I am honored to have collaborated with an extremely talented group of friends to create something unique in our industry. A couple of years ago, Jessica Gallo of Fine and Fleurie and I mentioned collaborating on a gathering of sorts. We didn’t want to do a workshop, but a gathering. We wanted to bring together like-minded photographers and other wedding professionals to share a memorable and meaningful experience and form lasting bonds. We are both passionate about authenticity in the wedding industry, so we sought to plan an event that would be as real as it was beautiful.
We called upon some of our dearest friends to help bring our vision to life. As that vision unfolded, so did the most incredible group of helping hands. Each of our team members contributed their gifts. Photographers from around the world signed up to come and spend time with us. And the desire to amaze and inspire grew exponentially. There were pros and cons of the intercontinental partnership Jessica and I shared, but we kept the butterflies at bay as we spent a few short months feverishly preparing for our guests.
Before I knew it, December had arrived. Read or not, I boarded a plan to Italy. With a big hug, Retreat began much more quickly than it had been invented. The team assembled first, and then a day later the photographers gathered (and they were just as lovely as we had imagined them). Our four days together were too short, but they were each packed to the brim with fun and excitement. We made flower crowns, photographed craft tutorials, practiced yoga together, braved the metro trains in Rome, photographed each other, and shared vino and espresso on a beautiful Italian terrace. It was sort of like the ultimate sleepover, except prettier.
Undoubtedly, though, the biggest and most memorable event of our gathering is featured above. On the second day of our retreat, after photographing Jackie and Trebor’s engagement session in Rome, we shared an incredible Italian dinner with our beloved team, the adorable engaged couple, and our seven photographer attendees. We all laughed together with warm hearts and talked about how much we had grown to love each other in such a short time. The retreat could have ended there, but it didn’t. After the meal, Jessica and I gave each other the nod and we both knew what was happening. We couldn’t wait until morning. She ran upstairs to our hotel room and returned with the most spectacularly decorated envelopes, created with love by the insanely talented Katie of Signora e Mare. With trembling hands, Jessica and I distributed the letters. As the envelopes began to open, the tears began to flow. Jessica and I embraced each other, and it was all we could do to nod, when the other women looked at us in disbelief.
You see, the women at the table with us each came to our gathering valuing authenticity just as much as we do. They were content knowing that they had come to photograph a real couple (not models), but they thought they were only going to photograph a pretend wedding, styled and designed to enhance their photography portfolios. As they read the invitations inside of their envelopes, they realized that the following day we would all be witness to Jacqueline and Trebor’s REAL wedding. They were eloping in Italy, and we all had the honor of helping to facilitate and create art from the romance. This moment made every ounce of effort worthwhile–better than a dream.
You can see more from this shoot on Elizabeth Anne Designs!
Florals by Bo Boutique // Hair and Makeup by Jen Lewis of Pastel Makeup and Hair // Tuxedo via The Modern Gent // Planning and Coordination by The Wedding Care // Bridal Gown by Liz White Couture // at the beautiful Villa Bertolami // Styling and Accessories by Jessica of Fine and Fleurie // Officiated by Tuscan Pledges // Catering and cake by Natalizi // Music by Professionisti della Musica // Favors by Wedding Sparrow // Lettering by Signora e Mare // Photography by Buffy Dekmar