A Bard’s Heroine: A Shakespeare-Themed Wedding

If this be error and upon me prov’d, I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

  • Extract from Sonnet 116
    William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s poems, plays and sonnets have inspired literary works, films and romances, and here now a sumptuous wedding shoot. Inspired byShakespeare’s great heroine, Ophelia of Hamlet, this opulent autumnal shoot celebrates, grandeur and Ophelia’s ethereal quality.

When it comes to designing a wedding, coming up with themes or even just creating a colour palette that brings something a little bit more unique to the occasion, your source of inspiration could come from anywhere. What really struck us about this particular shoot was the way in which history was treated as a fluid construct. Just because something is half a milleniumcentury old, that doesn’t mean that it has to be formal, dull and dusty. On the contrary, taking inspiration from something that is steeped in history gives you even more opportunity to get creative, reimagine what is taken for granted, and put a modern spin on it. 


The intention behind the chosen colours and style of the occasion was to replicate those within the paintings Shakespeare’s heroine in of “The Lady of Shallot” (by John William Waterhouse) and “Ophelia” (by John Everett Millais).

The aim underpinning this shoot was to achieve a sense of timelessness. The idea was to harness this opulent style, and use it to create beautiful, seasonal ideas to inspire modern brides.

The bride wore two breathtaking gowns created by the couture dress designer After Elizabeth. One of these was a white gown adorned with feather embroidery; the other was a corseted two piece, with the lower half made of a grey silk (the shoot organisers actually ended up deciding on this option because, with the occasion taking place on a float on the water, it was very likely to get wet!). 

The groom’s outfit consisted of a tweed suit with a floral Ted Baker necktie – simultaneously old-fashioned and modern, taking inspiration from our heritage, while blending this with a clear sense of the latest trends.  


The shoot took place at an exceptionally grand, old property. On site, the team even had access to a lake and a gorgeous sunken Victorian greenhouse. 

Knowing these details about their location, the team chose the tones and colours for the shoot accordingly. In keeping with their sources of inspiration, the designers wanted to incorporate rustic and medieval colours, like those that you would see in an old tapestry, blended with the ethereal feel that can be sensed in the two reference paintings. 

This combination of strong, rich hues with a mysterious and surreal undercurrent created a style that was both bold and mystical, all at once. The chosen colours could be spotted woven into the hair design, the flowers and the cake alike. 


In keeping with the chosen colour palette, Charmaine from CT Floristry used dark greens, oranges, rusts and reds to create the most gorgeous bouquet. Similarly, Rebecca from RT Cakes used her take on the day’s theme to create a magnificent gold and rust-coloured tiered cake, which was adorned by a velvet ribbon to tie all the colours together. 

The florals that made up the bouquet were cafe latte roses, symbol roses, Falda apricot lisianthus, chocolate cosmos scabiosa, seed heads, lagurus carnations, eucalyptus grevillea and tree fern—these were arranged to create a loose, blousy bouquet with trailing foliage.


  • To ensure that all your suppliers are on the same page creatively, you can send out inspirational photos, pictures and mood boards. This will give them as much visual information as possible before the big day. 
  • Scout out your location first. This means that when it comes to show time you know exactly where the team needs to set up. If you have time, you could even go to the location in advance, and take photos to feed back to your team.
  • Working with different fabrics is a fantastic way to create a rich assortment of colours and textures, while simultaneously interweaving the key concepts of your theme into the decor.



Venue: Wolseys / Photography: Laura Beresford / Dresses: After Elizabeth / Veils: Sash & Veil / Hair: Bridal Hair by Marina / Makeup: Victoria Taylor / Suits: Hardys Menswear / Cake: RT Cakes / Flowers: CT Floristry / Pulley and Float: Richard Bower / Models: Ella Palmer and Duncan Wallis



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