I’m really excited to bring you the results of my first ever styled shoot – The Nightmare Bride. Think less stroppy bridezilla, though, and more along the lines of gothic creepiness. What I love about doing styled shoots is that you can play around with imagery and imagination and yet still display the talents of the wedding suppliers involved. We’ve wandered far away here from traditional ‘buy this and do that’ advice and into the editorial, the artistic, and in this case the dream world. Somewhere where things aren’t quite as they seem, they’re uneasy, they’re seductive in their ‘eerieness’.
Jo from Enchanted Brides and I pinned our hearts out on the Nightmare Bride Pinterest board before getting suppliers involved. We were thinking along the same lines mostly, and any deviations were complementary ones that developed the theme further. The idea grew from images of Courtney Love, abandoned attics, and masks, through contorted ballerinas, smoke bombs, Queen Adreena, slow shutter speed movement blurring, and figures of unnatural height. It was a beautiful and strange board.
The Day of the Shoot
On the actual day, it rained hard. We weren’t wanting hot weather (sunny gothic?), but rain was a huge challenge. The poor models were freezing cold, and they had to change in a tent because we were in a park. I felt hideous wrapped up in layers, so I salute all the models with way fewer clothes on who didn’t complain once. They were all so professional. Lesson learned was to have an indoor venue with outside space as an option!
The dresses were a mix of preloved bridal from my soon to be launched No Debutante range, and the exquisite and breathtaking gowns from Cocoa Couture in Cheltenham. The Cocoa dresses were things of beauty – the craftsmanship and detailing were phenomenal. If you’re local to Cheltenham, or can in any way travel here, do so – those dresses are art!!
The jewelled bouquets by Willow and Lace were so elegant and striking, catching what light there was and gleaming. Again, you need to see these things of beauty if you can get to Cheltenham!
Emma from The Flower Girls created a stunning bouquet of dark blooms, with a few lights to keep it bridal. She added feathers so as to match one of the headpieces, and the effect was eye-catching and dramatic. Emma also brought some plants in stone-like pots to add to the gothic theme, and some moss was strewn around, creating this gorgeous creepy effect. The details in the floristry were bang on.
The hairstyles were created by the ladies at Studio 1 Hair Designs at Gloucester Quays. Merin Teague, who heads up the team, and her assistants created cascading curls with an almost teardrop bouquet of faux flowers clipped in on Shannon’s hair, a crimped and frizzed stylised beauty of a do on Hannah, and a modern Victoriana look for Michelle. For a range so eclectic, these styles were glamorously complementary.
Cassie from Beautiful Me – Bespoke Make Up Artistry got the brief spot on and then some. I wanted unreal/hyper-real (have I made that up?!) looks that were far more in the realm of imagination and nightmare than they were in reality. I think looks can be adapted and toned down for a bride’s actual big day, and I think my readers like the things they see in the magazines’ editorial spreads. I am drawn to aspirational things that make me dream of how I can interpret them for me, rather than be spoon-fed a look. I wander… Cassie created three looks that were perfect for what I wanted, and actually ended up looking different through the lens, so we ended up with a leaning towards the Baroque and dandy. I think Shannon with the dark hair looks like she should be in the Adam and the Ants Stand and Deliver video!
Jo, the photographer impresario, whose Indiana Jones stunts to get the perfect shot, was my wonderful partner in creating the brief and vision. You should have seen her on the day getting in and about the place (we’re talking lying on the grass and in bushes!!) to capture the nightmarish bridal beauty. Her edits are great, and the grainy textures and fades she’s used enhance and perfect the creepiness.
If you follow Way Out Wedding on Facebook, you’ll have seen my shout-outs for the deliciously gothic and alternative crockery from Wild and Violet. Pieces are upcycled and adorned with skulls, words like ‘poison’ and ‘badass’, and skeletons. I love it!! Many of the items Kirsty sells are a one-off and the crockery itself may be up to eighty years old, and her influences range from Victorian ephemera, vintage kitsch and traditional tattoos, to sci-fi and comic books. If you’re not a Denby kind of girl or guy, Wild and Violet is for you. We were lucky enough to have a cute skull teaspoon, a ‘poison’ teacup, and a beetle design teacup and plate.
The veil you see was sent to me from Simply Bridal to use in a blog competition, and was won by the very sweet Chrissie Curtis who sent me the loveliest thank you email! Congratulations again!
We were all so proud to have the shoot featured on Dark Beauty Magazine. It fitted in very well with the range of aspirational and stylised editorial pieces, even if I do say so myself!
And now you can see it on here. I hope you love it and find it inspirational in planning your own gothic wedding!
Creative director and styling – Erin Balfour
Photography and styling – Enchanted Brides
Flowers – The Flower Girls
Dresses – Cocoa Couture, No Debutante
Accessories and jewelled bouquets – Willow and Lace
Veil – Simply Bridal
Crockery – Wild and Violet
Hair – Studio 1 Hair Design
MUA – Beautiful Me – Bespoke Make Up Artistry
Venue – Hillfield Gardens, Gloucester
Models – Michelle Clement, Shannon Smith, Hannah Pritchard