The great thing about being a wedding photographer is that I get to do my job in some fantastic locations while at the same time being part of a very special occassion and being surrounded by people who are in great form, all combining to give me a very pleasant working atmosphere which is the envy of many. I have been lucky enough to ply my trade at some fantastic wedding venues and so I will try to review as many of these hotels as best I can. Please forgive me if alot of the review cames across moreso from a photographer's viewpoint rather than that of a guest but you have to remember that I spend most of my day on location with a camera pressed up against my nose. :-)
This week I want to talk about a recent wedding I shot at The Station House Hotel in Kilmessan, Co Meath. Pamela and Karl were the happy couple on the day. Having met with them on a few occassions before the wedding itself I took a spin out to the hotel to do a recce of the grounds to get a good idea of the best locations for photos as well as to check out the lighting conditions etc. I met with the banquetting manager, Sarah who could not have been more helpful. Sarah took time out to show me all the prime spots for photo opportunities of which there were many.
The Station House Hotel would be well known as a premier location for outdoor weddings and I was not disappointed with the many choices available to me. There is a beautiful outdoor reception area between the main bar and the function room where guests can mingle and enjoy a drink in the sunshine or under the warmth of outdoor heaters if it is a bit on the cool side. Sarah then took me to the Signal Box which has been converted into a beautiful and very unique Bridal Suite. This is a very quaint building and extremely picturesque which is ideal for photographs.
From there we went to the Carriage Room. This is an old building which as the name suggests, once housed train carriages which would have been brought in for maintainence etc. The building has been lovingly restored and is now the main function room. With its exposed stone walls and tall windows this room really is a beautiful location to host any wedding reception.
But it is outdoors where I think The Station House really comes into its own. There is a wooded area which to describe as enchanting simply does not do it justice. Pamela and Karl had opted for an outdoor civil ceremony (in February!) and there was a magical feel to the whole thing as the guests made their way along the winding path in the woods lit by lanterns to an opening which reminded me of a fantasy fairy ring. This was beautifully decorated by the hotel staff with seating laid out in the sunken circular arena. Again from a photographer's viewpoint I was seduced by the sunlight weaving its way through the trees and hav ing a forest as a backdrop made for some very unusual and romantic images from the ceremony.
Adjacent to the forest the Station House boasts beautifully manicured gardens which were ideal for the formal photographs. With a variety of seating and other natural props close to hand we were able to capture plenty of great group shots. All of this was close enough to the bar that everyone was able to sit and relax when they werent needed for photographs and also made it easier for the guests to grab their own candid snaps as we set up the different group dynamics.
Once this part of the day was completed myself and the bride and groom then took a walk through the grounds where we proceeded to get some fabulous shots, some candid and some posed. There seemed to be an abundance of brilliant locations and props at every turn from love seats to winding tracks to archways and then at the rear of the garden is an old stone railway bridge with ivy overhanging the archway which, with the use of some off camera flash lighting, we got some stunning portrait images.
At this point it was time to let the bride and groom get away from me and my camera and let them enjoy their day with their guests who were by now nicely settled in the bar or out on the patio enjoying some beautiful springtime sunshine. The atmosphere created by these stunning grounds was very laid back and it was clear that everyone was by now very relaxed in their surroundings. The bar staff were excellent and nothing was too much trouble for them. I got to sample some of the nibbles on offer and I have to say the food was excellent.
Having spent some time taking informal and candid snaps of the guests enjoying their day it was soon time for everyone to be seated in The Carriage Room and the new Bride and groom to be announced into the room and seated at the top table. This was handled extremely well by the hotel staff. The service throughout the meal was excellent and the meal itself was absolutely gorgeous. (Another perk of the job!) Then with the speeches completed the guests returned to the bar while the staff very quickly readied the room for the night's entertainment. I got some great shots of the first dance and again the hotel had done a fabulous job with the layout, lighting and acoustics in the room for this part of the wedding experience at The Station House Hotel.
My overall appraisal of The Station House Hotel would be very favourable equally from the Bride and Groom, the guests and a photographer's point of view. The location is stunning yet portrays a very laid back and relaxed atmosphere. The staff are extremely helpful and very friendly and the food served is fantastic. So its a big thumbs up from me for The Station House Hotel anyway. I am due back there next year for two weddings and I will be delighted if I get the chance return to this, one of my favourite wedding venues, again before this year is out.