So… where do I even begin to tell this crazy story…
I had the absolute honour of being asked by Kyle and Elle to capture their amazing and beautiful wedding in the South of France. I had to pinch myself once it all became official and I realised that… yes, I was actually going to be shooting in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Was I up for the challenge? Oh you better believe it! I had to work out the logistics because I would need an assistant and I had just the person in mind, one of my best mates, Tiggs (as we call him). This would mean going to London first to collect him and then flying through to France together with my gear. Well, let me tell you flying with camera gear is a challenging affair because airlines are sticky with NiCad batteries and not to mention with heavy and additional luggage. So upon arrival and carefully buying my bags to suit the overseas flight restrictions I had overlooked the Easy Jet London and Europe restrictions. Upon my arrival at Gatwick airport I was told “you’re only allowed one piece of hand luggage onboard and your main bag can only weigh 20kg for the paid piece of hold luggage”. Um… “Houston we had a problem” anyway… after stuffing my jacket pockets with a multitude of things and transferring some bits from my main bag too, my hand luggage bag (which contained my cameras) I finally managed to board my flight. I was sweating right up until the minute I sat down on the plane!
Once I was finally onboard Tiggs and I were ready to take off from London to Nice where we would be meeting the Groom. Upon our arrival Nice was absolutely gorgeous. We met Kyle and his groomsmen and proceeded by car up to the Villa where we would be staying- about 85km inland from Nice itself.
We had a couple of days before the wedding to soak up the atmosphere and prepare ourselves for the big day on Saturday which would be taking place at the Hostellerie de l Abbaye de la Celle a Mediterranean villa surrounded by the Coteaux Varois vineyards, this boutique hotel is adjacent to the 12th-century Abbaye de la Celle and 2.6 km from the town of Brignoles. When I went to location scout for the wedding on the Friday it was like stepping back in time into a Second World War movie set showcasing an old town with crumbling walls and trees lining the roads and the cobbled streets. Music playing and neighbours chattering from their little windows, the sights and sounds of France. It really was an unbelievably surreal experience. After checking out the Abbaye for the wedding shoot and the surrounding little roads which I wanted to incorporate into the wedding we headed off for dinner at a crepe restaurant renowned for its speciality crepes & cider.
We awoke on Saturday for the big day & the boys were getting ready at the Villa where we were staying. I took a walk along the hilly road and scouted for a few perfect shots for the pre-groom photos. It was a cracker of a hot day and before 11am the boys were breaking a sweat. It was quite a feat because there were too many of us to fit into the one hired car so myself and Tiggs had to march up and down the road in the heat dripping while showing the guys tailing us in the air-conditioned car as to where we wanted to take the pics. I (stupidly) wore my Doc Martin 8 lace up boots thinking I’d already broken them in. Rookie Doc Martin error – only wear comfy shoes for weddings, I lesson I always learn the hard way.
After the shoot with the boys we proceeded to join the bride’s mom at the Abbaye where the main wedding event was taking place and on arrival met the wedding planners from Monte Carlo. The room Elle was getting ready in was beautiful, but particularly challenging for space and light because European buildings are a lot smaller than what we’re used to working with in South Africa. Willing for the challenge – we got some great shots of the girls excitement in getting ready for the BIG moment.
Simon, Elle’s dad was so proud and on the verge of tears every time he looked at his little girl, all grown up and about to hand her over to the man of her dreams. I ran ahead and got ready for her arrival. The service was in a beautiful garden area surrounded by incredible trees and a breathtaking view of the mountain behind the Abbaye. There was a pond which added a tranquil feel to the already amazing setting. The service went off without a hitch and a group of youngsters had been brought in from the UK to play during the service and the reception. What a talented bunch of guys they were, so down to earth and provided amazing music. Elle’s sister got up and sang a song with them, which was absolutely beautiful and a special moment during the service.
After the service I took the couple away for their couple shoot and we proceeded to walk the grounds and finished up in the little quaint French streets outside.
Once back from the shoot the speeches kicked in and then food was served and wow what a treat to be fed by a 3 star Michelin chef at the Abbaye and by the photos you can see he didn’t disappoint. I have to say though the pastries that were brought out later in the evening were out of this world, I’ve never tasted something like that before. French taste bud explosion!
The evening was followed by a few more speeches and then the dance-floor was opened after Kyle and Elle’s first dance. The DJ (also from the UK) had the dance-floor pumping and I have to say after my cut off time I ended up on the floor myself even though by this stage my feet were broken.
We eventually got shuttled at 1:30am in the morning after an incredible day back to our estate I did find myself (with Tiggs) at 2am, lugging 6kg camera bags up and down hills in the in the last stretch to the villa. Not all as glam as you might have imagined.
To Kyle, Elle & your family… how can I ever thank you enough for choosing me to capture your insanely beautiful day. You could have chosen anyone to shoot your day – it was truly an honour and life experience I will never forget. I look forward to seeing you at future faraway weddings in the not too distant future.
Love and Light and Happiness to you both xx