A dreamy country bridal shoot in the Cotswolds

05 Oct 2016

Add a luxuriously rustic vibe to your wedding with inspiration from this Cotswold shoot

Photographer Tara Hollinghurst rounded up a host of Cotswold suppliers to pull together this gorgeous garden shoot featuring two effortlessly ethereal bridal looks.

What was the inspiration behind the shoot?

I decided to showcase two slightly different looks in one shoot but the overall inspiration was an effortless, careless summer country bride: elegant and ethereal, and relaxed.

I wanted to suggest a daydreaming feel to this shoot, as though the bride might have just slipped on her dress and an oversized floral crown and walked barefoot off into the garden without a care in the world. I wanted it to contrast with the business, stress and drama that so many people associate with weddings, and emphasise that this bride was full of dreams, and her natural beauty, and sense of calm added to the beauty of the day.

I liked the idea of the bride dreaming about her life beyond the day itself, and I feel this is shown well as she looks into the distance, or has a secret smile playing on her lips. She looks serene, and unstructured and I wanted that to be translated into the accessories and dresses. The flowers needed to be oversized to emphasise that this was a country girl at heart, with details that might have made it look like she had picked the flowers herself using sheaves of corn and barley.

I wanted the viewer to be left wondering, what is she dreaming of? What is the story behind the face?

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Tell us a little bit about the venue and why it was chosen.

The venue was a beautiful country garden in the Cotswolds full of flowers with lots of hidden gems for photographs such as steps and antique doorways. I particularly loved using the farmer’s field with the grain store which was a wonderfully informal backdrop and felt rustic and in keeping with the theme. Although we moved inside as well for certain shots, I wanted a predominantly outdoor feel with the model and the viewers both feeling part of the garden and flowers. Even the table shots were in the orangery with wonderful natural light and flowers in the background.

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What did you choose for the flower arrangements?

For the first, most informal and unstructured part of the shoot I wanted big, statement floral crowns with lots of texture to complement and contrast with the almost translucent skin of the model in order to emphasise her natural beauty and the simplicity of her on the day.

We used astrantia million stars, avalanche roses, and scabiosa to add soft colours, and then the dried barley to bring the English countryside to the forefront. The bouquet for this had a natural 'just picked from the hedge' feel, with a variety of visual and actual textures, trailing foliage and again the barley, to add to the unstructured country feel.

For the second part of the shoot with the more elegant, timeless feel, we had a more sophisticated clean lined bouquet with a subtle colour scheme of antique gold, cappuccino and charmont roses.

The table flowers I wanted to be tall and elegant, yet with a cluttered feel, as though everything had been put together beautifully but also had naturally come together. So below the candelabra I had numerous votives and candles, pots of gypsophilia and small roses. This was on a sequined cloth which added to the warmth of the candles and flowers in a lovely busy, mis-match.

The candelabra offered a beautiful mix of warm tones including avalanche roses and cappuccino roses again to complement the bride's wonderfully translucent skin. I think this showed the versatility of such elegant flowers that could be uncluttered on their own, or part of a very textured look when paired with the votives and smaller vases.

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What kind of look did you want to achieve with the make-up, hair and outfits for the bride and groom?

We wanted the dresses to be ethereal and unstructured to fit in with the countryside bohemian theme. We chose dresses with soft, floaty fabrics in delicate blush and nude tones – again, to emphasise the bride's pale colouring and to be a little different from the usual ivory choice. Hints of lace applique were used to add texture in the same understatedly stylish way.

In the same way with her hair, I wanted it to be natural, flowing, and effortless for both looks. In the first, where her hair is down, I wanted it completely unstructured, and relaxed – as though she had just put her crown on herself and wandered off. This is a very simple, versatile look that is easy to do with curling tongs softened by fingers afterwards.

For the second part of the shoot I wanted her hair swept up to add elegance, but also to look very unstructured and as though she might have just done it herself. We toyed with the idea of adding in side braids, plaits or flowers but in the end left it very simple.

Her make-up was soft and classical with nude and rose tones, and a slightly stronger lip in the second part of the shoot to add an elegance to it. The first look was totally bohemian and natural.

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What kind of accessories were used to create these looks and why?

Accessories, other than flowers, I wanted to be simple with no real jewellery but beautiful hair vines and veils that emphasised the unstructured, ethereal, dreamy quality of the shoot. We used a delicate hair vine called Gretcha, and a Magnolia clip by Ivory and Co for this understated look.

Again this was to give the impression of a hair vine or clip put in with the least effort and stress, at any angle in the hair, yet looking so elegant.

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What was the thinking behind the décor for the shoot? How did you tie it all together?

We worked outside in the harsh midday sun which was not ideal for me, as the sun was so high in the sky, but I liked the idea of making this look like a real country wedding, on a hot sunny country day – no airs and graces, no frills, and it gave us a beautiful warm light. I feel the outside pictures particularly showcase how lovely a real, summer wedding can be.

Inside, on the table we had, we used sequined tablecloths from Gilded Linens, gold edged glassware and warm toned flowers with extra votives and metallic vases to add warmth to the cool tones of the model’s amazing alabaster skin, and the cool tones of the dresses.

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Get the look:

Make-Up: Katy Pheiffer, www.bridalmakeupbykaty.co.uk
Hair: Leah Toomey, www.leahtoomey.com
Accessories and dresses: Nicola Thomas, www.findadress.co.uk
Flowers: Robins Flowers, www.robinsflowers.co.uk
Sequined tablecloths: Gilded Linens, www.gildedlinens.co.uk
Glassware: Laura Ashley, www.lauraashley.com
Photography: Tara Hollinghurst, www.facebook.com/thenaturalportraitstudio.co.uk

Get more Cotswold inspiration in the latest edition of Cotswold Bride magazine.

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