day. This is obviously always the case, but it has more specific implications in this room in particular. Clearly, I will capture the very best photographs I can for you, given the situation, and of course none of this affects our photographs on the steps afterwards.
All in all, I hope that these photographs are showing you that whilst the numbers you can have at your wedding are obviously reduced, the precautions that have been taken will not significantly affect the photographs you will get help you remember your very special, more intimate day. You can confident book your intimate post-lockdown weddings at Chelsea Old Town Hall, knowing you are safe and in good hands.