real spring wedding on the edge of rydal water

Pages from a photographer's notebook

We work with a fabulous team of recommended photographers, and like us, they all love a Cote How wedding! In this guest blog, as we all turn our thoughts to the Spring and Summer months ahead, Steve Hillman opens a page in his wedding diary and takes us back to May last year and a real spring wedding in the Lakes. Take a trip down memory lane with Steve, to these darling buds of May…

Bride and Groom by the barn gates of Cote How

let's get this show On the road!

On the day I photographed Sally and Scott’s wedding, the sky was a perfect blue. I was heading up to Cote How on the edge of Rydal Water in the Lake District. I’d worked at the venue before and knew it was the most perfect backdrop. Early summer in the Lakes can mean heavy traffic, so I took the Coniston road, cutting across to Cote How from Skelwith Bridge, via Ambleside. The journey was a breeze: tourists don’t know that route.

A carpet of bluebells in the dappled woodland
Spring bluebells in woodlands around Rydal

An historic gem in Rydal's crown

Cote How was once a medieval farmhouse, complete with a spinning gallery, barns, and a paddock. Today, owners Caroline and Steve have worked their magic with the building to create a stunning and evocative home for themselves, which doubles as a wedding venue. The inside has been beautifully modernised, but has the authenticity of a traditional farmhouse.

Sally and her bridesmaids jumping for joy at Cote How

our happy couple

On arrival, I catch up with Caroline, then go to meet Sally. She has arrived early with her bridesmaids from Grasmere, where they have been staying. I’m impressed by how organised everything is. Sally’s dress is hanging up and ready, and she points out the three pairs of white cowboy boots they will be wearing for a bit of a quirk to tradition. Sally is calm and is having her makeup done. I have a joke with them all, take a few photos then head outside to wait for Scott.  He arrives from Grasmere in a Mountain Goat minibus. The other guests are with him. While they enjoy their Pimm’s, I take a few more photos and engage Scott in small talk, as he’s soon looking relaxed and smiling. One of the best features of a wedding at this venue is that it is an iconic building with a more relaxed feel. Hotels can be dark and stuffy, yet Cote How is full of light. 

Real Spring Wedding ceremony at Cote How

They said YES!

The ceremony takes place in the Fairfield room, then we walk outside for confetti and congratulations. Cote How has beautiful gardens, with a lawn and woodland, but there is also a meadow which leads down to the river Rothay. A little further on along a stony path is the tip of Rydal Lake itself, which is small and unspoilt and the perfect backdrop for romantic wedding portraiture.


A romantic stroll to the lakeshore

Sally and Scott are ready at this point to walk further along the path towards the lake, and it gives me the chance to take some photos of just them. I just tell them to walk and talk and ignore me. I can see they are more relaxed now that the ceremony is over, and the style of these photos is quite different. It is important, as a wedding photographer, to read the mood of different parts of the day and respond accordingly. I also try always to fit in with what the venue wants to happen. I’ve become very used to working in a flexible way, over the years. And why not? It’s the couple’s wedding day; it’s a workday for me. I can be however they want. It’s what I do best.

Perfect party atmosphere alfresco

Later, while the kids run off their energy on the lawn, I take some informal photos of people enjoying themselves. Sally and Scott want to be with their guests, so I try to be as unobtrusive as possible. The venue provides a wonderful indoor grazing table lunch, then there is an array of informal speeches, which take place outside. I’m probably on photo number 1500 by this point!

Springtime in the meadow at Cote How Lake District Weddings

fun in the spring sunshine

 It is such a beautiful afternoon, so we decide to walk down to the river for a paddle. It’s accessible even in wedding attire, and I get some stunning photos of everyone having fun, which is just how it should be at a spring wedding.

Sally & Scott's Spring Wedding at Cote How, Rydal

A magical end to a perfect day

Back at Cote How, everyone gets settled in the late afternoon sunshine, drink in hand, and Sally and Scott bow to tradition, taking their first dance together as a married couple on the terrace! It’s great fun. I take a few more photos, then say my goodbyes. I love every aspect of my job, and can work my magic whatever the venue, but places like Cote How make it easy! 

A bride and groom are joined by flower girls in white dresses and bridesmaids in blue dresses on the lawn in the sunshine
The wedding party on the lawn at Cote How


Many thanks to Steve Hillman for sharing his wedding diary, and to Scott & Sally for allowing us to share their gorgeous photos!
You can see more of Steve’s images of their beautiful real spring wedding here

You can find out more about our Wedding Suppliers here and our Recommended Wedding Photographers here

If you are a regular wedding supplier here at Cote How and would like to contribute to our wonderful wedding blog, please get in touch.


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