Have a read of this article and it will give you a bit more insight on how much went into planning and executing this shoot...
Staffordshire Vintage Wedding
As a wedding photographer and seeing multiple weddings in the last few years I have begun to notice that couples seem to be going for very similar styles for their wedding and id begun to question why that was… I decided to do some research into what was available locally in Staffordshire that was a little different, This opened my eyes to a whole world of products and services out there that were geared towards the current trend of the ‘Vintage’ theme.
This got me thinking, not only would I love to have some very different looking images for my portfolio, but not seeing any of these products and services in the mainstream made me want to showcase them to brides and grooms planning their big day. In my experience everybody puts so much hard work and planning into their wedding day and are always on the lookout for new and interesting ideas, and I felt I had certainly found the cream of the crop with the suppliers I had been looking at.
This idea then evolved and getting our heads together I began to plan a ‘staged’ wedding incorporating the suppliers with some beautiful and creative ideas.
After sourcing models for a Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen we set to work. Over a 3 Month period with constant communication, mood boards and tears of frustration we finally set a date. Having never dealt with this kind of photo-shoot before it was a time consuming challenge but every aspect of it was immensely enjoyable, from sourcing and choosing dresses (which the models loved playing wedding dress up with!) to the accessories we were going to use, not every supplier I contacted was a keen to get involved as others, convincing people to get creative with their services for free in the hope that we would be able to showcase the images at the end of it to publicise these brilliant peoples work was tough. Ultimately the suppliers that were involved I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better team and have made many new contacts and friends along the way.
I didn’t want to use professional models as I was looking for an air of authenticity to the images so friends and family were roped in to help along with a few ladies and gents id met through status updates asking for help on Facebook.
The team was incredible and an itinerary was put in place for a VERY long day of preparation, set dressing and shooting. I realised when planning that there was an awful lot for me to organise, and taking on the whole shoot myself was going to be too much so I enlisted the help of a fellow photography graduate from Staffordshire University Hannah Cousins for some assistance.
Finally the day arrived, after 12 days straight of rain we woke up at 5.30am to glorious sunshine (and a bit of fog) at 7am 14 models arrived to be transformed from tired and grumpy to gorgeous and glamorous, courtesy of Leanne Zazulak from Love Beauty in Bridgtown and Claire Manning from Make Up by Claire based in Cannock.
Our models hair transformations were the work of Lizzie Sheldon from Lizzie’s Hair Design based at The Worx in Cannock, She was assisted by Linzi Whitehouse and Jade Richards and together they had some fabulous vintage ideas and the styles came out just perfect for what we needed.
By 10.30am we were ready to tackle the sets on location. The location we had been kindly offered was Watt Meadow Stables, they gave us use of their cross-country field and a horse trailer to dress the models, although being in a field with borrowed elegant wedding and bridesmaid gowns meant wellies and coats while the prep work continued.
Our dresses were so kindly lent to us from Kiss XX Bridal in Lichfield, Owner Jo was more than happy to accommodate our multiple visits to her shop and even stayed very patient while my creative frustrations meant ideas were constantly evolving…
Our suits were supplied from Jon Paul menswear in Rugeley, getting a vintage look for the Groom and Groomsmen was tricky but Gill at Jon Paul was great and came up with some great suggestions getting us a great end look for the boys.
The first to arrive onsite was James from Belle Bliss, A relatively new company supplying beautiful Bell tents for a multitude of purposes, but for ours we wanted a wedding village kind of approach giving an insight into a rural wedding location without a building of any sort. Just a reminder to people that a scene can be set anywhere you desire with the right permissions, even if it is just a field in our case!
Next to arrive was Emma Davey of Agatha’s Tea Party based in Stafford, I honestly couldn’t have achieved what I did without Emma’s help in the end, as a fairly late addition to my suppliers list she came armed with a van and a large carload of props including her gorgeous vintage crockery, vintage chairs, vintage bicycles, signs, Typewriter and Tissue paper Pom-Poms which were something I’d found particularly desirable and unusual - and much, much more that enabled us to get the amazing end product images.
Our Florist, Stef Gormley came next of Love Flowers had created some amazing garlands, bouquets, head-dresses and lots of individual flower decorations to be used in our reception tent and around the site generally.
I was so happy that our next supplier agreed to help, Kate at Cakes of Grace is someone I have worked with in the past and the only word to describe her creations is WOW. The design, the detail, it just lends itself to the vintage theme and for her to be involved was amazing. I have seen so many beautiful cakes over my 12 years of wedding photography, but none like hers which is what I wanted, suppliers that creatively push the boundaries.
I always wanted to keep in mind that couples are always planning on the side of caution and choose ideas and designs they feel they have a safety net with, but with the suppliers I’ve chosen they couldn’t be in safer hands in my opinion, reliable to a fault and incredibly talented.
The set dresser and room designer that had been working with me from day 1 did an amazing job of our alter area, from sourcing hay-bales to designing the right look to suit our theme decoration wise to creating an elaborate outdoor gallery of other suppliers products and services along with her own meant Leanne from Leanne’s I Do Crew, based in Cannock was an asset in making the shoot exactly what I had envisioned from the beginning.
From trawling through millions of images online, finding the suppliers locally that did those particular services was a challenge, not to mention then convincing them this was a great opportunity! For some things I wasn’t able to find a supplier so I enlisted the help of friends and family once again to help me source certain products, this has now resulted in us owning and supplying certain vintage props to the wedding planning community out there! The Doorway to the aisle in-particular was something I really wanted to feature and with the help of Love Flowers and my partner Simon we managed to achieve exactly what I wanted, this piece is still a particular favourite of mine from the whole day.
Some of our suppliers for the smaller details were equally as important. Our confetti was kindly sent in from Shropshire Petals, their amazing real flower confetti is incredible and using it for the shoot was a real pleasure and added to the authenticity of the alter images.
One of the more unusual but outstanding pieces we featured were from Handcrafted and Fran gave us some of her best work to use, the designs made by recycling old books are something I had never seen until recently and the first impressions from everyone that sees them meant I had to have Fran on board, luckily she agreed!
When it came to our featured transport, I wanted nothing more than to use a VW Campervan, Amie from Superfly campers gave us a lovely vintage blue camper which with the help of a Love Flowers garland and some vintage suitcase props looked the perfect part.
All in all our outdoor vintage themed wedding was complete and ready to shoot, while the suppliers relaxed and watched the next stage, Hannah and I set to work to do justice to the glorious sets everyone had constructed. (No pressure at all….)
2 Hours later and 1500 images shot we were losing the light and had to call it a day, then for me the major task of sorting and editing began. Once I’d seen the images and was content that it was exactly what I had envisioned I could relax and revel in what was not only an incredibly enjoyable day, but a successful project. The images were perfect and a great addition to all of our portfolios showing what can be achieved from using local suppliers for an interesting and different kind of wedding!
Will I be doing it again I ask myself, I think I just might, so if any local suppliers think their product or service fits the next brief then please look out for the next concept and planning shall begin once again…
Love Photography Staffs