Location: Italian Gardens, Eastbourne

Photographer: Joanna Brown

Bridal Fashion: House of Ollichon

Veil: Seni Dey

Hair and Make Up: Lucy Meyer

Model: Vanessa Forero

Flower Supplier: Real Flower Company

Published: Love My Dress

It’s probably bad form to start with an apology, but I do feel that if you’re about to start scrolling through and reading this post I should give you fair warning that there are a lot of photos to look through! This was the first photoshoot I ever worked on and organised myself. It was also the first time I worked with Jo Brown, who I’d been following on Instagram for several months by that point. I can still look through these images – almost two years on – and just marvel at the sheer beauty Jo captured. And it makes me feel really proud to have had such a great first experience of a shoot, alongside such incredible talent.

The idea was simple: one model, preferably in trousers, a few arrangements, and all to take place up the road from our home. It all came together so easily, I was fortunate from beginning to end!

My dear University friend, Vanessa, had recently moved down to Brighton and we’d met up that summer to catch up and reminisce. She is such a natural beauty with her Colombian/Yorkshire heritage, I had already made a mental note that she would be great to photograph when we’d reacquainted. Luckily, she agreed and my first piece of the photoshoot puzzle was in place. 

I really wanted to avoid dresses for this shoot. I felt that I hadn’t seen many alternatives for women wanting something other than a pale dress for their day, and so I started to look. When I came across House of Ollichon (again, thank you Instagram!) I approached Hannah straight away as her designs were so simple, so elegant, and would fit beautifully with my brief. I really felt I was punching above my weight, asking Hannah if I could borrow a couple of outfits for the day, but she was so gracious and generously lent us Torres trousers, the Drakeford top and the stunning Clement jumpsuit. Seni Dey provided the extremely long veil, which was so much fun to have available and added a touch of mystery to the second look. 

Another supplier came on board in the shape of Lucy Meyer. Lucy felt like a hidden gem – when we met for coffee I was bowled over by her kindness and huge wealth of experience. When you live in a little seaside town you don’t expect many international Make Up artists to be around (and, to be fair, there aren’t many!!), but here was one and knowing that Lucy could work with Vanessa and gladly give her skills to the shoot was so thrilling. 

When Jo agreed to take part I knew this was going to be a fantastic day. Even if it rained. Even if the council decided to chuck us out of the public gardens…whatever Jo photographed would make the whole thing worthwhile. Whenever I look at an image Jo has taken, I am always struck by her use of natural light. She is a real artist. She can frame an image and manipulate the model or decor to bring a photograph to life. And we were blessed with a really dank, grotty autumnal day in October which bought the stone pavilion into colour and doused everything in a very soft, gentle light.

Once everyone was in place that day, the whole event just happened. This was my first experience of working like this and it was a wonderful relief and creatively so exciting! The flowers I had designed were very much inspired by the turning season; dark Physocarpus foliage, grasses, rusty Rudbeckia, soft pink Roses and white Lilies (very much not seasonal, but I am always drawn to the long elegant shape of the longiflorum trumpets), creamy Achillea, Persicaria, Cosmos and Dahlias. I jumped out of the car a few days earlier to snip a few trailing vines that were the colour of dried blood at one end and still bronze-green at the other. 

Almost all of the flowers were from The Real Flower Company who supply fair-trade Roses and organically grown British flowers across London and the south east. They have always been so supportive and were able to step in fairly last minute when I was finding it difficult to source some of the more unusual fresh ingredients I was after – I will be eternally grateful!

This was a day to remember and I remember it so well. Because of this day I have enjoyed so many other shoots and met so many other people! I learnt so much, which again, informs and influences all I do creatively and practically with and for the couples I provide flowers for. More autumnal weddings please!