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Creative Shoots

Medieval Romance: Pontefract Castle

03rd January 2020 | Alexis Forsyth

Dark bohemian styling contrasts with the stark beauty of Pontefract Castle in West Yorkshire to create this romantic bridal shoot inspired by Game of Thrones.

Moody greys and earthy reds complement rich textures of fur, brass and metal, with the addition of antlers, a dragon skull and an exquisitely crafted cake adorned with dragon scales and arrows all aptly reminiscent of the iconic book. A decadent combination of protea, eucalyptus, senecio, wax flower, red roses and salmon chrysanthemum all add to this mesmerising medieval setting.

A pre-loved wedding gown and rustic flower crown complete the shoot’s majestic look, with the bride’s wavy auburn hair and plaits, gold cut eye and bold lip – a la Sansa Stark – further accentuating this daring regal theme.

Sam and Kerry of Something Lovely Styling tell us more, with images by Freya Raby Creative Photography

Model: Jodie Slater

Inspiration & location

We wanted to pay tribute to Game of Thrones to commemorate the final series. Our first location choice was Pontefract Castle and while it is not currently a wedding venue, we were thrilled when they said we could shoot there. The castle has links to the War of the Roses, which partly inspired the author of the series of A Song of Ice and Fire books, George RR Martin. It was also once given the title, Key to the North, which has echoes of The King of the North from Game of Thrones. The castle also had a 900-year-old dungeon that we thought would be amazing to shoot in – and it was! It’s also a local landmark and we wanted to collaborate with home grown suppliers.


Style-wise we wanted to create something that gave a nod to the series. We went for a darker bohemian look, toning in greys and dark reds with artificial furs and antlers, brass candlesticks with coloured candles and simple metal plates that look like they could’ve been excavated on site!

Being proud Northerners we also wanted to incorporate ‘The North Remembers’ slogan and asked local firm, Paper Bloom to create a decal sticker for us to use on a board.

We even included a small dragon skull we named Alf after realising he was a dead ringer for the 1980s TV alien.

The cake looked amazing and Katie, from KupKakes, managed to create something that was contemporary with a touch of medieval using details of dragon scales, arrows and beautifully formed flowers. The House Sigils were also a discreet nod to the series without being too obvious and blended in with the metallic grey tones.

The flowers were created around the focal protea which are on trend for this year’s weddings and hugely popular with brides wanting a bohemian and rustic feel to their wedding bouquet. We used the red ice variety in acknowledgement of the series of books, A Song of Ice and Fire and interestingly, the protea is a symbol of change and transformation across cultures – making it the perfect fit for a Game of Thrones inspired shoot!

The protea was complemented by sprigs of eucalyptus, senecio and wax flower, with red roses and salmon chrysanthemum adding a sense of medieval romance and bright red accents resembling dragon fire – that’s Dracarys to any GOT fan!


Queen Elizabeth I also chose to wear her long red hair down for her coronation in a similar way that hair stylist Carla Fretwell beautifully styled model Jodie’s hair. Sansa’s coronation hairstyle in Game of Thrones was said to have been inspired by the one worn by Elizabeth I, who chose this to signify purity.

Our beautiful model did a terrific job of looking regal with that edge of steel a medieval queen would need to portray. The look was further enhanced by makeup artist Lisa Cooper’s fantastic interpretation of the makeup, which was inspired by a Vogue shoot of Sophie Turner who plays Sansa Sark in Game of Thrones. Jodie had similar colourings to Sophie and the rich reds and browns and gold cut eye, paired with the striking bold lip, matched perfectly with our theme.

The inspiration for the hair, styled by Carla, was a mix of ideas – trying to capture the essence of Game of Thrones and staying true to the time period, whilst remaining current. The key to this was the overall vision, working alongside everyone else’s ideas we chose to wave Jodie’s gorgeous hair and mix it with chunky plaits.


The absolutely stunning gown is pre-loved, promoting the re-use and recycle message and avoiding single-use items (which a lot of wedding dresses end up becoming) and this was supplied by Bridal Reloved in Wakefield.

To create a look of royalty for the bride, a flower crown seemed like the perfect accessory. Crowning our model Jodie, who resembles Sansa Stark, worked out well as unbeknownst to us at the time, Sansa became Queen of the North and so the pictures pay homage to her coronation. The unusual red jatropha firecracker really set the tone of gothic nobility in the crown and the trailing burgundy ribbon complemented the bouquet.


Photographer Freya’s obvious talent brought everything alive, showcasing everyone’s work with her attention to detail.

From an eco-perspective, we kept extremely local and everything could be reused except for the flowers, which we gifted or enjoyed.

On the day of the shoot, the weather was thankfully better than the forecast as this was predominately an outdoor shoot. At one point, a few claps of thunder added to the vibe as we took cover from a torrential downpour in the Sally Port tunnel.

It felt surreal shooting in the dungeon with the lights off, listening to Aretha and taking photos of a model in a wedding dress while imagining the civil war soldiers that had been kept imprisoned there more than 300 years ago and seeing their names etched into the walls.

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