The Coal Exchange Hotel Winter Wedding

October 25, 2020



The Coal Exchange Hotel is set in the heart of Cardiff Bay providing luxury boutique breaks, celebratory/corporate events and weddings. It was an honour having the privilege to photograph a great couple in this vintage building.

Bridal Prep

In the early hours of this brisk and wet winter morning I was on my way to Hannah’s mothers house to begin the morning celebrations and preparations for the day ahead, all whilst singing badly in the car to some wedding DJ classics. Upon arrival I was greeted by a very excited bride and the rest of the party, immediately being introduced to Hannah’s mother Pat who kindly offered to make me a cuppa. Of course it was mid December and Pat was not one to hold back on the Christmas decorations! with a festive theme throughout the house, creating a welcoming family feel. Hannah had gone to town on the breakfast buffet of grazing boxes with delicious croissants and other pastries that were mixed in with some refreshing pieces of fresh fruit, which of course I tucked straight into (I do take photos as well I promise).

Pre-wedding nerves were clear to see, which were immediately rectified by Hannah’s amazing bridesmaids, bringing a glass of fizz straight over along with some friendly banter to calm Hannah down and create excitement for the day ahead. The wedding preparations were in full swing and it was clear to see that Hannah had gone to an awful lot of planning with matching bridesmaids robes, personalised Christmas baubles and gift sets for the bridesmaids. A knock at the door was quickly followed by the delivery of beautiful bouquets by Best Buds by Samara for the bridal party, with rich reds, royal blues and deep greens encapsulating all the feelings of a Christmas wedding.

Hannah’s hair and makeup was complete and it was time to get into her gorgeous Princess wedding dress with stunning long laced sleeves with an elegant patterned lace bodice complemented by the subtle pattern at the base of her dress. Hannah looked like a true princess who was ready to get married to her king, with her dress making for some stunning images taken by me; she was a perfect bride, working with us to take some stunning photographs (it is these types of brides that make life as a Cardiff Wedding photographer much easier!). She decided to surprise her father with a first look of his daughter ready to get married in the front garden of her childhood home.

Groom Prep

Stephen was a perfect representation of a typical groom, putting shoes on the wrong feet and struggling to get his tie straight, all being catalysed by those all too common pre-wedding nerves. It was the decision of the wedding couple that Stephen would have his groom prep at The Coal Exchange Hotel whilst Hannah would follow a more traditional route of getting ready at her mothers house and Hannah’s childhood home. As with all weddings we try to accommodate both preps however, due to the distance between them the couple decided to have one of our many second shooters; providing an additional angle to the wedding day. The grooms party was very simple to remember with practically everyone being called Stephen, including the groom of course, it was difficult to forget. The guys were all suited and booted in their charming suits by Slaters Mens Wear, ready for the big day ahead, with some finishing touches by our second shooter Pedge, who did a fantastic job of covering the groom prep, with images highlighting the true character of the guys below.

The Ceremony

With a quick dash to the Coal Exchange hotel, I would be prepped with both cameras at the ready to capture the entry of the bride or so I thought! The Coal Exchange Hotel, although stunning, is a photographers worst nightmare; high ceilings and a wooden interior resulting in extremely difficult lighting conditions. This is where it is really important that you choose your wedding photographer based on experience, skillset and overall knowledge in addition to cost. I was fortunate enough to know exactly what to do in this situation and had prepped ahead of time with our HLS (Human Light Stand) already preparing all the necessary lighting required to ensure optimal quality images; do not be put off by this! there were no fancy umbrellas or soft-boxes, in fact you wouldn’t have even known the light was there. With only a few seconds to spare Hannah entered the gorgeous grand hall, being walked down the aisle by her proud father Stephen to a stunning melody played by the Aderyn String Quartet who were a delight to listen to. Hannah and Stephen did a fantastic job of personalising their wedding with gorgeous flower arrangements and chair covers, which all tied together nicely to create that winter/Christmas wedding feeling.

After a lovely ceremony and the exchange of rings had taken place it was time for the couple to relax and enjoy their day. Whilst the guests grabbed some champagne and canapés, I quickly took Hannah and Stephen outside for some romantic couple portraits, taking full advantage of the stunning wedding cars (Prices Wedding Cars) parked in front of the entrance to the hotel; Andrew the chauffeur was brilliant in allowing us to work both inside and outside of the cars (See images below!). We were extremely lucky with the weather for a wedding in December in the heart of Cardiff, with the weather being a South Wales Photographers biggest challenge; as a result, even though it was dry, it was extremely cold so we moved inside for the group shots. I decided to make use of the gorgeous wooden architecture as a backdrop, creating clear separation between the wall and the wedding party; whilst doing the group shots I realised that I could go upstairs and get creative with the group shots, resulting in the stunning heart shot you can see below.

The Reception

Food time! whilst everyone tucked into their food we had some planning to do because what Stephen didn’t know is that Hannah had organised some secret singing waiters (Silver Service Wedding Singers) who had planned a dramatic sketch that during speeches, one of the “waiters” would stumble over dropping a bucket of spoons and quite frankly making a massive noise. The reactions of everyone including Stephen was an absolute treat to capture, with the guests running to the aid of the waiter in need. With everyone huddled around him, he took a microphone out of the wine bucket and broke out into song, creating a joyous and relieving moment between all the guests. The singers were absolutely fantastic singing to various songs including Mr Brightside and Shake your tail feather; finishing off with all the guests on their feet doing a huge konga around the hall. This was a fantastic moment and one which I hope to be a part of again at other weddings in the future.

The famous cutting of the cake started off the evening celebrations with a stunning cake supplied by Cake Cwtch, followed by a beautiful first dance with Hannah and Stephens personalities being highlighted perfectly in my images below. Following on from the first dance the guests rushed to their feet as the wedding band (Los Devitos began to play, everyone were major groovers, showing their best dance moves. To wrap up the evening I whisked Hannah and Stephen off for one last photograph outside The Coal Exchange Hotel using a white umbrella and creative lighting to create the image used as the feature of this portfolio gallery. The time had come to say goodnight, but not before we indulged in a chocolate filled crepe by The Crepe Escape and a selfie in front of a magic mirror. It was a true pleasure being able to photograph Hannah and Stephens wedding day and we wish them all the best as Mr and Mrs Slater.

Kind words from the couple

” Wow wow wow what can I say!!! Oliver and his team were the perfect photographers. With us from the very start to the very end!! Oliver wasn’t just a photographer he was helping with everything including doing shoes up! They helped the groomsmen get into their suits and made sure everyone looked


The whole team were friendly and got every shot they just fitted in perfectly. Everyone commented on their fantastic personalities. They worked tirelessly to make sure our day went without a hitch! I could not recommend them enough! If you’re looking for a photographer who cares as much about your wedding as you do then Oliver is the one for you. “

We can’t wait to see the pictures

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts

Mr and Mrs Slater x

Wedding Suppliers: 

Venue: The Coal Exchange Hotel

Website: https://coalexchangecardiff.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CoalExchangeHotel/

Wedding Cars: Price’s Wedding Cars

Website: https://www.pricesweddingcars.co.uk/index.php/en/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pricesweddingcars/

Florist: Best Buds by Samara

Website: https://www.bestbudsbysamara.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Best-Buds-by-Samara-776087905746126/

Grooms Suit: Slaters Mens Wear

Website : https://www.slaters.co.uk/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Slatermenswear/

Centre Pieces and Table Plan: Crystal Fizz

Website: http://www.crystalfizz.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crystalfizzevents/about/

String Quarter: Aderyn String Quartet

Website: https://www.aderynstringquartet.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aderynstringquartet/

Singing Waiters: Silver Service Singers

Website: https://silverservicesingers.com/contact/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/silverservicesingers/

Crepe Stand: The Crepe Escape

Website: https://www.orderscrepeescape.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crepeescape/

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