This weekend I had the honour of working with a very special and super organised bride whose consultation took place way back in January before 2016 had a chance to throw everything it had at us!
From the very beginning of the consultation, it was very clear that my bride, Danielle had a very special and unique #squad in her team of seven bridesmaids, four of whom also came along to the consultation – How’s that for team spirit?! Danni was planning a lovely bohemian wedding, with the addition of bridal henna to surprise her fiance. Requesting designs incorporating mandalas, and the hamsa with special initials to remember her mum, it was clear that Danni wanted decorative body art with intention and meaning for her wedding day. And to bring it all together, the bridesmaids also arranged to each have henna body art to accessorise their rainbow of Virgos Lounge bridesmaids dresses, tying in with the boho theme.
I arrived 2 days before the wedding at the Bride’s sister’s home and was greeted by a slightly panicked looking Bride. Thankfully, this is not a reaction I am unfamiliar with as The Arrival of The Henna Artist often indicates that “holy-fuzz-balls-this-wedding-is-for-real-now!” It can be quite amusing as the mood can be remarkably different from the initial consultation. This is when my freshly mixed lavender paste comes in super handy as the calming effects of the essential oil set to work as soon as I begin laying down the henna.
As with all my brides, I had prepared a rough sketch of my design ideas on paper to bring along and let them see what I have in my head. The designs often seem to come out of the blue – typically in the middle of the night as I’m about to fall asleep. The challenge is to retain the ideas to be able to put the designs to paper the following day. Of course, that’s not always how the creative process works! For Danni, we decided to start her bridal mehndi with mandalas for the tops of the hands with striking vine cuffs. A small amendment was made to the design sketches as she preferred a less floral mandala, and featuring some triangular elements:
As requested, Danielle had set up a wonderfully calm environment for her bridal henna to be applied – and this shows in the quality of work she received. We were able to set up my work table and stool in front of the sofa, by the window – which was super helpful when we moved on to henna her feet with a complimenting mandala design. When it came to snapping a quick photo of her henna’d feet, I was struck by the Darcy-esque *feel* of the image. I shall credit this to the stylish feel of Natalie (sister of the bride)’s lovely home – the lovely rug, setting off the varnished floorboards.
Infact, if there was anything I might regret at all about this deliciously calm bridal henna session, it was only that I didn’t take advantage of the surroundings enough and make a mini photo shoot out of the stylish interiors – particularly the gorgeously patterned, tiled floor in the next room which was stunning! (But you won’t get to see that – sorry!)
Without disturbing the freshly henna’d feet, we carefully placed the henna table back into position to complete Danielle’s inside arm designs. Inspired by a recent Divya Patel Eid design, I decided to make a major feature of the swirls that I have previously only used as extra flourishes – bold swirls formed the major part of the cuff which wraps around both wrists to join up with the top design. Danielle had requested her fingers to be filled with a design that was light, pretty and not overly dense with detail. The overall effect was very distinctive and even better than I had envisaged:
At this point, I must commend Danielle for her absolutely stellar sitting skills. We stopped between each design to stand and stretch our limbs and move around – but the toughest part is always the inside arm as this position pulls on the inside forearm muscle. We alternated between the two arms to allow time to relax the muscles, but really, she sat like a champion through it all. Once the full bridal henna was complete, Danielle was finally able to move around – albeit super carefully – while the henna dried. Sealant spray was applied liberally as she briefly stretched her legs and I set to work on two bridesmaids designs before beginning the bridal wrapping.
An extra special mention goes out at this point in the blog for Natalie (sister-of-the-bride) who provided me with a very delicious meal after the bridal henna session. It is wonderful to receive such thoughtful care while working and I was extremely grateful as artists do have a tendency to substitute the creative process for sustenance! – Thank you, Natalie!
I had met Jenny and Kate at the bridal consultation where I had advised that henna takes 2 days to fully mature in colour: On the first day the stain will be fairly orange, deepening to a darker brown on the second day. Both ladies had requested henna designs on their backs to not only complement their bridesmaids dresses, but also existing tattoos designs. As one of the bridesmaid dresses was orange, they had wisely requested application 2 days before the wedding to avoid a clashing stain – Very smart! The other design needed to incorporate yet slightly obscure an existing black ink tattoo. As henna can only stain a brown colour, I created a design that overlaid parts of the tattoo without relying on obscuring the tattoo to work. Click on the following photos for an enlarged view:
We then carefully wrapped the entire bridal henna and the bridesmaids’ henna, with full aftercare instructions before everyone was issued with aftercare balm to ensure the best aftercare possible. At this point, I finally packed my kit to grab some rest before returning the next day to the bridal suite at Gomersal Park Hotel for the remaining 5 bridesmaids’ henna:
It struck me as I worked with each of the special ladies in the bridal party that they had a truly wonderful connection developed over the years between them, linked with Danielle as the focus at this particular point in time. They formed a powerful friendship and sisterhood that will clearly see them through many of life’s milestones. It was an extra special honour, not only to be part of such a special day for Danielle, but to also bring the element of henna to further tie the sisterhood of friendship between them together for the wedding day, reminding me of the significance of henna in the bonding rituals of women throughout history. How better to connect with your bridesmaids than symbolically through the process of henna body art? The entire experience left me energised, inspired and incredibly grateful.
And so finally, I would like to wish Danielle and her new husband Craig my heartfelt congratulations on their marriage. Here’s wishing you everlasting moments of love, happiness and joy and may every step that you take in your new life together hold beautiful surprises for you <3
The following stunning photos from Danielle and Craig’s wedding day at Oakwell Hall are shared with full credit to Paula of Ollievision Photography, Leeds UK. Find Ollievision on Facebook here. Click on the images to enlarge.