Nikki and Fraser's wedding ceremony was no ordinary day when it took place amidst the ongoing fire in the heart of Exeter, destroying the oldest hotel in Devon, and thought to be, in the UK - The Royal Clarence.
The congregation had to all close their eyes so that bride Nikki could walk past her husband-to-be, the wrong way down the aisle to get to right place! I have certainly never encountered a wedding day like it; the smell of smoke was really strong, the wedding coordinator had ash in her hair; a beautiful historic Devon building which I have stayed in myself, was in the process of collapse, but in amongst it all the staff of Exeter City Council, the Devon and Somerset Fire Service and the Police force showed great resilience and kindness in enabling the ceremony to go ahead. Ensuring that it was safe for the Nikki and Fraser to have a couple of photographs outside their venue, where they had initially hoped to have a big family shot. It was a very unique wedding day to photograph, a little light amidst a tough time for Devon's town of Exeter.
Security guards wait outside the rear tunnel to the Guildhall in Exeter to guide wedding guests with the front of the building being cordoned off.
The High Street of Exeter, Devon was closed to public and the wedding guests had to find their way to the back of the wedding venue through a myriad of shopping streets. It was an incredibly surreal wedding day; as the Nikki and Fraser were getting ready, we were trying to keep up to date with the progress of the fire, and ascertain how we could get to the venue - I ended up running out into the Guildhall Shopping Centre to locate the bridal party, who were being escorted in by a kind Policeman.
Entry become via a tunnel into the narrow corridors at the back of the building, where a doorstep interview took place by the register as Bride Nikki's father waited nervously outside in the tiny courtyard at the rear of Devon's historic Guildhall, Exeter, before the congregation had to shut their eyes so that the bridal party could walk the wrong down the aisle to the back of the ceremony room, keeping the surprise of Nikki's beautiful halloween themed wedding dress a secret until the bridal procession could begin.
The burning hotel could be seen from Exeter Guildhall's windows, the smell of smoke still strong. Devon and Somerset Fire Service and Devon and Cornwall Police were kind enough to ensure there was safe clearance for the newlywed couple to pop outside for a few wedding photographs outside what should have been the main entrance and exit to their Devon wedding day.
Despite the "unusual" ceremony scenario, Nikki and Fraser's reception at the gorgeous Higher Eggbeer Farm in the rural valleys of Devon ensured celebrations resumed in full swing, more of which on a later blog! Congratulations Nikki and Fraser, what a wedding day!