Tunnel Beaches Wedding Photography – Ilfracombe

Claire and David

Cotswold Wedding Photography

I met Claire a few years ago whilst working for Photography Monthy Magazine, Claire was and is a designer for English Home magazine and sat directly behind me. After a few months we became good friends and realised that had connecting friends, we were just surprised we had never met before. So one weekend Claire was having her birthday party (I was invited but wedding photography was on the cards, I only wish I could of made it… you’ll see why!) and her boyfriend David surprised her with a very cool proposal becoming her fiancee! So I missed out on this, oh and the large amount of partying and drink!

Claire and David are both cool and creative people, surrounded by cool and creative people so when I was asked if I could photograph their wedding I was very honoured and… very scared! Claire is surrounded by friends that are great photographers, press photographer, wedding photographers… good ones too and one’s that have made this venue a second home by the sound of it, but nonetheless good photographers. So it was my turn to give them a day off… no pressure then!

By nature I am a helpful and friendly person, or at least I think I am, so I always like to get involved as much as I can that helps, and this wedding was no exception. Claire and David kindly put me up in a Hotel for the night the day before the big day, so early Wednesday morning kit packed (no speedos!) I headed over to Claire and David’s house to Chauffeur the Wedding dress down the M5. We headed southbound, Claire, bridesmaid and daughter in one car, me and dress in the other and David and his son in the leading car (slightly faster than the two cars following, no speed limits were broken in the making of this wedding). The weather was looking decidedly bad, but we were positive it was going to change.


We arrived in Ilfracombe at the amazing wedding venue of The Tunnel Beaches, a fantastic tiered building sat in the hill overlooking the beach and sea, it has the most incredible views even of the rain and grey clouds it was showcasing today. It’s not going to rain, it’s not going to rain! Claire and David had a rehearsal to perfect, timing was key for the bridesmaids, so before braving the blustery rain kisses on the way back to the hotels, we caught the last of the blue skies and started getting stuff ready inside for the big day. The flower arranging, yes I was a dab hand at this, the line and pegs for the instant camera (polaroid style) and the cards suitcase etc, i’m sure you catch my drift!

Anyway with the rehearsal practiced and the venue scoped for the photography hotspots it was time to dash back through the rain for a bite to eat, meet family and friends and pray to the weather gods… It’s not looking great, but tomorrow was another day!

The forecast had loosely promised to clear up at lunchtime, but when I woke up and looked out the window, I thought we had more chance of drowning than getting sunburnt… how wrong I was and thankfully so too. Claire and David were due some good luck as a few demons had stepped in to try and scupper a couple of things, don’t mention the cake! Well Jackpot hit, the clouds parted, white fluffy clouds stuck around and the sun belted out some summer heat, I felt like we were in the Mediterranean and not the south of England!



I set off to see the girls as they got ready to wow the crowds, as they got ready I dashed off to the venue to see David and his best man (his son) for a few snaps before heading back to the girls. The venue was looking incredible, the staff were lovely and of course the view, now in technicolor looked fantastic, today was going to be a great day!  David and Jem brushed up well, both looking extremely cool and dapper, they were busy putting the final touches to the decor, and the glasses were perfect and now a much needed item!

With the guests due any moment it was time for me to get back to the bride and her entourage, ready for the dress reveal to the father of the bride, mum, sister and the ever so cute Scarlet (daughter). The girls were all in good spirit and having fun, and doing their best to keep Claire’s nerves at bay. Bridesmaid gifts were dished out, bubbles drunk, dresses donned and last final squirts or hair spray… they all looked fabulous and raring to go!

The tunnel beckoned, Claire and her dad paused as the guests waited for them to grace the courtyard. The music started and the bridesmaids followed each other down the path leaving a little time for the grand entrance, the pause was exciting and as Claire came round the corner there were many tears of joy and a whole host of beaming smiles. You could see the joy and proudness in David’s face and as Claire got to David’s side you knew that today was going to be a perfect day. It was. Readings read, vows exchanged, registers signed the rings sealed the deal, not without the obligatory first kiss as Mr and Mrs Westgate. Everyone could not be happier for them, myself included, so with joyful confetti launches it was time to start the rest of the events for the newlyweds.

Claire and David grabbed a cool fizzy glass to celebrate their marriage and were greeted with plenty of warm wishes, congratulatory hugs and kisses. Shortly after we trundled down to the beach, and why not its a beautiful sunny day. The formal photographs were immortalised, as well as the bridesmaids pics too. The new Mr and Mrs Westgate and myself went off for a few uninterrupted photos before heading back for the speeches and food… oh the speeches!

I was told by the groom that there was going to be a surprise at the end of his speech and to be ready, so secret safe with me I watched and waited. The speeches at most weddings are full of emotion, tears, laughter and love, this was definitely the case. First up dad, short and sweet and heart warming. Second up David, this was a spectacular speech, sincere, heart felt, happy, poignant and musical. As David’s speech came to a close the keyboard came out and David sang and played a song he composed for Claire, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place and if there was it was replaced with a lump in the throat, happy tears and happy lumps. Third up Jem, Best man and David’s son. This was the cutest speech and lets not under estimate young Jem’s speech here, it was well read and very funny too, leaving the foundations for Claire’s brother to bring the house down. Claire always said to me, you have to watch my brother, he thinks he is really funny, well today he was, he was absolutely hilarious. The crowd were in stitches, and that included everyone, a few winced laughs but so many belly laughs, it was a great end to 4 fabulous speeches, and set precedent for the rest of the day. So Claire if you are reading this your brother is funny! Gary, don’t get a big head!

With the speeches put to rest everyone could relax and enjoy the sensational food the venue put on. Plates cleared and seagulls helping clear the baps it  was back to the beach for a few more photos, got to work off that chocolate pud somehow!

The day was speeding along, as all weddings do, and before we knew it the sun was setting. The day still had a lot of life in it and was far from over, of course there is the cake cut and first dance still to capture. The sun gave us that beautiful glow as it disappeared into the horizon the glow that we all felt for this amazing day, I sadly had to leave after the first dance as I had a further 2 weddings following the next two days. They however partied into the night, looks like I missed yet another of their party sessions and few drinks. Hint hint Claire and David!

I for one had an incredible day and I probably speak for everyone else too, photographically it was a treasure trove, very apt as on a beach, not quite a deserted island, but you wouldn’t want to be with so many lovely people around. It’s a day to treasure, one I will never forget, I wish Claire and David all the happiness in the world, a huge congratulations, and now the Westgate family is complete.

If you would like to see the whole wedding gallery please visit www.cotswold-wedding-photographer.co.uk you will need to get the password from Claire or David if the gallery is locked.

To see more about my weddings and packages please visit Wedding Packages.

Featured on Bride magazines website as Photograph of the week!