The Asylum Chapel in London is the perfect backdrop for this dark, quirky bridal shoot. With stylish hair crowns, lush velvet bridalwear, feathered animal masks, black theme tablescape and a unique textured tiered wedding cake that took inspiration from the aged walls of the Asylum… its a proper feast for the eyes.
Over to Clare from Minnie Sprinkles; a wedding styling and design service to tell us more about the inspiration and team behind it…
Where did you get your inspiration from?
I am a massive Tim Burton fan and I love his aesthetic. So curiosity, quirky, and darkly unique are words that definitely resonate with me and influenced this shoot. There were two main inspirations. One was The Asylum Chapel, the venue is a thing of eerie beauty. A Grade II listed building built in 1826, bombed in WWII, and full of character. It is delightfully distressed – rough walls, stained glass, fascinating floor, dramatic pillars, the perfect backdrop for an alternative winter wedding shoot.
My second inspiration came from these beautiful bespoke animal masks made by Curious Fair. Inspired by nature & winter woodland their ethereal creations are handcrafted from real feathers, dried blooms & natural findings. Dark & Curious at The Asylum Chapel was coming to life..
How did you find the suppliers who made this concept come to life?
I wanted to put a team together I knew would have the vision to create something out of the ordinary. I didn’t want to go down the traditional wedding route and there is nothing traditional about The Asylum Chapel. I wanted the shoot to be more editorial than bridal and needed a team aligned with one another in both style and attitude.
I knew exactly the look I was going for and each of the suppliers brought something special and unique to the table. I had long been an admirer of Chloe Mary’s photography and her vibe was perfect for this shoot. And Leesha our videographer is also so talented behind the lens.
I had worked with Aston our hair and makeup artist before and I knew she would create something beautiful. A couple of the team knew each other from various collaborations so when someone you trust and admire suggests someone else it all falls into place quite easily.
What details are your favourite, and why?
The dresses from Nortier Shallow were spectacular. Ben has such an eye for detail. Meera wore ‘Noire’ a black tulle and lace ballgown. For the shoot, we decided to style without the lining skirt and just added some high-waisted black pants to give some sexy sheerness and punk attitude. Andie wore the Coco jumpsuit in forest green velvet as well as the Salomé wrap dress – a super flowy slipper satin dress with statement Bishop sleeves and flounced hem. Hazel from Honey V Tiaras supplied some beautiful tiaras and jewelry that perfected the look.
The florals really worked to bring the vision to life, with so many tones and textures. Gemma, from Iris & Co Flowers used darkest green foliages to create shape and accented with garden roses, black fox dahlias, cascading amaranthus, and the tiny, delicate chocolate cosmos.
The triangular arch from Anthology Vintage Hire was adorned with the same florals, including ever-stylish anthuriums, chrysanthemums, and lisianthus. We decided to create a beautiful corsage to wear on the jumpsuit as a bouquet felt too traditional for such a bold look. Using magnets to hold in place, it was the perfect alternative to a bouquet and the contrast in texture with the velvet jumpsuit was just divine.
When planning the cake Dina, from Cakes and Leaves drew inspiration from the unique wall textures of the chapel that witnessed so much history. “I wanted to incorporate these aged tones and rough textures into my silky smooth meringue-based buttercream. I only use natural plant-based powders to achieve the most beautiful colours and entirely avoid artificial food colourings, so for this subtle stone grey shade that matched the colour scheme of the shoot I used charcoal powder to give the cake a soft design and decorated it with different contemporary painting techniques. The fault line in the top tier gives the cake a rugged look, while the see-through acrylic tier softens the design. It’s always a fun challenge to bring together the flavour and the design of a cake – this one was an earthy blend of salted caramel, roasted hazelnut, black sesame seed, and vanilla.“
The intimate dinner table was dressed with ornate brass candle holders, there were elegant, long tapered candles, we used a black washed linen weave with double-stitched edges for the table runner, gold-rimmed black ceramic plates, and smokey grey footed glass goblets with a hand-pressed embossed design. A tall floral design was added to the table, along with delicate bud vases, due to the vast ceilings of The Asylum.
Do you have any styling tips for readers looking to emulate this shoot?
You can recreate the same style by firstly developing a similar colour palette. Look at winter colours, grey days, misty fields, and bare trees, you can get your colour inspiration from all around you.
Don’t be afraid to mix and layer textures, whether that’s in the stationery or the table scape or the distressed walls of an old chapel, you can see that was a key element for us when styling and creating this shoot. When bringing all the elements together for your day, pay attention to small details, every touchpoint should follow your theme. You are telling a story throughout the day. From invites to table styling to creating names of a cocktail, it should all come from the same place and when you do that, the look and feel will be cohesive and effortless.
What is it that makes inspiration unique?
Those words again, dark, unique, curious, and elegant. This was the thread through every creative and styling consideration. From the stationery designs by Minnie Sprinkles featuring dark florals and skulls to black and gold masquerade masks as table names and gold leaf painted menus, everything followed the same vision. The handcrafted animal head masks, bird skull detail in the tiaras, and the black tulle and lace ballgown Meera wore, all added character and uniqueness to the shoot. The props from Anthology Vintage Hire were perfect.
We had a vintage whiskey barrel, where our ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ Tia Maria shots sat with an exquisite cut glass decanter, a grey vintage sofa, eclectic vintage frames, and Deer and Impala Skulls… The list goes on, but the mix of old and new, layers of textures, and sheer quirkiness of the props really added detail and brought the shoot to life.
We wanted to show couples that it’s possible to create a look that bends the traditional wedding rules. Not everything has to be white. It’s ok to have an animal skull as part of your big day. It’s ok to be rebellious and let your personality shine through!
What’s the most important tip you have for couples planning their wedding?
Before you start anything, you’ll want to collect lots of wedding inspiration so you can narrow down the style of your big day. Take your time, it is possibly the biggest day of your life so you don’t want to rush anything. Making supplier decisions will be much easier once you know what you’re after. Only choose suppliers you’re comfortable with and who understand your style and vision. And once you’ve decided on a theme, stick to it, and try and ignore anything which doesn’t fit in!
Work as a team with your other half – don’t try and do all of the planning yourself, and remember that communication is key.
One of the most important things is to be authentic. Be yourself. Let your personality and individual style show throughout your day. It’s YOUR story and YOU should be in it.