I first met Stefanie and João in Porto,Portugal, where they were attending a forró festival of which I was the official photographer. They were dating back then; he is Brazilian and she is German and like real adventurers and forrozeiros, they visited Porto to attend this newly-born festival that turned out to attract hundreds of people from Europe.
João was planning to propose to Stefanie during the festival and was looking for the perfect opportunity to do so. And of course, the best way to find your luck is to make it yourself! So with a little help from his friend, one of the bands whose songs meant a lot to the couple (Forró de KA), he proposed in the middle of a dance, to the sound of their favorite song, in front of almost 700 people!
It was a powerful and beautiful moment, and I was there to capture it all feeling myself very moved by the big gesture and the beauty of the community.
One thing I love about festivals is the strong sense of togetherness you share with so many people you don’t even know, yet you are living the moment together, out of your comfort zone and completely exposed, all as one!
I could see people screaming from excitement, others crying, and that just felt as if everyone was in a huge embrace, if I might say.You can watch the proposal video here.
The very next day, I saw them outside of the venue, I went closer to congratulate them and very spontaneously proposed that we snap a few quick shots by the river where we had some lovely views of Porto.
Luckily they said yes and we had the quickest couple photoshoot in the history of mini-shoots! It was just so nice and spontaneous.
I thanked them for the fun mini-shoot, their time and for providing our new festival with such a great and memorable moment and went on my way. A few days later, I messaged them with the photos and mentioned that I also do destination weddings and I would love it if they considered me in the list of their potential wedding photographers (with no great expectations though as I understand that many couples prefer to hire local photographers).
A couple of months later… They got in touch with me, we Skyped, they took their time to research and decide… And when they told me they wanted to fly me to Germany to be their wedding photographer I was the happiest girl in the world! Not only I love combining travel and work, but I also knew from the first moment we would be a great match of couple/photographer and that I would love to work with them (and hoped they would also do).
So, in June of 2019 I flew to Frankfurt, they picked me up from the airport and we drove to a lovely picturesque little town called Weinheim where our hotel was.
I am always a bit stressed before a wedding and I like to see it as a good dose of adrenaline that shows that I care and take my responsibility very seriously. So I did my mind & body pre-wedding ritual: went for a nice run, did a quick workout, did some stretching, listened to music, had plenty of water and enjoyed a nice light meal, scrolled down my Pinterest for a boost of inspiration and got ready for the wedding day.
One thing I always tell my couples: do it your way. Enjoy it your way. Get married in the most “you” way possible and breathe in every bit of it! With S&J it wasn’t even necessary to say that, they did everything the way it felt more right to them, not thinking of what is conventional and what is not. They got prepared at the same hairdresser’s and it was so relaxing and fun watching them interact this way while getting ready together for their wedding!
Since they would go together to the reception, they decided to do the first look moment at the hotel. While they were getting something to drink, I took advantage of some free time to shoot some details of their clothes and accessories.
The beauty of the first look shot is the two-angled perspective of both of them looking at each other for the first time in their wedding clothes, for the first time as bride and groom. The most difficult part when you are only one photographer is to make quick decisions as to which angle you will use to tell the story, without jumping around like crazy and ending up ruining the moment for them: Will you shoot her going towards him over his shoulder? Will it be a close-up of his face when seeing her in her dress for the first time over her shoulder? Or should it be a close up of both as their faces meet? In my opinion, there is no correct or wrong answer. You just choose the way you want to tell the story, and you gotta do it fast, quietly and beautifully. Here’s the way I chose to shoot their first look moment:
And that was it: All the preparation was done. On our way to the taxis (oh how much do I love practical people, they arranged shuttles for all their guests) from the hotel up to the hill at the castle where the ceremony and the party would take place.
When it comes to love and family, no matter the language, the background, the ethnicity, there should be no barriers on how the whole experience is received by the people who are present.
S&J solved the language problem with a simple yet brilliant solution: A wedding celebrant who would speak in German and a translator who would translate everything to english as well. Here it is again: the beauty of mixing the languages, of diminishing any distance and becoming one in their uniqueness.
How beautiful international weddings and relationships really are!
It was a beautiful and full of emotions outdoor ceremony. They said their vows in both languages at a lovely simple location, surrounded by tall trees and their loved ones, under the hot summer sun.
After the ceremony was over, we all moved to the inner gardens of the castle for the cocktail party. The location was just magical, I have to admit it was one of the most beautiful places I have witnessed as a wedding photographer!
And here comes the fun part: As both were forrozeiros (remember the porposal story?), forró could not be missing from such a wedding. They had their friend give an open forró class so that everyone was able to learn some moves for the party later on!
After they relaxed a little bit, had something fresh to drink and spent time with their guests, I stole them for a quick couple photoshoot strolling around that wonderful place.
Time to open the dance floor! Of course, to the sound of their song. The very same band that played their song when she said yes, was also the official band of the wedding. Forró de KA (who happen to be amazing musicians, professionals and persons) really made everyone moving on that dance floor!
The day just kept rolling in a relaxed and fun way. There was good food, good music, some real good dancing happening inside and a gorgeous sunset happenning outside.
As people danced close to the balcony entrance, my eye caught some dust particles being lit from the sunset golden light entering from the door, I was just mesmerised at that moment!
There was an epic sky at the end of that day. We had witnessed a lovely day of celebrating love and union. My heart felt full and my eyes grateful for the beauty I had the chance to witness and capture,
Thank you for your trust, João and Stefanie. It was a pleasure working with you, meeting your families and writing your story with light. I wish you all the hapiness of this world!
Wedding dress: Willowby by Watters
Bride’s shoes: Benjamin Adams
Groom’s suit: Kuhn
Groom’s shoes: Shoepassion
Make up & hair: NP Friseure aus Leidenschaft
Decoration at the venue: Blütenkompass
Venue: Wachenburg Weinheim
Catering: Wachenburg Weinheim
Wedding cake: Chocami
Band: Forró de Ka
Wedding celebrants/translators: Frau Klawonn, Standesamt Weinheim; Walter Günther