February 12th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson
There’s a larger-than-life, fairy-tale quality to today’s winter wedding styled shoot, which takes place at Wood Lane Countryside Centre, a Grade II listed former farm set on the edge of countryside in north-west Sheffield.
With an owl, a ‘wolf’ and plenty of furry throws and candlelight, a lot of thought has gone into the styling of this enchanting outdoor shoot, organised by skilful Brides Up North Sponsor, Samantha Coventry, the owner and talent behind award-winning Fantail Designer Florist.
Having recently reached the final of The Wedding Industry Awards, Samantha’s fabulous creations turn heads and she knows just how to push those floral design and colour boundaries to produce something truly spectacular – as documented to this spell-bounding shoot.
So, let’s hand over to our good friend Samantha and photographer Stu, to explain how the mystical vision came together…
With images by Stu Ganderton Photography.
samantha says: Wood Lane Countryside Centre (WLCC) approached us to create a winter shoot that could inspire brides and grooms to explore the grounds and see the potential of what it has to offer. Being their recommended supplier for flowers, I relished the opportunity to bring in a handpicked selection of high-quality suppliers to create a shoot like no other and something of which to be really proud.
We wanted to shoot everything outside and in the grounds. The venue has a quaint back garden that’s often overlooked. David Ambler from WLCC had only one request: “to make it inspiring”.
Some people might say that it was a massive risk to organise a shoot completely outside in the middle of winter – and they’d be right – but it was a risk worth taking. The shoot started mid-morning, with clear blue skies and a crisp coating of frost on the grass. I arrived onsite with Wild Wedding Days and worked to create the backdrop for the shoot. Wild Wedding Days took care of all outdoor lighting and commercial props, including the drums and tables.
The dress was provided by Something Special Bridal, a fitted Chantilly lace gown called Grace from their Hollywood Chic 2017 Collection. True to its name, the dress exudes grace and has a modern twist of a top tulle and lace overskirt and corded lace hem, which makes for the amazing waist cape detail.
Our make-up artist Ria Amelia MUA arrived with Ellie, our real-life bride, and set to work with a brief from the photographer, Stu Ganderton, of ‘smoky, hard but natural’.
For hair, we wanted a powerful ‘warrior’ feel but still something that could be emulated by every-day brides. I created a hair piece that could be incorporated into the design. Anna Hibberd from HQ Works Sheffield created a stunning style with tight French plaits to one side and a backcombed fringe to give height and depth.
When it came to the jewellery, Claire Jeavons creates beautiful handmade pieces that fitted perfectly within the Nordic-style winter shoot we were aiming for. We gave Claire no brief, letting her design something that would be complementary.
The original theme of the shoot was to go quite Nordic. WLCC is a lovely country, natural landscaped venue, so we wanted to be sympathetic to the surroundings. Through flowers, lighting and a mix of fur throws we softened this and turned the venue into something really romantic.
Toki the owl was one of the main features of the shoot. When Amy from The Flying Squadron arrived with Toki, she brought along her dog Blue as well, a beautiful Husky cross Alsatian, who looked quite like a wolf.
The old cock fighting pit offered a secluded area for photographs, shrouded by trees and framed with candles, candelabras and some festoon lighting. Photographer Stu captured our real-life husband and wife, Matt and Ellie, in some amazing shots.
In this shoot we didn’t just have a first-class selection of wedding suppliers, we had a team – and it just shows what amazing things can happen as a result.
A little note from Stu Ganderton: I had never shot at the venue before, so went to spec it out a couple of days before at the time we were supposed to be doing the daylight part of the shoot, to understand where the light would be coming from on the day. Although Sam and I had discussed the shoot and I had an idea of what she was after, I couldn’t visualise anything until it was all laid out before me. What I had done, though, is worked out the technical side. We were going to be shooting in failing light, and in some dark woods, but we were going to be having candles and soft lighting, so I couldn’t ‘flash it to death’. Once onsite, I basically went into my usual ‘wedding mode’.
I know that, once all the static venue decor was done, and the dress and makeup were done, people needed me to take a bit of control. I used the WiFi function on my camera to connect to my iPad Pro and this allowed everyone else on the shoot to see live results from inside of the camera, enabling them to have valid input on the day. The couple were great, and I got them relaxed quite quickly. I had a chat with Ellie before we got going and told her I was seeing her as a ‘Nordic Queen’: strong, regal and powerful. I needed her to understand the thought process behind the direction I was going to give her. However, I didn’t want this to be forced and fake; we needed her personality to come through a bit.
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Aislinn has a background in journalism, having filled all manner of publishing roles from editor to copywriter to feature writer. She is a former wedding photographer who ran her own business with her husband Michael. Together, they have travelled as far as Australia to photograph a client’s wedding (and spent all their earnings on a campervan trip up the Aussie coast!). Aislinn left wedding photography behind to take on the biggest commitment of her life as mummy to her young son Tom. She has been a bride, bridesmaid and even best woman (she has the speech to prove it!), which is almost all angles covered!
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