Villa Gamberaia wedding

Intimacy and joy at a Villa Gamberaia wedding

A Villa Gamberaia wedding always excites me and yet I find it a little daunting too. The villa is so picture perfect that how can you ever do it justice with photos!

I knew this 2 day event was going to be special and after my last experience shooting a wedding at Villa Gamberaia, I was really excited to be back there again. Villa Gamberaia has so much to photograph that I could spend a week there just photographing the gardens, statues, fountains and general beauty!

The first day there is a welcome dinner in town at a lovely restaurant. It is a great start to the festivities as the meal is informal and fun, so everyone relaxes and gets to meet each other and enjoy some really good traditional Italian food.

lovely custom made Villa Gamberaia wedding stationery

Getting ready and detail shots

Today is the wedding day and the entire event will take place at the villa. During the night there is a huge thunderstorm, it cleans the air and so the wedding day is without a doubt the brightest day I have ever seen. I once saw a similar light in South Africa when I was shooting a wedding there, but this is even more intense. There is no pollution so the visibility is incredible but the light is very strong.

I start with a few high contrast shots of the villa. I can’t take too many as there is an army of people working all over the place. They are setting up the ceremony, the dinner area, building the stage and dance floor and preparing and moving things everywhere. I move inside and make a little plan with the bride and groom. The girls will get ready upstairs and the guys downstairs. Villa Gamberaia is a beautiful wedding venue and offers lovely rooms and common areas so it makes sense to use some of these spaces in the photos.

The bride gives me some gorgeous stationery and wedding accessories to photograph. I love the intricacy of the designs and each item features a watercolor of either Villa Gamberaia or Florence. The florist kindly gives me the flowers too so I have fun photographing some details. Once the guys have showered and done their basic preparations we meet and I can photograph them finishing dressing and having a toast. The guys are all looking very smart and they help each other out with their bow ties, suspenders and boutonnieres. Once they are all ready, they enjoy a drink and I take a couple of photos of then outside.

Processional  for wedding in the grotto

Villa Gamberaia wedding in the Grotto

I head upstairs now and photograph the bride getting ready with some help from her mother and sister. When she is almost ready, the bridesmaids join her, they help a little with the final touches and then they all enjoy a little prosecco toast together. The father of the bride is patiently waiting outside the door to the living room and once everyone leaves the room she lets him enter. His reaction to seeing his beloved daughter for the first time in her wedding dress is priceless!

They have a few tender moments and words together and then we head downstairs. It is time for the wedding! The processional starts with the groom’s entrance with his mother. Next up there are the bridesmaids and the bestmen, and then the bride. Diane Rossi from Blessings in Italy performs the wedding ceremony and everyone enjoys her words and the intimate atmosphere of this Villa Gamberaia wedding in the grotto.

At the end of the ceremony the petals are thrown and everyone exits and head to the other side of the villa to start some cocktails and canapes. I take the family and the bridal party and we do some family photos. Once these are done we join the other guests and everyone enjoys the refreshments and the wonderful views over Florence.

sunset pictures at Villa Gamberaia wedding

Villa Gamberaia wedding reception and sunset portraits

Two long imperial tables are set up in the gardens and at 7:30pm everyone moves from in front of the villa to the dining area. During the dinner there are a few short but entertaining toasts. About 20 minutes before sunset I take the couple for a quick portrait session. This doesn’t interrupt the flow of dinner as they are the first to receive and eat their food so while the waiters are serving the other guests we just wander off for a few moments.

After dinner we move back to the front of the villa. It is now dusk and the sky is a deep blue. A large dance floor and impressive stage has been set up. There are three dances, first we have the bride and groom’s first dance, then the bride and her father and then the groom and his mother. On completing the last dance the band that has come from London starts their set… and it is a killer playlist. Everyone is on the dance floor and non-stop they have an amazing party.

fireworks and cake cutting in the grotto

After one hour of dancing there is the cake cutting and a surprise fireworks display in the grotto. Next, everyone heads back to the party to enjoy the second part of the band’s set. The party is high energy and there is a real atmosphere of celebration.

This is another great Villa Gamberaia wedding and I am proud to have been present and able to meet and work with such great people.

Images from - Villa Gamberaia wedding

Jules Bower

Italian and destination wedding photographer Jules Bower photographs weddings in Italy, Europe and worldwide. His unique approach and expertise arrive from not only an obsession with photography but also because he owned one of the first and most successful wedding planning agencies in Italy.