Last weekend I joined these cool kids Sian & Mike for their pre-wedding shoot at Fountains Abbey up near Ripon in the Yorkshire Dales!Fountains Abbey & the Studley Royal estate are a World Heritage Site, containing the largest abbey ruins in the country, as well as some spectacular Georgian water gardens.  I love old the heritage behind the powerful ancient abbeys and Henry VIII’s angry ‘dissolution’.  Some abbey’s have little more than a wall standing, such as Roche Abbey near Rotherham, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet wedding couples at both Fountains Abbey and Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds in recent weeks (check the Kirkstall fun here)!

I could spend all day wandering these places; wondering what these rooms used to be and imagining the vast structures in their original state.

When I joined Sian & Mike, this beautiful fella was hanging out on a wall by the entrance!

He was definitely real, because he soon scarpered…

…when another beautiful fella arrived…

This is Sian & Mike’s mad lab, Walter!

They’d brought him along for a few pics!

He certainly was a giddy kipper, getting all this attention, so once we’d got a few pics of him with his dear mum & dad, Sian & Mike’s buddies took him off for a skip round the Abbey while we caught up.

We started our meet at the impressive Jacobean, stone Fountains Hall, where Sian & Mike’s civil ceremony’s going to be held (in the magnificent Great Chamber upstairs, with its medieval oriel window and views across the countryside!)

Reading up on it on the National Trust site, building started for it in 1598, partly with stone from the Abbey ruins, even integrating into its design an old abbey staircase!  Its history is shrouded in mystery and many legends have sprung up about it, including it being a hiding place for Catholics during the Civil War, and being haunted by the Blue Lady.

Between 1928-31 that the Hall was extensively repaired with many internal additions, and since it’s National Trust acquisition in 1983, has become one of the Trust’s major restoration projects.

It’s certainly a cool place for a wedding, as I shot one there before for a photographer friend of mine (check it out here)!

So, after we’d all had a catch up and chatted through their big day battle-plan, we got started on their practice portrait shoot!

These are always really good for both me (to scout out new fun locations to use on the day) and for the nervous couple to get used to how it feels to be in front of the camera!

I help them master that middle-distance catalogue stare!

Which they seemed to find most amusing!
I always prep my couples for their pre-wedding shoot and get them to think about what they wear, so they don’t turn up in tracky bottoms thinking it was just a meeting.  But I also tell them that this isn’t only a practice shoot, but is as much as they make it.  I encourage couples to bring make full use of it, bringing fun ideas and props with them for us to try.

I’ve started collecting cool pre-wedding ideas on my pinterest page and out of their bag of tricks, Sian & Mike pulled a heart shaped chalk board!!

Though we realised they weren’t get Mr & Mrs Foster, so we added a disclaimer at the top!

Another idea they liked was making a heart with their hands!

A fine-looking couple indeed!

Love this one!

They were very easy to shoot!
Bling bling!We then ventured into the ruins of the 12th century Cistercian monastery, which are just brilliant to explore.

I imagine hide and seek would be rather good here.

I popped into the museum afterwards and spotted this rendition showed how it looked at its prime, before Henry’s lads knocked it out.

I do find it amusing that they did such a bad job at actually knocking it down.We wandered the bridges, coves and arches, stopping for a smooch and a cuddle every now and again, inching towards my fave area…

…the magnificent vaulted cellarium!  Somehow amazingly escaping Team Henry’s brutal sixteenth century dissolution of the abbeys, this almost entirely intact area was where the lay brothers ate, slept and socialised.

I saw an image of this room when it was flooded once, and the mirror like reflection was quite divine.You can’t really go wrong in here!

An ace couple in an ace room!

Another fab arch in front of which a cuddle was called for!

We couldn’t resist a cheeky strain at the lavatorium!The architecture and symmetry in design here is simply breath-taking.

I like this one a lot!

And this one!

Can’t wait to get back here with a big white dress!I liked Sian’s special rubber Vivianne Westwood heels for classy off-road adventure stylings!

Though you can’t argue with Mike’s boots, as being altogether more practical 😉


Last time I was here I did a full-length shot of the couple in front of the tower and thought I’d try it again with a slightly different placement.

 I rather like it.

Collecting a happy Walter from their buddies, we all headed our separate ways…

I can’t wait to be back here to join these guys in early June!

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