Autumn at Combermere Abbey

Written by Emma Hla
Images by Vanitas Life.
Mention a marquee wedding and it no doubt conjures up a rather summery picture with rustic touches and oodles of wild flowers. Beautiful? Absolutely. The only option for a marquee? Nope!

We love this autumnal editorial at Combermere Abbey in Cheshire created by Emmylou, photographer behind Vanitas Life, as it throws the focus on how to make a marquee come to life during the cooler months. Think earthy tones (that are right up my street), an abundance of candles and perspex touches for a modern look.

Notes from the Photographer

Emmylou says…

Combermere Abbey is one of my favourite venues. The idea of having the whole estate to yourself on your wedding day or for the weekend is so appealing and delivers a sense of calm when the wedding day can be such an anxious and busy time

The estate has many aspects to it, including the abbey which parts can be dated back to the 12th Century, where the bridal party stay. The vast pavilion adorned with light regardless of the weather, is perfect for a ceremony should the heavens fall and the marquee situated centrally in the formal gardens allow guests to walk around the estate to take in all its glory

The idea behind our editorial came from Combermere itself. They got in contact and asked could we showcase the gardens and the marquee for an autumn wedding, utilising the colours found around the gardens.

We wanted the palette to add a sense of warmth on a cold October day so we decided on tones of ‘clay’. Lots of beiges, mauves, browns and peaches were used in stationery, flowers and the cake. In fact, Hannah Matilda took the theme of ‘clay’ quite literally and produced a masterpiece close to newly plastered walls. It was simply perfect. Her clay effect and colour on the cake fit seamlessly with Combermere’s elegant yet modern feel. It’s simplicity combined with a contemporary artistic feel tied in perfectly with the shoot and is typical of much of Hannah’s work.

We were reluctant to use any artifical light at all from the shoot and only that which was readily available at the venue. With this in mind, to create a warm surrounding, we enlisted efforts from both Jacqui O Florals who styled the top (central) table with Ester Erik candles which beautifully highlighted her colourful and delicate florals sprinkled along the tablescape.

To create the illusion of light, we asked Uplit Event Hire for perspex candleabras for the round tables which also create height and drama in the room. They also loaned us the most perfect floor-standing cake stand that allowed Hannah’s cake to be at the centre of attention.

In addition, we used ‘ghost chairs’ to create a consistent and elegant theme to the marquee as well as adding light to the room by allowing the chairs to reflect and create a transparency to the party room. Perspex allows the guests to see the whole room without any visual blocks, opening up the space for guests to see each other.

For our bride, we decided on a day dress and a party dress, both from Along Came Eve. The Odette gown from Enzoni was sophisticated and stylish whilst having a touch of sensuality. The hair reflected the style of the dress, allowing the dress to showcase its best feature, the shoulders. Vicky M created an organic hair piece from our flowers which allowed the theme to flow from still life to modelled.

The make-up created by Michelle, was an elegant natural look with a hint of Italian glamour ensuring the skin had a minimal amount of coverage to allow the natural colour and complexion to show through.

When the sun fell, we used an E & W Couture gown to reflect the natural elements of the evening, the Orion dress. This dress is a favourite of mine due to how much fun you can have with it and how it reflect the light. The gold glitter stars and moons adorning the fabric as well as the free flowing nature of the fabric allows this to be the perfect party dress!

Jacqui O is a master at creativity and created a glorious found nature backdrop in the garden. Combermere wanted to give it’s couples another option for a ceremony and as the harbour was sheltered, it was the perfect spot in the walled garden. Together with Combermere’s gardener, she and Jacqui cut items from the historical gardens to perfect the natural backdrop.

Jacqui’s glorious bouquet reflected the ‘clay’ palette as well as the English heritage of Combermere by again adding elements cut from the formal garden.

Jacqui’s tiny glass pots adorned the tablescape which held delicate roses and dried florals to create a minimal yet luxurious feel to the tablescape. With the help of the candles, this allowed the florals to hold a central theme throughout the day oozing colour and vibrance.

The tableware we decided to keep simple with whites and cut glass, again to assist the natural light from outside and also the candles to flow throughout the room. We added touches of colour with Vanilla Retro’s stationery which highlights the autumnal vibe of the day, as well as the rich floral tones.

Everything spoke of minimalistic maximalism. We created a shoot based on minalistic sophistication which spoke volumes in terms of colour and style.

I’m so very proud of our team and to Combermere Abbey for asking me to photograph their beautiful venue. It always such a pleasure to photograph beautiful pieces and I’m really looking forward to photographing weddings there this year.


Venue Combermere Abbey

Photography, Concept & Styling Vanitas Life

Makeup Michelle Yates

Hair Vicky M Hair

Florist Jacqui O

Dress Boutique Along Came Eve

Props Uplit Event Hire

Tableware Tipples Bar

Stationery Vanilla Retro

Cake Hannah Matilda

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