Maria in the Hall of Fair Star

Gothic wedding shoot at Elvaston Castle

"Fayre beyond the Fayrest"

When Bryony from Pretty Vintage Hire contacted me to get involved with a shoot she was planning, I had no idea just how epic it would turn out to be. Bryony’s vision from the start was to do a gothic shoot with a  black wedding dress, but it was when we found The Hall of Fair Star at Elvaston Castle that the theme really dropped into place.

The hall is a stunning gothic design with pillars leading to a vaulted ceiling and everything painted in rich heraldic colours. It was commissioned for the fourth Earl of Harrinton in 1831 for the love of his life, Maria, who he called his Fair Star. It is considered a symbol of the chivalrous pursuit of love. Decorating the hall are many moulded and painted stars and mottoes of love. ‘Faithful to Honour and Love’; ‘Gallantry, Courtesy and Love’; ‘Fayre beyond the Fayrest’

Inspired by this love story, Bryony collected together a team of supliers to help her create her vision of a celestial themed shoot with our very own ‘Maria’ as the star of the show, played by Nyx Arielle. Bryony’s choice of model came with some bonuses as Nyx is also a performer and we were treated to giant burlesque fans made with pampas grass and a fire performance at the end of the shoot, both of which would make fantastic entertainment at any wedding party.

With added features of stunning floral arrangments by J Austin Designs and fantastic backdrop props including a moon seat (which Bryony added to her collection of items available to hire specifically for this shoot), we had loads of exciting set ups to photograph.

One of the down-sides about photographing a dark subject in a dark gothic hall is the lack of natural light. I didn’t want to use too much flash photography which would interfere with the video recording by Maxine Furness Films. So battery powered LED lights turned out to be our friends and the moodly shadows they created really addded to the atmosphere of the images.

Creative Team

Concept planner, styling & props
Pretty Vintage Hire

Venue
Elvaston Castle

Photography
Doodah Photography

Stationery
Doodah Designs

Videographer
Maxine Furness Films

Florist
J Austin Designs

Make-up and hair
Amazing Grace Hair and Make-up

Dress
Ryley & Flynn

Model & pampas grass fans
Nyx Arielle

Glasswear chargers & cutlery
Absolutely Vintage

Caligraphy
Crafting by Cali

Cake
The Cake Rack Lutterworth

Elvaston's Gothic Hall has featured in the film 'Women in Love' (1969) directed by Ken Russell and based on D.H. Lawrence's novel. In it, Elvaston Castle was referred to as 'Shortlands' and the splendid Gothic Hall provided the perfect stage for the nude wrestling scene between Oliver Reed (Gerald Crich) and Alan Bates (Rupert Birkin), which took place in front of a blazing log fire.