Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Preston Court, Canterbury, Kent.
This shoot was a total and utter dream. It was a chance for myself and my good friend and brilliant photographer, Jasmine Andrews to create in a style we mutually love. The concept had been hashed out over Gin & Tonic, lager shandies and a splendid halloumi burger at our trusted 'local', The Jolly Farmer.
With these wholesome items in our bellies we had the ingredients to be creatively awesome....
Coming from a theatrical background, I could recognise that this shoot had the potential to have some drama about it when, not 24 hours earlier, our model bride was professionally jilted by her model beau. Not allowing this to dampen spirits or deter us all from the potential of this shoot, we recognised that this actually allowed us to have more time to focus on our bride and generated an extra golden hour at the end of the day (this is normally unheard of on these shoots as there is a strict agenda and time is not normally the stylists or photographer's friend. More on what we did in this hour later).
Most of the suppliers and vendors for this shoot are based in Sussex, so there was a fair amount of travelling to get to Preston Court. We chose this venue due to its incredible variety of 'locations' giving me different vignettes to dress and its fantastic 'add-ons' such as the permanent tipi, the shepherd hut and covered stage where we placed our ceremony.
My first job, styling the hot chocolate table, ended up setting the bar for the rest of the day. Petra, from Sussex Florals, and Nicole from Ever After Cakes, assisted me in this. The cake looked like it had levitated in from some kind of wondrous mossy other world and, beautifully accompanied by the woodland florals, helped to make an immediate statement. I can also testify that the cupcakes were delicious!
We had hired some statement props from Locate to Create which were absolutely stunning in the woodland environment. The lush and opulent velvet sofa and chair helped to create the theatrical look we were aiming for, juxtaposing the rustic surroundings. These set off the other details such as the amazing lace boots supplied by House Of Elliot and the beautiful bouquet which was simply placed on the chair overlooking the river. You will see form the images that the dress - the most beautiful two-piece made by Charlotte Balbier and supplied by Charlotte Ware - looked incredible in this setting.
One of the best things about the venue is that it boasts some really interesting details, such as the outdoor ceremony spaces. I particularly liked on in particular because it gave us a natural stage for the peacock chairs and, with the addition of the rustic wooden chairs, vintage rugs and simple ferns and pine, transformed a bare space into something quite beautiful and dramatic.
Our top table seemed to appear from the bushes. Nestled in the fallen trees, scrubland and mushrooms, it sat majestically against crystal and vintage crockery from Harriet's Table and a fabulous floral centrepiece. It was such a pleasure as a designer to marry these different elements together. I also added some amber glassware for colour to contrast with the greenery and keep the Autumnal vibe. One of the most beautiful elements of this particular design were the menus and mirror welcome sign which were stunningly created by hand by Rumeet from The Lovely Little Details. These also helped to add a quite opulent touch to the rustic styling.
We had managed by this point to capture pretty much all of the set details and this gave us time to work closely with our model bride, Natalie Hobkirk who was a total babe in every sense. It was so great to work with a model who was fun and flexible to our odd suggestions. Natalie started the day saying that she had never worked with smoke bombs, by the end of the day she was totally immersed in the stuff and giving us some incredible images. Jasmine had predicted where the sun would set at the end of the day and, as a true professional, got it spot on. We headed down to the gorgeous bridge and spent the final hour of the shoot free-styling: using the sunset as a backdrop, smoke for ambiance and the beautiful headpieces and veils supplied by The Lucky 6 Pence and Ashley Wild respectively. Luckily, the remaining suppliers were totally on the same page and were on hand to suggest different ways of using the veil and headpieces for most dramatic effect. When Laura, the fabulous Hair and MUA suggested draping one particular veil over Natalie's face, we all gushed at how Natalie then looked like some kind of epic corpse-bride...in a beautiful way, obviously! Check out the blog over at http://www.brideandtonic.com/
Full list of suppliers:
Planner, Stylist and Props: @events-by-design
Furniture and large Prop hire: @locatetocreate
Gramophone supplied by: @greiestories
Hair and MUA: @lauranaishbespokemakeup
Stationary and signage: @thelovelylittledetails
Vintage crockery and glassware: @harrietstable
Dress supplier: @charlottewaredesigns
Dress designer: @charlottebalbierbridal
Sally - Planner and Stylist