Real Wedding || Gothic Romance

It's Halloween shortly and I am so excited to share with you a wedding that I worked at last year.  It's macabre, gothic and  really unique, and I think the whole effect was very beautiful.

Catherine got married at Buckland Hall, which is a Jacobean style manor house that could have been designed for gothic glamour. They are particularly good at hosting alternative weddings as they really let you get on with things the way you want to do them. 

Her lovely photos were by Berenice at Wales Fusion Imagery.

Catherine put so much thought into every detail of her wedding and DIYed most of it herself.

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She even made the incredible dress. 

I do like the mixture of styles.  Very Mexican sugar skull and rather Dolce and Gabbana esque in a way too.

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I loved her gothic reverse manicure, with demi matte black points and glittered gold moons.

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For her makeup, Catherine told me that she wanted to look like a vampire.  I'm very careful with these kinds of requests, if you take things too far the effect can be Halloweeny, which is not what any bride wants, vampire or not.  I tried to imagine what a young and beautiful vampire would do for her wedding makeup and thought that Morticia Adams would be a good inspiration, as her makeup is gothic in style, but very classic.  I created a porcelain skin using Illamasqua Skin Base in white and lots of highlighter to give an other worldly iridescence.  I contoured with MAC contour in 'shade' a perfect muddy brown  that, lightly used, creates believable shadows.  Lips were a pink based red to work with her hair.

Catherine was the only bride I have ever met who wanted rain on her wedding day.  She wanted things gothic and gloomy to add to the atmosphere.  Well, she got sun, but it looks so great in these shots I'm sure she was very pleased.

Welsh Wildflower Wedding

Tara's wedding was held at  Llangoed Hall which, for a long time, was the family home of Laura Ashley.  I sometimes wonder what she would have thought about all these wedding in her former home.  I think she would have been delighted.

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Especially with the dresses.  

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This one was particularly lovely, with a stunning creamy fabric with lace overlay, by British Designer Stephanie Allin.

It looked amazing on.

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Not forgetting the shoes.

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Tara's flowers were by Hilary's Floral Design.  They looked particularly well against the wild flower meadow behind the hall.  Soft tones on eucalyptus, with touches of deeper green to ground - it was a delight.  

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And how inspired is it to shoot a chair in a meadow? 

Tara's photographer was Hannah Duffy, who took all the pictures in this post.  If you love ethereal yet classic photography you should definitely follow her work.

I love all the little detail shots.

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And how cute is this chap? Lady probably, looking at it again.


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For makeup I wanted to give a soft, diffused and romantic effect.  Using bronzy tones I gave soft contour to the socket line.  I lined the eyes but made sure to smoke it out with a combination of Teddy by MAC and a deep chocolate shadow, which gave a soft effect.

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Tara's hair was by Padge of Shine Studio in Bristol who created this gorgeous undone boho bun.  He was a pleasure to work with and had everyone giggling all morning.

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I did Tara's mums makeup.

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And the bridesmaids.

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Here they are waiting to see how she looked in her dress.

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The girls had to go in the meadow too of course. Who wouldn't?

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April Favourites

I hope everyone had a wonderful April - I love this time of year - everything is growing like mad and it feels just the right time to start new projects.  Here are some of the things I have been loving this month.

Perfume - 'Ortigia - Ambra Nera'

This is a very unusual perfume that I fell in love with and I was kindly bought for mother's day.  I just adore how musky, almost earthy the scent is.  I use it when I want to be creative.  I think choosing a particular perfume for different purposes can be very useful.  With time, you are instantly brought into that headspace.  When I apply this now I forget about the humdrum tasks or problems, and it quickly takes me to a very personal creative space.

Podcast - 'How I Built This'

This is so inspirational.  I have loved hearing about all the different stories about how some of the worlds most incredible entrepreneurs got started. I particularly enjoyed listening to the Kate Spade and Spanx ones but they are all great really.  I stumbled across real estate mogul Barbara Cocoran's story (whom I have never heard of) and I really enjoyed that.  The most memorable part is where she laughs that she has only ever sold three properties! Yes, incredibly this is true.  She realised early on that her talents lay in other areas ( such as a unique approach to recruitment) and passed on the actual sales to her staff.  I love this bit, such a reminder that delegation is a really important part of success.  It's no badge of honour to do everything ourselves.

Author - D.E. Stevenson

I was introduced to this author through Persephone books who publishes one of D.E. Stevenson's novels , and quickly decided I would be reading more of her work.  It is domestic fiction, quite similar to Edith Wharton.  I believe she was rather popular at the time, and her books have gradually come back in print.  It's early chick lit really I suppose, but some how because it is set in the 40's you can feel a little more cerebral reading it! Anyway, there is nothing I enjoy more that finding a whole swathe of undiscovered work from an author whose writing is cheery, consistent and enjoyable - a gold mine!

Trench - LK Bennet

I treated myself to this gorgeous trench from LK Bennet.  I have been looking for one I liked for so long and this fitted all my requirements.  Their clothes are so well made and have the little details that other companies seem to be cutting corners on such as a well made lining and good weight to the fabric.

Recipe - Amelia Freer, Asian Chicken Salad

I'm so excited that it's salad time of year again! I can get really fed up planning family meals sometimes, so for lunch which I usually eat alone, I just make a big batch of the same thing on a monday , and have it over and over.  Winter I do soup and summer salads.  This was a real winner, though there was an awful lot of chopping involved, which got a little annoying.  Next time I'll use the food processor. 

However, my biggest inspiration this month came from an interesting connection.  We are renovating our house and needed to have two carpets fitted.  For various reasons, they were of very different quality - an expensive one and a budget one.  I was stressing the difference to the fitter between the two carpets.  I pointed out that while I wanted him to take great care over the expensive one, I was not quite so worried about the cheaper one.  He sat back on his heels, looked at me and said 'I take as much care over an cheap carpet as I do a expensive one'.  Well, I felt quite admonished.  I saw e was so zen about his carpet fitting, that every carpet mattered.  It didn't matter to him that one was of a better quality than the other. He was going to do his very best by that carpet for every job.   Needless to say he did an excellent job of both.  But his comment kept coming back to me in the following weeks.  I became uncomfortably aware that this was not something I did.  I tend to take care of things I perceive to have value, but scrimp on things I feel are worth less.    I also realised, to my shame, that I occaisionly did this with  people too.  Putting energy into my interactions with friends, clients or colleagues, but (though I do hope I am polite) not always giving the same care to retail staff, call centre operatives etc.  But surely everything deserves our full energy and presence? I resolved that I would follow this man's example and be a good steward of everything that come into my  sphere. Perhaps if we could all give care to things and people that our cultural conditioning teaches us to disregard, there would be less conflict in our society.

Thank you for reading and I hope you have found this little round up of things I have been enjoying useful.

Happy April!


Capsule Beauty Collection || French Girl Edit

Emmanuelle Beart

Emmanuelle Beart

I’ve always had a slight fascination with French Girl Beauty, but it has turned into a complete obsession lately.  Perhaps because it’s the antithesis of the Instagram makeup that we see so much of now.  It’s remained classic, fresh, modern and always beautiful.  There is a timeless quality to it that I love - each of these images were taken in decades spanning from the 1960s to the 1990s yet to me they look covetable and contemporary .

The French beauty aesthetic is often a little undone which I resonate with, the glamour element is almost always there, but it has a nonchalance to it which might be what makes it so editorial and modern.

With this in mind, I have compiled a Capsule Beauty Collection (is this a thing? It should be...) Remember that the French have a strong emphasis on quality over quantity.  Buy as little as possible, but buy well.


Emmanuelle Beart in Jean de Florette

Emmanuelle Beart in Jean de Florette




Impeccable skincare is something that is taught to French girls from a young age. French pharmacy brands are world renowned.  You just cannot go wrong with Avene or Vichy and the price point is very affordable.

Since nature has recently thrown me the curve ball of both hormonal breakouts and the first signs of ageing (oh joy) my favourite products to use include La Roche Posey Serozinc and Redermic Treatment ( an excellent retinoid).




I hesitated on using this word as it seems to have acquired a different meaning in a few short months.  It no longer brings to mind a luminous glow, but has become an essential part of heavy makeup styles. Do not let this put you off .  Its really important, but you need subtlety, no chunks of glitter .  Becca Skin finish is one of my favourites.  I only have it in moonstone as, to me, it is the most beautiful shade and suits most skin tones from Asian to pale caucasian.  


Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin





There’s a reason I’ve skipped foundation in this edit.  We’re not going to use it.  That right, your skincare is going to be so impeccably executed that all you will need is the lightest touch of an excellent concealer that is an exact match to your skin in order to create a skin that looks like it has nothing there.

French women take great care of there skin - why on earth would they want to cover it up?  It’s considered very high status to wear as little skin makeup as possible in order to show off your time and effort that you have invested into your beauty regime




On every makeup artist’s forum I am a member of there is a mascara that comes up time and time again, Loreal Volumous in Carbon Black.  I personally don't believe in expensive mascaras.  When you have shelled out £25 for a pretty from Dior it is far too tempting to keep it for longer than the recommended 3 months, which puts you at risk from infection.  I believe in buying cheap and replacing often, but in this case cheap doesn't mean sacrificinging quality- this is an amazing mascara.


Beatrice Dalle in Betty Blue

Beatrice Dalle in Betty Blue




The French have not embraced the heavy brow trend in the same way as the English have in recent years, in fact I’m fairly sure they would describebe them as ‘de trop’. 

However, they also didn't pluck them out in 2000 trying to look like Gwen Stefani (guilty).  In order to fake that French girl nonchalance you’re going to need to fake the fullness a bit.  Keep it soft pale and feathery.  I use Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade in Blonde on almost every client as I favour the illusion of shadow to create depth rather than deep colour which I feel is too obvious.


Vanessa Paradis

Vanessa Paradis

A red lip

One word: Chanel.  OK two: Coco Rouge.  Keep the rest of your makeup simple and it is just perfection.

Do you have any French beauty products you particularly love? Tell me about your favourites in the comments.