Barbican Wedding styled shoot

I’ve always wanted to cover a wedding at The Barbican Conservatory in London.

But never having done one there, I thought a good way to try and get an inquiry would be by planning and putting a styled shoot together to showcase what I could do.

 

Why I love the Barbican conservatory

I love the space. It is a wonderful mix of urban design “taken by nature”, and a great chic escape from more common wedding venues.

Yes, you read well, the Barbican performs and welcomes weddings all the time, and the Conservatory (to me) is one of the most amazing spaces to get married at in London.

The team that works at the Barbican really knows how to use every corner and make it bespoke and detailed for each couple. But even if you as a couple don’t want to invest much on your wedding decor, guess what, the Barbican is already perfect on its own.

The ponds (with turtles and fish), the ivies climbing up the walls, all the tropical foliage… swoon!

On a crazier side, to me it feels like you’ve just entered the greenhouse of a futuristic spaceship. You are light years away from earth, and made the most special and magical garden to feel like you’re back home.

Have you ever watched ‘Passengers‘ with Jennifer Laurence and Chris Pratt? Do you know the bit at the end when everyone wakes up? I won’t spoil it anymore, but that’s the feel!

 

When one thing leads to another.

So about a year ago, while already dreaming of a shoot at the Barbican, I participated as a vendor at the NuBride Wedding show in London.

Little did I know this would be where I’d meet most of the team that would help me make my Barbican project come true!

The whole experience was out of this world inspiring. Nova is one of my favourite people on earth, and such a role model to me. A fighter, a wonderful human who works so hard, a talented key speaker and advocate for diversity.

She put the whole show together, and handpicked each vendor/exhibitor for what their craft was, their values and what they also believed in.

Only likeminded people could be a vendor at NuBride Wedding Show, so being chosen as an exhibitor was not only an honour, as I was obviously surrounded by people I’d fall in love with in seconds.

And so the future Barbican styled shoot team came together

As soon as I got into the room where the NuBride Wedding Show was going to happen, one of the first people that came up to greet me was lovely Lexie, creator, writer and wedding planner at Queer Weddings UK blog.

Do you want to know the most curious part of this moment? Little did I know she was actually one of the main planners for all Barbican weddings!

In fact, I only learned this about two days later, but as soon as I shared my styled shoot idea with Lexie she didn’t even flinch and we booked a private viewing of the conservatory for me to get the ideas flowing.

Another of the magical things that came from the NuBride Wedding Show and the styled shoot we eventually put together, is that Lexie’s chosen me to capture her wedding to gorgeous fiancée Aisha. I mean, if this isn’t the Universe conspiring to send me hugs of love, I don’t know what is! I can’t wait!

From this day, two other exhibitors I fell in love with were Shilpa from House of Bilimoria and Bunmi from Avos Hair.

They are so creative and talented I don’t even know where to begin.

Shilpa‘s dresses are bespoke, unique, designed with so much love and with the most beautiful fabrics. I visited her a few weeks before our styled shoot at her studio in Wembley and was so inspired with her work and personality.

Bunmi has the most magical hands. She works hair like I’ve never seen and every job she does is one real piece of art. combining technique with real hair and extensions, honestly, I am always amazed at her final product.

(Lizzy in the pictures had really short hair. Bunmi turned into wedding glamour in less than an hour.)

And because the most special richness you can ever have is to know talented people and build bridges…

The rest of my team came up based on connections I’d done in the most varied places.

  • The wedding rings

Just earlier that year I had been contacted by a potential client wanting to propose to his boyfriend.

The goal was for both of them to fly from the USA to London, he’d then take him to see Malcolm Betts jewellery shop in Notting Hill, and their wedding rings would be up on the window, just waiting for him to pop the question.

He hired me to capture everything as it happened, and immediately put me in contact with Lydia who is the concierge and connoisseur of the brand, so that together we could work out the details.

(The day was amazing and magical, and I will post those pictures here soon too.)

The aftermath of this surprise proposal was that me and Lydia connected, I met Malcolm who designs the jewellery and owns the brand, and when I asked if they’d let me use their jewellery for this styled shoot at the Barbican they said they trusted me, and the answer was yes.

  • The bride and groom

I was working at Selfridges at the time as a side gig, and met Lizzy and David while on the job.

Her a concierge and first person I ever met at Selfridges and him a talented makeup artist. Both great friends and with whom I always felt really comfortable with.

When I asked if they’d be my couple for a shoot I was planning, the answer was ‘YES’ and suddenly I had my perfect couple. Two friends, ready to have some fun and open to be guided by me.

I asked David if he’d be up to also do Lizzy’s makeup besides being a groom so he could also showcase his wonderful work and as we were talking about it during lunchtime I came across this fabulous jacket he was wearing on an instagram post.

Suddenly, it all came together, and that jacket was the inspiration and mood to the entire concept of my Barbican styled shoot.

 

  • The most special assistant

Isabel had been one of my brides that same year (wedding coming up soon too!).

She and her hubby were attending a music festival in London and we agreed to have lunch the day before.

During that lunch, I told Isabel I was going to do the Barbican styled shoot the next day, and she got so excited about the idea.

I am so grateful at how Isabel always says wonders about my work. I asked her if she’d like to come and help me the next day with social media and she said ‘YES’, even though she had the music festival to attend in the afternoon.

Isabel filmed all the social media content behind the scenes of that day, and helped me SO MUCH. I am really really grateful!

  • A prep room for the day of the shoot

The final thing to do was to get a room where we could do the prep, hair and makeup and change clothes before the styled shoot.

As I was trying to find a venue, or hotel room that we could use, I was feeling more and more discouraged with pricing and of how people were just being so unhelpful.

So as I was about to quit and book a very expensive hotel room somewhere near the Barbican, I came across the Dictionary Hostel, and spoke to Mariola.

She was so sweet and helpful, and let us know we could use their space for our prep for free. For free!

This was the moment I realised there are still goodhearted people in London.

As a token of my appreciation for their gesture, while Lizzy and David were doing their prep, I took photos of the common areas of the Dictionary Hostel.

This way they could use them on their social media and website, and I was showered with ‘thank yous’ when I delivered an online gallery with all the edited snaps a few days later.

A happy ending to a lovely beginning

The rest is history!

The shoot went smoothly and everyone brought their top game to make something really special of this day.

We showed up early, and by noon our photos were done and it was a wrap. As we finished, I opened a bottle of champagne and we cheered to a friendship that had just been sealed.

The cherry on top of this wonderful day was that we eventually got featured with a post on NuBride wedding blog, and I really felt like we had done full circle.

I will never forget the planning, the people and the day we did this shoot. We laughed, we hugged, we toasted and we had deep conversations on plans for life and love.

Truly, another happy memory of the adventure that is living on my own in London.

Love,

Luisa

Concept and Photos by me
Models: Liz Aisha Boatswain – Ali and David Gorgeous
Hair: AVOS Hair
Jewellery: Malcolm Betts
Special Thanks: Lexie Lenoir – @Queer Weddings Uk, Isabel Castanho and Nova Reid

In my life I've always aspired to be able to hold love in my hands. To capture it in its most genuine form.

That fraction of a second where life doesn't repeat itself again.

That is why I became a wedding photographer.

Adding to telling the stories of beautiful diverse couples, I travel all year long.

Vogue Portugal called me a 'photographer globetrotter', and I felt very honored.

I hope you stay for a while. Grab a cuppa, and enjoy my blog.

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