I knew that this Villa Catignano wedding would be special from the moment I spoke with the couple. The bride is a designer and full of great ideas. From the start, we discuss and exchange ideas freely. The goal is to create an event that recognizes the importance of friends and family. Whilst also celebrating love and life, embracing Italy and doing all of this with an original identity. Simply, something quite different from most weddings. Through a lot of collaboration and discussion, I believe we did it! And of course, what about that dress!
The venue, Villa Catignano, a 17th-century villa is the perfect backdrop. You can find it not far from Castelnuovo Berardenga, Siena Tuscany Italy.
For this event, I am proud to say that I am the photographer, wedding planner and co-designer.
Their special day is here and they have clear skies and it is hot and humid. Everyone is in high spirits for the wedding day as the previous evening they enjoyed a perfect welcome event to start the festivities.
Today I will need to move around quite often as the groom is getting ready at the main venue but the bride is down the road at another villa. I start the day taking some photos of the brides’ details and her incredible dress. The accessories and amazing flowers along with the unbelievable dress are inspiring to work with as they are so different from many of the current trends and fashions. Once I am satisfied with the detail shots I drive up the road to start the men’s preparations. The groom is getting ready at Villa Catignano with his two best men and his children.
The guys are getting ready and helping each other out. The groom helps his sons get ready and in turn, he and his best men make sure that everything is in order for one another. In the end, a doting father carefully helps his little girl put on her pretty ready shoes and then we take a few pictures together.
Arriving back at the brides’ villa I find that she is now ready. Her hair and makeup are perfect. It is now time to put on the dress. Her mother helps her into the dress, with a dress like this once the shoes are on it only requires the delicate touch of some emerald earrings to complete the look. I take some portraits of her alone and then her father sees her for the first time. He is, quite rightly, blown away by her beauty and unique look. I love working at this villa and thoroughly recommend it not only as a wedding venue but you can also have an amazing elopement here.
As we start to make a move towards the wedding ceremony I just take a couple more pictures of her whilst she holds her suitably impressive bouquet. Her children arrive just as she finishes getting ready with a spray of her perfume. She wants to see them for a moment before the wedding. This offers me a chance to take a couple more images and then it is time for us to go to Villa Catignano for the wedding.
Villa Catignano weddings almost always take place in the lemon garden. Once you descend the ancient stone stairs and enter the Italian garden you then pass the four statues and enter a long aisle that makes an ideal entrance for any Italian garden wedding ceremony. A the bottom of the garden the ceremony area is a lovely set with an abundance of colors and details. Seeing as it is summer there are parasols and fans available for all the guests to use during the ceremony.
Once the guests are sitting the groom and his two best men enter and then we have the bridesmaid and then the bride, her father and daughter. The groom is noticeably emotional and incredibly joyful. It is a lovely ceremony that they celebrate with their children at the altar with them to share in the significance of the moment.
To conclude their Villa Catignano wedding ceremony they exit and are showered in petals by the guests. We then all proceed to the Italian garden where we are going to have a large group photo of everyone. Unfortunately, during the ceremony a large storm forms over the villa, not offering and shade for the ceremony it does start to spit with rain as we have fun getting the entire group portrait. The drinks reception is planned to take place in the gardens but the rain starts to fall with growing intensity such that everyone needs to seek shelter. We all go inside the main villa and everyone enjoys some prosecco and canapes while we wait for the bad weather to pass.
The storm passes and another arrives. This soon passes but leaves everything very wet and the ground underfoot is now quite soft. The sky is still very grey but the show must go on. People are now outside and are enjoying their food and drinks and importantly they are having a good time.
In the barn, there is a photo booth and this is, of course, providing a great deal of entertainment. I decide to take the family photos at the top of the steps to the Italian gardens as this area is gravel an so keeps the dress cleaner and there is no need to worry about heels sinking into the ground. Once the family photos are done, I take the happy couple for a few photos, We only have about 10 minutes and everywhere is quite muddy but this doesn’t put them off, we take a few shots on the driveway opposite Vila Catignano and then we go to the gardens for a quick stroll.
The dinner starts a mere 90 minutes late as we have to wait to see if we can complete an entire dinner outside of if it will be rained off. After all the effort that went into the decorations, this would be very sad, especially considering that the couple chose to have a Villa Catignano wedding as they wanted to eat outside in the courtyard. We decide to wait it out and at about 9 pm, finally, we decide to go ahead with the dinner. I have hardly any time to photograph the details as the rain covers are removed but I manage to get the photos done just before everyone comes to dinner.
The dinner flows on late into the night as there are many speeches, songs, slideshows and much more. Basically, there is non stop entertainment!
Cake cutting and the opening of the most enormous bottle of champagne finish the dinner. The bride and groom perform a romantic first dance which halfway through flips into a get the party started song. Everyone follows them to the dance floor and open bar so the party can really get going. This Villa Catignano wedding is a good example of what can be done when you don’t pay attention to what you see online and you just create with an open mind and collaborate with other people.
“Beauty exists everywhere. It’s my job to find it.”