The day of the shoot dawned crisp and clear, perfect conditions for what was to become a relaxed, fun filled day deep in the heart of the beautiful Shropshire countryside. After a few muddy wrong turns along the way I arrived at Woodcock Lodge Farm and was greeted with the sight of a majestic tepee; supplied by Katachiefs, a ‘Tipi Hire Event Company based in Market Drayton’. This stood proudly in the Farm’s foreground, surrounded by stunning, vivid green rolling hills.
There was a hive of activity within the tepee, the shoot’s organiser Nicola Peake greeted me warmly with her hands full of delicious looking scones and brownies, and I spotted behind her a table simply groaning with goodies. Nicola had provided a feast, artfully arranging the ornate afternoon tea stands she provides for hire with homemade delectable baked goodies. She declared this “The Dessert Table”.
This was indeed a tremendous example of the decadent food packages she dreams up in her Bridgnorth kitchen, supplying to people in and around Bridgnorth in her distinctive company car; a VW Beetle emblazoned with her company name Chouxlicious. Nicola explained that the purpose of the Autumn Style Shoot was to bring together local businesses to showcase themselves and prove that in today’s world an intimate wedding can be an amazing experience. The local businesses involved in the shoot truly impressed me with their professionalism, their ability to adapt to the current restrictions as well as their determination to thrive, they were full of ideas and plans for the future and it was a pleasure to witness such colossal meeting of arty minds under one (very high tepee-style) roof .
I was surprised to hear how many of these businesses were brand new companies starting up within the last few months; believe me, this was certainly not evident in the quality of their work. Nicola started her business in March 2020 and despite the restrictions she has gone from strength to strength and is currently hard at work organising wedding fayres across Shropshire, Cheshire, Worcester, Staffordshire, and the West Midlands.
In the midst of the dessert table, I spotted a wonderous centre piece, the wedding cake. A majestic multi—tiered masterpiece, decorated with eye catching fresh seasonal fruit and set proudly on top of a wooden wedge of natural tree stump. On top of this mouth-watering masterpiece was piled an avalanche of bright, perfectly crafted macarons which, along with the wedding cake, were painstakingly baked and decorated by George from The Shropshire Macaron Company. George, with hair rivalling the very brightest of copper-hued autumnal leaves, chatted to me about his company as he bustled away perfecting his culinary masterpiece.
Based in Telford, George was exactly the type of local supplier that Nicola Peake was keen to showcase in her Autumn Style Shoot. George started up his company in August 2020 selling his divine creations in local farm shops, taking orders online and delivering them locally. His obvious skill was there for all to taste as we devoured his macarons as soon as Nicola declared the photographs of the food were completed and we could eat. What a treat! They were divine, they knocked spots off the macarons I’d had in the past and it was obvious why his business was going from strength to strength.
There was one question I was desperate to ask him, “George, why haven’t I seen you on Bake-Off?” he replied with a wry smile that he had in fact applied and made it through the rounds until he got knocked out in the penultimate round. Well, Bake-Off’s loss was our gain and George’s mouth-watering macarons certainly lived up to his online declaration that his creations are, “Parisian patisserie brought to the Shropshire hills”, we couldn’t agree more.
The main focus within the tepee interior was a long, central trestle table decorated for a dreamy Autumnal wedding. With rustic tableware, ornate gold cutlery and sparkling crystal glasses provided by Tipples set up beautifully for just 8 guests, this emphasised how wonderfully stylish todays micro-wedding can be. The beautiful table-top bouquets in oranges, reds and greens provided by Will Simmons at Blooms at Bridgnorth, were a perfect reflection of Woodcock Lodge Farm’s stunning surroundings. And the floral theme was mirrored in the intricately decorated teacups and saucers provided by Nicola Peake. The food laid out on the table consisted of plates bursting with the best examples of her finest afternoon tea package; delicious finger sandwiches, meringues filled with fresh seasonal fruit and scones accompanied of course, with fruity preserve and thick, fresh cream, as well as a spicier offering from Samosa Stop. I can imagine the samosas would be quickly devoured, being a fine accompaniment to: well, any alcoholic beverage! These plates were scattered generously throughout the table with the intention that each guest can load their plates with as much or as little as they wish. If you’re anything like me; at a wedding I struggle with a gargantuan three course meal, I like to leave a little (a lot) of room for a tipple or ten. Providing the alcohol for this particular ‘wedding’ was Nicole from Bottle Top Bar. Nicole was a bundle of fun and got well and truly stuck into the various goings on of the event. She reminded me of ‘that’ girl at school that was terribly cheeky to peers and teachers alike, and always walked a fine line between ‘good girl and naughty girl’, but she’s pure of heart and you couldn’t help but get drawn to her like a magnet! Nicole chattered away and revealed hers was a fledgling business but was doing extremely well; mainly due to the fact she’s full to bursting with fantastic ideas and can roll with the times. Nicole’s mobile bar is rustic looking which fitted neatly with the theme of the wedding shoot. She had plenty of booze on show behind the bar in the main tent, and also provided a fun prosecco station outside with signs advertising ‘Pimp your Prosecco’, where at a wedding, the guests would have great fun helping themselves to prosecco, and selecting pre-prepared, delicious berries of their choice to top their glass. Nicole provided the glasses and a deluxe range of fruit to pop in the drinks and explained the Bride&Groom could provide their own prosecco or leave that to Nicole. I love the fact that Nicole’s whole ethos is chilled and innovative, she explained that her company can provide a selection of drinks that would suit EVERY budget. And Nicole really means that. I can tell when she talks that she has an understanding of how to cater for those that have a tight budget, she’s clear and concise about pricing and has adapted to the ever-changing guidelines that currently restrict our freedom. You can book Bottle Top Bar to come to your home or garden, Nicole sets up a 3-foot bar, decorates it and stocks it with the beverages of your choice. Depending on whether you’re having a big Birthday, a hen or stag party or just a plain old garden party for your nearest and dearest, Nicole can modify the bar to suit every occasion. I particularly adore Nicole’s brainchild-the ‘Covid Package’, she delivers a package of your choice of alcohol, glasses, fruit etc all in a bundle directly to your garden. There will be no physical handover, Nicole will pick the empties up when the party has disbanded, hoping I’m sure, that everything’s been packed back up ready for her to safely and quickly take away. Nicole enjoys greatly coming up with a ‘cocktail of the week’ and you’ll find this on her website with clear instructions on how to make it. There was a ‘real-life’ example in a giant glass vessel on the bar-top with the name of the cocktail written in chalk on a blackboard, retro-style! Contrasting dramatically with the chalky scribblings, on the main table each place was set with a stunningly intricate menu, gold leaf text on creamy card provided by Bridgnorth based invitation printing service, Dotty About Paper. Check out their website for awe-inspiring ideas like “letters to Santa writing kits” and my favourite-individualised “allergy labels for kids”. What a fabulous idea for use at school or nursery when they’re that bit too little to speak for themselves. Sitting along-side Dotty About Paper’s menu and matching beautifully were gorgeous ‘Mr&Mrs’ edible party favours, simply divine biscuits painstakingly hand crafted with elaborate cream and green flowers provided by Alice at The Biscuit Baking Company. Alice the founder of The Biscuit Baking Company which is based in Bridgnorth, can also boast of accomplishing the mean feat of running a thriving business in today’s current climate. Alices’s delectable biscuits, cupcakes and towering celebration cakes are a sight to behold, and Alice can create gorgeous packages of inscribed sweet delights to cater for ANY occasion; from 90th Birthdays to Sweet 16, to name but a few! I simply adore ‘The Naughty Elf’ personalised Christmas Package which would be delivered straight to your door. These contain a cheeky note addressed to your child from ‘The Naughty Elf’, scrumptious biscuits piped meticulously with personal messages which are cleverly designed to get your little one into the Christmas spirit-what a delightful idea.
I head over to some very inviting looking sofas situated in front of a transparent panel built into the far wall of the tepee, revealing the glory of the stunning scenery of Shropshire. The sun was showing its burnt orange face and I basked in its warmth noticing how beautifully its colours were reflected in the enormous flower displays placed on the coffee table in front of me, it was truly a beautiful sight, and the scent was divine. Peering beyond the blooms could be seen Stephanie Morgan, a freelance make-up artist hard at work making up the serene-looking face of model Shannon McNally. Stephanie’s skills were plain for all to see as she transformed Shannon into a blushing bride, and it became blatantly obvious how she had won many awards in her field. Shannon’s hair was styled into perfectly tousled curls by Charlotte Swash Of Rural Roots Hair, who is based In Stottesdon, and can proudly say she came 3rd in the UK at the ‘Bridal Hair Show 2020’, a fantastic achievement. Charlotte has a passion for styling ‘up-do’s’, and she did a spectacular job on the bride’s hair.
Flitting around the tepee and face disguised by an impressive looking professional camera was local girl, Christina-Clare of Christina-Clare Photography. She darted here, there and everywhere and her unbridled energy was extremely impressive considering she’s a busy Mum with a top-class photography company to run! Christina-Clare, “specialises in working with independent businesses, online sellers and local organisations…and will make your product stand out from the crowd”. The photographs of the Autumn Rustic Photoshoot are stunning, Christina-Clare captured the essence of the day beautifully. And it’s easy to see why she’s Nicola Peake’s photographer of choice. They work closely together, as Christina-Clare captures Nicola’s scrumptious looking food packages, bespoke cheese boards, and vintage wedding supplies so beautifully and with a totally natural originality , check her work out at Chouxlicious.com.
There was a vacuum-type hum in the air barely noticeable until my eye was drawn to the most beautiful gold balloon I’ve ever seen, it looked like a super-sized Christmas bauble, this was one part of an immense balloon arch, the creation of George from Feather and Fox. Based in Bridgnorth Georg(ina)’s impressive creative events company offers a host of frivolously fun party packages that promise to give her clients an experience they will never forget. Feather and Fox provide “bespoke luxury photo booth packages and jaw dropping sequin shimmer backdrop displays” that have proved to be in high demand for weddings big and small. George also provides “copper pipe backdrop, neon signs and balloon instillations”. Since George started her company two and a half years ago she has built up an impressive client base and is well known in and around Bridgnorth for her innovative ideas such as ‘The Naughty Elf’ tied to a helium balloon. I must admit my name is down for two this Christmas; my niece and nephew would ADORE this, and I can only imagine their delighted little upturned faces, delirious with excitement, as the Naughty Elf zooms wildly around the room on his gold balloon.
There’s a noticeable change of atmosphere as a very pretty blonde sweeps into the tent trailing metres of white tulle and lace; swoops Harley the ‘Groom’ up on her way, ushering him chirpily over to the sofas where myself and Shannon the ‘Bride’ are sitting. It’s Mel from Wedding Belles of Four Oaks. Mel and her business partner Claire run a thriving Wedding Dress Boutique in Sutton Coldfield, West-Midlands. The ladies and their team have won a plethora of awards including the highest possible accolade- winner of The Regional Wedding Industry Awards 2019&2020 and have become National Finalists 2019&2020. Wedding Belles is not just a business to Mel and Claire, they genuinely adore what they do and care highly about providing a “personalised and supportive service” offering “advice and styling” tips unique to each and every bride. Their kind-hearted, reassuring, and helpful approach entails all their clients walk away knowing they have just procured the dress of their dreams and feel secure in the knowledge that they look utterly sensational in it. Both Nicola Peake and myself can affirm to this, both of us having had the benefit of Mel and Claire’s unparalleled expertise; Nicola, finding the wedding dress of her dreams, and myself, an exquisite floor-length, made to measure Bridesmaid dress. Wedding Belles offers something tailored to suit every bride, “From vintage wedding dresses to modern styles, fitted and elegant to princess fairy tale gowns”, they also have an impressive range of bridesmaids dresses, veils, tiara’s and a whole range of other accessories! Brides flock to Wedding Belles from far and wide, and if you’re planning a wedding, look no further than Wedding Belles of Four Oaks’ awesome website, full to bursting with top tips and advice for the big day and the planning that will lead up to it. Mel provided two beautiful wedding dresses, both in fitting with the Autumnal season, and matching beautifully with the groom’s ‘Peaky Blinders’ type suit provided by Duncan James.
Mel sweetly ushered everyone out of the tepee so the Bride and Groom models; real-life couple, Shannon and Harley, could change into their finery for the upcoming main photoshoot. There was a hint of excitement in the air as a divine looking snow-white gelding named ‘Cassie’ was led proudly out of her stable by farmer Anthea Digwood. Anthea declared this was Cassie’s “debut performance for equine modelling”, not that you could tell; she behaved fabulously (apart from trying to eat the bouquet, but who could blame her…they did look rather scrumptious). Anthea was excited to showcase Cassie and her farm, explaining that her family-run farm was branching out and, “catering for weddings, special occasions and corporate events”. I must admit that the farm was glorious; with a simply stunning backdrop, showcasing British countryside at its absolute best. Whilst we were all admiring Cassie and her dreamy equine beauty, a delightful, open-top vintage car came driving towards us with a smiling besuited man behind the wheel. Next to him sat his wife waving delightedly at our little ensemble. The wedding car provided by Stylishly Classic Wedding Cars was sparkling, cream-coloured and adorned with the classic wedding ribbons synonymous with a quintessential English wedding. Wayne Leonard, the videographer from Shropshire Wedding Video appeared as if by magic, utterly delighted by this sight-as we all were, and looking forward to capturing the Bride&Groom when they appeared dressed in their finery. Spotted overhead, and capturing every detail hovered a drone, supplied by Drone Rangers Of Virtual Shropshire . You can book this drone to capture your big day or special events, it promises to provide a rare and utterly unique view from beginning to end.
Whilst the Bride&Groom did their thing and were captured beautifully, posing in the Stylishly Classic wedding car by Christina-Clare and Shropshire Wedding Video there was frantic activity going on the other side of the tepee. I meandered around, notebook in hand and stumbled surprisingly upon a magnificent looking giant wooden hexagon erected stolidly in the field, this was lovingly hand-crafted by local carpenter Ade of Little Wooden Workshop . Nicola Peake was balanced precariously on a hay-bale attempting to affix a bundle of foot-long, feathery reeds onto the top corner of the hexagon. George from Feather and Fox joined her grasping a wonderous green and cream coloured balloon arch. I sat on one of the conveniently situated hay bales that, along with cable drum tables, were placed strategically in front of the wooden hexagon and Bottle Top Bar’s ‘Pimp Your Prosecco’ stand for tired guests to sit and rest their weary legs in order to enjoy their ‘pimped up’ prosecco. These were provided by Tom and Sarah at West Croft Farm in Lower Penn. Tom and Sarah are entrant farmers and have set up a new business venture supplying, “bales and tables for weddings and events, to add that touch of rustic charm”. They will deliver and collect their ‘rustic furniture’ taking some of the stress away from the happy couple on their monumental day.
When Nicola had perfected the decoration of her ginormous wooden hexagon which was no mean feat, she hollered at everyone nearby to come and help fill the prosecco glasses that were situated on her prosecco wall. Nicola explained that she had designed this herself and was extremely popular. Find this, and the hexagonal backdrop to hire on her website, Chouxlicious Wedding Catering And Props.
And so, the day comes to a close, we’ve all bonded over fake prosecco, our bellies are full of sugary delights, and we say our goodbye’s. A massive well done to Nicola Peake of Pretty Peake Wedding Fayres. To organise and execute such a wonderfully smooth day was a monumental task and you did it with ease! The photographs and video footage reveal the absolute best of what Shropshire and surrounding areas have to offer in regard to ‘Weddings of the Future’. It can be done; it is being done and with a little help from these smart and innovative local businesses you could have the wedding of your dreams.
Written by Clare Loughead