It was just an ordinary Monday morning. I was at the gym, sneaking in a coffee between classes, when my phone rang. It was my friend, her voice thick with tears, tripping over words and sobs in an effort to tell me she was supposed to model a bridesmaid dress for a wedding shoot over in Grantham but she was so terrified of being in front of the camera she didn’t know how to say no. Once her (somewhat over-dramatic) tears had subsided, I worked out what she was actually trying to say. Yep, you guessed it, she wanted me to step in and be the fake bridesmaid. It was a matter of wife or death. Let me just tell you that I am more than happy to help out. You need a favour? I’m your girl. Babysitting duties? No problem just give me a call. Go to a manor house in the middle of nowhere and pretend to be some kind of ‘glamour model bridesmaid’ on a photo shoot with people I’d never met before and whom my friend only vaguely knew? Sure…??
I rushed home and tipped the entire contents of my makeup drawer into a bag. Hairbrush-Check. Sunglasses-Check. Shave- Um… Au natural is coming back into fashion right? Driving out to the back of beyond on the assumption that I would be dressing up as a bridesmaid with full hair and makeup in order to take photos with strangers, I began to realise this may not have been my brightest idea but hey-ho, apparently I’m game for anything.
As I pulled into the grandiose driveway of the imposing Jacobean Allington Manor House, I drew my sunglasses out of my bag and slipped them over my eyes. This way I’d be able to suss everyone out without them knowing I was really looking at them 👀
I was greeted by the photographer, who from here on out will be known as stripes due to her colourful and playful jumpsuit. Stripes guided me up to one of the bedrooms, opened the door to the Lord’s Room and introduced me to ‘the wedding party.’
“Hello, lovely to meet you all I’m Lydia.” I boomed to the room. En masse they looked up from their phones and stared at all 5ft nothing of me. Here I feel the need to tell you I am not judgemental, but I am often judged, as is human nature, and that is exactly how I felt when I walked into the room as the only person on the entire team of people, (models, photographers, hairdressers, events managers) without a tattoo. I think the only other time I have felt more out of place was that time I went to Paris on an advanced sewing course without ever having sewed before in my life (see post ‘The One with the sewing machine’ https://www.liftthelyd.co.uk/post/the-one-with-the-sewing-machine-dress-to-impress-and-you-ll-feel-oh-sew-cool).
For those of you with concerns about the pandemic and Covid restrictions, not to worry, we were all masked up, the hairdresser had on her visor, and we did our own makeup due to the limitations on strangers touching your face. Thank goodness for that rule.
I was introduced to my co-bridesmaid, who was a very funny colour. Like I said before, I don’t judge, but I did find myself wondering if perhaps this girl had missed being on holiday a little more than the rest of us… She clearly saw my polite apprehension, and explained to me that a few days prior to the shoot, she had been, for the first time, to a tanning salon. She had entered the booth, seen the nozzles on both walls, and, in what can only be described as a moment of sheer distress and utter lack of common sense, she turned herself round in between sprays, consequently being sprayed on her front twice, and her back not at all. Think Ross in friends, only blonde, and real. I tried to hold in my laughter, I really did, but when she told me she had been to a place to get tanned, I could only reply with ‘hun, was that place the sun??’ Needless to say we have not kept in touch. My bad.
Just to give you an idea of what a photo shoot during a pandemic looks like, it was fairly normal. If you don’t know what a fairly normal photo shoot looks like anyway, join the club. I think it goes without saying my hopes for a modelling career came to an abrupt end when I was born to parents who themselves didn’t even crack 6ft. Nevertheless, I’ll paint you a little picture: we had a room for the girls and a room for the boys. In our room, a videographer followed us around to make it look as though we were getting ready for a real wedding. As well as not being a model, I am also not much of a makeup artist. Whilst the bride and other bridesmaid brushed, concealed and shined their faces, I clumsily over-dipped the brush in my eyeshadow palette. In an attempt to impress the other models, who had clearly done this all before, I boldly besmeared bruise-blue over my lids, and wound up looking like I’d been punched by a smurf. With makeup fit for a 5 year old, it was time to do my hair.
Sadly, I don’t have one of those faces that suits any kind of hairstyle (here I must add I am insanely jealous of all the people that do *cough cough* bride and other bridesmaid). Despite my warnings, the hairdresser insisted on doing plaited quiffs, which looked stunning on the other bridesmaid. On me? Less Suzy Menkes more Elvis Presley. Nevertheless I persisted. After all, credit where credit is due, the hairdresser was immensely talented at assembling my mane, as well as having worked for a solid 3 hours on set. Definitely not a job to be taken lightly.
Preened to the extreme, we three gals wobbled down the warped wooden staircase and emerged to the rest of our wedding party… Only it turned out to be less of a party, more of an elopement, as we met with a mere two other guys. At least we had a groom. Speaking of whom, boy was he a groom with a view. With a flash of those baby blues the three of us were secretly swooning, although the bride in particular looked entirely reticent. Upon further investigation, we discovered she had matched with a guy a few months earlier on tinder, and having been on a few awkward dates which ended in the inevitable and equally awkward ghosting, this guy turned out to be (dun dun duuunn) the GROOM. Does anyone else hear wedding bells? Imaginably, I could not stop laughing at this hysterical turn of events. Horrible to laugh at someone else’s pain, I know, but this was the kind of situation you only ever hear about on EastEnders (not that I would know, I’m more of a Killing Eve kind of gal myself.) Better (wedding) date than never I suppose.
Now this was a particularly hot and sweaty day, and the poor groomsmen had been standing outside for an hour in their full five-piece tweed suits. We’re talking bow ties, tweed trousers, waistcoats, linen shirts with blazers, and 33 degrees. Thankfully I am very adept at convincing people the sweat dribbling down the sides of my face is a new brand of glowing highlighter, but the poor boys were dripping.
So, there we all were: one orange bridesmaid, one bridesmaid who had apparently stepped off the set of Avatar, one blushing-for-the-wrong-reasons bride, and two staggeringly saturated groomsmen. None of us were supposed to be there, but we’d rocked up, ready to save the shoot. Stripes was frazzled (and who can blame her, we weren’t looking our best), but at the end of the day she put the pro in photographer. Maybe hard to find, but it’s definitely in there. Nah, joking aside, Stripes’ skills, as well as those of the hairdresser, the flower arrangers, the videographer, the other models and the cake specialist were all second to none, and it was a pleasure to work with such professionals. I wish them all the best in their future endeavours.
Who knew such a small fake wedding could cause so much hassle?! Almost as many misdemeanours occurred as in a real wedding! With so many things with the potential to go wrong, and they did, it was a day that brought even the cake to tiers. After all is wed and done, for butter or worse, a toast to the professionalism of my colleagues. Congratulations, I’m just not sure I’ll be getting married anytime soon.
Photography and Concept: PinkPhotographics
Venue: Allington Manor
Flowers and Styling: Bennington Blooms
Stationery: Tailor Made Moments
Cake: Confection of Affection
Videography: James Douglas Films
Hair: Sam from Little Hair Beautique
Suits: Empire Grantham
Bridal Dress: Boston Bridal
Celebrant: Ruby B Ceremonies