Photo shoot at Athelhampton House

Image of a model outside Athelhampton House.
Our beautiful model Katie outside Athelhampton House.


So what do you do when you have some beautiful dresses in-store but just having them in the shop window is not doing them the justice they deserve? You go and find a beautiful Grade 1 listed 15th century stately home called Athelhampton House near Puddletown (oh my God so quaint, it’s straight out of a Beatrix Potter book) in rural Dorset and kindly ask them if you can disrupt their day and take lots of photos in the house and gorgeous grounds. We were very lucky that Laura and the team at Athelhampton House were so accommodating and allowed us to spend a gloriously sunny July day doing just that.

We love to work with other local wedding suppliers and this time we had the hair and make-up expertise of Kirsten Sare, stunning floristry from the lovely ladies Dawn and Rachel at Coombe Blooms. Our stylist on the day was Hayley Smart and our photographer was Dawn Potter a Dorset based snapper with an absolutely beautiful portfolio. Obviously the most important person on the day was our gorgeous model Katie who was brilliant all day even when we asked her to go above and beyond the call of duty – more on that later.

Image of a model being made-up
Some of our ‘Dream Team’ in action. It takes a Village to put a shoot together!
This was fun for us...not so much for Katie, who was a real sport.  Hayley and Kirsten here happily lowering her into the pond!
This was fun for us…not so much for Katie, who was a real sport. Hayley and Kirsten here happily lowering her into the pond!

We couldn’t wait for this shoot, first of all because of the location, but secondly the fantastic Press teams at Irregular Choice shoes and Glitzy Secrets had arranged for us to be able to use some of their amazing items in the shoot. Irregular Choice had sent us over four pairs of shoes that were so amazing I sat and stared at them in all their beauty for hours, and I was devastated they were in a size four and there was no way I was going to get my big boat size seven tootsies in them. Happily for me my other colleagues couldn’t get in them either so it was a form of consolation. Glitzy Secrets sent us a boxful of shiny, sparkly goodies and it was like being given access to a treasure trove of wonder. Dainty pearl earrings, statement bracelets and eye-catching hair accessories – for a girl who loves her bling it was like Christmas come early.

An image of four pairs in shoes in boxes.
I was devastated when these beauties arrived in a size 4! No chance of trying them on. Thanks so much for the loan Irregular Choice.
An image of sparkly accessories.
Hello Mr.Magpie! Glitzy Secrets is a dream for anybody who loves sparkle and shine. We were so lucky that they allowed us to use their beautiful items.

Athelhampton House is such a versatile venue and it’s easy to see why so many people choose to have their big day here. The family that own Athelhampton House still occupy the property and have lovingly tended to the gardens as is very obvious when you visit. Not only is the house itself full of character and history but the gardens elevate this venue to something really spectacular. We chose the dresses we wanted to be photographed on advice from Hayley. We wanted to go for varying looks for each dress, so we chose five very different styles.

The library had a very 1920’s feel about it, it had full to bursting bookshelves and a large billiards table with low hanging pendant lights that gave the whole room a lovely period atmosphere. We chose a Maggie Sottero gown and as you can see from the pictures it complemented the room perfectly. The vibe I get from these pictures is very Great Gatsby. You can imagine the women from that era wearing gowns like this to the lavish soirees they attended and catching the eye of all the dashing men they would encounter there.

An image of the model in the billiards room
Only missing Jay Gatsby now…anyone got Leonardo Di Caprio’s number?

The next dress we moved on to was a tea length dress by Candy Anthony. This was a real fun dress, the pink accents (hello petticoat!), which really give the dress its va va voom, meant we could be really creative with the pictures. The flowers worked so well with the dress and as it wasn’t a traditional posy or bouquet, along with the stunning lace up shoe-boots meant we created a really off-beat look that was different yet so striking. As you can see in the pictures we had a lot of fun with this one.

Image of the model next to a stag head
There’s a moose loose in the hoose…luckily Katie was on hand to catch him!
Image of the model by the window
This Candy Anthony dress was so much fun – perfect for a bride who doesn’t want a traditional wedding dress.

For our next look we wanted to use the exterior of the stately home. It is so grand and dominant that we could only really have gone for one dress for this batch of shots and that was an Ian Stuart. A beautiful structured gown, with a cascading train and dramatic veil, but we still felt like it needed a bit more drama. Enter Harry, an absolutely gorgeous chocolate Great Dane. They say you shouldn’t ever work with children or animals, but Harry was a complete joy. He was the perfect companion to our ‘Lady Of The Manor’, and by the end we had all fallen in love with him. I love these pictures – they really capture the grandeur of the venue along with the dress.

An image of the model with a great Dane
Katie with the ‘Great’ Great Dane Harry – such a beautiful creature.
A real glamour shot – wind in her veil and a grand dress. Stunning.

Our next dress was one of my favourites, a floaty, non-structured Jenny Packham gown. Coombe Blooms had one again come up trumps and made an absolutely magnificent floral crown that looked as if it had been made with only that dress in mind. It was a really non-traditional look that we managed to achieve and it really taps into the trend of boho chic and festival weddings that are all the rage currently. The gardens of Athelhampton House evoke a great feeling of mystery and secrecy. This is how we developed the ‘Secret Garden’ vibe. There were lots of hidden gardens within gardens, glorious walkways covered in stunning flowers and foliage. The overall look we have channelled here is Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Katie looking like she has just walked off the stage at the RSC after performing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
An image of the model under a arch mde of trees
You can see why Athelhampton House and Gardens are so popular. Look at the all the glorious photo opportunities – this is one of my favourites.

Our next dress was very glamourous. It is a real statement dress, with intricate detailing and a real ‘wow’ factor back. The Enzoani gown has a beautiful fishtail which is so popular currently, thanks to Michelle Keegan marrying her ‘TOWIE’ hunk Mark Wright in a very similar dress. It looked stunning on Katie and the backdrop we had chosen to photograph the dress in was a lovely contrast. The Rose Garden had a really lovely traditional feel about it and then we put Katie in the middle of it in the thoroughly modern and sparkling gown. It was a collision of the old and new but looked fantastic. As you can see from the pictures the stark contrast looks really effective.

A classic ‘English Rose’ in a thoroughly modern dress. The clash of the classic and contemporary gave us an amazing set of shots.
An image of the model in the rose garden
Sultry and beautiful…

Our final set of shots is probably the most fun we had. Well I say we, it wasn’t a lot of fun for Katie, but for the rest of us who were just standing around like the voyeurs we are it was. We put Katie in our promo dress and took her over to the lily pond. As you can see from the pictures we wanted to create an ethereal, quite cinematic look with these pictures and Dawn has worked a wonder. Katie very gamely went into the pond and her look was off-set beautifully with the bunch of lilies she was carrying. There was a great symmetry between the flowers Katie was holding to the lilies in the pond. I love the dramatic shots as she emerges from the water, presumably heading towards the arms of her true love. (I am not apologising for being a hopeless romantic!)

Ladies and Gents I give you the new Ariel – our very own mermaid Katie
An image of the model in the lilypond
Walking on water…..

Had it not been for the time – we’d spent nine hours there and still not got all the shots we wanted, we could have happily stayed all day! We could have waited for it to get darker, I’m sure the gardens at sunset are a pretty amazing view – but that’s one for next time.

Kirsten working her magic on Katie...that floral crown looks great with a hairdresser's cape!
Kirsten working her magic on Katie…that floral crown looks great with a hairdresser’s cape!

We are very grateful to Irregular Choice and Glitzy Secrets for the loan of their beautiful items. Thanks also to Laura and all the team at Athelhampton House for allowing us to run riot around their wonderful venue. Special thank you to Harry the Great Dane for being such a professional. Lastly a massive thank you to the great team we worked with on the day (see below for all their website links and details) – Hayley for all the styling, Dawn and Rachel for the stunning floristry, Kirsten for being a whizz with the make-up brushes and hair straighteners and creating so many looks and of course to Dawn for being a photographer par excellence. There are so many brilliant shots it’s hard to pick a favourite. Suffice to say we all had a great day and can’t wait to do it again!

An image of the model in the bath
One of the funniest shots of the day – you can’t tell in the pictures just how deep this fabulous bath is. Some creative photography by Dawn means all the pillows we used to prop Katie up are hidden!

Hope you all enjoy looking at the pictures, let me know what your favourite look is. Remember to sign up and subscribe if you don’t want to miss a post.

Venue: www.athelhampton.co.uk/

Photography: www.dawnpotter.co.uk/

Make-Up and Hair: www.kirstensare.co.uk

Styling: Hayley Smart Art Direction

Floristry: Coombe Blooms: www.coombeblooms.co.uk/

Shoes: www.irregularchoice.com/

Accessories: www.glitzysecrets.com/

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