Y'all know me... I love shooting weddings and I especially love shooting destination weddings. You also know that I approach every wedding assignment as if I were an old friend with a fancy camera. I want to show up, blend in and just document the day as it unfolds without turning the entire wedding into a big photo shoot. Well, we I get asked to shoot the wedding of actual friends, it's even easier to do.
I met Dale Benfield of Fayetteville, Arkansas a few years ago at the WPPi convention. They were members of my [ b ] School and I loved how early on, Dale stepped up and established himself as a leader in our community. His wonderful outlook on life, positive attitude, incredible talent and his willingness to share is what the [ b ] School is all about so it was hard not to like him the moment I met him. Over the years, Keats & I got to know Dale & his girlfriend at the time Meredith, and absolutely adored them. So when he finally proposed, and Meredith accepted, they invited us to be a part of their wedding that took place about two weeks ago in Florence, Italy.
It was truly an incredible affair. I fear I may run our of superlatives to describe just how awesome the entire event was. First off... the location was the spectacular. The Four Seasons Firenze is one of the nicest hotels I've ever been to. I really don't know where to start expressing how much I fell in love with that property and the staff... the service was over the top and the grounds were simply breathtaking. I also wish I could move in there permanently... our suite was so plush. The wedding took place in a lovely garden amongst their 11 acre private grounds.
It was a very small wedding, with just a few family members making the trek to Italy. Dale & Meredith also decided to schedule a photography workshop around the event. A handful of photographers got to shoot along side of me at the wedding, (as well as some classroom instruction and other shoots on the days before & after the wedding). It was really fun and I think everyone had a blast.
As per usual, here are a few of my favorite relaxed portraits, amazing details and real moments. Please take a second to vote for your faves as well.
The color scheme for the wedding was red & turquoise, so naturally these Christian Laboutin's were perfect.
Not to be outdone... Dale also had some sweet shoes from Gucci. (I rarely shoot details shots of the grooms shoes because they are usually rented... not this time!)
The gown by Badgley Mischka:
No wonder she said yes!
Summer Watkins from Grey Likes Weddings flew over to style the wedding and help with the florals. As per usual, she did an amazing job.
Dale, being a glutton for punishment, sports some Cubbies cufflinks. (Hey, who am I to talk after the Angels started the season 1-3).
Dale's daughter Ellie was about the cutest flower girl ever. Here's a shot of her daddy helping her get ready:
And here she is practicing the [ b ] Squat... a future Becker bride for sure (as Dale won't be shooting his own daughter's wedding right?)
Here's Meredith, rocking her uncomfortable but fashionable shoes. This shot is to prove that she wore them at least for a few moments:
Black socks are so boring!
Lookin' sharp my friend! (I wonder how much time he saves not having to do his hair and how much money he saves by not needing hair products... hmmm?)
I love these informal portraits when they subject isn't even paying attention to what I'm doing.
Meredith waited in this room off the hotel's main lobby before the ceremony started. (Notice the shoes aren't on)
This statue of Christ was in the garden overlooking the cocktail hour. Who knows... He may have needed to turn more water in to wine... or Bellini's as the case may have been.
Meredith & her father just before they trekked down the aisle:
After a few steps in the soft grass, those heels got stuck, so she had to carry them the rest of the way:
The thing I love so much about this couple is how much they are in love with each other and life itself!
When I shared a few images on my iPad at the reception, Dale commented that this was his favorite. A moment right after the ceremony with his two favorite girls on the planet:
Ellie's future career is a foregone conclusion! I just wonder what the child labor laws are in Arkansas?
Again, the grounds were amazing and provided some nice backdrops for some relaxed portraits:
The reception was very small and intimate, set in this beautiful room at the Four Seasons. The 6 course meal was decadent and once again, the service was top notch.
Summer is amazing. (FYI... note to photographers, Summer is hosting a workshop in Napa next month that will included two styled shoots. It's a great opportunity to build your portfolio if you are starting out or looking to elevate the caliber of weddings you are shooting. Details here).
And finally, a candid moment between he bride & groom towards the end of the night.
Thanks you two so much for inviting Keats & I to be a part of your day. Congratulations!
Lastly, if any photographers are interested in the idea of shooting a destination wedding workshop with me next April, stay tuned for more details or drop me a line to let me know that you are interested.
FYI, I will be posting more images from our trip to Italy later this week.