The Enchanted Cottage: Bridal Boudoir Self-Portraits
Patreon set here
I have felt a lot of pressure about what to write with this particular set, fully knowing that only a particular audience tunes into the written components of these photosets.
This set was taken on my bachelorette getaway in the mountains with some of my closest friends. We stayed in a cottage which had witchcraft written into its bones; pentagram windows, hidden scriptures engraved throughout the house and floating fireplace. It was a getaway that was steeped in magic, friendship and happiness. I believe we all needed the break after what the year had been and most of us being waist-deep in university assessments.
I had been planning this shoot for quite some time, I picked out the lingerie months in advance and spent hours looking over visual and audible inspiration. My maid of honour Sam assisted me in capturing shots where I needed both of my hands and my phone was out of reach. This took so much stress out on my time constraints due to the light fading fast in the garden. I can guarantee I wouldn’t have laughed as much if I was shooting completely alone, but I enjoyed the control of shooting this set myself (as opposed to getting photos done by another photographer on or before the wedding day).
This set was shot with the full intention of retouching them to perfection until they were ready to be released. I didn’t end up doing this, the only changes in these images are slight colour adjustments. Leading up to the wedding I had a lot of different feelings and phases about my body. When I chose the dress with my Grandma in Mackay, I was a few sizes bigger when I tried it on than what I ended up being on the wedding day. There was a pressure that I gave into of being the waif-thin bride, but I am in a better place than I was a few years ago and the thoughts were like passing thoughts rather than commands.
Fast forward to our wedding day on the 18th of October 2020, one day before I turned 25 years old. Having our first date postponed due to COVID-19, it felt like I had planned 2 entire weddings. I do believe that we ended up with an endlessly more perfect day than if it had gone ahead as originally planned. I woke up at 3 am the morning of, after not sleeping very well; the number of eye masks I slapped on that morning was probably not recommended but it worked. I watched the sun come up with some birds visiting me while I was wrapped up in a huge blanket, they wanted me for my coffee. I started getting ready from about 10 in the morning, taking my time while doing my own make-up and everyone was getting ready around me. The feeling that I was about to get married sort of only sunk in when I was in the car with my Dad on the way to the venue and he turns to me and says, “I’m so proud of you.” It is safe to say that even though my eyeliner was good, it wasn’t THAT good. I was so focused on not falling over my dress on the way into the chapel that I was doing okay until Hayden and I held our hands together in front of everyone, and my legs started shaking…violently under my dress. I am very glad I didn’t go with a slim fitting dress or shorter because people would have asked me if I was okay if they could see how much I was shaking. As soon as we walked out of the chapel and we were announced as Mr and Mrs Young, suddenly that is all that mattered. That night, at about 1 am on my birthday we were greeted with a thunderstorm. I watched the trees swaying back and forth in the valley, losing some of their branches onto the cabin’s rooftop. The fireplace lit up the cabin walls and the rain fell onto the roof in a perfect lullaby.
This year has been an intense coming of age: turning 25, getting married, being a nursing student during a global pandemic, seeing old friendships bloom again and understanding that some won’t come back for a reason. I am lucky enough now to have a loving, supporting husband who brings me happiness every single day. I am by no way saying that my life is picture perfect and I admittedly select what I put out there on social media, but it’s pretty damn close.
-Jessica Kirby Young