The Crazy Bear in Stadhampton has to be the coolest wedding venue in Oxfordshire and I’ve been lucky enough to photograph a lot of weddings here. I had great fun shooting the late-September wedding of Vicky and Dan – a day full of laughs and a whole lot of personality, just like the venue!
The wedding venue
There’s nowhere in Oxfordshire quite like The Crazy Bear – if you’re looking for a luxurious wedding venue that’s individual and super-funky, this place will blow you away! This Stadhampton hotel will always have a special place in my heart as it’s where I proposed to my gorgeous wife, Elaine, 10 years ago this year (in the Thai snug, if you’re wondering), so any chance to head back is a real treat.
The Crazy Bear is the best kind of quirky – the Moroccan glasshouse, where Vicky and Dan had their wedding breakfast, has a full-size white unicorn head mounted on the wall, an old London Routemaster double-decker bus sits outside, doubling as The Crazy Bear hotel’s reception, there’s a huge wooden ship figurehead outside and a stuffed grizzly bear hanging from the ceiling of the bar. Yep, eclectic just about covers it! Everywhere you look there’s something incredible to photograph, but shooting a wedding at The Crazy Bear is not without its challenges – the chic ceremony room is pretty dark, with a black ceiling. Thankfully I’ve had the pleasure of photographing a lot of weddings at this cool venue, so know exactly how to get the very best shots.
The wedding dress
Vicky’s glamorous wedding dress was a perfect match for the decadent setting of The Crazy Bear. Featuring a very on-trend low back, sexy lace side panels and a sweeping train, the bride looked fantastic. Vicky paired it with a long veil, floral hair accessory, gorgeous Cartier bracelet (a gift from the groom) and the highest pair of Jimmy Choos I’ve ever photographed – talk about skyscraper heels! Her bouquet, a cascade of white orchids, added to the drama of the overall look.
The bridesmaids looked chic in floor-length dark navy gowns, with beaded necklines. The groomsmen didn’t let the side down, as they turned up looking flash in smart French blue suits and bow ties.
The wedding details
I’d already done an amazing pre-wedding shoot with the bride and groom at The Crazy Bear – including one awesome shot with a stunning stormy sunset, which you can see below – so we knew each other well. Vicky and her bridesmaids took over the Toll House to get ready for the day, giving me the chance to get some great photos, like the fun group shot in the bed.
A string quartet played during the ceremony, and during the drinks reception where guests were treated to special Tsarine Champagne (in very distinctive bottles) as well as tasty fish goujons and chips canapés.
Pretty white orchids, matching those in the bride’s bouquet, arranged in tall vases, acted as table flowers for the wedding breakfast. With mirror-topped tables, ornate Moroccan lampshades and fairy lights, the whole effect looked opulent and very stylish. The table plan, featuring photos of every guest under the heading ‘Where the heck am I sitting?’, brought the humour!
Vicky and Dan rounded off their unforgettable wedding with a stunning firework display – the perfect end to the day and the perfect final photo opportunity!
For my weddings at The Crazy Bear, check out my blog.