Every destination wedding has its defining moment –the sunset over a Tuscan village or maybe a full moon lighting the pathway to a centuries-old villa. For Katie’s and Rachel’s wedding, a gorgeous, elegant and beautiful celebration, there was one particular moment that stood out for us as wedding photographers and that captured the spirits of these two independent, loving women: the first dance. Katie and Rachel took to the dance floor and held each other as a married couple for the first time, while Ella Fitzgerald and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong crooned “Under a Blanket of Blue”. You didn’t need to know the song to know what it means. It declares that love prevails and that there is a miracle in the fact that, somehow, out of all the possibilities in the world, somehow, two marvelous people have met and have chosen to stand together. In love. They are dancing in the moonlight beneath a blanket of blue.
The fact that all of this started in a spin class in their native New York gives Katie’s and Rachel’s classic love story a modern twist. And suits these two powerhouse women to a tee!
Katie and Rachel told us that they see their love story and their relationship as a symphony: different parts coming together, forming harmonies, creating memories of music that will be remembered for a long, long time. Or maybe for always. And again, we thought about that first dance – how perfect a moment, how melodic a song – and what it meant to these two beautiful women.
The wedding took place at the gorgeous Villa Medicea de Lilliano, an 11th Century vineyard and estate in the hills overlooking Florence. Once home to the Grand Duke Ferdinando of the Medici family, this breathtaking property is now a private home owned by the Malenchini family, and is an ideal location for those like Katie and Rachel who long for that indescribable combination of tradition and elegance with a substantial nod to modernity and to the forward-thinking. Katie and Rachel became engaged in a California vineyard, so there was a genuine symmetry to closing the loop and marrying in a vineyard in Italy. The new world meets the old world.
Rachel, the head of investor relations at a New York hedge fund, wore a delicate, three-quarter length sleeved Vera Wang gown, with a lace overlay that literally floated in the October air. So light, so graceful. She added white peau de soie heels by Manolo Blahnik, and carried a bouquet of simple, lush, white flowers. Rachel told us that one of her favorite icons is Audrey Hepburn. No surprise there! With her dark, lustrous hair and a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings to catch the sun, Rachel channeled her inner Audrey. Could those sapphires be the blanket of blue that Ella sang about?
Or maybe, just maybe, that blue was the midnight blue of Katie’s tuxedo, designed by Bindle & Keep. Fitted just perfectly to Katie’s body, the tuxedo was both elegantly and ever so slightly cheeky, set against the black tuxedos worn by Katie’s attendants. Like Katie, the blue spoke to a boldness and also to a confidence, and to a quiet strength.
The ceremony was marked by the reading of texts near and dear to the couple. They included The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Reflections on Marriage by Katie’s aunt (which she wrote herself, quoting excerpts from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert’s decision on gay marriage) and also from a letter that Katie’s grandparents wrote to Katie & Rachel in which they shared loving words of wisdom based on their 60+ years of marriage.
Later that evening, Rachel’s father shared more wisdom. A professor of architecture at Harvard University, he began by talking about ancient artists. “If you were to collect the greatest architects and artists in the world and ask them what moved them to create what they created, they would all reply with the same two words: Passion and Love. Only with passion and love were they able to create actual history.” He concluded by saying that that same passion and love is evident with Katie and Rachel, and he wished them lives with great things and great happiness most of all.
We reflected back on Katie’s and Rachel’s wedding. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful evening, full of dancing and delicious food and wine, and full of love. We watched these two beautiful young women claim their space alongside one another, two individuals, yes, but also a strong and powerful unit. They smiled at each other and they delighted in each other and, we are sure, they formed that perfect melody, that perfect symphony they described to us early on. Under their very own blanket of blue, two souls danced in the moonlight and reminded us all of the power of love.