As winter set in here in Australia I made my way to Sicily to join Whitley and CJ in the beautiful town of Taormina to capture their elopement. The pair had started off planning a big wedding in Margaret River, but as time went on they decided to replace the worry and stress of planning a wedding with a trip around Europe, stopping off in the town Whitley's grandfather was from to get married.
An Italian wedding certainly sounded like a romantic affair and the place was beautiful, though challenging from a photographic perspective. In Europe, Italy is one of the main tourist hotspots for the summer holidays, and so the town was absolutely packed with people...not exactly ideal for capturing the pictures of romantic moments in front of sweeping European vistas I had envisaged in my mind before I arrived, and the fact that Taormina is set on a clifftop made that pretty tricky too...so I was glad to arrive a few days early to scout and make a plan for the special day.
Having spent time exploring, I noticed that the lifestyle in Taormina was to stay up late and have a lazy morning. Whitley & CJ were getting married at 6 o'clock in the evening, but at that time of day the streets were so busy that photo opportunities were limited. We wanted to capture the beautiful location without the crowds, so we got up early the day before the wedding for a pre-wedding portrait. It was such a different place wandering through the cobbled streets with barely anyone else around, so Whitley & CJ enjoyed the tourist attractions while I captured the memories of their visit for them. All done by the time the heat got too much, we finished off by going to the official offices to sign the marriage contract and do the necessary paperwork.
On the wedding day we did set up a special shot just after the ceremony to show them enjoying a moment together in the crowds, and having a tripod and a beautiful couple stopped in the street caused such a stir that the gaggle of people stopping behind me to take their own photos turned into a paprazzi crowd and Whitley & CJ got to feel what it would like to be celebrities for five minutes!
On the wedding day I felt so privileged to be there with Whitley & CJ, it was an emotionally charged day and they missed their families, so I really wanted to tell the story of their wedding so that their family back home could see the photos and feel like they were there with them too. They got ready together in their lovely little villa, and once CJ was ready we sent him outside and I helped Whitley get into her beautiful dress before going outside and getting ready to capture a First Look. After a few tears were shed we made our way around the winding roads to the Palazzo Duchi di S Stefano, where the officiant, Lady Panto, and Whitey & CJ's lovely wedding planner Adriana were waiting to start the official proceedings.
The ceremony was short and simple, Whitley & CJ said their own vows to personalise the occasion, and a surprise letter from Whitley's mum and dad meant a few more tears.
After a celebratory toast and a few photos in town, we quickly escaped to the beautiful villa they had booked for their wedding dinner and enjoyed time capturing quiet moments together there before I left them to celebrate and watch the sun go down on their special day.
Thank you so much Whitley & CJ for inviting me to be a part of your wedding. It was an honour and a pleasure to be there for you, and it's definitely a wedding I'll never forget!