As weddings go, this one has to be one of my most original and story-worthy. I mean, how many people can say they hand-fed a cheetah and a black jaguar after their wedding ceremony? And how may people get married with five white lions looking on from below?
Yes, you read that right. Liz and Mark booked their wedding at The Big Cat Sanctuary in Ashford, an amazing place that relocates, rescues and house some of the rarest and most beautiful spices of big cat in the world. This place isn’t a zoo. It’s not open to the public. They take in cats saved from travelling circuses and overseas performance zoos. They save and hand-rear cubs whose mothers have died or rejected them and have no other way or surviving. You may have watched the BBC programme, “Big Cats Around The House” – well, this is the place behind that programme.
Anyway I digress… (I’m prone to do that far too often!)
So when I learned of Liz and Marks; plans to hold their ceremony on a platform about the white lion enclosure, I was so excited to see how it would work. For a while, we were uncertain whether the wedding could go ahead as planned, with Covid-19 rearing its ugly head and threatening wedding plans, but thankfully, with a small number of guests and an outdoor ceremony, all was good and I arrived at the sanctuary like a kid in a sweet shop – I couldn’t wait to shoot this wedding, and the fact that it was the first wedding I was attending after a long lockdown made it all the more special.
It was obvious how much this venue meant to Liz and Mark, with Mark having been a supporter of the sanctuary for a while. Following the ceremony the white lion were treated to a feast of swedes (yep, apparently they love them!) Thrown to them by the happy couple, and then there was chance for the amazing experience to hand-feed one of the sanctuary’s cheetahs and also Mia, the black jaguar.
Topped off with some gorgeous weather, a lovely relaxed outdoor BBQ with their small wedding party and some photographs around the sanctuary grounds and it really was a pretty perfect afternoon.
I think it’s time for this wedding to tell it’s own story, so here’s a selection of highlights for you…
Venue: The Big Cat Sanctuary – Donations gratefully received.