rain rain go away, come again another day… preferably on a day that my little sister isn’t having a garden wedding. we spent half of the night wide awake, as lightning lit up the room and thunder roared directly above us. it was all a bit surreal, thinking that the wedding would be held in a garden in the morning. this was madrid, it’s not crazy like bilbao where rain could come at you at any moment. alameth and i shared a room, along with nervous laughs, about what we would be waking up to in the morning. sure enough, the day set out to a bit of a disastrous start… the rain didn’t subside, the hair dresser took longer than expected, we were showered by the storm while we dealt with bad traffic, and right when we were pulling into the parking lot… the bride got in a fender bender!
after shaking all of it off, filing paperwork, and frantically trying to get back on schedule… the ceremony started and every thing that went wrong seemed to trickle off, like the rain on the windows. she looked stunning, everyone’s eyes filled up with tears as dad walked her down the aisle. our little sister anna sang “a thousand miles” and we all breathed a sigh of relief. the rest? party time, of course! there was plenty of singing, bouncing, chanting, and cheer going around. in fact, at a given point even alameth and jose’s greyhound were brought over to them, as a surprise. i guess they didn’t want to miss out on their big day either! all’s well that ends well!
ok, i have to come clean about this. it has taken me forever to actually get around to blog this wedding… i’ve been going through my head about how to find the perfect words to describe this wedding. you see, it really wasn’t just any wedding. no, this was my brother’s wedding. for those of you who may not know his, i am the fifth of seven siblings. this was the first time i had to go to one of our weddings and i’m sure you’ll understand that along with the excitement of the day i am finding it hard to let the words come out in an eloquent way. so let me start by saying that it was an incredible experience altogether.
ana and nick got married on september 13th. as tends to the case, a small herd of family and friends traveled from near, far, and everywhere between to be able to attend. it was held at the small, and i mean small chapel at the british cemetery of bilbao. they wanted to have somewhat of a tim-burton-ish theme to the wedding, so this setting was a perfect fit. the ceremony was held by rev. alberto sanchez. at home, we like to call him dad. the pianist was someone that at home we also like to call “mom”, and the witnesses are also known as “grammy” and “yaya”. So you see, this was quite the family affair. In fact, at the end of the ceremony i had to switch my cameras for my ukelele and sing a song for the newlyweds with my favourite little sidekick, my sister anna. i won’t lie, i had a hard time not crying.
after having a very intimate lunch at a fantastic local restaurant, we proceeded to celebrate in style. they had rented out a house in practically the middle of the woods, and what a house! the celebration was just taking off by two local bands playing, “blues’n’breakers” and “enkore rock”. interestingly and unfortunately enough though, the neighbours complained of the noise, so by 1 am the police showed up and shut down our concerts. but there would be no stopping this celebration. in fact, a handful of people, including yours truly, spent the whole next day enjoying the sun by he poolside. so seriously, can you see why this was the best wedding ever?
i could spend a whole day talking about all the little anecdotes and details that made this wedding one of the best personal and professional experiences that i’ve had, but instead i’ll send you off with this: ana and nick, it was an honor and a tremendous joy to have shared this day with you. i wish you the very best that life has to bring, including but not limited to a small child who you may name adina or adino. congratulations!!
the groom’s family goes to the house of the father of the bride. tradition dictates that she must arrive in a special type of tent that is carried by a camel and guided by a man whose name must be mohammad or ali.
friends and family put on a show with intricate acrobatics atop camels and horses. The higher the male attendance the more prestigious the marriage.
afterwards the bride is carried into the house, while still hidden under a sheet, and a sac of oil and henna is thrown and burst upon the door post to the house, for good luck. she will then wait for the groom who is finally allowed back in his house. when he arrives singing and cheering accompany him into the room where his new bride awaits. everybody sings and dances while the newlyweds have their first moment alone together. the celebration will continue all night but the bride and groom will remain together.
the day after the wedding the bride is dressed in her finest clothes and goes to her new home. she then spends the day sitting on a throne while friends, family, and neighbours make way to the house throughout the day to congratulate her.
note: a while back i had the amazing opportunity to do an arab wedding in tunisia. it was quite the adventure and i got a chance to explore other cultures, set my feet in africa for the first time, and explore a bit of the sahara desert. because of the complex nature of a 3-day wedding, and because i want to make sure that i do good job documenting every little bit of it, it has taken me a while to prepare this blog post with all the necessary information. i hope you enjoy it as much as i did! 🙂
it took four days, and then they were husband and wife. the celebration starts the night before the wedding by way of a traditional reunión between friends and family at the groom’s house. interestingly enough, the groom is no longer there. in fact, he won’t return until his wife is there. the men get together outside the house and kill the animals that will be eaten during the wedding reception. the women, inside the house and always kept separate from the men, receive the animals, and prepare the meat.
day 1: the father of the bride goes to he groom´s house, where the father of the groom awaits accompanied by friends and family. the men meet in the living room where they they look through the wedding contract. the women wait outside. once the contract has been signed the music and celebration begin. when night falls, everybody goes to the bride’s house, where she will remain hidden by a sheet, and the music and celebrating continue as both men and women remain separated each on their side of the reception grounds.
day 2: the wedding takes place at the bride’s parents house. everyone gathers as they sign the wedding contract, exchange rings, and toast to the newlyweds. afterwards the groom and his friends go celebrate together for the day. at night time they continue celebrating, in the middle of the street, and everyone who wants to join in is welcome to do so. men and women sit on rugs on opposite sides with a big space in between. musicians play on the side between the two groups. and men make money offerings for the newlyweds into a dancer’s hat. needless to say, it all makes for a pretty memorable night!
they met in moscow, they fell in love while traveling together through 13 countries, and they finally tied the knot in lisbon, portugal. this is just a very brief description of irina & charlie’s relationship, but it also happens to be the beginning of the biggest adventure that life could offer: their new life together.
i can truly say that i am honoured to have been able to call charlie my friend for a certain number of years now. with somewhat of an odd beginning to our friendship (my sister met him online and i kept calling to make sure he wasn’t a psycho killer) that i now like to think back on as part of the fun. charlie also happens to be one of my friend’s with the biggest sense of adventure. in fact, we have had the pleasure of exploring germany, holland, and belgium together… sometimes riding motorcycles, minivans, or a snowboard/ski combo. all of this is to say that when given the opportunity to have one more adventure together, and travel to lisbon to photograph his beautiful wedding, all i could say was yes.
now, let me tell you about this wedding… there were some language barriers, there was a heck of a lot of sun, and it included indulging in some delicious pastries… and that was all before it even started!! the ceremony itself was held at the beautiful pousada castelo de palmela, pretty much the most gorgeous castle atop a mountain that overlooks the entire city of lisbon and even has a view of the ocean… and all of it draped in perfect rays of sun. it was perfection. i have to give a huge shoutout to the few and the proud… that would be the few guests that were proud to cross halfway across the world, face insanely long overlays, and even the ones that went straight from the wedding to the airport. these guys were there because they are proud to call irina and charlie friends. i can’t ignore that kind of commitment and love.
and what else can i say? russians, spaniards, portuguese, americans, and the dutch. tears were shed cigars were smoked, and memories made. i think that pretty much sums it up. and if it doesn’t, that’s what these photos are for… see for yourself!
i wanted to be in one of the photos too! 😉
congratulations irina & charlie!!!
it was a cold winter morning, the threat of rain clinging to the sky above us. it would have otherwise been one of those days when one would hope to not have to get out of bed at all, except that today there was a pretty darn good reason to do so. this was the day that nicky and tom would finally become husband and wife. so i got dressed quickly and made my way to the hotel dining room in order to get a good hearty breakfast in. much needed fuel for the day that was ahead of me and the days that had already gone by. you see, two days prior i had gone through quite the adventure to make my way from spain to aviemore, scotland, to be able to photograph this wedding. but that’s a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother day.
let me just say that this was quite the wedding, as it was meant to start with an intimate mountain top snowy ceremony with just family. after days of secretly praying for snow, the day was here and we found out that very morning that road access had unfortunately been cut off due to the heavy snow. oops! so we moved on to plan b and held the small ceremony indoors while everyone, including myself, was wearing snow gear! let me just say this is the only ceremony where i’ve seen a groom sporting a the north face jacket! (i will not post photos of that small ceremony as i would like to maintain the intimate nature of it all, but i thought it made for a fun anecdote that was definitely worth mentioning. ) anyway, once that was all said and done we had a small coffee break (i decided bridal party coffee breaks are a new favourite) and then headed back to the hotel for everyone to get ready for the main event. what followed was just such a joyous day. everyone was so incredibly happy and accommodating towards photographs. men in kilts everywhere, need i say more?! i love it! the day went by way too fast. at one point well into the reception dancing, heather, the lovely mother of the bride, pulled me away from the camera and quite effectively “forced” me to have some fun, do some traditional dancing, and drink some whiskey! haha. let me just say that watching tom and nicky so happy and all the traditional dancing and music by the amazing band corra made for one of the most favourite and fun weddings in my career. and for that i am incredibly thankful. and as you view through these photos all i can honestly hope for is to have been able to honor and capture this amazing day in all it’s glory.
tom and nicky, thank-you-thank-you-thank-you for trusting me, accommodating me, and being so amazing to me during your wedding day. i could not ask for better clients and i am more than happy to call you my friends. i love you guys. so now that it’s all said and done all i have to say is: can you please renew your vows in a few years so we can do this all again? 😉
we sneaked out. the day that i shot mylene and miguel’s engagement photos we had actually met up for a barbecue full of friends and family. we had spent the last couple of weeks trying to arrange a proper date for the engagement session but inevitably something would come up and it would fall through. so there we were, stuffing our faces with freshly grilled burgers when i mentioned that i had brought my camera “just in case.” mylene’s eyes lit up. after a little convincing, miguel agreed to an impromptu photo shoot, and we we sneaked out of the barbecue and into the woods to write down the chapter to their new story together. we will meet again in september, with vows, and flowers, and toasts with champagne… but this time everyone will know. 😉
the view was breathtaking as i drove up to the venue where sergio and esther’s wedding would take place. the etxegana hotel and spa, borders the gorbea national park and on this particular day it was a little extra bright and beautiful. it was also incredibly hot, but nobody could be bothered by the sun when they had a full day of displays of love and plenty to celebrate. i want to give a special thank you to the wedding planner, janis vallejo, for making sure we stayed hydrated throughout the day! the guests were absolutely loving the cocktails and the view and went all out for their photos, turning up with some of the most hilarious and spontaneous guest photos i have to date. and of course, the bride and groom looked amazing, in love, and relaxed during the last few minutes of sun that we had before the day was over and the night celebrations began. all in all i have to say that looking back it was an absolutely gorgeous, fun, and unpredictable day and i am glad i was there to see it!
we’re on the countdown… in just a couple days sergio and esther are going to be saying their i do’s, and i thought it would be the perfect time to share their engagement session. i have to say, their adorable dog “thelma” totally stole the show. you see, sometimes when you are shooting on location people will stop and watch and see what you’re doing. occasionally pulling out a phone and taking their own photo, ha! but in this case people weren’t watching me, or even them, they were staring and smiling big at thelma. definitely one of my favourite dogs ever. so after answering a million questions about how the lovely wheelchair-bound dog gets around, we were able to have a fantastic time showing off their love for each other. it was also important to sergio that we show off his love for his local soccer team, the athletic club bilbao, so we got our team spirit, went to san mamas stadium, and boasted team colors and love-filled eyes. it got dark way too soon, i could have easily spent another hour or two with this fun couple. the good news for me is that it won’t be long until they get to be in front of my lens again. i can’t wait!