I am so excited to share with you the results from a styled Alice in Wedding Land shoot that was the result of a collaboration between an amazing team of generous and talented people. When Sada Ray of Flutterby Bakery and I first started talking about doing a shoot together, the original plan was simply to showcase Sada’s gorgeous dessert tables.
I suggested the idea of an Alice in Wonderland theme, and when Sada told me that not only was Lewis Carroll famously regular fixture in 19th-century Brighton, staying & writing frequently at his sister’s home in Sussex Square, but that local legend has it that the Sussex Square & Lewes Crescent Gardens served as inspiration for parts of the famous story, I knew that Alice in Wonderland it had to be. And that we had to shoot in those same gardens, no less!
The most instantly recognizable connection between the Alice in Wonderland story and the gardens comes from the tunnel that runs underneath Marine Parade between the gardens and the beach at Duke’s Mound. One look at that tunnel and it’s easy to see why locals believe it inspired Carroll to create the rabbithole that takes Alice to Wonderland.
Once we settled on the theme, things got bigger and better from there. Amanda Refoy Flowers joined us to create Alice’s bouquets, the models floral hairpieces and buttonholes and to help dress the sets.
Amanda brought Marian Thornton of Marianne Designs on board to make us a bespoke dress for Alice, inspired by the design of one of her dresses in the Tim Burton film. Marian added just a touch of navy blue edging to the ivory dress as a nod to the traditional blue we expect to see on Alice. And not to mention, since this is a wedding dress, it could work as a bride’s “something blue.”
Miriam, the bride-to-be who won my Retro Styled Shoot competition back in August, agreed to play Alice.
Photographer Bekah Palmer volunteered to play the part of the Cheshire Cat and photographer Mike Oddhayward offered to assist on the shoot. We sourced Bekah’s gorgeous vintage green dress from Beyond Retro for just £36, and I think we can all agree that even if Miss B is usually behind the camera, she looks fabulous in front of it.
Brighton has its very own Alice in Wonderland themed-shop, Alice Dreams: A Wonderland of Curiosities, and its very own resident Mad Hatter – Peter Gosbee, a milliner, steampunk dandy, and jeweler – so both of those were amazing resources. Not only is Peter actually a mad hatter, he is a collector of Victorian & Edwardian oddities, many of which – including an original Edwardian electroshock therapy machine, antique gramophone horns, a taxidermy owl and pheasant, among others – he was incredibly kind enough to lend for the shoot.
Peter, but of course, happened to have a tailcoat covered with 300 watch faces on one side and rabbit’s feet on the other – the perfect wardrobe for the White Rabbit.
From there, we knew we wanted to convey the idea of speed associated with the White Rabbit, so we came up with the idea that he would ride a motorcycle. To source the motorcycle, I contacted the local rep of the Vintage Motorcycle Club, Timothy Penn, and asked if he knew anyone that owned a 1920s-era bike. To my pleasant surprise, Tim wrote back to say in fact he personally owned a 1928 Raleigh motorbike that he’d be happy to lend for the shoot.
Well, it was herculean feat of organisation and a battle against gale force winds on shoot day, but I think Alice in Wedding Land was a great success. Most of all it goes to show what can be accomplished through collaboration.
Cakes by Flutterby Bakery. Flowers by Amanda Refoy Flowers. Alice’s dress by Marian Thornton of Marianne Designs, mariannedesigns [ at ] googlemail dot com. Victorian & Edwardian props & wardrobe for Mad Hatter & White Rabbit by Peter Gosbee. Other props courtesy of Alice Dreams: A Wonderland of Curiosities. 1928 Raleigh motorcycle courtesy of Timothy Penn of the Vintage MotorCycle Club. Makeup by Alessia Mancini. Hair by Elloise India Willett. Assistant photography by Mike Oddhayward.
Alice – Miriam Gisbey. Mad Hatter – Peter Gosbee. Cheshire Cat – Bekah Palmer. White Rabbit – Timothy Penn.
Special thanks to Andrew White for his invaluable help in organising the shoot.