Emma and Phils Healey Barn Wedding

Emma and Phil tied the knot at their church in the centre of Newcastle before heading to Healey Barn in the Northumberland wilderness. Emma and Phil are the type of couple that only seem to come along once every wedding season. I can always tell the kind because they have that spark in their eye and that little bit more excitement in their voice than most. Nearly all couples are excited to be getting married, but most kind of forget why they are getting married. It is not their fault; the wedding industry bombards you with that much stuff they say you should need, by the end of the planning, it becomes a little overwhelming. I think for most couples when it gets to the day they are sometimes just relieved that its all over, the planning that is.

The Bridal Prep

I spoke with Emma and Phil over the phone, and we met for their pre-wedding photoshoot at Sycamore gap, you can read about it here. It has been a personal goal for me to photograph a couple there because of how amazing the scenery is, but you can’t just turn up with any couple. They need to have that spark, and you both need to be singing off the same hymn sheet because it is a little challenging to get there. The shoot was amazing, I was buzzing for the full two-hour drive home, and I just knew their wedding was going to be everything I had hoped it would be. 

Before we go any further, I want to say I’m not a religious man. Still, Emma and Phil are the second couple I met last year that opened my eyes to the sense of community and the idea of being apart of something greater than you can have on your life. The energy, happiness and joy that both weddings gave out had a significant impact on me. This started on the morning of Emma and Phils wedding when I went to photograph Emma in a cottage she had hired out. I was greeted by one of Emmas younger brothers while Emma was out having her hair done, but you could feel the buzz in the air. As I had a look around and set my gear down in a corner you could hear people laughing and talking from each room, music was playing upstairs, and the kettle was on in the kitchen through the hallway.
Before I could catch my breath people were rushing from room to room and floor to floor. This is what makes me love photographing those first few hours in the morning. The sense of panic mixed with excitement. In a few hours Emma would be Mrs Worth! As the hours passed and it turned into late morning, I had photographed all the essential parts of the bridal prep. The bride getting into her dress, the flowers sitting on the kitchen table and that special first reveal that means so much. I never try to pose any of these, I once read of another photographer who never set up any photo during the day, and it struck a chord with me. I believe that if people are saying they are documentary photographs, then you have to photograph in a documentary way, not just when it suits you. With the usual rush at the end, I quickly packed up and set off on the 30-minute drive to the church.

Big buildings, big hearts. 

Pulling up outside in the shadow of the famous tyne bride, a very inconspicuous old red brick building greeted me. From the outside, the only clue that it was a church was the large letters on the side that said CityChurch. A handful of Phil’s groomsmen were greeting arriving guests as they walked through the glass doors. Inside, it still doesn’t look like a church, but it felt more like a church than any I had been in before. Newcastle CityChurch is a converted factory that still boasts relics from the past, like the old lifting cranes high above our heads and the old tall single pane windows that were letting the light of that soft winter dapple the guests below. Even though the room was large, it was filled with the buzz of guests eagerly awaiting the bridal party. Fairy lights were strung from side to side above our heads that dulled the harshness of Victorian engineering. Looking around, I had that feeling I talked about earlier; you could feel a sense of community in the room. They all belonged. 

The service passed beautifully with some fantastic tender moments. One of my favourites was watching Phil shed a tear as Emma walked down the aisle with her father. The other was watching Emma and Phil’s guests sing with just as much passion as their hosts as the band played their favourite hymns. The service was a true celebration of life and the joining of two people in love.

Healey Barn

Healey Barn is an 18th-century barn surrounded by lush pine forests and rolling hills in the heart of Northumberland, between Hexham and Newcastle. As a wedding venue, it is right up there with the very best. As you enter the old barn, you at struck with how elegant and grand it is. Old traditional oak beams lead your eyes down the long and narrow barn to the roaring fireplace that dominates the far wall. From the ceiling hang large floral chandeliers that add the finishing touches.    The old barn is the main focal point where you and your guests mingle throughout the day, but through the door adjacent to the fireplace is another stunning long barn that is laid out to host your wedding breakfast. The centre of the venue is a courtyard that is littered with fire pits that are perfect for sitting around with friends and a drink during those long summer nights. 

I arrived early with the couple so we could do their all-important portrait photos. As I had already experienced at Sycamore Gap, I knew how adventurous they were and how much they valued photography, which I loved. Instead of hanging around Healey barn, we took a short drive in the car to a nearby forest. The pine forest is just like any that was planted to harvest with tall, straight trees with long leading lines. It is perfect for getting those candid photos I love but adding some symmetry in there for something different. I loved how even though Emma’s dress was so perfectly delicate (and white), she still wanted to walk through a wood just for her photos. It is these type of clients that you dream of getting as a wedding photographer. With the formalities of the portraits and group photos done, the rest of the wedding flowed as usual. Once the speeches were over, we all headed back into the old barn to party the rest of the night away, what a setting to celebrate! Long and tightly packed, it is the perfect place to force people to get up and dance. As I said goodbye to Emma and Phil, I left with a slice of handmade pizza and the buzz inside of a perfect wedding. There’s no better way to finish the night and its these types of weddings that make my job the best in the world. I want to say a huge thank you to Emma and Phil. It was a pleasure to be there and help you celebrate.