Hello everyone, today I’m excited to share with you all Kristina & Shawn Kelley’s romantic destination wedding in Italy that I had the pleasure of photographing in November 2019.
In the magical arch of the Italian boot, there’s a charming and still undiscovered city that probably will be one of the most unique and spectacular places you will ever visit in the world: Matera and The Sassi. It is located in the Basilicata region just below the ankle of Italy’s boot near Puglia.
It is part of the UNESCO heritage and appointed one of the two European Capitals of Culture in 2019, Italy is famous for its picturesque hilltop towns but Matera, being one of the oldest living cities in the world, is something special. All the buildings are in caves carved out of the limestone and streets are made of cobblestone. With its original soul, breathtaking landscapes, one of a kind luxury Cave hotels and ancient churches, Matera is the perfect place to wander and get lost, roaming through the labyrinth of narrow and sand-coloured alleyways, cave churches, tiny courtyards with creeping vines and figs and discover wonderful views of the ancient Sassi.
It’s a town where you really feel as if you’ve gone back in time. And what is more romantic than that for a magical and unique wedding.
This is the fairytale destination that Kristina and Shawn Kelley have chosen to tie the knot, surrounded by their families and friends’ love.
For Kristina and Shawn was love at first sight, they met in Kristina’s hometown, Fresno (California), while Shawn was on a 4 days rehab assignment for baseball. It was clear from the first day, that they had lots in common even if their lifestyle was very different since Shawn is a professional famous baseball player that travels around the world the whole year.
“I’d never been out of California or on an airplane before and Shawn travelled for work 8 months out of the year. Go figure I’d meet someone I finally liked.” Kristina tells us. “Fast forward a few years from then, and I’m basically on an airplane every other week bouncing around the US to different MLB cities to watch him play. He just finished his 11th MLB season and I’ve been to all 30 stadiums!”
Kristina and Shawn decided to get married in Italy because they always felt a strong bond with the country since Kristina’s family has southern Italian calabrese roots. This was the perfect occasion to discover her origins and give the family an excuse to travel there and fell in love with one of the most romantic places on earth to celebrate their union.
The couple asked the luxury Italian wedding planner Andrea to help them make their dream come true, their vision of a memorable ceremony enclosed between the sky and the countryside rolling hills, a merge of two natural beauties that offered the perfect setting for the big day, a place full of enchantment and emotions.
The fabulous Italian Weddings & Events planned a magical two-day event in two different locations, taking care of every single detail from the rehearsal dinner to the ceremony and reception. I cannot recommend Andrea and her talented team enough! It was such a pleasure working with them!
For the welcome dinner, the couple chose Palazzo Gattini a historical and sophisticated residence rich in details and history, surrounded by the ancient Sassi. From the rooftop, the guests could enjoy a breathtaking view of the city while tasting the best of Lucan food, exquisite cocktails and premium Italian bubbles. During the evening a Sicilian traditional band played typical Italian folkloristic music for an unforgettable experience for all senses.
Deeply immersed in the Mediterranean scrub, in the most authentic rural landscape, we can find the one and only Masseria Fortificata San Francesco, a stunning location where Kristina and Shawn exchanged vows at sunset, a restored monastery whose ancient watchtower dates back to 1600.
On the wedding day, the bride wore Galia Lahav, an haute couture mermaid gown with a corseted bodice made of re-embroidered lace. The gown was complemented by a long custom veil by Toni Federici. Hair and Make-Up were provided by the one and only Alessandro Mancino. The bridesmaids wore romantic and simple blush colour dresses.
The sunny hills of Matera at sunset with soft light and romantic golden sun flares, surrounded by a panorama of bushes and fruit trees: this is the gorgeous scenery where the ceremony took place. A suspended design glass platform by Itinera Pro on the pool water together with a decorative golden architecture, that reminds of the iconic Italian stained-glass church windows, are the modern elements that Italian Weddings & Events included in the scenery to create something unique. Modernity and tradition were merged perfectly, preserving the real beauty of this enchanted place: an ethereal background hovering over the hills of Matera. Being a natural light wedding photographer, this was an absolute dream to capture!
The elegant architecture was enriched with lush but simple floral arrangements. The main challenge of the decoration was to meet the glamour vision of the bride while staying true to the location soul. Natural and pastel hues flowers looked the best option to be in harmony with the surrounding, characterized mainly by tuff stone caves colours. Flowers Addicted Angelica did an incredible job in decorating the entire venue.
For the dinner, the couple and guests moved to another part of the Masseria: the limestone Cave. This was one of the most romantic and unique wedding receptions I had the pleasure of photographing. The tables were decorated with white and soft pink and nude colour flowers that shaded with the natural colour of the stone, tone on tone effect! Plenty of candles, for a romantic style and intimate atmosphere. The reception dinner was all about great Lucanian food, fine local wine, and being surrounded by the people they love followed by drinks and dancing of course.
The breathtaking wedding cake and dessert table created by the very talented Marco Failla was inspired by the natural and blushy colours of the location, incorporating also some ivory leaves as well as gold touches. Guests were delighted with a thoughtful bag full of local delicacies and such as olive oil, wine, orecchiette pasta, as a unique wedding favour from the Bride & Groom.
After the romantic first dance of the bridal couple, the celebration continued with a DJ from Rinaldi Eventi that kept everybody dancing well into the night.
Kristina: “When Andrea from Italian weddings and events purposed Matera to us, all I needed was to see a few of the hotels nearby before Shawn and I immediately selected it as our marriage destination. The uniqueness of every single thing in the town blew my mind. There is so much history, so many structures that are ancient and still surviving beautifully. Everything ended up so magical, romantic, soft and beautiful. It was exactly how I’d imagined. I’m still dreaming of it wishing I could relive it.” Recalls Kristina.
Thank you Kristina & Shawn for choosing me as your wedding photographer in Italy and for leaving me the sweetest testimonial:
“We used Roberta as our wedding photographer in Matera, Italy this past November. She was nothing short of amazing! She made me feel so comfortable, she was bubbly and we all had the best experience. I requested last minute for her to do a shoot of just me (the bride) in my dress, the day before the wedding, to save time on the wedding day and she made it happen! We ended up with so many beautiful pictures I still can’t even choose my favourites for our walls. The warmth of the lighting and the way they were perfectly edited and not over saturated or overdone was THE BEST. That’s something I was very wary about in a photographer. We loved her and her work, no one else can get enough of our photos either! We are So so so so happy with everything. Thank you for capturing everything for us and being so sweet during the process Roberta!“
Thank you so much for reliving with me this fairytale destination wedding in Italy. You can contact me here to get started on your wedding photography plans. I regularly photograph weddings all over Europe, and especially in London and the UK, Italy, France & Greece.
I look forward to hearing from you soon :)