Written by Bethany, PA to Luke Granger
Many of our regular readers will have heard all about our previous visit to The Cave Hotel in Canterbury, Kent. Back in January 2020, Luke & I visted for a fantastic overnight stay, complete with a gorgeous evening meal and delightful breakfast in The Firepit Restaurant as we were very intrigued about the venue itself. As a result of our trip, we have since built a great relationship with The Cave Hotel team and have become their recommended wedding photographer. (I am keen to book The Cave Hotel for our own 2022 wedding but Luke is an extremely hard nut to crack)
As a relatively new wedding venue in Kent, we were keen to return to The Cave Hotel take part in a styled shoot, however the Coronavirus outbreak meant our Spring plans needed to be placed on hold for a while. Spring soon turned into Summer with no joy of the virus disappearing, however I am happy to share our latest Autumnal wedding photoshoot with you all.
First, Would You Like To Meet Our Models?
Our models, Chelsea & Nathan married on Valentines day 2017 at High Rocks in Tunbridge Wells. Originally from Australia, Nathan only intended to visit the UK to attend a friends wedding, but after unexpectedly finding each other the pair began planning a wedding of their own and began creating a life together.
As with many couples, they had not realised how important their wedding photographs would be to them until it was too late as a family member had acted as their photographer for the day. Although our shoot at The Cave Hotel wasn't designed to be a recreation of their wedding day (after all it was a completely different venue) it was a fantastic opportunity for Chelsea to get back in her beautiful wedding dress and for the pair to have some fun getting some professional photographs together.
Their gorgeous fur baby Meeko, a miniature Yorkshire terrier, also visited for some family shots towards the end of the day.
We arrived at The Cave Hotel shortly after 11am, where as always, the hotel team were so kind and helpful. As their recommended wedding photographer, we had discussed our plans with the team ahead of arrival. They had kindly arranged a room for us to use during our visit which enabled both the Bride & Groom space to finish getting ready and a fantastic backdrop for some preparation photographs.
Each of The Cave Hotels's rooms hold many luxurious features; crackling fires, supersoft bedding and fur throws alongside plush carpets and spacious layouts. If you haven't yet visited, I would highly recommend booking in an overnight stay.
As you can see, both Chelsea & Nathan looked fantastic and were soon relaxed in our company. Lots of people say that Luke & I are really easy going people, which I think helps people feel comfortable around us, even when we haven't previously met. Chelsea & I actually went to the same school together (albeit different years) but other than a handful of messages on social media, we haven't met or spoken for real in years. It was lovely to catch up with each other and talk about our teenage lives a little and she looked as beautiful as ever.
The Cave Hotel has a fantastic sunken lobby area which acted as a great backdrop for us to use whilst we were waiting for the midday sun to come out. We played around with a selection of shots using the mood lighting and crackling fireplaces to showcase the style of the hotel.
Chelsea & Nathan enjoyed a few games of Noughts & Crosses (he claims he let her win) before we all enjoyed a delicious cupcake supplied by the lovely Beth's Bakes. Beth's cakes are always fantastic, today's delights were chocolate sponge with chocolate centres, decorated with delicate flowers and went down a treat. Wedding photographers often don't have time to enjoy a slice of cake during a real wedding, so Luke was chuffed he got to eat two!
If you didn't already know, The Cave Hotel hosts an impressive 18 hole championship golf course plus a Par 3 academy course and driving range. Previously known as Boughton Golf Course, the courses are extremely popular with many golfers enjoying the Kentish countryside. If you know the difference between a Birdie & an Albatross, I'm sure you would enjoy a few rounds of golf on the morning of your wedding or perhaps a Husband vs Wife game on the day after.
Despite being extremely busy, Golf manager Steve, kindly loaned us a couple of Golf buggies so we could explore the golf course and get some photographs of our Bride & Groom in action. Some of the holes are nestled amongst the apple orchards so we had plenty of areas of the grounds to use where we wouldn't disturb anyone enjoying a game of golf.
Florist Karis, owner of The Kent Wedding Company based in Sidcup, kindly provided us with both the Bouquet & Buttonhole used for our shoot at The Cave Hotel. Including local businesses in our styled shoots is really important to us as it is a fantastic opportunity to build relationships with others within the industry. My brief was very basic as I feel its important to allow those that are contributing to a styled wedding shoot to be creative, Karis' talents certainly did not disappoint.
The bouquet included a Rosa Centifolia (Commonly known as a White Cabbage Rose), Pink Hypericum Berries and Apricot Orange Roses alongside Italian Ruscus, Tree Fern & Sanicle as greenery. As you can see, the combination was fantastic and provided a unique bouquet, truly showcasing Karis' creative skills as a florist. Prices start at £50 which is fantastic value and we look forward to working with The Kent Wedding Company again in the future.
During our visit it was lovely that so many people clapped, cheered or congratulated Chelsea & Nathan on their marriage thinking it was a real wedding. We explained to as many as we could that we were doing a photoshoot but when your whizzing past on a buggy its not possible to stop and explain so we waved back and smiled instead.
Chelsea & Nathan were the perfect models; they were happy to experiment with different poses and took directions really well throughout the whole of our shoot, despite it being a long day. They enjoyed taking it in turns to drive each other around on the golf buggy before then taking one each and having a bit of a race whilst the drone followed them.
The Cave Hotel always looks fantastic from above, so it was a perfect opportunity to get some aerial shots of the Kent wedding venue whilst we were there.
Once we returned our buggies back to the golf shop, we ventured back to the entrance where we were greeted by the lovely Chauffeur. He kindly offered us to use The Cave Hotel's Mercedes S Class for a couple of extra shots of the happy couple.
The Autumn sun was beaming perfectly behind the hotel creating a fantastic backdrop before we headed back inside.
We had intended to grab some lunch but had got carried away with taking photographs so decided we would have dinner out on the terrace instead. Nathan headed home to collect little Meeko (follow him on Instagram @heylittlemeeko) so whilst we waited for them to return, we relaxed in the hotel room and packed away our belongings.
After reminiscing about our school years for long enough (Chelsea & I probably bored Luke with our girl talk), we headed out to the terrace where we were soon joined by Nathan & Meeko for dinner. The Cave Hotel has a good selection of food options: The Firepit restaurant for formal dining, The Korean Cowgirl which is known as "Dining on the Deck" and room service which is a mixture of the two menus so there is plenty of choice for everyone.
The Korean Cowgirl menu features a mixture of BBQ style dishes that did not disappoint. I had the pulled pork which was a great choice, but I look forward to heading back again as there were so many things I want to sample.
Once fed and watered, we took a wander across the edge of golf course to get a few casual family shots of Chelsea, Nathan & Meeko together. A natural in front of the camera, Meeko may only be 9 months old but he certainly knows how to pose and seemed to enjoy his little evening adventure.
We finished off our fantastic day at The Cave Hotel experimenting with a couple of smoke bombs. Adding extra elements an engagement or wedding photoshoot is always something Luke and I love to do, you will often find us creating a range of "wow shots" with our clients as not only do they make amazing photographs, they make excellent memories too.
As the Autumn night was drawing in, we decided to call it a day and chose to head back to collect our belongings. We said our goodbyes to Chelsea, Nathan & of course Meeko and were soon on our way home after a long but fun filled day.
As The Cave Hotel's recommended wedding photographer, we have a handful of 2021 Cave weddings booked already so I know some of our couples will be excited to read about our styled photoshoot. If you are looking for a Kent wedding venue, or even just a luxury overnight stay, be sure to visit The Cave Hotel, you won't be disappointed.
Thank you once again to all the team at The Cave Hotel, Karis from The Kent Wedding Company, Beth from Beth's Bakes and of course, the lovely Chelsea & Nathan for being such fantastic models. It was a pleasure to organise the shoot and we are grateful for supporting us here at Luke Granger Photography.