Getting married in the Palace of Westminster
I was absolutely delighted when Ali & Rory asked me to photograph their wedding at the Houses of Parliament (also know as the House of Commons or the Palace of Westminster) and even more so when they told me they had special permission from Black Rod to marry in St Mary’s Undercroft which is usually off limits, this is a small chapel under Parliament that is one of only two surviving parts of the original medieval building (the other being Westminster Hall). Ali works in the Palace of Westminster which allowed her to marry here. I’ve visited the Palace of Westminster several times when I worked a press photographer, often on visits arranged by MPs, but this was my first wedding here.
I arrived to photograph Ali getting ready at the County Hall hotel on the opposite side of the river Thames, she had chosen this as it was easy to get a cab across Westminster bridge to arrive at the Houses of Parliament in a few minutes, in theory anyway! What she didn’t reckon for was a protest taking place outside Parliament that meant she had to get out and walk instead.
These are absolutely wonderful – thank you so much. We must have sat and gone through the whole lot at least five times now, with friends/family and there were so many ‘ooh’s’, ‘ah’s’ and ‘gasps’ which is a sure sign they are a hit. We are incredibly glad we chose you to be our wedding photographer, and are delighted you were able to capture so many brilliant raw moments from the day which will help us cement those memories forever – Ali & Rory, wedding at The Houses of Parliament.
The Chapel of St Mary’s undercroft wedding ceremony – Houses of Parliament.
After passing through security I collected a permit from Black Rod which would allow me to photograph the wedding ceremony in St Mary’s undercroft chapel which has a strict no photography policy, my permit with a wax seal looked very impressive. The Chapel is accessed down a staircase from Westminster Hall.
The chapel was started by King Edward I in 1297, there is some amazing history here and it felt a real honour to be photographing a wedding ceremony in the chapel. Various fires destroyed most of the Palace of Westminster with just the chapel and Westminster Hall surviving.
I caught up with Rory in the chapel before the ceremony, he composed the music for Ali to walk down the aisle to. During the ceremony I was thankful of the totally silent shutter on my Fujifilm X-Pro 3 cameras that allows me to capture the ceremony without any intrusion. I had a set position for most of the ceremony tucked away at the front and was also given permission to move to photograph the readings, I don’t like to move around much during the ceremony anyway as my presence should not distract from the proceedings.
Member’s dining room, House of Commons
The wedding breakfast took place in the Member’s dining room in the House of Commons, this is a very impressive room that can seat 170 guests.
Evening reception in the Terrace Pavilion
After the wedding breakfast Ali and Rory took me on a tour of the Palace of Westminster, by this time all the tourists had left leaving the building to just us. They then headed to the Terrace Pavilion to join the guests for the party which went on well into the night. Rory joined the band for a couple of songs to play guitar.
It was a surreal experience leaving at the end of the night as I made my way back through the Palace of Westminster on my own and stood for a few minutes admiring the amazing architecture in Westminster Hall which was now empty and silent before making my way back to St Pancras for my train home.