Being Part of the Herd
“Hi Chris, We’re getting married”. “Congratulations” I Say. “Would you by any chance like to photograph our wedding next year, but it’s a bit different?” “OK” I say, feeling curious. “Would you consider photographing our wedding, although it’s in Italy”. That was a swift yes, a lot of logistical planning later and here I am blogging about an Italian adventure and a beautiful family wedding, what made it even more special is the fact I felt part of the family.
I would be immersing myself for 2 days of preparations before the wedding, from meals with the family to sitting on the wedding table for dinner, an utterly special experience.
Before I get onto the wedding itself, the logistical arrangements, fly at 6am Monday morning and arrive by lunch, spend Monday- Wednesday in Tivoli, (about half an hour outside of Rome), with the wedding on wednesday, then Fly back earlish on Thursday morning.
I do love the journey to get somewhere, I used to do a job years ago when I flew every other week almost 200 flights in 2 years, thankfully I’m a pretty chilled traveller. I love sitting in the seat ready to fly, the way the plane accelerates along the runway and bursting through the clouds and the bright sun is always shining.
So Monday morning, grabbing a coffee and a bite to eat in the airport, a flight, a book, all my hand luggage stuffed above me with all the camera gear in, this is one time, 4 cameras were not taken to the wedding (the back up of back ups). Which yes did make me feel a touch nervous, but can’t be helped in this circumstance . One quick stop in Amsterdam and I was in Rome.
Time to play rental car roulette, Rachael and I had agreed that due to my primary rental car (Lamborghini Huracan) not being available , we’d go for the cheaper option of roulette, which guaranteed me a certain class of car, but could go up. Roll on to my adventures in a VW Polo (thanks Amelia for naming it) "Rolo". Now, off for a jaunt in the Italian countryside. It was about 60 km to where I was heading or about an hours drive. Cue the music to skyfall and off through the scenic winding countryside roads of Tivoli.
Originally, I wanted to drive from Newcastle, and had planned the route from Amsterdam through Germany , across the alps, down past Milan and onto Rome. However it was not to be, as it was a three day drive and 2000 mile there and more importantly 4 times the cost of the flight. I am certain that will come.
Anyway, back to the wedding. When I arrived to meet Rachael and Liam at their villa, I was blown away by the amazing view
The villa itself was on a hill looking out across the Italian countryside, hills in the distance, and all around the olive groves and cherry orchards providing an expanse of green off into the distance.
Tuesday a morning of rain but the extra day that I’d planned to head out for a drive and then on a scouting mission to find out the location of the wedding, if any spots were in between for photos and if the streets were as picturesque as I’d hoped. I’d already been scouting on Google maps to check what everything was looking like. It was an excellent opportunity to stretch the legs of Rolo too, or as I soon found out, the training wheels of the Polo (yes I am a car snob).
Driving off into the countryside with the sat nav off, lets go explore, I wasn't too concerned where I ended up. However, I spotted a castle on the top of a hill in the distance and thought... Oh that looks cool. It actually turned out to be exactly where I was meant to be going, but I had a blast driving round the little country roads and then stopping for a wander up to the castle gates before heading back to the lovely little B&B right next to Liam and Rachael’s villa.
In the afternoon, I headed along to their villa and got the invite to go to the registration office that afternoon and what an opportunity to make get to know my bride and groom a little more, I jumped at the chance .
That evening it was tipping it down, and when we found the B&Bs restaurant was closed Liam invited me to join them for tea, what an utterly amazing experience it was getting to know the whole family, the little ones, the parents on both sides and being welcomed into the herd, so to speak.
Wednesday morning, the big day, all the planning, all the logistics, the travel, all boiling down to one day, as the ones of you know that watched the Instagram stories from behind the scenes (all done with their permission) it was amazing! (video at the bottom)
I wandered from the B&B to the villa, Rachael was confined to her room as everyone else wandered around. Then a present from Rachael to Liam of his new pocket watch, delivered to him by his niece. A few photos of the suits and the boys getting ready, as Rachael sneaked downstairs to the poker room in order to get her makeup done
I love mornings when I can help with what is going on. Today was a case of me acting as a sentry, to get the boys upstairs without seeing Rachael, suits at the ready.
A quick nip back down for more food prep (it gets its own section of photos at the bottom) and then back to see Rachael and sister, Letting them sneak upstairs to start with the dress preparations and then, capturing the moment her Dad was buttoning her into her dress, while all along the conversation was about the amazing food in Italy, especially the pasta
Once Rachael was in the dress, it was time for everyone else to leave, I was jumping in with Liam, what better way to travel than in a Fiat 500, although a brand new one vs a classic, even if we did find one in our walk up to the castle.
After about a 10 minute walk up to the top of the castle, and some out of breath relatives, the doors had been opened from the day before, and not only could the guests take in this spectacular view, but I was utterly wowed by it too.
The rain was threatening to open, so we opted for an inside wedding, I was praying for some windows, as I really didn’t want to have to light up the flashes. Thankfully there were huge open arches with natural light flooding the spot Liam and Rachel would eventually say I do.
Rachael and her Dad arrived about 10 minutes after the guests, who were being ushered inside, We took a few more formal moments before the ceremony was about to begin. I’ve seen lots of emotions from people, Liam must have been the smiliest groom I’ve seen in a long time, he was absolutely bursting at the seams.
Let the entry commence, and the Italian ceremony (thankfully translated too). So many beautiful moments of looks, the hand holding, the sun streaming through the archways in the background, an I do, a kiss, and an embrace.
Walking back down the aisle and out into the open air what felt like the top of the world. A few formal photos later, and the we started to play dodge the raindrops. We had planned to stay longer and explore the scenic view points of the castle, but with no cover from the rain, the back up plan kicked in.
A wander into the medieval archways and back through the quaint italian cobbled streets, back to their awaiting wedding car. We stopped on the way down for a photo or two before heading off back to the villa, (I may have crashed the wedding car too at this point).
When we arrived back at the villa, there was a italian starter buffet that looked straight out of a cookbook. A first drink and a chill ahead of the rest of the family arriving back. Then everyone tucking into the buffet before another little chill and a 5 course meal.
This is the food section now ( more blog continues below)
5 course Meal
I must say, I was so privileged to be here, as I was treated as part of the family and as there was only one table for the meal was invited to sit down at the table, and step back to take photos while they were not eating. Such a special feeling to be part of such an intimate day.
As most of you know who follow my instagram stories, I am a big foodie and this ranks up there as one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I could go on about the food, but I think i’ll just leave it here. The best pannacotta in the world served right there.
What can I say about the speeches that won’t get me in trouble? They were beautiful, heart felt. Even with musical accompaniment from the groom, I wonder if you would like his song too.
The early evening of chilled present opening, a few drinks and conversations. It was then time for one of those intimate moments, and while everyone stood back for the first dance around the living room, then the mad dash as the parents joined in for the second dance. But the kids couldn’t resist and the conga line commenced.
My last photo of the day was a quick rush out to the patio while the rain sparkled at night, giving a magical end to the day.
The final morning, I wandered over, said goodbye (had cake for breakfast at the B&B) and then trekked off to catch my planes home, and grab a last slice of pizza and Italian coffee, before returning to Newcastle.
Happy first wedding anniversary to you both.