Downton Abbey may no longer keep us warm on a Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped daydreaming about slipping into one of Lady Mary’s elegant gowns and gliding down the wide staircase to be greeted at the bottom by an eligible suitor and served an endless feast of delectable delights from silver platters. So, when we read the brief for a ‘High Society & Countryside Pursuits’ styled shoot, we had no trouble at all finding ourselves right there in the moment
Coordinated by accessory designer Heidi Reid of Glorious Tiaras, who won The Wedding Industry Awards Best Bridal Accessory Designer in the North West award in 2016 and 2017, and who supplied the hair accessories for the shoot, enjoy a little escapism as we take you back to the turn of the 20th century and to one of the most beautiful, privately owned country homes in Cheshire.
With images by Zapimage.
heidi says: Our working title for this shoot was ‘High Society & Countryside Pursuits’ luxe bridal inspiration. The history of the shoot’s venue, Adlington Hall, as a hunting lodge frequented by the region’s landed gentry inspired us to plan a shoot that had all the luxe elements you would imagine finding at a society dinner at Adlington Hall at the turn of the 20th century. I wanted the styling to reflect the historic location and picked suppliers I felt had the vision and creativity to understand the brief and the skill to bring that vision to life.
I’ve lived just ten minutes away from Adlington Hall for 20 years and, until recently, had never visited. My first trip to the country house and its gardens blew me away! I couldn’t believe that this hidden gem wasn’t as well-known as other Cheshire stately homes, with its intriguing history (Handel is rumoured to have stayed here and played the 17th century organ in the main hall), its beautiful formal and wild gardens, unique features such as an imposing mythological mural that takes up a full wall, huge marble fireplaces and a panelled ceiling featuring the Coats of Arms of other prominent Cheshire families. I knew that Adlington Hall was licensed for weddings and started to speak to other local wedding suppliers who I knew could use their talents and enthusiasm to develop a styled wedding shoot with me.
Our aim for this shoot was to showcase Adlington Hall and Hunting Lodge as a unique venue with a rich heritage, whilst offering inspiration to couples wanting to embrace their love of the countryside and the outdoors in a more luxurious, less bohemian way. The rich décor of the interior of Adlington Hall inspired our colour palette of coppers, berries and deep fern-like greens, and featured in everything from the bespoke wedding stationery by Nina Thomas Studio and the Kaye Hannabuss-designed Harris Tweed waistcoat and bow tie, to the bridal make-up by Gemma of Dollface Makeup Studio, the floral arrangements by The Flower House, and our elegant three-tiered wedding cake from For Goodness Cake. Love Lights the Way supplied the beautiful blossom lights.
We wanted to use elements that gave a nod to a turn of the 20th century, Agatha Christie-esque gathering of Cheshire’s landed gentry. To achieve this, we used coloured Edwardian glassware and vintage gold-plated cutlery supplied and styled by Maud and Mabel’s, a show-stopping copper candelabra festooned with a floral arrangement of pheasant feathers, fragrant roses, berry-toned hellebores and plum-coloured peonies to create the feel of a society gathering designed to impress. The feathers, the tweed, gundogs Fern and Elisa, and Secret, the beautiful Welsh Cob, were a must for our high society & countryside pursuits theme, and we absolutely loved involving these adorable animals in our shoot. We couldn’t quite believe what patient, willing models they were! Special thanks must go to Kim Wardle-Payler for bringing her horse and Labrador along for the day.
Working with Helen of 7th Heaven Bridal we chose a luxe Charmeuse silk Justin Alexander gown, with flutter sleeves and a low back that we felt epitomised understated period glamour. Makeup artist Gemma worked to our palette of berries and coppers, opting for a strong lip colour to complement warm copper tones on the bride’s eyes. The hair was styled by Amy at Hushlounge with a deep side parting and elegant waves to give the look of understated glamour a lá 1940’s movie stars, like Ava Gardner.
I was keen to make sure that, as well as stunning shots of our bride and groom, our photographer Philip of Zapimage captured the breath-taking Cheshire countryside surrounding Adlington Hall, highlighting the ‘countryside pursuits’ element, and was delighted when he unveiled a collection of images that have done exactly that.
We were supported on the day of the shoot by Adlington Hall’s general manager Bridget Roberts, who got stuck in with the rest of the team to arrange accommodating our horse and Labradors. Her knowledge of the home and its history kept us enthralled throughout the day.
I was especially proud of our models Holly and Nick, who hadn’t met each other until the day of the shoot and yet relaxed into their roles as bride and groom really quickly and responded very professionally to our demands for them to get up close and personal! My favourite image of the two of them is the one where they’re having a good old giggle in the main hall.
Big credit must also go to Beverley and Megan, our floral designers, for coping with quite a big change to the table décor at the last minute. It’s testament to their ‘can do’ attitude that, when one of our suppliers had to pull out of the shoot on the day due to ill health, they altered their planned design to accommodate the changes without turning a hair. I was so grateful to them for being unflappable superstars!
The whole day was a fantastic experience; it was an opportunity for us to find out more about one another and to really enjoy the creativity of planning and contributing to something of which we’re all very proud.