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Ophelia - A Fine Art Editorial

Posted on 30th June, 2022

Outdoor wedding table Athelhampton, Dorset
Moody wedding photography Dorset

In September 2020, we set about creating a styled shoot that was a little different to the 'trends' of late, in order to create something timeless. Drawing inspiration from the art world, the nature of the Pre-Raphaelite movement was something that hugely appealed to my mission of romantic rebelliousness. 

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed to celebrate, and return to, the more detailed, romantic styles pre-dating the Renaissance and disliked the movement towards what they considered 'modern art'. They drew inspiration from medieval art, realism, naturalism and impressionism. Believing that nature should be followed and copied exactly and authentically, not idealised and prettified — an artist should be selective, but should paint or sketch every leaf, every petal. And so, this inspired me to create a shoot in which we could explore detailed study of the elements of a wedding but with the beautiful composition of the nature-inspired Pre-Raphaelite movement.

Our photographer, Keith Bridle Photography captured the brief perfectly, shooting with a range of styles to manipulate the atmosphere of each shot and produce a hugely diverse selection of images, including more whimsical poses and direct nods to classic Pre-Raph paintings such as 'The Soul of the Rose' by John William Waterhouse, 'Ophelia' by Sir John Everett Millais and again, 'Ophelia' but by Arthur Hughes. The images with the more vintage composition of the warmed, sepia type tones are my personal favourite as they embody the identity of this shoot.

The venue, Athelhampton House, pre-dates the Pre-Raphaelite movement with The Great Hall having sat in the heart of Dorset since 1485. The venue has recently seen a change of ownership and the décor has been returned to a more authentic style to complement the historic rooms. The gardens are an absolute joy with endless possibilities for wedding photography, though we don't recommend entering the ponds as we did.

Our florist, Sue of Old Chapel Flowers, excelled at creating a stunning tablescape of low-level arrangements and plentiful bulb vases arrangements, channelling a beautiful and sumptuous English garden feel amongst the more structured arrangement of candles and beautiful tableware, provided by Swingletree Events. The table and chairs were kindly provided by Hospitality Hire to add a complement the nature-inspired feel with oak cross-back chairs and chunky rustic table. 

The bouquet and arch arrangements were more purposefully more structured, but with the addition of silk ribbons and flowing florals, captured the grace of nature. Sue created the look with zinnia, dahlias, antirrhinum, amaranthus, grasses and scented herbs including purple basil, feverfew and fennel seed head.

The cake, was a hand-painted marvel from The Rose On The Cake, perfectly accompanied the colour palette and looked an absolute vision when viewed alongside one of Old Chapel Flowers’ more organic arrangements. 

Also, amongst the tablescape, and even in the nearby tree, was the stationery from Confetti Designs. Using gorgeous velum paper and gold leaf detailing, Lydia was inspired by flowing vines and deep, earthy colours and textures found in pre-raph paintings. The gold leaf added a luxuriously vintage feel.

The beautiful chandelier from Western Marquees added a touch of grandeur upon the arch from Swingletree Events, and provided the most beautiful backdrop to the table styling.

The dresses are from Exclusively Yours Bridal Boutique in Blandford Forum, Dorset. The main dress is a Morilee two-piece with a gorgeously detailed beaded cropped top, and a full-blown, vintage delight of a skirt. The marriage of the two worked so perfectly for the aesthetic of this shoot, and of course, our model Sarah looked divine in it. The dress which unfortunately suffered at the hands of my ambition to recreate the Millais painting of Ophelia, was an Alfred Angelo gown in silver, the lace detailing and structure of the bead embellished boned corset look was reminiscent of the dress in the painting and worked so perfectly, though it was a shame to have such a beautiful dress in a pond!

And of course, our makeup artist extraordinaire, Kirsten Sare Makeup Artist was responsible for the beautiful bridal look. Our model, Sarah, is blessed with exceptionally long locks and so to maintain the very natural aesthetic, her hair was left loose but for a braid as the English weather continued to dampen. Kirsten used very natural earthy tones to complement the Pre-Raphaelite theme of purity and authenticity. Some of the products used were from Morphe and Mac eyeshadows, Bobbi Brown eyeliner and mascara, Ben Nye blush, Maqpro foundation, T'LeClerk lipstick.

The Team

Creative Director: The Wedding Scene 
Cake Designer: The Rose On The Cake 
Florist: Old Chapel Flowers
Bridal Boutique: Exclusively Yours Bridal Boutique 
Venue: Athelhampton House
Photographer: Bridle Photography
China, Glassware & Silverware: Swingletree Vintage 
Hair & Makeup Artist: Kirsten Sare Makeup Artist
Chandelier: Western Marquees
Furniture: Hospitality Hire
Stationery: Confetti Designs