husbands kissing in a lift at their bristol royal marriott hotel wedding
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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding

Matt and Andy’s Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel wedding has to be one of the entertainment highlights of the year! They waited for such a long time (rescheduling how many times? Thanks Miss Rona!) and WOW did they party to make up for it. As a Bristol wedding photographer, I have captured weddings all over the city, and this was a Bristol gay wedding to remember, with the most inclusive, welcoming and fabulous bunch of people! I recommend you all pour some bubbles and settle in for a pretty epic blog post!

Where it all began

Matt and Andy got in touch to ask me to be their Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel wedding photographer back in early 2019, as soon as we’d chatted about the day, I knew I had to be there! We battled through rescheduling multiple times over the course of a very difficult 2020 and finally settled on their fourth (I think!) date, nearly two and half years after they first contacted me. A huge thank you to my Amazing PA, Rhian who juggled the dates, spreadsheets and paperwork to make it all possible.

As the day approached it was clear it was going to be a MASSIVE event, with everyone ready to party like they never had before! I love capturing LGBTQ+ weddings, we’re an inclusive bunch behind the scenes and we love nothing more than celebrating with absolute Pride.

We fell in love with Rich’s style of photography, candid, intimate but rich (!) in colour and life. We knew our wedding wasn’t going to be like any other from the start, so we had to find a photographer that wasn’t like any other.
Rich was just so amazing, so friendly and at ease with everyone, calm and knew how to make the day work, our families thought he was an old friend. You really can see why he’s won so many awards.

Matt and Andy, Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding
Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding

Getting Ready at Home

The day was finally here! I arrived at their beautiful Georgian townhouse in Bristol to join Matt and Andy as they got ready together at home with their friends and family. As soon as I arrived, I instantly felt part of the gang. If I didn’t already know they were my tribe, it was confirmed without doubt as I was introduced to Matt’s impressive collection of Transformers! Of course, this was a great place to grab a picture of their wedding rings too.

Their courtyard garden was filled with incredible foliage and this was part of their inspiration for their tropical theme – self-confessed ‘plant gays’, there were leaves, trees and plants present throughout the whole day. One of the Best Men, Make-up artist Luke Stephens, helped with some final finishing touches, and also brought along his superstar Pug, Olly as ring bearer! We grabbed some group portraits in the garden before we all left the house and headed to the awaiting transport… and you’ve probably guessed, it wasn’t going to be a regular wedding car kinda deal!

Boat Trip to their Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding!

Matt and Andy wandered hand in hand down the hill in their linen suits towards the harbour, waving their fans to keep them cool in the September sunshine. We walked past the pumphouse and arrived at the boat, the Bristol Packet Hydrogenesis, waiting to take us all the way through the harbour to the cascade steps for their Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel wedding. Olly the Pug also joined us on the boat and was a majestic mascot as we left the dock (if you know me, you’ll know I am never happier than when I see a dog at a wedding!).

The boat trip was full of smiles and laughter as we passed paddle boarders on the water and the SS Great Britain on our approach to the cascade steps. We were met there by more friends and family, waving in the sunshine as we all headed towards the hotel just a short walk away.

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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding Photographer

When Matt and Andy chose their wedding venue, they wanted to make sure the party would be as easily accessible and central as possible. There would be no dark drives down narrow country lanes for this wedding! The Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel is a Grade II listed Victorian building, luxurious and perfectly situated in the heart of the city.

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The Palm Court Room (appropriately named for their botanical theme!) was set up ready for their ceremony. On hand to help on the day was the amazing Emily who kept everything running to schedule. Matt told us, ‘Of course, get a big bunch of gays and give them an organiser called Emily and there’s going to be a ton of The Devil Wears Prada jokes…”Emily, did Demarchelier confirm? Also, I need you to collect 24 scarves from Hermes” which we eventually explained at the very end of the day.’

I have to admit, when I first saw the Palm Court Room, my jaw hit the floor. With impressive carved stone walls and soaring stained-glass ceiling – who knew this was hidden away in the centre of town?! Two towers of lush green foliage stood at the top of the aisle (shout out to Stephanie Eastwood at Verbena Floral Styling for her impressive creations!), where the boys headed hand in hand following their wedding party, lead (of course) by Olly the Pug with their rings.

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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding 36

Their emotional ceremony and readings from their loved ones had us all in tears. Finally, after what felt like YEARS (I mean… it was actually years!) of waiting, they exchanged rings and had their first kiss as husband and husband! Then, they walked back down the aisle through the room packed full of love and happiness for them finally having their big day.

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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding Photography

Immediately after the ceremony, Matt and Andy had an amazing idea to get everyone assembled outside the front of the hotel. Enormous group photos are usually a bit of a challenge but this crowd were brilliant fun and really went for it, climbing the balustrades and showering the boys with confetti from every angle.

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Champagne and nibbles were served and I took groups off for some portraits in a few different locations nearby, including next to the Queen Victoria statue and on College Green. We also assembled some groups in front of the hotel, which involved some pretty precariously perching on pillars!

Back inside the Palm Court Room, the tables had been set with stunning green foliage decorations, also provided by Verbena Floral Styling, accessorised with greens and soft tones of brown and gold. You could see Matt and Andy’s personal touches in every element of the day, from the table names to the little succulent plants and transformers as wedding favours. Their wedding cake, made by their friend and personal trainer Kathy, was a rainbow themed nod to the retro gaming world of Tetris.

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Matt and Andy

Matt and Andy were so easy to work with on their photoshoot together as a couple, both up for an adventure and constantly looking at each other with love and laughter. We ran across College Green and they took their shoes off and had a welcome refreshing paddle in the fountain outside the council offices.

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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding 72

As we made our way back, I noticed an ice cream van and bought them both an ice cream to enjoy – this of course turned into a hilarious game newlywed gay ice cream wars! (Have I just invented the best game show ever?!)

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I’d noticed some great places for wedding photos at the Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel and when we arrived back, we took the opportunity to grab some more abstract and dynamic shots. I couldn’t resist a cheeky shot of them in the lift (I could hear the Aerosmith classic ‘Love in an Elevator’ playing in my head). The huge windows in the upstairs rooms were perfect for some softly lit portraits before we headed back down to their wedding breakfast.

Bristol Royal Marriot Hotel Wedding Reception

They kicked off the wedding breakfast with some touching speeches and more happy tears and cheers from their guests.

After enjoying their food, it was time to slip into something a little more comfortable for the evening, with Matt and Andy in their shorts and trainers… and perhaps a sequin or two appearing as the party was about to get started!

Here’s where it gets even more awesome…

We were treated to an evening of drag cabaret and burlesque that I am still talking about, singing and dancing along with to this day! The first half was family friendly, and then later in the evening things spiced up with some definitely more adult entertainment!

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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding 123

With brilliant lighting and the acts all supporting each other, the evening was an absolute riot! The epic line-up featured (are you ready for this…?): Miss Beaver, Annette Curtain, Mariana Trench, Connie Orff, Alfie Ordinary, Cherry Shakewell, Isaac Dix, Dave the Bear and Lydia L’Scabies, topped off with music by Punka and Don’t Tell Your Mother.

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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding 146

I mean, as far as entertainment goes, this wedding was off the charts! The brilliant staging, sound and lighting from SuperMixHire made this an even more professional production. Honestly, out of this world levels of fun, laughter and talent!

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Matt said, “We knew we wanted to put on a cabaret show, a lot of our friends are performers or event organisers, and we’re both big fans of local drag and burlesque. It was important to represent as many styles of drag and burlesque as we could to show there are no rules and no limits. Our friends had been to shows like this before, but for our families, it was their first insight into “our world”. Seeing our families sway their arms to Alfie Ordinary dressed as Tinky Winky belting out Queen is a moment that will never leave our heads.”

After their first dance as husband and husband, Matt and Andy danced the night away with their friends and family. Their entire Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel wedding was a complete tropical, gay, eleganza extravaganza!

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Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel Wedding 184

Joining Matt and Andy as their Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel wedding photographer was such an important and memorable experience – I’m campaigning for them to have an anniversary re-run of the day every year. I cannot thank you enough for inviting me to join you, I felt like I was celebrating gay royalty and I loved every single second of it! Congratulations, and may the sequins, silicone, glitter and love continue forever!

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