As a little girl The Secret Garden was one of my all time favorite stories. How can you go wrong with a story about little girl, wandering in around an English manor, finding a magical garden and then bringing it all to life? Such my cup of tea. So you better believe the little girl in me was all sorts of excited when this beauty from McGowan Images and megBdesign graced my post-writing presence. It’s so naturally styled and fabulous inspiration for you backyard brides looking to add a vintage feel. Click here for even more!

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From McGowan Images… It is of the utmost importance for me as a wedding photographer to continue shooting for MYSELF. I love the work I do for our clients, and every wedding is a new set of challenges. But there’s a special kind of giddy high that comes from designing and executing a shoot, simply because I wanted to bring a creative vision to life.

With this shoot, I pulled from all my childhood dreams of “Secret Garden”, and memories of when I’d play in my grandmother’s roses, pretending to be Mary Lennox, and hoping for buried keys and hidden doors. I reached out to my favorite designer with a few key words, knowing that I could trust her to pull it together. I simply said, “Secret Garden. A bride, playing alone, without her groom. A garland of old keys. Broken china and glassware. Fat, bright flowers.” It’s such a relief to know that I can trust someone to go from there! The day of the shoot didn’t even really feel like work. A gorgeous model, a cool spring day, and a beautiful set. Shoots like these remind me of why I do what I do for a living… I love taking beautiful pictures of beautiful things!

From megBdesign… As a lover of literature, I was on board for this shoot immediately. Chelsea sent me a message with a few brief, but very exact descriptions: Secret Garden. A bride, playing alone, without her groom. A garland of old keys. Broken china and glassware. Fat, bright flowers. As a designer/stylist, it’s my job to make these ideas come to life. To fill in the spaces, and create a holistic design that is a clear representation of the photographer’s wishes.

To be completely honest, this shoot almost felt like cheating, it came so naturally. I spent a day with my eighty-year-old grandparents, sifting through the antiques in their home and barn. I managed to finagle a few gorgeous pieces from the family collection; a pair of china bowls from Bavaria, a porcelain pitcher that belonged to my great aunt, two place settings of heirloom silver.  My Papaw also let me dig through his assortment of skeleton keys and locks. I found most everything else for the table at local thrift stores (because it’s generally unacceptable to break the family china for a photoshoot!). A few of the other details were last minute additions – the rose-colored ruffle garland, a little ivory elephant, beige taper candles. Overall, I tried my best to come across this design organically. I didn’t want it to feel overly planned, or overdone. I think I ended up using about 75% of the elements I brought with me to the shoot.

I’m learning that sometimes, the best outcome involves a little spontaneity. For the bride’s styling, we kept her look soft, romantic, with a childlike characteristic. A simple dress, and a gorgeous sash. Barefoot. A casual braid. Beautiful, but also innocent. My favorite flower market had a great selection of flowers to choose from: garden roses, peonies, hydrangeas, and spray roses. The one thing they didn’t have much of, was greenery. I was a little stressed out about the bouquet and table arrangements, until I arrived at our location. The little area we scouted out was covered in beautiful, twisting vines, and wild onion flowers. I immediately began to work on bringing some of the vines up onto the table, and into my design scheme. The bouquet was also reworked on-site, to accommodate our lucky break in foliage.

After working with McGowan Images a few times, I feel like this styled shoot was a little victory in my personal experience with shoot styling. We’re getting in the hang of things. I’m becoming a better packer. My confidence is building, and I’m learning to be flexible, and keep an open mind.

Photography: Chelsea McGowan of McGowan Images / Set Design & Styling: Meagan Bechtel of megBdesign / Location: Trinity River Park, Fort Worth, TX / Wedding Dress: Galina by David’s Bridal / Flowers: Central Market