It’s not everyday we get asked to photograph a destination wedding in Tuscany! (Although we wouldn’t complain!) My mother’s family is Italian, so I jump at any opportunity to un-rustify my limited Italian vocabulary and hop across the Atlantic.
Now let me tell you why (location aside) this wedding was so incredible!
I met these two a few months before their wedding while they were living in my parents’ basement. Feeding the chickens, sheep and tending to the gardens when my mom and dad left the farm. Anyone who can happily chase down free range chickens is worthy of an amazing Italian wedding, not to mention a few bottles of Barolo!
Nicole, a PhD candidate for classical art and archeology at Princeton University, was in the library combating a broken scanner when Michele entered her life. Ironically, Michele was a PhD student about an hour away at Rutgers University. But he liked the libraries at Princeton so spent his time there.
They met for coffee and Nicole instantly felt a strong connection, however by the end of their meeting she also realized, “What am I doing? I’m in a relationship!” So, obviously the timing was wrong and the two went their separate ways.
At this point I should tell you that Michele is Italian. He loves bread, pasta, Chianti and all things carbohydrate. I mean LOVE. As in downing a loaf of Ciabatta mid-day before a Tre Funghi Pizza dinner. Growing up in a small Tuscan city outside of Florence, he left home to pursue education and the goal of becoming an Italian professor in the US. And after graduation, he succeeded with a job at Tulane in New Orleans (bad news for soon to be single Nicole!)
Nicole grew up with her sister in Massachusetts’ Berkshires. After college she became a teacher, then worked for a nonprofit and eventually landed at Princeton University, much to her surprise. Having grown up in New Jersey, I’m pretty sure no one ever anticipates landing there! And it is nearly always unexpected when enjoyment follows.
Anyway, Nicole was now in the Garden State without her future husband. Yet who should she run into the summer of 2012 on Nassau Street, but her gluten obsessed, Princeton-loving Italian gentleman who was in town for Tulane’s break. Nicole wasted no time planning a date, rekindling their spark and embarking on a long-distance relationship spanning the next year.
Blessedly Michele secured a position at Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania just over an hour from my parents’ basement where the journey to matrimony began. My mother joyously cooked family recipes and spoke Italian while my father enjoyed the excuse to stock up on Tuscan wines.
Funny thing about Italian weddings; the bride and groom don’t kiss until outside the church (where they are pelted with arborio rice.) The church sat upon a hill, where Michele grew up. Vineyards flanked the valley ending in a cluster of buildings with cobbled streets cutting between, every bit completing the Tuscan dream.
I instantly fell in admiration with Nicole and Michele upon meeting them. Their warmth, compassion, intelligence and optimism fill a room with love and make you feel as though you’ve known them a lifetime. It’s without hesitation that I now call them part of the family and look forward to dinners together when coming home.
Food, wine and love transcended any language barriers as is customary when in Italy and both sides of guests intermingled beside the vineyard pool.
The dinner was unlike any I’d experienced with dishes upon dishes of food being served…I lost count after the first few rounds!
Words of love flowed, bottles of Chianti drained and forkfuls of fettucini twirled.
I stole the couple for a few pictures below the hillside before night fell.
I cannot express my appreciation for being a part of this amazing celebration of love and culture without thanking my parents for bringing Nicole and Michele into my life. Not to mention their friends and family with whom I traveled Rome, visited in New England and have connected with virtually. Accidentally being bumped to First Class was the icing on this delicious life-enhancing cake!
Villa de’ Fiori in Pistoia, Italy