Bonjour and welcome to Paris! We’ve got something special for you now. Picture a golden, glamorous, vintage style shoot with a whole lot of Parisian chic and a certain je ne sais quoi, naturally.
Photographer Xanthe Rowland has captured the iconic sights of one of the most famous cities in the world, bathed in golden light and unusually quiet, in the grip of a global pandemic. This is a once in a lifetime shoot and we’re obsessed.
There are three couples in three locations, beginning with the quintessentially French cobbled streets around the Eiffel Tower. Day two unfolds with a lighter, almost ethereal vibe. There’s a real sense of fun and drama with those insane sleeves on the frothy, polka dot Miss He Bridal gown, part of the Whimsical Collection. It’s like something out of the perfect french fairytale. Finally, the epic, romantic shots in front of the deserted Arc de Triomphe and the imposing gates of Petit Palais are just stunning.
We could talk about this one all day but let’s hand over to Xanthe to get the real scoop.
With images by Xanthe Rowland Photography
Xanthe says: Covid has affected a lot of plans for so many couples and the wedding industry this year, and it has put a dampener on so many people’s moods. With limited places to travel due to quarantine and many vendors not being able to open for styled shoots, we decided to put an elopement shoot together in my favourite city, Paris.
After having no weddings from March, it was time to get those creative juices flowing again and plan something big. We were able to put together three separate shoots over three days, with three fantastic real couples, based in Paris, by the power of social media.
Elegance and romance were our main themes, with Paris being the city of love. We all wanted something that showcased the beautiful, elegant streets, vintage colours and chic style that Paris’ reputation holds. We’ve all been affected by Covid this year, and this elopement shoot gave us all a silver lining and reminded everyone that it doesn’t have to stop us creating amazing things or bringing vendors and models together.
Paris is a location that everyone swoons over, including me! I have always dreamt of shooting there but never knew how to make it become a reality while living in England. I originally put a Facebook post up to gauge general interest and, when I was approached by UNVEILED Network Member Hebe and saw her Miss He Bridal gowns, I knew they’d be a perfect fit.
We then collaborated with UNVEILED Network Member Rebecca Anne Designs for some gorgeous veils and Pauline at Odesia May to ensure everything came together. I’d sent over some moodboard images to everyone and began planning locations in more detail. The Eiffel Tower is a huge iconic landmark of Paris and had to be incorporated somehow into our shoot. I wanted a street view with the Eiffel Tower behind and, after spending many hours and late nights on Google Maps, I found the name of the perfect street to shoot at!
Paris has SO many stunning locations, we had to come up with a shortlist – if I had my way, I’d have shot all over the city until I burned out! We decided on the Eiffel Tower, the famous Trocadero steps and surrounding streets for day one. Then the stunning columns at Palais Royal and across to the Louvre Museum for day two. Day three had The Arc De Triomphe at golden hour, the incredible gates of Petit Palais and a very improvised last minute dash to the Champs Elysees, with the Eiffel tower in the background at night. All of the locations just oozed elegance and romance and each gown and veil combo fit with the different locations. We had planned on using the streets of Montmartre but logistically it wouldn’t have worked out for the timeframe we had. Maybe next time!
For this elegant, airy and romantic themed Paris shoot, we chose three of our dresses from Miss He Bridal to pair with a handmade Rebecca Anne Designs veil. Hebe from Miss He Bridal, a British designer of bespoke bridal wear was involved in the process.
We chose Style 2101 from the whimsical collection, the Japanese kimono inspired lace wedding dress with bell sleeves, side slits and a backless design, and Style 2102, also from the whimsical collection, the polka dot, fine arts inspired flowy style in sparkle organza fabric with puffy sleeves. Finally Style 2001 from the timeless collection, a strapless luxe wedding dress with attention to detail.
We also used Odesia May accessories; handmade, colourful wedding hair accessories and jewellery in unique, bespoke designs by Pauline.
Rebecca of Rebecca Anne Designs says: When I found out the kimono inspired dress was being used for the Paris shoot, I just knew a drape veil would be the perfect accessory echoing the romance of the draped sleeves and framing the low back.
The tiers of detailing on the lace dress had a timeless feel that is perfectly accessorised with a classic Honiton lace of the Jacqueline veil. I decided on a two-tier style for those romantic and intimate ‘under the veil’ shots with the blusher.
As per the Covid restrictions, all our models did their own hair and makeup. We didn’t particularly specify hair up-do or down, as long as they fit the theme.
With any shoot, you have to expect the unexpected. Just in case. Day one at the Eiffel Tower, we had planned to start at sunrise to avoid the crowds, however there was a little traffic on the roads for our couple and we started around an hour after. The key to a shoot going smoothly is to work with what you have, especially when it is in a public area. You cannot control members of the public!
Everything went fantastically and all of our couples were a dream to work with, despite our first couple having little previous modelling experience, would you believe?! They needed no direction at all which is a dream come true for a photographer. My style of photography at Xanthe Weddings is to capture real, natural emotions between couples and we could not have worked with better couples on all of the shoots during the trip. The love and adoration they have for each other really shows in the images.
Despite it being 30+ degrees celsius on all of the shoot days, we all worked extremely well, took breaks for water when we needed to and made sure we all had fun and enjoyed ourselves. We took our time and made sure we never rushed anything. Visiting all of the locations the day before the shoots took place ensured everything went without a hitch on the day and we could get straight into shooting. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much with people I’ve never met before and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the streets weren’t overflowing with tourists due to Covid travel restrictions.
The aim of the shoot was to create something elegant, airy and romantic, to showcase all of our hard work as vendors and models, and create new connections with people. I definitely think we have succeeded in our aim as I’d love to work with everyone again, be it on another elopement styled shoot or a shoot closer to home in England.
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