My first wedding of 2023 took me to Masía Aldamar in Valencia. After a cold, dreary 5 months back home in the U.K. my soul needed an adventure. It needed sunshine.
I arrived into Spain on the Friday evening and immediately felt a different kind of warmth from Christina and Mariano. We walked down the river, ate tapas and drank beers in the lingering heat of the evening sun. We shared tales of weddings, travel and discussed our mutual love of all things coffee.
I started early on Saturday. Hours before we would finally arrive at Masía Aldamar. I was collected by Francesco, who not only chauffeured me around all day, but generously provided espresso, water and snacks when needed. Every welcome seemed above and beyond. New connections made and Continuous warmth felt.
First stop was an invitation into Mariano’s family home in the centre of Valencia. I don’t think I’ve ever shot in a more genuine environment. It was a home that exuded memories, togetherness and faith. Language barriers come with the territory when you work across the world but this morning it hardly mattered. I simply shot what was in front of me as creatively as I could. A loving family, proud as punch to be celebrating the wedding of their eldest son.
The church stood tall in the centre of old Valencia. As the oldest church in town it was certainly a popular place to be. There was a steady stream of weddings proceeding throughout the day and as such we had to stand patiently in a courtyard until it was our turn. Fireworks and the distant ring of cheers in the streets worked as an indicator to when each event was drawing to a close.
An hour later, following mass, We celebrated in the same way ourselves. In the ancient courtyards that enclosed the historic church, Christina and Mariano’s family and friends embraced, sang together and fired an artillery of confetti that I’m still finding in my hair 24 hours later.
With Francesco in control we headed south towards Masía Aldamar, away from Valencia and towards Madrid, passing the bridal vehicle en route to the reception venue. We beeped and waved with windows down as our mission to beat them to the venue was now a winning one. The usual panic that sets into any wedding involving multiple car journeys had safely passed. We were home and dry.
Arriving at Masia Aldamar, the powerful aroma of oranges and sage hit me the moment I opened the car door. “The smell of Valencia” Francesco proclaimed, inhaling with pride. We were surrounded on all sides by dry land growing vine, olives and fruit trees. Central to this was the 17th century farm house, converted wonderfully to house modern day celebrations.
Guests from across the world filtered through in the mid afternoon sunshine. Alcohol and great local food provided sustenance before a typical valencian dinner was prepared in the evening. Conversations rang through the air and friendships were made over a common connection to the couple.
I woke early again on the a Sunday morning and with coffee in hand, took a peaceful stroll through the orange groves of Masia Aldamar. Christina and Mariano were keen to exchange personal vows today and had asked me to scout out a private location for the moment. I found an enclosed section of bushes covered on every side by oranges. The aroma was almost overpowering but I knew it would be perfect. Later I left a camera rolling and left my couple in private to exchange their private words.
As Christina and Mariano, said their final goodbyes to family, we were left alone to enjoy the vast empty estate of Masia Aldamar. I set up a camera in a beautiful naturally lit corridor and spent some time chatting to them about life, how they met and grew as a couple. As we talked, tears followed as they often do. I always cherish these moments. I understand their value. Not just the value that they’ll add to a film but the value they’ll provide to the future generations of their family. Their parents and grandparents love story told by themselves on their wedding day.
I spent one final day in the Centre if València before traveling home. I simply walked for miles through the streets with my camera in hand trying when possible to capture images of valencian life. Stopping occasionally to drink more coffee and feel the warmth of the Valencian sun in my face.