Illustrated Wedding Invitations – Guards Chapel

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My favourite thing about illustrating bespoke wedding invitations is that every commission is totally unique and part of a different journey. It is really exciting to be involved in wedding preparations, getting to know the bride and groom to be and learning about their vision for the wedding – from the venue to the dress. This was certainly true for the marriage of Lydia and Nick, that took place a couple of weeks ago at an incredible venue,  The Guards Chapel, Westminster, part of the Wellington Barracks in London.

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The Guards Chapel is the spiritual home of the Household Division, seven British Army regiments serving Her Majesty. It is the only remaining military chapel in London, an unique venue, decorated with the standards of many regiments, both current and past. Nick serves with The Life Guards so had to ask permission to marry here. The couple also required consent from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

As a starting point for the illustration and design of the bespoke invitations I made my first visit to The Guards Chapel, just off Birdcage Walk, opposite St James’s Park in London.

The history behind the architecture of the building is fascinating. In June 1944 the Guard’s Chapel was hit by a V1 flying bomb, which demolished a large proportion of the building and claimed 121 lives. Remarkably the silver altar cross was untouched by the blast and the candles were still burning.  A temporary chapel was constructed in time for worship on Christmas Day in 1945. The War Memorial Cloister, designed by H.S Goodhart – Rendel, an officer in the Grenadier Guards connects the main body of the chapel to Birdcage Walk and was completed before the new chapel, hence the difference in architecture. The apse and the font which were miraculously spared from destruction have been integrated into the new chapel, along with the War Memorial Cloister, which has added to the chapels significance as a spiritual centre of worship.

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I wanted to create a modern, fresh invitation design which incorporated elements of the history behind the incredible building that Lydia and Nick were so proud to get married in. I studied the patterns decorating the different areas of the chapel and integrated them in my illustrations, my initial sketchbook drawings can be seen below. I like to work in a large sketchbook so I can see more than one design at once when I am developing different images that will ultimately form a set.

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I’ve learnt a lot (but nowhere near enough!) about uniforms, different regiments and military etiquette, it really was tricky to get the uniforms right – there are so many subtle differences.

I knew I wanted to work with a limited colour scheme to reflect the colours of the regiment and London skyline, initially this was to be red, white, blue and a little gold.  The colour scheme evolved to bring in the greenery of St James’s Park. This provided the perfect backdrop for Lydia and Nick’s gorgeous wedding photographs, which were taken by award winning photographer Dan Short. Lydia’s stunning wedding dress was designed and made by Debbie Davies.

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Below are some of my sketches and work in progress photographs as well as images of the finished designs. I used a combination of gouache paint, pencil crayons and digital techniques. The illustrated wedding invitation set also included place cards and a table plan to help guest find their seats at the wedding breakfast.

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I wanted every element of Lydia and Nick’s wedding stationery set to be special and a treat for their guests, so I customised each envelope with a drawing of the London skyline.

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Debbie Davies transformed a vintage suitcase into somewhere for guests to leave cards and gifts. She used my designs to create a repeat pattern and printed it onto satin using a heat press, I was really pleased with the way that the images transferred onto fabric, it was fascinating to see my drawings take on a different dimension.

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Invite front for web 96dpi

I was lucky enough to be invited to celebrate Lydia and Nick’s marriage with them, it was a fantastic day filled with friends and the opportunity to make some amazing memories. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I couldn’t resist a selfie in The Guards Chapel, complete with my fascinator that was custom made to match my dress by Hattibow Fascinators.

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Loved the London skyline I could see from the hotel bedroom window.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this project as much as I enjoyed working on it.

I’m currently working on a number of different designs and themes for wedding invitations. These will form my new wedding collection which can be personalised with your details and information. Let me know if there are any particular ideas for themes that you would like to see included, or if you are interested in bespoke illustrated wedding invitations.

Please get in touch via my contact page or social media for more information or just to say hi! You can also follow me on Instagram where I share work in progress photos, sketchbook drawings and things that inspire me.

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