Happy Halloween! I hope you have something suitably spooky planned? I’m actually out and about shooting all day, but I’m hoping I can get home in time to catch some trick or treaters later!
To get you well and truly into the spirit of things, I’m going to share not one, but two, amazing Halloween-inspired wedding photo sessions today. Now, I know I said on Facebook recently that I was kinda over styled shoots, but there are always exceptions, and two I have for you today are definitely worth breaking my self-imposed rule. Pop back at 3pm for the second one. It’s totally worth it, I promise!
This was sent over by the amazing April and Paul Photography, who are based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “We wanted to pull together a styled shoot that captured a darker side while still remaining very elegant and timeless”, they wrote. “We were avoiding the Halloween store approach and running after the idea of a place once luxurious and glamorous, now dark and mysterious with tale tale signs of what used to be. Like a mansion once filled with dinner parties and laughter now only with the echo’s of the past. The location helped execute the vision perfectly with the vines and spider webs already being part of the setting.”
Lauren and Ralf had a Dia de Los Muertos themed wedding in a goth club. Both the bride and groom even wore face paint! “Our wedding was unique not only because of the theme, location and decorations, but because we went with a mixed wedding party. I did not have a maid-of-honor; I had a man-of-honor. Ralf had a best man and a groomswoman. Also, due to the small size of our wedding party, we all go ready together in the same space at our venue. I’m not superstitious, so it didn’t matter to me if I was seen in my dress before walking down the aisle. But getting ready together made things all the more fun.”
“The visuals of everything defined the wedding. The lighting and the décor that the club already had meant we had very little to do when it came to decoration, and the things we did have were handmade. Also, the music was great. I came down the aisle to ‘Treasure’ by The Cure and for the recessional, we had ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen.”
Yep, you read that right – Carla & Nicholas spent just $800 on their intimate fiesta elopement. In fact I had to double check they didn’t mean $8000 when I received their submission and that it wasn’t just a typo!
The elopement took place on 28th December at Madison County Courthouse. After they got engaged, the couple immediately started planning a big wedding, but after some time decided to instead elope the weekend after Christmas. All their family was in town for the holidays so it meant they could all be there to celebrate with a big family meal afterwards. The bride’s sister-in-law, Melanie, secretly hired wedding photographer Ashley Vaughn of White Rabbit Studios as a gift to capture their day. Everything else came in under the $800 budget.
“Our family gathering after our ceremony was inspired by fiesta with a kick of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)”, Carla explained. “When we decided to do a courthouse wedding with a small family reception, I knew exactly where I wanted the reception. I love the look, the colors, the details, and atmosphere at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina. A fiesta theme just fit perfectly. Nick and are a little off the beaten path when it comes to what we enjoy and love in life and I have always been intrigued by and enjoyed the Mexican celebration Dia de los Muertos. We already had the family gathering together so why not honor loved ones who had passed on while we were at it?”
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Felicia & Ariel wanted to plan a wedding with a nod to their heritage as well as the place they grew up. The wedding was held at The Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, a non-profit education and research organisation, owned by the groom’s parents. “As born and raised Austinites and the children of hippies, we knew from the get-go that we didn’t want to have the ‘usual’ wedding,” began Felicia. “Ariel and I both love being in nature and so it seemed like a easy choice to have the wedding at the site of his family’s home and non-profit organization. We wanted the wedding to have a lot of color and reflect our passions and cultures. I’m Mexican-American and loved the idea of embroidered Mexican dresses for my bridesmaids, delicate papel picado banners, and bright paper flowers.”
“The funky architecture and homages on the property also added a lot of unique touches. We loved that our wedding was truly a family affair – from the location to the favors and the cupcakes, both our families were very involved. My mother is an artist and designed the invitations and streamers and my father, a musician, asked some of his bandmates to play during the cocktail hour. Our friends and family also had the choice of dancing or playing volleyball right next to the stage.”
“Almost 2 years ago I saw a beautiful Día de los Muertos painting”, photographer Ashley Forrette writes. “It was the first time I really looked at anything Day of the Dead-related that was not a kitschy nicknack or halloween costume sold at Hot Topic, but actually a really beautiful piece of art. It was soft, and feminine, and dark… romantic even. I fell in love and immediately I knew I wanted to someday shoot a bridal photo session inspired by that painting.”
After some big plans that were nigh-on impossible to pull off, Ashley decided to just keep the shoot simple and make it happen! “The ideas I had for it in my head were too grand and overwhelming to actually think about pulling off. I wanted to go to the desert during a windstorm, I wanted a $7000 dress, and a herd of wild horses… etc. etc. All things that seemed too big to coordinate for a shoot without a budget and for no real reason other than fun. One morning I woke up and realized not doing the shoot just because it couldn’t be as big as my imagination wouldn’t help me at all. It wasn’t a good excuse anymore. Why not do the shoot here in Portland with what I have and try to make it the best I can with my available resources? Why not start somewhere and see where it goes? Why not go for it, just for the experience, for the process, and for creativity rather than letting the fear of failure keep me from doing anything at all?”
And so she did. She pulled together an incredible team of creatives (credited at the bottom of this post) and made her dream become a reality. I love it!
I have a feeling this is another one of those bridal shoots that you’re going to either love or hate. Me? Well I love it! Pushing the boundaries of bridal fashion and taking influences from things that inspire you outside of the wedding world excites me greatly. It’s shoots like this, set up by millinery & headpiece designer Madeleine of Madeleine Bride, that reinvigorate my love of the alternative and remind me that yes, it’s not for everyone, but oh boy is it exciting to see something different!
“In 2010 I went travelling to the US, Mexico and central America for four months,” Madeleine explained. “The whole trip was centred around being in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebrations which is something I have wanted to experience for years. I love the concept of the Dia de los Muertos – it’s a celebration of death where people remember their loved ones with happiness, bright colours, lovely food and amazing fancy dress parties. We spent time in cemeteries where all the graves were decorated with pink and orange flowers and even helped a family build a day of the dead alter decorated with sugar skulls and flowers.”
“When I got back to England I decided I just had to do a creative hat project based on this festival. I spent a while working out exactly what I wanted to do and when I was designing my bridal veils and headpieces last year I decided to continue the theme with a bridal day of the dead collection. Usually the festival is very colourful but I thought that it would look really beautiful in white and pale tones of bronze, gold and pale mint. The headpiece designs were inspired by Mexican icon and artist Freda Kahlo with lots of silk and organza flowers and Spanish style lace mantillas.”
“I approached Lydia from Lydia Stamps Photography about the shoot as I knew she was the right photographer for this project. With a background in theatre, she has a great eye for creating strong theatrical images. She was as inspired and excited about the concept as I was. We had a fun evening trying out the make up and decided to pull through the same muted tones, making it quite subtle, but still referencing the Day of the Dead Concept. Together we found an amazing white chalk pit for the location again keeping the muted white tones and we used smoke bombs which combined with the location created an ethereal, ghostly atmosphere.”