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Introducing... Haunted Weddings

By Jaimz Dillman

We are excited to announce a brand new weekly article series taking an in-depth look at several spooky and horror-themed weddings! In this article, we will give you a tease of what's to come and some background on the amazing people that make it all happen.

Since the start of organized weddings, there have been themes for every kind of couple out there. Fairy Tales, garden parties, magical nights, floating on clouds- all dreamy images that come to mind for a typical wedding day. But... not for this group of vendors. Each year the minds of Lee Forrest Design, Michele Butler Events, Anna Cakes, In Style Imagery, Elmwood Forest Productions, and more gather their coven of event professionals to turn tradition on its head.

Lee Forrest of Lee Forrest Designs says, "We started with a group of vendors that wanted to do something off the rails, which was the first shoot, Dia De Los Muertos. It was so successful we just kept going. Coming up with crazy shit- it's my favorite!"

Working together in the Orlando, Florida area these vendors, who are also friends, wanted to stretch their creativity a bit outside of the everyday ivory/champagne/blush color scheme. Doing the same or similar thing day in day out can build cobwebs in the imagination. "Most people in the wedding industry are so incredibly talented and artistic, and it's amazing being able to be a part of the most out of the box creations! Every new Halloween shoot brings a new challenge and a new element of fun." Says Ephraim McCormick of Elmwood Forest Productions. Butler says, "We are a family and it is so much fun to collaborate and create with these geniuses each and every year!" 

The ideas come from classics of Halloween. Take a theme that's not done in the world of weddings so much, and then make it a spooky Halloween styled shoot. All the elements of a wedding and reception created just for photos and videos to showcase the best work of the best in the business. The cast of characters changes a bit every year depending on who's available and what's needed to bring things to life but the main group is usually all the same.

Anna Hightower of Anna Cakes said, "I always look forward to working with this amazing team. We all do styled shoots throughout the year but there is something about this group that is just magical. Everyone goes that extra step to make it over the top."

And it shows in the breathtaking photos. Being on the fringe of the mainstream has garnered the group's publication in prestigious wedding blogs like Rock n Roll Bride, Orange Blossom Bride, Love and Lavender, and more. Butler says, "There's nothing like pushing the envelope." McCormick, who has been a part of the team for the last 3 shoots, said "It's an excellent challenge to weave the themes into the editing style of the video. For instance, we shot and edited the Frankenstein video like an old black and white film. For the Candyman shoot, we edited like a dream sequence. And the Beetlejuice shoot we just let the models chew the scenery." Video links are listed below.

Each professional takes their own unique approach to bring the collaboration altogether. Michele Butler reaches out to additional vendors for things like rentals, venues, classic cars, etc. Lee Forrest generally guides the direction of the shoot with his team creating the story and look, casting models that fit the feel of the chosen theme and then creating the fantastical world in floral decor to give the visual needed to make it all a reality. Olivia Ginn with Instyle Imagery is the first go-to photographer, although others have dropped in when she wasn't available and that also lends to the collaborative effort. Hightower says of her cakes, "I marinate on my design for weeks because there are so many places to draw inspiration from. One thing I love is the freedom we all give each other to be creative. There is a trust we have because we've all worked together for so many years and we admire one another's talent so much. Seeing it all come together is so rewarding."

There are different favorites among the group with such a variety in settings and details although one year seems to stand out for most. Forrest says, "Rocky Horror was my favorite. The movie holds a special place in my heart. I went to Transylvania University and have great memories of skipping down Main Street in Lexington. The body-painted cast of our shoot along with my flowers really brought things to life." Says Butler, "It really is hard to decide on a favorite one. Our Rocky Horror Picture Show shoot was by far the coolest experience I've had. Truly though, any one of our shoots could easily be my favorite."

With the goth aesthetic becoming more mainstream you can see bits and pieces of people's personality now reflected in something that used to be all lily-white and pure. Couples being accepted to do what they want for their special day to look and feel as they want is huge. "Although we didn't intend to inspire any real weddings we have had couples come to us after seeing the pictures because they want something different, even macabre." says Forrest.  Oftentimes, a client's vendor isn't just chosen because of cost or product but because couples feel they really connect with the professional. Forrest reiterates, "Seek out the right vendors that understand your vibe. Just let them have a creative license with your ideas and you'll come out with something beyond amazing."

Unfortunately, this year's theme- The Addam's Family- was put on the back burner until next Halloween barring any group gathering restrictions from Covid. With so many people working in close quarters on a time schedule, safety was most important.  If it couldn't be done right, they didn't want to do it at all. Forrest looks forward to future ideas of the Mummy, Diary of a Vampire, and more. McCormick wraps up by saying, "It's easy to think of a Halloween party, but it takes a team as seasoned and creative as this one to actually make it spectacular".

After browsing through the seven years of photos and videos this group has accumulated so far, it might just inspire some of you to say those five little words...

"Till Death Do Us Part"...

. Credits:

Raven:  Lee Forrest Design, Michele Butler Events, Cathrina DionisioClaire Pacelli Photography, Kristy Alonzo hair, and makeup design team, Dresses- Alexandra Calvet Brown, Ann Taylor, Anna Cakes, Tina Grace, Arthur's Catering, Models- Monica Leamy and Sean Holloway

Voodoo Queen: Ceviche OrlandoMichele Butler Events – Michele Butler, Faye Novick, Cathrina Dionisio, In Style ImagerySeltzer Films, Fused Fashion, Calvet Couture Bridal Boutique, John Craig, Lee Forrest Design, Runway Collection, A Chair Affair, Anna Cakes, Impressions, Makeover Maven, Marlee and Devin, Kirby,  Martha Power

Rocky Horror- Lee Forrest Design, LLC, Della Morte, Anna Cakes, Michele Butler Events, In Style Imagery, Shelley LaMarre of Themes Come True Inc., The Abbey, Our DJ Rocks, Sugar Pop Films, RW Collection, A Chair Affair, Orlando Wedding and Party Rental, Laura Reynolds, Over the Top, Models-  Teddy Fournier, Jeremy Procopio, Brooke White, Anthony Marando, Megan Boetto, Cassandra Heinrich

Beetlejuice-  MadOdditiesLee ForrestAnna Cakes, Models; Kyla Swanberg and Robb Sims, Nini LopezOlivia GinnMichele ButlerCarissa Llewellyn BurnsLaura ReynoldsAnne Legenhausen , The Highland Manor, Bridal Gallery, Luxury Tux, Laura Reynolds, A Chair Affair, Dubsdread Catering, Ephram McCormick, A Chair Affair Elmwood Forest Productions: 


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