The Staycation of Weddings at Four Seasons Hampshire
Planning & Styling: Ella Hartig
The Staycation of Weddings at Four Seasons Hampshire: The initial inspiration for the shoot was the staycation of weddings, switching Italian Olive Groves for a British Orchards. I visited the venue just as hotels reopened again (post the original Covid lockdown) in July and I could see how popular it was with couples and families enjoying the great British staycation of 2020. I then thought of all the couples planning their wedding weekends abroad and how much uncertainty there was over if and when we’d all be able to travel again. This then created the lightbulb moment for me, we can create that destination wedding weekend vibe at home in the UK. Just as many across the UK had been required to switch their exotic travels plans of 2020 to instead enjoy a Great British staycation, we could adapt and look at ways of creating that destination Wedding vibe at home. The Staycation Destination Wedding!
Four Seasons is the perfect location for a weekend wedding with multiple sites for different events such as welcome drinks in the walled garden on Friday, then the Wedding in the orchard on Saturday and a brunch on the canal boat on Sunday. There is also no shortage of activities for guests to enjoy over the weekend, from fishing to a high ropes course, archery, horse-riding, clay pigeon shooting, guests are certain to never get bored. There is also a luxury spa for relaxing and many beautiful country walks to enjoy. This makes it not only a beautiful location for the shoot but also a practical one as it genuinely will work as a venue where you can recreate that destination vibe.
Walking around Four Seasons on that July visit, I fell in love with the orchard, I loved the way the light fell through the trees and the unique space it provided. It had a Mediterranean vibe, right here, quite literally in our backyard. I was surprised to learn that until now there had never been a wedding in the Orchard at Four Seasons. It provided me with a beautiful and unique backdrop for the shoot. Just as you might imagine a wedding between the olive trees in Tuscany or the lemon trees in Amalfi, I wanted to create a British version of this with a wedding amongst the apple trees of this charming orchard.
The Orchard is surrounded by a beautiful brick wall which inspired our chosen colour palette of peaches, apricots, oranges and corals paired with light olive greens and eucalyptus greys. Whilst blush pink is popular with many brides I wanted this shoot to be a bit different and by choosing these soft corals and peaches I think it provides a practical alternative for couples looking to keep it neutral but a bit different to blush! Fiona from The Floral Editor completely understood the vision and was excellent at bringing it to life.
We wanted to tie in destination vibes in an elegant way without making it feel too themed so we utilised exposed wood, bamboo and rattan where possible, for example in the table, chairs, charger plates, candle holders and floral pots. Duchess & Butler’s beautiful shell-like plate added a further destination vibe and their smoked glassware worked really well with the floral colours. Having recently encountered many couples looking for practical favours we decided to combined the place cards and favours into a delicious, yet practical treat for guests (all hand painted by the very talented Natasha from Nevie Pie), this alongside Cutture’s lovey laser cut menus added another level of beauty to each place setting.
We also wanted to create some fun and enticing photo areas that couples could recreate for their Wedding days, such as the peacock chairs or floral swing. These type of photo spots have become almost expected at weddings now so guests can capture that all-important Instagram photo during the reception. One thing is for sure, if this was a real wedding, I’m confident that guests would have plenty to photograph!
We were fortunate to work with a real couple who had just got engaged so the excitement and chemistry was lovely and authentic. We utilised a couple of stunning dresses from luxury designer Inbal Dror for this shoot. The trend to wear more than just the 1 wedding dress is on the up and we wanted to portray this in our shoot. We wanted to show a day dress and an evening dress. David Christopher captured their genuine connection beautifully.
The beautiful lace day dress was perfect for the outside Orchard setting and then the more sexy sparkly evening dress helped transform the vibe from day tonight. I loved seeing how it shone in those stunning golden hour sunset shots. We also changed the hair and makeup throughout the day. For the ceremony we started with the hair up then took this down for the reception, both of these day looks were paired with natural makeup in warm tones.
For the evening look, Lauren Irwin pulled the hair back into a low ponytail and darkened the makeup and added a bright lip to make it more of a sexy evening look. I like the variation in both the looks as I believe it means the shoot can be appreciated by a wider audience, both those looking for the natural classic look and also those looking for more of a risky sexy look.
In a time when travel is hindered and there is much uncertainty about when the world will open up again I truly feel that a couple could take this shoot as genuine inspiration to plan their staycation wedding here in England. Furthermore, (when the world reopens again) I hope it shows couples all over the world, how beautiful the British countryside can be for a destination wedding. Until then, I hope the images help bring joy and inspire people that small, intimate wedding at home in the UK can still be beautiful and unique.