The Story of Photographing a wedding in Florence the day before Lockdown
I've been meaning to share this wedding for some time. In actual fact I have had the photographs all laid out in this post for quite some time. But last year as the wedding season came into full force, I didn't find the time to complete it. Last year was busy for the wedding industry. Following two years of a lot of uncertainty for couples with planning their weddings, last year saw many couples finally realise their dream of having their destination wedding in Italy.
This, however, is a story of a couple who managed to have their wedding the day before all of Tuscany was classed as a red zone and the region went into a full lockdown. This is a story of two people so determined, but at the same time relaxed and able to adapt their plans, that they were more than capable of pulling off a modern, stylish and intimate elopement the day before Tuscany was shut down. This is a love story of two beautiful souls, who married in the romantic city of Florence, the place they had met and fell in love, even with all the odds stacked against them.
Wedding PREPARATIONS at the Four Seasons Hotel in FLORENCE
If you can't have your mom and all your girlfriends with your on your wedding morning, you can still get ready in style while video calling them! Leila got ready the morning of her wedding in a beautiful room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence. She had collected her simple, elegant bouquet of lilies that morning from a local florist, Floreart Firenze , and luckily, after a last minute change, found a make-up artist able to come to Florence that morning. Her veil was her something borrowed, sent by a friend especially for the occasion, and she also had a silver heart locket from her mom, complete with a little message of love inside of it. Little reminders that she had so many family and friends there with her in spirit even if they could not be there physically.
Meeting At the Palazzo Vecchio, FLORENCE before the wedding ceremony
We grabbed a cab down to Palazzo Vecchio where Leila met Nikola before the ceremony. It was strangely quiet. With Tuscany going from orange to red most people were just finalising things, getting ready for the lockdown. These two though, were about to make their vows in the Sala Rossa, a vibrant and grand room at Palazzo Vecchio, once the governor's quarters and now used for civil ceremonies in Florence.
MacBook in hand, they got to work setting up a zoom call, with all their friends and family from all over the world tuning in. This really showed how loved these two were, with so many people joining from so many time zones, some waking up a 4/5am determined to be part of the couple's wedding day.
Wedding ceremony at the Sala Rossa, Palazzo Vecchio, Flornce
Leila and Nikola had had to un-invite almost all of their guests, especially as no on was allowed to travel except for work purposes, but they did have a few local close friends still able to attend. One of their close friends even acted as the interpreter for the ceremony, leading the couple in their vows and declaring their love for one another.
All the while, friends and family were able to watch live as the ceremony was streamed on-line via zoom. Leila's dad even read out a little something allowing him to be part of the ceremony. At a time when physical engagement was impossible, these moments really made the ceremony so intimate and personal.
After the Ceremony
After the wedding ceremony, the small group high tailed it to the palazzo for a quick toast with a bottle of Prosecco. With Tuscany about to enter into a red zone, it was impossible to book a restaurant or even bar for a celebration, but it somehow felt more special to toast in the square just after the ceremony. Myself, Leila and Nikola then set off to take some photographs of them around Florence. Nikola had brought his moped, which friends had decorated, so the two of them jumped on that for a little ride around the historic streets of downtown Florence.
Bride and Groom Portraits IN Florence
We stopped outside the Uffizi Gallery and I was able to photograph the newly weds on the moped with this iconic place as the backdrop. On the other side of the road, we had a superb view of the Ponte Vecchio. No wedding portait session would be complete without a picture with the infamous bridge in the background. Its structure so iconic, and perfect for a romantic place to appreciate Florence.
After the couple portraits by the river Arno, we headed back to the Four Seasons Hotel. The room had been decorated, a poem written on the bathroom mirror, and a bottle of wine left for the newly weds to celebrate. But before that, we went to take a few more portraits of the two of them around the hotel grounds. The first stop was the sweetest though. In the room next to theirs, used for functions but now empty, the two of them, just them, had their first dance. A quiet but beautiful moment.
It was such an honour to have been able to be part of Leila and Nikola's intimate wedding day. I know that their plans had started off very differently when they first began thinking about how they wanted the day to look and feel. With the restrictions around this strange, strange time though, everything kept having to change. In the end, it was just the simple act of being able to get married that remained, but isn't that the whole reason in the first place? They were able to declare their love to one another and actually I think the day turned out to be all the more memorable for it.