Wensum VAlley Hotel Weddings - Taverham, Norwich, Norfolk
SOPHIE & NATHAN BRADFIELD
wensum valley hotel country and golf club
wensum valley weddings - taverham, norwich, norfolk.
On the 20th of July 2018, I was lucky enough to be there to capture Mr & Mrs Bradfield's wedding on their two hour coverage. You'll be amazed at how much we fit into two hours! For us, we knew the moment that we spoke on the phone that we were going to have such an amazing day - Sophie and I got on so well, we were already talking about photo locations and ideas, and I knew right away that this wedding was going to be amazing. They had a small intimate wedding in the heart of the Norfolk countryside in the middle of the 2018 heatwave, hence why all of the pictures in the forest are yellowy - all the grass that wasn't watered at the venue had turned yellow or brown - rather than let it get to us, we decided to run with it and use the beautiful colours to our advantage and get some really unusual summer photos that almost look like it's autumn!
It was a hugely emotional day for everyone there which was a beautiful thing to witness. This couple are surrounded by such a strong and loyal close knit bunch that they have the best support network that anyone could ask for! Sophie and Nathan's wedding was a little different to most and it wasn't planned out like your average wedding, so I was only with them for two hours before they were whisked away from my clutches and I got into my hot car and turned the air conditioning on full for the drive home! Even in that short time that we were together, I was moved by how inspirational this couple are, and how amazing their love story was, and I knew on the day that it was one that I just had to tell, and the more and more that we chatted throughout our time together and I got to know their family, the more that I fell in love with their love story!
Sophie and Nathan’s love story is a little more complicated than most peoples - not only do they have your traditional story of how they met, how they fell in love and how they grew together as a couple - they also have a whole different side to their story that most of us don't - they have both been plagued by health problems over the years, but this couple have never let any obstacle get in their way, every time life throws them a new hurdle to jump, they just learn how to leap together - as one - supporting and holding each other up when the other falls.
I got in touch with Sophie after their wedding, as their story touched me so much that I wanted to tell it to all of you. I get massive amounts of visitors to my website each month and it's always great to help raise awareness of conditions and problems that could hit any one of us, or anyone that we love at any time, and conditions that people have to live with throughout their entire lives. Both Nathan and Sophie suffer with conditions that my family members suffer with too - so I know exactly how hard life can be with their illnesses and seeing people live life to the full despite these nasty illnesses is something that I'm quite passionate about - having grown up around these illnesses, I love to see inspirational people who conquer life every day, no matter what life throws in their path. Sophie and Nathan very kindly agreed to let me do a sort of "interview" with them, and here we are!
Sophie met Nathan when they were in primary school. She found him rather annoying back then, and she tells me with a cheeky face that she still finds him annoying now from time to time! After becoming friends in primary school, they then left for secondary school - going their separate ways as they went to different schools, but, they still saw each other occasionally as their parents were friends. As they got older, their parents friendship fizzled out and they lost contact. Seven and a half years ago, they got back in touch and started talking again, and they instantly clicked, the embers of love were born inside and they've been inseparable since. Nathan and Sophie are now man and wife, after a long and beautiful relationship together, bringing two beautiful babies into the world that they love more than life itself, and fighting through many dark and hard times together.
Sophie and Nathan are a very inspirational couple, they both suffer from health conditions that make their day to day lives hard, but together, they have helped one another through the hard times and been each others rocks. Their wedding was particularly poignant to me, as I've grown up with a family with many health problems, with both of my parents suffering very similar illnesses as Nathan and Sophie's, so, I felt that whilst posting their wedding album, it would be a great way to help raise awareness of these conditions and to tell Nathan and Sophie's story in a little more detail - and to give you ladies and gentlemen a little glimpse into the inspirational couple that I met and fell in love with myself on the 20th of June.
Sophie suffers from CVID (Common Variable Immunodeficiency) which is a condition where her immune system doesn't produce the white blood cells required by our bodies to fight away illnesses and infections, which means that Sophie regularly comes down with common illnesses that would pass most of us by without much bother, and she often picks up very simple bugs which can then lead to very serious infections, like a common cold or chest infection turning into Pneumonia for example - which can be life threatening!
These illnesses effect her very severely, sometimes requiring a lot of treatment as her immune system cannot fight off these illnesses naturally. Sophie has to have three weekly treatments to help her ward off infections, she calls these her "top ups" which help her immune system ward off illnesses as her body doesn't produce the white blood cells that we all have naturally to fight off things like colds and flu. It's a lot for one person to go through, as you can imagine, getting ill that often can get very draining both mentally and physically, but Nathan is always there for her, gently pushing her towards the doctors or hospital if she needs it, even if she doesn't want to go!
This is a particularly nasty disease to suffer from as you are constantly on the look out for anyone who may be ill around you, trying to stay away from potential infections, and with two young kids, that is a pretty hard thing to do, as Sophie and Nathan don't shelter their kids from normal day to day life, which means that Sophie can pick up infections a lot from simply doing her job as a mother - let alone being exposed to the general public or going to work. What's so inspiring about Sophie is that she doesn't let it stop her living her life - some people with this conditions similar to this will hole up in a house and avoid the world for fear of getting ill, but Sophie doesn't let this stop her from being a busy mother, working as much as she can and having a great social life with her friends.
Sophie is particularly inspiring to me as I watched my father go through a very similar disease throughout my childhood, and I watched him get ill time and time again, the constant battle he had to stay fit and healthy throughout his short life was intense and painful to watch. My father had a form of cancer which caused his immune system to collapse, but he couldn't get top ups to his immune system as his white blood cells would just attack his body from the inside out - eating away at his healthy cells as if they were an illness as his white blood cells were confused and tuned on his healthy cells rather than the infections they were supposed to be fighting - like coughs and colds - it was similar to leukaemia in a nutshell, and in the end, it wasn't the cancer that killed him, it was an infection that he couldn't shake off with the cancer spreading around his body too - so although my father's struggle was slightly different, I've lived first hand with that struggle to keep someone well and watching them constantly for any signs of early infection, and I know just how scary living with immune diseases can be and how inspiring it is to see someone living life and loving it despite the struggle that you go through with immune disorders to stop a simple cold becoming a life threatening infection. My father used to make me so proud when he loved life, but it used to make me so sad to watch him get ill time and time again. It's a horrible situation to live with and it takes a truly inspirational person to live through these sorts of diseases with a smile on your face and happiness in your heart.
Shortly before her wedding Sophie had to leave her job that she had when we first started planning her wedding - she told me on a phone call and I could hear in her voice how sad she was that she had to leave, but unfortunately, her hospital appointments - which are at least three times a week - were getting in the way of that job and it wasn't meant to be. Sophie is a fighter, she clearly doesn't like to accept defeat and it takes a special sort of person to keep up a normal life whilst dealing with everything that she has going on - she has a lot more than just CVID - as if that isn't enough for one person to deal with, but I will go into more detail about that later on.
Lets just take a moment to put things into perspective and look at things through Sophie's eyes for a second - If you can imagine constantly worrying you are going to pick up an illness every time someone in the room sneezes or coughs, or your child comes home with a sniffle, you can imagine how hard it is not to worry about ending up with yet another hospital stay, or yet another course of the strongest antibiotics that make you feel drained, weak and tired... Think about that for a moment, then you can stand in Sophie's shoes for just a moment and imagine what life is like with an immunodeficiency disease. It's a mentally and physically draining condition to have, as you have to be a very strong person to put up with the constant barrage on your body and mind, along with the three weekly treatments to prevent the immune system getting too weak to ward off even the smallest of coughs and colds that can soon turn into serious infections for people with weak immune systems.
Sophie was diagnosed with her condition 9 months into her relationship with Nathan, and he has been there for her every single step of the way, offering not only his love and support, but also his firm encouragement to go to the doctors whenever he notices that starts to get ill, and his companionship to keep her spirits up when she has to go to her constant appointments when she has more than had enough of them! Throughout the start of their relationship, Sophie was constantly poorly with pneumonia and chest infections, but Nathan didn't falter for one minute and he was there every step of the way with her, he stepped up and supported Sophie in ways that some people would baulk at, and at every hurdle, he was there with her, being her rock when she needed him the most. Nathan is not only there for Sophie at every step of her journey fighting for her health, but he also helps her to live life the way it should be lives - full of love, happiness and support in the darkest of times. Even in the short time that I've known this couple, I can see how close they are, how supportive Nathan is of Sophie, and how he looks out for her, every second, every minute, and is always trying to make her laugh, smile and love her life with him.
He would often drive Sophie to her appointments, which are sometimes all the way out at the specialist Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, a drive that I know is a long and arduous one as my father would regularly go there for treatment - he is always there with her, guiding, supporting and holding her hand throughout, and he has been there through the long journey towards her diagnosis of Common Variable Immunodeficiency, and now whenever she comes down with a new infection.
Sophie's struggles haven't just been with CVID (Common Variable Immunodeficiency), she also has Bronchiectasis which is where the lungs are scarred and they don’t drain the mucus away like they should, which is another incredibly tough illness to live with on top of her CVID. Bronchiectasis causes a persistent nasty cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain and it causes frequent lung infections, and in severe cases, coughing up blood - which is pretty scary. Sophie has a lot on her plate, but having spoken to Sophie at length before, during and after her wedding, she is such an upbeat and positive person that you'd never know she was suffering with such horrific illnesses underneath her calm and positive exterior - Sophie truly is superhuman and I don't know how she does it!
As you can imagine, the Bronchiectasis on top of her CVID means that Sophie is often struck down with chest related illnesses which can strike her harder and for longer than other people due to the scarring in her lungs and their inability to drain the mucous - and the infection - away from the lung tissue. Pneumonia can cause Bronchiectasis to worsen, so as you can imagine, Sophie is in a constant battle to keep her immune system topped up so that she doesn't become ill with chest infections that can quickly lead to Pneumonia in someone with a weakened immune system whose body can't fight off the infection as well as it should. It's particularly hard for Sophie, as bad cases of Pneumonia can cause her Bronchiectasis to get worse, and for her lungs to become more scarred.
Sophie also has trouble with her vision in one of her eyes, which she's had since birth, which for most of us, is one of the scariest things to imagine - sight, hearing, taste and smell are the four senses that none of us can live without before our lives have to change severely, so I not only admire Sophie, but I applaud her ability to live life to it's fullest with the many conditions she has going on! Sophie has something called a Coloboma on the back of her eye which is a birth mark on the part of the eye that receives the signals and turns the light into a picture in our brain - it's the equivalent of me not putting a lens on my camera - you would get no picture without that bridge between the "eye" and the "brain" through it to the sensor which turns that light into a photo. Due to the Coloboma, she has poor vision out of that eye, she can see movement and light, but it's very blurry, so her left eye does all of the work, which as you can imagine is difficult to live with for certain things. Although she is not blind, it effects her depth perception, field of vision and her general day to day life a lot.
What's really inspiring about Sophie's eye condition is that she was offered a contact lens with the image printed on it of her other eye to make it look like she has two normal eyes - but she refused, as to Sophie and everyone that knows and loves her - her "different" eye is part of her and how she looks, and she wouldn't feel right covering it up. Sophie feels that she wouldn't have felt it was her she was looking at in the mirror if she wore a contact lens to cover it up - and that's so inspirational in an age where everyone is so obsessed with looking perfect, and it's definitely something humbling that we should all think about next time we worry about our weight, our hair or anything superficial - Sophie loves her eye, even though some might perceive it as a flaw, and as a lesson to all of us - we should all be more humble and accept ourselves for who we all truly are without worrying about what anyone else thinks! It floored me when she told me that she had refused that, as for someone that spends all day every day making people look perfect, fixing faults and airbrushing away things that people hate, it's a really different perspective on life when as a photographer you're constantly told by everyone that they hate x, y or z about themselves, and I'm always asked if I can fix it - it's a joke that I hear countless times per wedding from guests when I am taking their pictures, so it's really refreshing to see someone not only embracing being different, but doing so with love, not out of necessity and a begrudging acceptance that's grown over the years like with most of us when we give in and accept our flaws.
Nathan - Sophie's rock and new husband - isn't without his own problems either and is also such an inspiration - he was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid shortly after they got together after much nagging from Sophie to go the the doctors because he was suffering so much. An under-active thyroid is where your body doesn't produce enough hormones and an imbalance occurs in your body, causing a wide range of symptoms that vary from person to person. Thyroid problems can be really dangerous - again, I know this condition well as my mother suffers with an under-active thyroid and I know first hand just how upside down it can turn your life, and I know how much it can effect someone when medication is missed or isn't at the right dosage, and in particular, before it's diagnosed and treated.
Nathan struggles with a few aspects thanks to his thyroid including extreme tiredness, aches, pains, low mood which can even turn into depression in some people, and a lot more smaller symptoms that make life that little bit harder to live with - it is a real struggle, and it's sometimes very hard for the doctors to get the dosage right to rebalance the hormones and reduce the symptoms to a manageable level. Again, just like Sophie, you wouldn't know that there was anything wrong with Nathan from his amazingly positive and cheery outlook on life, this couple were truly made for each other!
Nathan also has a stammer due to hearing problems when he was younger and a delay in him learning to talk - this is something he was really worried about on the run up to the wedding, as he really didn't want to mess up his vows, and as you can imagine, when you are in front of all of your close friends and family, you feel even more under pressure - before the ceremony started, the registrars were talking about taking him out of the room to finish his vows in private if it got too much for him, but, like the champion that he is, he sailed through his vows without a hitch - the only problem he had is that he dropped Sophie's ring, which we all laughed about afterwards, as he was so worried about his speech and it was actually his hands that let him down - not his voice! It's so inspirational to see someone not only stand up there in front of everyone and go for it when they are nervous, but to conquer that fear and keep their nerves under control enough that his stammer was barely there - I think anyone who is married will agree that saying your vows is hard enough without a stammer, and I've seen so many couples stumble through their vows, have to repeat bits of them as it's a legal requirement to say certain bits, and so many couples that just get them wrong that I've lost count - so it was truly inspirational to watch Nathan go through the ceremony without any problems!
Sophie told me on the phone when we spoke for the first time that they are not photogenic and that they don't look good in photos, and I think everyone will agree with me - they both look amazing and it's not despite their flaws - it's because of them too. If we all looked the same, if we were all perfect - we wouldn't be so uniquely beautiful, and Sophie and Nathan have really inspired me, not only with their courage and bravery throughout raising two beautiful children whilst suffering with their illnesses, but also embracing who they are and how they look - and I think that's more beautiful than anything in the world, and it's something we should all take to heart next time we moan about the little things in life when people like this couple live with so much. Sophie's eye is part of her, the same as the rest of their illnesses and I think it makes her even more beautiful - and they told me that they would be so nervous - well, let me tell you now - they were naturals in front of the camera, and they came away saying how glad they were that they had taken the plunge to get a photographer, and how much they had enjoyed our shoot in the woods -so nerves, what nerves?!!
For this couple, the secret to their relationship and their closeness is being there and supporting each other through thick and thin, the good and the bad and the ugly - and from what I've heard from this couple, things have been ugly for them far too many times, they've been through some very hard and emotional times together and it's so unfair to think that this beautiful and amazingly inspirational couple have had to endure that, but it's a lesson to all of us - life is short, life isn't always full of smiles, life doesn't always smell of roses - but as long as we have love and we're surrounded by people that care for us, we can get through anything if we put our minds to it.
If there's one thing that I want everyone to take from Sophie and Nathan's story - it's that together - you can get through anything, live with anything and still be happy through the bad times if you have the right person at your side. In short - love should be cherished, because through problems with physical or mental health, money, possessions, our looks, ageing, work and everything in between - love is the one thing that you will have there throughout all of those problems that life chucks at us - love is free, it doesn't need you to be healthy, beautiful, wealthy, or young - love is unconditional, and this couple are the true meaning of that phrase. They have supported each other and looked after one another through every hurdle - and that's what you call love.
I'd like to thank Sophie and Nathan for letting me tell their story and sharing it with all of you - you are both so inspirational and I wish you a lifetime of happiness and love together with your two beautiful children!
So, without further ado, here are a selection of my favourite (and sometimes random) shots from Sophie' & Nathan's very special wedding day! I hope you enjoy them as much as Sophie,Nathan & I did!
Posted on THE 16th of August 2018