Japanese Fusion Bridal Shoot at Pentney Abbey


When 2019 trends of bows, appliqué and bright colours - as well as Pantone’s colour of the year living coral - were announced, a styled shoot began to take shape featuring multi-award winning suppliers from our fabulous county. We wanted to create an inspirational mood board rich in symbolism and simplicity, a fusion and intersection of rich traditions, where old meets new, all wrapped up in contemporary bridal elegance.

We began with the koi, a very symbolic fish that is closely tied to Japan’s national identity. Through the koi fish legend, you can see that they show great determination, dedication, perseverance and success. They symbolise a transformation in life, love and friendship, by swimming downwards you’ve overcome your obstacles and are no longer fighting the current. A perfect metaphor for marriage. We also took inspiration from the vintage collection of kimono, obi and fans owned by our florist, included in the styling of the shoot with striking patterns and accents of gold. For the final photograph, we created a fine art image within the ruined tower rich in the symbolism of the shoot.

Location The shoot was hosted at Pentney Abbey in Norfolk. Echoing our theme of old meets new, we used the medieval gatehouse with its rustic walls and gorgeous window light. It evoked the atmosphere of a Japanese Tea House.

Bride Our model Hayley (a real bride from last autumn) wore a bespoke gown by Foxglove & Gingersnap Bridal Couture - an independent designer on the East Norfolk coast. The dress in a fine ivory crepe reflected clean lines and simplicity with a 70s vibe. A detachable obi style back provided a subtle nod to our Japanese theme along with a hand painted and hand beaded koi train which was also detachable. Couture buttons and hand stitched button loops added to the luxurious feel and the rippling of the base of the dress gave a sense of flowing water.

Her hair was styled as a modern geisha, with large and smooth rolls. After rolling the hair to add lift and volume and make it easier to work with, all roots were back combed and gently smoothed to one side, creating a beautiful large asymmetrical side roll. Once the amazing flowers were added it popped. For the make up it was easy as our model had super skin that only needed the smallest amount of foundation. Amelia Garwood used MAC face and body number 3 to even out her skin tone. The eyes were the focal point, bright pink and dramatic, taking the colour almost out to her hairline, using HUDA eyeshadows BAE, Henna, Flamingo and Bossy. MAC false lashes mascara. To contrast the lips to her very pink eyes, Amelia chose ARTDECO lip liner Orange Lilly and filled the lips with orange.

The fan has a very strong place in traditional Japanese costume & culture and was reimagined as a contemporary bouquet. Special care was taken to select particularly beautiful flowers for the fan bouquet and “framed” in such a way as to emphasise the colours whilst also having a sense of movement. Different techniques were used to set the flowers, using several fresh material garlands to create a layered effect within the fan so that the design was not only beautiful but robust. When our bride moved, the trailing elements added graceful and elegant movements. Flowers used: Cerise Rose (symbolism: Happiness), Cerise Dendrobium Orchid (symbolism: Beauty), Cerise and red Ranunculus (symbolism : cerise one- Charming, red: Beautiful), Red mini Gerbera (symbolism: Mysteries love), Orange spray rose (symbolism: Tolerance), Peach Ilex (symbolism: Faithful love), Asclepias, Tillandsia Moss, Cocculus leaves, Green Dianthus.

Sweetheart Table, Stationery and Cakes Simplicity and colour. Out sweetheart table featured natural tones of greys, echoed through the plates, ribbon tied cutlery and chiavari chairs. The vintage obi were styled on the back of the chairs - with the colourful fans - and across the table to join the two place settings together. The stationery echoed the obi with stitched origami papers over a koi illustrated design. The second stationery suite was printed on fine art handmade petal papers giving a feeling of the koi swimming underwater, with clean elegant typography. The table focal point was ikebana in a Japanese lacquer container - black on the sides and a wood grain effect at the ends which added to the fusion theme. The flowers used were two varieties of orchid to create the Japanese influence, bright coloured florals and bold fan shaped foliage to link to the fan-shaped bridal bouquet. Being the centrepiece of the table design, it was created horizontally so not to interrupt the eye-line. The horizontal element was emphasised by using natural, twisted hazel twigs to create strong lines and movement. The Asparagus Fern was used to further the horizontal lines and to create negative space. Featuring: Lime green Cymbidium Orchid (symbolism: modesty), Cerise Dendrobium Orchid (symbolism: beauty), Cerise and red Ranunculus (symbolism: cerise: charming, red: beautiful), Lilac Eustoma (symbolism: hope), Aspidistra leaves, Chamaerops Palm, Twisted Hazel, Asparagus Fern. The cake table was similarly styled with the obi as a base and rustic grey table. The three-tiered koi cake featured tones of ivory, coral and red, with gold highlights and the koi design. This was completed with spray of sugar flower ranunculus. The second table table featured three elegant cakes in ivory, navy and metallics with sugar rose, orchid and cherry blossom flowers.

Brides... keep it simple and be brave with colour combinations; focus on a few elements of bright colour and rich textures, allow the individual elements to shine.


Thanks to the following amazing women:

Dress Rachael Fox, Foxglove & Gingersnap Bridal Couture

Flowers Sachiko Smale, Libby Ferris Flowers (RHS Chelsea Medal Winner)

Hair and MUAAmelia Garwood (TWIA & EDP Bride Award Winner)

Cakes Amber Briggs, Love Wedding Cakes (EDP Bride Award Winner)

VenuePentney Abbey (EDP Bride Award Winner)

Model Hayley Geere

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