I’m revisiting this wedding A) because it’s a Punchdrunk Theatre Wedding and, five years on, it’s still one of the most extraordinary weddings I’ve ever shot and B) more technically, I’ve just written some words for Rangefinder magazine extolling the virtues of flash — and this was shot without any flash at all — which made the conditions incredibly challenging, but Felix asked me not to use flash.. so I didn’t. Thusly, I’m just keen to point out that there is no right and wrong way. Just the way you want to shoot it, and the way that works for you.
Punchdrunk Theatre Wedding
If I told you, Dear Reader, that this uniquely Punchdrunk wedding reception took place in an abandoned mansion with no electricity, where, for a long time a one-armed mannequin guarded a lamplit drawing room in which two ravens perched atop two bonewhite animal skulls while elsewhere two typewriters canoodled in the warm dark snuggery of their mahogany shelves, and two tankards nestled lovingly on a bed of straw, you might imagine this was not your typical wedding. And that would be a fair comment. It wasn’t. No but I mean, it really wasn’t…
This was the marriage of Kate Vogel, previously of Channel 4’s documentary arm and now The Tate, to Felix Barrett, the artistic director of the UK’s leading immersive theatre company, Punchdrunk – who, completely coincidentally, were responsible for the single most amazing theatrical night of my life with their production of Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death.
It was a genuinely strange wonderland wedding. Kind of like The Flaming Lips meets Chekhov. With the church basked in a beautiful, snowy, subfusc light, the huge dilapidated mansion lit fiery red, the morris dancers, the 30ft wooden wedding cake-slash-bonfire, the huge bushels of mistletoe, the two drawing rooms set-dressed by the Punchdrunk crew that were a weird blend of gothic and 1950s high society Manhattan (think Dorothy Parker having cocktails with Alistair Crowley) and the whole place peppered with dandies, roustabouts, raconteurs, Belle Époque beauties and David Tennant’s quizzical-expression-stunt-double (believe me, you’ll know what I mean when you get to the photo).
And yet (to get a little sentimental right at the end… like a US sit-com) the day’s crowning achievement was that none of the spectacle ever overshadowed what was, at heart, just a very beautiful marriage. The whole thing was personal and idiosyncratic (the groom and ushers were wearing Yankee uniforms from the American Civil War, and Kate had a big heavy gown to throw over her vintage, ruffled wedding dress when the weather turned) but it was never self-consciously eccentric and never lost sight of its being a wedding day and amazing party.
It was an absolute pleasure to be there, a privilege to cover it, and I got back to my bed and breakfast very, very late…
“We feel very lucky to have found Nick. He managed to capture the spirit, love and chaos of our wedding – and embraced all the challenges of our day with true gusto. He is charming and deliciously discreet. The photos are sublime and he is a genius.” — Felix Barrett