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Venice Wedding Photography : Nicola & Jaime

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I may risk sounding trite when I say that I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time in the Venetian lagoon a tenth as much had it not been in the company of Nicola & Jaime and the small band of their nearest and dearest that joined with them to observe and celebrate their marriage on the island of Mazzorbo. It is though simply the truth of the matter that I am certain that that would have been the case. Absolutely, it was an enchanting place to find oneself but being in such company magnified the experience ten-fold and environment aside, I would have cherished spending time amongst such company in any number of places that might not have quite the same charm.

Having grown up in an Italian town on the mainland just a little way from Venice, Nicola ventured out into the world and found himself working in Australia where, in time, he met Jaime, a highly thoughtful, poetic soul, clearly resonantly loved by those that got to know her so well and in Nicola she found her soulmate. It was very much my luck, as things transpired, that they found a friend in a former student of mine, Danielle, whom had herself left British shores to work in Australia. Danielle showed my work to Nicola & Jaime and thus the seeds of a lovely adventure were sown.

My sole regret on this adventure was that I didn’t bring a photographer along with me to document my journey – in particular my arrival on the scene – but it’s sealed in my memory none-the-less, in images and in sounds. A few hours before I was due to leave home to make my way by car, plane and boat to my destination, Jaime sent me a text message advising me to bring some Wellington boots as they were expecting an acqua alta, an intermittent flooding event in the region brought about by high tides combining with the effects of a warm wind blowing across the Mediterranean, forcing water from the Adriatic into the Venetian lagoon (I’d looked up what an acqua alta was before popping out to buy a pair of boots). I took her advice, and luckily so. After a twenty minute night-time water taxi ride from Marco Polo airport to the island of Mazzorbo under a storm full of lightening and thunder, wherein I’d felt like a relegated-to-passenger version of James Bond – all enormously exciting despite not being at the helm – as the gleamingly glossy wooden hulled power boat I was in bounced and hammered across the waves, I alighted onto a wall opposite the entrance of my hotel to see nothing but water, water everywhere; water behind me, water in front of me, then my hotel and just the wall I was stood atop of, no more than an inch out of the water. I stood there, a roller case heavily laden with camera equipment to my right, a suitcase full of clothing and sundry accoutrements to my right, no cognisance of the depth of the water between me and the hotel entrance (thankfully it transpired to come up to just a thumb’s length below the top of my wellies). My form silhouetted by lightening and sinews channeling thunder, arms spread cruciform, heavy baggage dangling from each hand – the fact I was able to do so testament to the psychosomatic powers that might be unleashed by fear of soaking beyond usable functionality every item necessary for the successful photographing of a wedding; not least my socks – I forged my way through aqueous darkness and… well… I made it in one sufficiently dry piece :~) The meeting I’d arranged with Nicola & Jaime for that night had to be postponed to the next morning though as they were trapped by the flood in a restaurant on a neighbouring island. By that morning, there was but a little evidence of the previous night’s conditions to be seen…

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When I travel outside of the UK mainland for a wedding, I typically make a point of adding in a buffer day on arrival (just in case there are any issues with flights) and I particularly enjoyed the extra day afforded in this instance to roam around the sleepy, sparsely populated island of Mazzorbo and its more bustling yet still relaxed neighbour, Burano; the two connected by a footbridge; no roads, no cars, just feet, bicycle wheels and boats.

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Celebrations would centre around the small boutique hotel Venissa and its restaurant nestled amongst the hotel’s own private vineyard. I was very grateful to Nicola & Jaime for arranging a room for me at the Venissa. I cannot think of a hotel stay that has surpassed the experience that I had there (the introductory video on their Web site is both evocative and true to the experience). The staff were nothing short of superb, the food nothing but exquisite, the unabashed glass of Prosecco with breakfast (from the vineyard outside) a giddy delight. If you have it in mind to set up a boutique hotel or any form of business looking to deliver the best possible customer experience, I’d recommend a stay there. Take notes. Simply enjoy.

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The view from my bedroom window :~) Actually, the view from my bed, come to think of it…

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And another view from my bed; diptych left, the ceiling, the other side of which would be my first port of photographic call as the wedding day arrived. Diptych right, my commute to ‘work’ :~)…

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There are no barriers to my work…

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I wasn’t the only rule breaker, either…

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I’ll always recall Alf’s propensity for being a great calming influence on that morning. The Prosecco I’ll always remember, too :~)…

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Post-breakfast, I followed Nicola to the Chiesa Di Santa Caterina, an extraordinary 13th Century church on the island of Mazzorbo where the marriage ceremony would take place some hours later.

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Salt from the waters of the lagoon is absorbed up through the foundations and crystallises on the surface of the brickwork in the interior of the church. The custodian suggested I wet a fingertip and run it across some of the salt before tasting it; a poignant experience…

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One of Nicola’s bridesmaids, Jodie, is a co-founder and chief creative officer of California based Shoes of Prey. Jodie designed and had made a set of shoes to commemorate the occasion (a bit of a give away in there too as to just how long it’s taking me to blog weddings in ‘recent’ times! :~)…

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Italy calling Australia…

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The Venetian contingent arrive, in inimitable Venetian fashion…

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Some of Venissa’s marvellous staff sneak a peek of Jaime as she sets off to the church…

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On the walk back to the hotel, we came across a group of… I was about to say villagers, Mazzorbo very much having that feel to it… a group of islanders who had congregated before setting off in a flotilla of small boats for an afternoon out in the lagoon…

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Hello to Danielle – image left – and thank you so much once again for introducing my work to Nicola & Jaime!…

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DJ Al Fingers. On first meeting Al that morning and discovering that he’d been booked to travel over from London for the occasion, I thought to myself, “Oh, he must be pretty good then.” That he was. And much, much more again. He’d been recommended to Nicola & Jaime by their friend, Kelly, who had seen and heard him perform at some previous event. I truly feel privileged to have experienced his performance on this occasion. He’s more than a DJ; a veritable marionettist; a magician at work. He’s also a lovely person to be around. Jaime had told me that she had recently been to a Jewish wedding and loved the way that the dancing wasn’t just compartmentalised to the period of time following dinner but was also interspersed throughout post-ceremony proceedings (having photographed a few myself, I wholeheartedly agree that it’s the way things should be done!) She wanted something of the same for her and Nicola’s wedding, hoping it might be possible for it to happen spontaneously. Cue the musical magician. Between courses of what would be a long, leisurely and utterly lovely meal Al somehow consistently drew people out onto the dance floor – dance lawn, more accurately speaking :~) – after each course then on a tip off from the kitchen that the time had come, lulled them back to their seats in time for the next dish, all seemingly seamlessly in terms of the music played.

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The food was… I fear I’ll fail to find the perfect word… sublime seems insufficiently specific. Several courses the constituent components of which had all been sourced from the lagoon that morning, flavours choreographed to create a mesmerising dance across the taste buds. Again, I was experiencing the work of magicians. My thanks to Nicola & Jaime for seating me to enjoy this dream of a meal.

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Nicola and his best man, Andrea, reminisce over their days in the Venetian water-basketball squad…

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Venetian Capoeira…

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Sometimes there is more to the story again, out of frame (sometimes it’s for the best :~)…

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Footobomb…

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The Venetian contingent tickled my funny bone when it came to the fact of being photographed. Nicola & Jaime had with them a group of friends from all over the globe. Those from points Antipodean, American and Northern European seemed totally at ease with the presence of a photographer working his way around and amongst them during the earlier points of post-ceremony celebration; the Venetians perhaps a little less so at first but then… fine food, fine wine, there was no stopping them :~)

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I was half expecting to turn up at Marco Polo airport the following day to the resounding chant of, “Pho.. to… gra… pher!” Maybe even come the arrivals hall at Gatwick :~)…

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And into the night Al worked his magic…

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Huge congratulations Nicola & Jaime. Thank you so, so much for bringing me along on this true adventure, for your enormous warmth and inclusivity along the way. The all and the everything of it all was nothing short of magical.

Contact Venice Wedding Photographer Phillip Allen : phill@misterphill.com

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