Before I tell you about Sophie & Cameron’s Lovecraftian Wedding At Arnos Vale from my perspective, I’ll let them tell you their story themselves.
OUR STORY – By Sophie & Cameron
We met on Tinder of all places! We met at Cribbs Causeway in Soho Coffee company on April 21st 2017 – Sophie wanted somewhere with designated parking, and Cameron wasn’t particularly impressed that his plan to lure her to a coffee shop a few minutes from his house hadn’t worked! We ended up talking for hours, realising we were both a bit weird, and the rest is history. As Cameron tells it, Sophie moved herself into his shared house, destroying his dreams of being a lone wolf, facing the world on his own. As Sophie tells it, Cameron is the soppy one, and was just as complicit in the accidental moving in as she was – oh and he said I love you first!
We moved in together into our flat in Redland in September that year, and Cameron proposed 2 days before Sophie’s birthday after watching The Wickerman – it was a perfect proposal and she said yes! Sophie’s dad, in a desperate attempt to give his daughter away, managed to get us to plan a wedding in a much shorter time than would have been achieved left to our own devices, and by the end of November we had booked our wedding for October the following year.
Our whole relationship has been a series of not very well thought out decisions, which have thankfully worked out very well! We chose the first flat we looked at together to move into, and Arnos Vale was our first (and only) wedding venue to visit. Neither of us has visited the cemetery before but looking through the list of available places in Bristol, it was the one that called out to us. We arranged a visit and a few days before we took a drive to have a quick look, it was a miserable, rainy day but took our breath away completely.
When we told our friends and family – no one was particularly surprised by our choice, and Cameron’s best man was particularly smug that “Cameron the Goth” was in fact getting married in a cemetery. We loved that Arnos Vale had such a vibrant calendar of events, and that it was somewhere we could visit in the future to remember our special day. We had to explain our choice of venue a few times to some people, but the feedback we had on the day from guests was amazing. The staff at Arnos Vale were great, and we loved the freedom we could have in terms of decorations, music etc whilst the staff gently guided us if they thought something wouldn’t quite work. It was a gut feeling from the start that this was the place for us.
Sophie’s dress was from Wed2be in Bristol – she wanted something short from the start, and once she had tried this one, she knew it was the one. Her accessories were a bit of a mismatch of things she liked. The hair accessory was made by a lovely lady in St Nicks Market in Bristol (Lunartique) and she had fallen in love with her shoes from Irregular Choice from a very early stage! The bridesmaids wore navy dresses from Coast. Cameron’s outfit was chosen by him, under the guidance of Mother-in-law Angela – after several attempts at shopping trips which ended up with pictures of Cameron, Brother in Law Oliver, and Father in Law Andrew in a multitude of pubs, board game cafes etc, the outfit was finally chosen. Cameron hadn’t originally wanted tails, but again once he had tried it on decided that that was the look he wanted. The Cthulhu cufflinks were an import from America, and despite them not making it to the wedding itself, and emergency cufflinks being bought in, it was important to us the Cameron’s quite traditional suit had a bit of his personality brought into it. It was important to Sophie that Cameron felt just as comfortable during the wedding as she did, and that he chose an outfit he was happy with. There was a slight panic at the end that the groomsmen in Red, wouldn’t match the bridesmaids in navy, but on the day it all somehow worked!
Decor & Styling
Our decor and styling was again a bit of a mismatch of things were liked. Sophie started making the cranes early on, and after Cameron told her that she wouldn’t have the patience to make 1000, she passive aggressively made close to 3000 by the time the wedding came around! We were sure what we were going to do with the cranes first of all, but they were a huge part of the day, and seeing how much joy they brought to people was incredible. Cameron is a huge fan of Lovecraft, and Sophie also enjoys the aesthetic of the mythos so we named our tables from Lovecraftian locations. We weren’t sure if this would make sense to people, but it was special to us. We tried to keep the aesthetic through the font etc, and carried this into our wooden place names also. We didn’t want to go mad for favours, so we ended up having Halloween chocolates which seemed to go down very well, and meant that we hadn’t spent lots on bits that would have been left behind!
The flowers were a a bit of a novelty – Sophie originally didn’t want flowers, and was terrified of having boring wedding flowers, so purchased a beautiful faux rose and brooch bouquet from Innocent Chaos on Etsy. She then made the bridesmaids bouquets herself. Sophie’s mum is a huge fan of flowers and gently nudged her into having at least some flowers, so we visited The Flower Shed. Sophie’s descriptions were pretty terrible – succulents, not like normal wedding flowers, dusky colours – oh and to be put in terrariums please! Somehow Laura and her team translated this garbled instruction into the most beautiful, unusual arrangements which went beyond anything we could have imagined!
After we first met, True Romance was one of the first films we watched together – Cameron text Sophie the next day and said “if we ever got married, we should walk down the aisle to you’re so cool” – so we did! We wrote our own vows as we wanted to truly express what we wanted our marriage to be as a couple. We both repeated the same vows to each other – and ended them with you’re so cool – a line from True Romance, and something we say to each other regularly amongst the I Love Yous. We wanted the ceremony to reflect our love for each other, but not be too boring for everyone else, as we know that the food is the most important bit really!
We had a “disco” in the evening – our DJ (Chez) was fab, and we poached her after our close friend’s wedding earlier in the year. We had come up with a track list, and Chez turned it into something that worked. We chose music that was special for us, but didn’t want to alienate people either. One of our favourite moments of the night was Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson coming on, and all our crazy friends dragging us to the dance floor to dance. We wanted the evening to be a relaxed affair so fish finger sandwiches and cheese toasties felt perfect.
Our first dance was Laid by James – it was a bit tongue in cheek, but we wanted an upbeat track that we both loved singing along to. Our second choice was Creep by Radiohead!
Favourite part of the day
The whole day was a whirlwind. We loved seeing our friends and family, and seeing everyone mix and socialise and talk. Looking out during the meal at the people that came to the wedding really reminded us of how lucky and loved we are. We couldn’t pick out when particular part as everything was so lovely, but just being able to have all our family and friends in one place was brilliant – so much love and laughter in one day.
Words of wisdom
Enjoy the day – we forgot our cake toppers, Sophie’s hair came a bit undone, some people didn’t arrive, but it didn’t ruin the day in the slightest. Details are nice, but not the most important thing! Eat the food! – Sophie was extremely nervous and hardly ate or drank anything on the day – despite the food being gorgeous. Make sure you get some cake as well – we ended up missing out on ours – this was mainly due to being too caught up in the moment, but it was something we regretted on reflection!
Be genuine and true to yourselves – Everything we had at our wedding was something we loved and gave us joy. Thing didn’t match exactly, people may have found some of it weird, but it was so important to ourselves to stay true to what we wanted, and not to get caught up in what we should and shouldn’t have. We wanted a day that reflected our personalities and love for each other. Try not to get too caught up in “weddingyness” if it doesn’t feel right to you.
We spent a week in Zagreb, Croatia – we visited the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Museum of Torture, and the Museum of Illusions. We walked around some beautiful lakes, and had a very confusing, but delicious sushi experience, and had to get used to a city which was even more laid back than we were. We even fitted in some board games, and a visit to a board game shop. It was lovely to get away and spend some time together after the whirlwind of the day, but in hindsight would have perhaps not arranged it so we had to drive to Heathrow the day after the wedding!
About your photographer
Larissa is awesome – we contacted you because Sophie’s mum’s friend, we booked you because when we first looked at your website at your photos, Sophie got teary eyed, and when we met you for the first time we knew you were “the one”. We love every single one of our wedding photos, and we love sharing them with people. You captured everything that was important to us, and did it in the most discrete and non-invasive way. You were flexible on the day, and really valued our need to spend time with our family and friends rather than being taken away for photos. You were a calming influence during our getting ready stages, and you gave us great advise when we were planning – oh and you helped us find the cake! We couldn’t have asked for more from our photographer, and we are so lucky to have found a friendship with you and your family from it all too. Woo!
Before you started working with me, what concerns might have prevented you from booking Larissa?
Honestly – price! However I went into a lot of wedding stuff wondering why on earth it cost so much! I did my research however and soon realised why photography has a price attached to it, and after seeing deals etc and the results that people had had, the price didn’t even come into it for us. We really value that the photos we have are our memories of the day, and even in the year or so we’ve been married, my grandad has become unwell very quickly, and to have photos of him smiling, happy and enjoying our wedding day is so valuable to us. You really can’t put a price on the right photos.
After we started working together what surprised you the most?
How easy it all was! We felt at ease, and didn’t feel awkward being photographed at all. It was great you stayed in such frequent contact and we never felt like you had forgotten about us, we always felt we were getting a personal service and that we could come to you with questions etc at any time.
If we had to invent a photographer who was perfect for our wedding – it would have been Larissa – from initial contact, to our engagement shoot, to our wedding day, we felt Larissa captured what was important to us. Larissa was a calming influence throughout the whole process of our wedding, she answered silly questions we had about the whole weird process of becoming husband and wife, and helped us bring to life the photos that we wanted to achieve. We are so grateful for Larissa’s involvement in our big day, and would truly recommend Larissa whatever your hopes are for your big day.
The day from Larissa’s view
The pre-wedding shoot
It was a lovely warm afternoon in June and the plan was to get a few photographs around Clifton and maybe have a wander over the suspension bridge. Sophie & Cameron we really self conscious about having their photographs taken but wanted to have a heads up for their wedding day. A pre-wedding shoot meant that on the day itself they would be more relaxed and know what to expect from their photography. Along with having some special photographs to remember that special time before they got married.
Finding THE Cake
On the way we talked about the plans for the wedding day and had walked past ANNA Cake Couture and noticed how delicious everything looked. If you have never been you really should, The flavours of the cakes are divine along with really good coffee. And I really do love a good coffee! Sophie & Cameron had talked about doing something different to a traditional wedding cake. Although ANNA makes really beautiful modern wedding cakes, the little ‘Cubicakes’ really fitted the bill. So on the way back we stopped for coffee and tried some. Having lots of different flavours of cake for their wedding day meant there was something for everyone. With 12 flavours to choose from such as: ‘Red Velvet Cheesecake’, ‘Peanut Butter & Chocolate’, ‘Rose, Raspberry & Pistachio’ and ‘Lemon Meringue’ there really was delectable choice. And they look so pretty too!
The Wedding day
On the wedding day itself I started with Cameron’s prep at his best man’s house. Both Sophie & Cameron are avid board game players and fans of H.P. Lovecraft tales. So it was no surprise to find tentacled cufflinks for Cameron and ‘Meeple’ cufflinks (from the game Carcassonne) for his groomsmen.
I then went on to meet Sophie and her family & friends at the incredibly stylish Paintworks Apartments just over the road from Arnos Vale where everyone was just finishing breakfast and starting to get ready. Sophie looked so beautiful with her hair styled by Headrush, Caldicot and makeup by Elle Hitchens. Elle is excellent in her field as a makeup artist, but is also one of the most calming influences on a wedding day that a bride could hope for. I love working with her.
The Spielman Centre (at Arnos Vale) was beautifully decorated with 3000 tiny paper cranes Sophie had made in the run up to the wedding day.
‘千羽鶴 Senbazuru or ‘One Thousand Origami Cranes’ is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes (折鶴 orizuru) held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Some stories believe you are granted happiness and eternal good luck, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year. In some stories it is believed that the 1000 cranes must be completed within one year and they must all be made by the person who is to make the wish at the end.’ (Wiki link)
They looked so beautiful and such an unusual decoration and one I have fallen in love with. So that now when I send out my USB and print box to my clients I always include a little paper crane.
Sophie & Cameron’s ceremony was beautiful, with readings and vows they had written themselves as well.
We had a short amount of time for the couple shots as Sophie & Cameron didn’t want to spend much time away from friends and family. We then went on to the receiving line that led guests into the wedding reception at The Anglican Chapel. Receiving lines are funny (peculiar not haha) things. They take up a lot of time on a wedding day, especially if you have a lot of guests. They do however mean you get to say hello to everyone. Which is a real feat on a wedding day and one that can be impossible otherwise. This particular receiving line was lovely and so full of hugs and joy and well worth the time it took.
The reception table names were all Lovecraftian and the decorations were by Laura at The Flower Shed in Undy. The room looked stunning. After the meal and speeches we moved back to the Spielman Centre for the party. There was cake cutting along with another short jaunt into the cemetery in the dark for some more couple shots.
Why a cemetery?
You might think that a wedding in a cemetery would be a weird thing. But it really isn’t. Yes a cemetery is full of dead people and it’s a place of remembrance and often sadness. But Arnos Vale is overflowing with nature, history and life. It is as stunning on a misty autumn morning as it is on a midsummers day. Visiting it always brings me a sense of peace and of feeling grounded in nature and life when I leave. It is very much worth a visit just to learn about the history of the cemetery and it’s occupants and to stop for coffee too.
What do you love about each other?
Sophie about Cameron – “His warmth and caring, the way he looks at me, his sense of humour, his enthusiasm for everything he cares about”.
Cameron about Sophie – “Cameron’s answer from across the living room: You’re playful and fun, and beautiful and charming, you make me happy, you’re great”.
What was the thing that first drew you to each other?
Sophie about Cameron – “His sense of humour and the way everything seemed very natural and easy with him. Oh and his hair”.
Cameron about Sophie – “Her playfulness and she actually, genuinely made me laugh”.
Dress: Wed2be Bristol
Cake: Anna Cake Couture – Clifton
Flowers: The Flower Shed – Undy
Hair – Daniel Price: Headrush, Caldicot
Make Up: Elle Hitchens
Caterer: Kate’s Kitchen
Venue: Arnos Vale Cemetery & Weddings
Sophie’s Shoes: Irregular Choice
Lovecraftian Wedding At Arnos Vale