A two-day wedding at La Foce celebrating love, life and friendship. Day one features a welcome dinner barbecue that allows everyone to mingle and catch up with their friends and family. The second day we have the main celebration – a wedding in Pienza with all other events happening at La Foce.
This is a long blog post and there are a lot of photos so I have split them into a few sections:
La Foce wedding venue is for me one of Italy’s best wedding venues. Simply, if you are looking for an intimate and exclusive location in the countryside then La Foce is well worth investigating. It’s no secret I love the countryside and working outdoors. I travel the world photographing weddings and so I always try to capture images that incorporate the location. To me, the goal of a destination wedding is to get married somewhere else and so it makes sense to show your surroundings. Well, this time around I am working in some of the most beautiful scenery available.
Sitting on the edge of the Val d’Orcia La Foce has some breathtaking views. And that is not an exaggeration. The rolling hills with crops, olive trees, cypresses and white roads are just spectacular. There are very few buildings around other than delightful farmhouses and country houses that are all built in either stone or brick and blend wonderfully into the landscapes.
A week before the wedding we are looking at the weather and it is looking like it just will not settle. The temperatures are high as there is a high pressure over the Mediterranean but in northern Europe, there is a low pressure and we are in the middle. This means that each day there is a risk of a thunderstorm… we are hoping that we will avoid a storm today seeing as yesterday we got hammered by one but we have contingency plans ready.
As you can see the gardens at La Foce are incredible! The plants, flowers, shrubs and symmetry of these sublime Italian gardens are a delight. Beyond, the valley and hills create a canvas of beauty, an area known as the Val d’Orcia. Arguably, some of Tuscany’s finest panoramas.
I start the day taking some photos to set the scene. I love capturing the colors… the sky, flowers, fields and views contain a palette of tones that I revel in. I try hard to take images that represent the majesty of the scenery, however, it is hard to do it justice, it is so achingly beautiful.
The villa itself is also a lovely building that sits comfortably in its surroundings, actually, I would even go so far as to say that the villa and gardens compliment each other perfectly.
I could literally pass a week just taking pictures of the views and gardens but I have a wedding to get to so having taken some images of the villa and its surroundings I move inside.
The guys are getting ready in a common area that their rooms lead onto. It is an interesting space with character and color and texture. When the light comes it arrives from a huge skylight, it’s a slight challenge as the clouds are zipping across the sky and so the light constantly changes but we have time to work with it.
They are wearing black tie and help each other out with their bow ties, cuff links and boutonnieres. With one best man having a broken collarbone he needs more help than the others! Once they are ready and looking sharp they deserve a drop of the good stuff. A couple of short toasts with plenty of jokes and banter makes the moment fun and easy for me to photograph.
The wedding ceremony itself will take place in Pienza, a local town about 25 mins from La Foce. So once the men are ready they head off to meet up with some of the guests as they will all be taking coaches to the town.
While the girls are having their hair and makeup done I gather the bride’s accessories and take some photos of the wedding theme. There is a full set of stationery with invites, an order or service, and a menu. I use some of these items which all have watercolor designs of La Foce and the church in Pienza. The soft muted colors are lovely and I enjoy photographing them together with the shoes and jewelry.
I also take some pictures of the wedding dress and veil. The dress is slim and figure-hugging, the fabric has a very unique hammered texture. I have to say that I have not seen a dress quite like it before.
The girls are all ready and so they are going to have a nice refreshing drink of champagne before they all get into their dresses. The bride opens the bottle and the excitement in the room is palpable.
Next, it’s time for the bride to get her dress on. Her sister, mother and bridesmaids are there to help her. Once she is in the dress I start with pictures of the closing of the dress, she then puts on her earrings, shoes and then the veil and her lace bolero which will cover her shoulders in the church. Finally, the veil goes on and we are ready for a wedding!
The bride will go to the church with her father. He is patiently waiting for her outside the villa and dying to see his daughter in her dress for the first time! It’s like a “first look” a reveal. He turns around and is speechless and evidently proud. They exchange a quick moment of affection and then it is time for them to leave for Pienza. As we drive towards the small hilltop town it is apparent that the weather is deteriorating rapidly. I just manage to arrive at the church before the rain comes, and when it starts it is a downpour. We move the decor from outside the church inside and make entirely new plans for the processional.
Finally, the cars arrive, the bridesmaids enter the church and then the bride arrives and they help her navigate the torrential rain and get inside the church. Once we are all inside the wedding commences and is led by their own priest. The ceremony is lovely and continues despite the soundtrack of the thunder and deluge that is outside.
During the last five minutes of the ceremony, we can see the skies are turning blue and the weather is improving. By the time the couple is ready to go outside and have petals thrown over them the sun is back and the weather is back to normal! They exit the church to cheers and applause and then we take one very very large group photo. Next, there is a fun send off to the newlyweds as they drive off into the sun in style in a vintage Mercedes.
On the way back to the La Foce wedding reception we make a quick stop to take a few photos in a field and one on the roadside. Unfortunately, the fields are now very wet and muddy but that doesn’t stop us.
Once we arrive back at La Foce I have to work extremely fast. We have lost time due to the poor weather delaying the start of the wedding in Pienza. I have a lot to do seeing as I need to photograph the lavish dinner decor, the drinks reception and atmosphere the family photos and some portraits for the couple… and I don’t have a lot of time to do it!
First I get the dinner decor shots done. The floral arrangements are lovely, the tones of yellow, gold, peach and pink are soft and sweet. The flowers are rich but not overpowering and match the color of the linens and chairs, a perfectly complimentary selection of decorative elements.
The Italian gardens are drying out and the guests are enjoying the stunning setting, prosecco and canapes too. Beautiful music is played and accompanied by a very talented saxophonist. Next, it is time for some family photos, the balcony at the end of the upper Italian garden is a good spot for these so we quickly take care of the necessary photos with family members and the bridal party.
The sun is setting like a dropped hot coal and I need to get some portraits for the couple before the light disappears behind the distant hills. I have a game plan ready but I abandon it seeing as we have such a short amount of time. I just want to capture some good shots of them happy together, alone with the sunset and the beautiful scenery. It’s a chance for them to spend five minutes together on a day where they spend the rest of it with 130+ people.
The pictures only take about 10 mins and then the sun sets. The bride and groom head back to enjoy the music and company of their friends and family and I take a few more pictures to record the atmosphere and feeling of this lovely time of day.
The guests have been ushered to the dinner area under the marquee. As they look at the table plan and find their seats I take two more photos of the table with the candles and chandeliers lit. Once everyone finds their seats the bride and groom enter. The dinner is delicious and after each course there are speeches. The speeches are emotional, hilarious and just great entertainment for everyone.
To conclude the dinner a traditional Italian wedding cake is cut under the loggia and then everyone moves over towards the limonaia. There is a brief short dance with sparklers but it quickly becomes a full on after party as everyone joins in immediately. Dancing, open bar and good times flow on into the night and that concludes an extremely memorable wedding at La Foce!