We are so blessed to work with some of the most amazing couples on their wedding days. Every now and again a couple comes along that reaffirms our creative mission as wedding photographers. During Cristabelle and Franciscos wedding at the Royal Isabela they really encouraged us to push the envelope creatively and gave us complete freedom to do so. Without this kind of trust and support from our clients we wouldn’t be able to capture such intimate moments and create work that is outside of the box. For us, wedding photography is about telling a story and showing unique points of view. We want our couples and their family and friends to be able to relive wedding day from a different perspective. There isn’t any one image that represents wedding day. The art that we create is in how the collection of images tells the full story.
We met with Cristabelle and Francisco at the Royal Isabela a few days before their wedding. Riding around in golf carts, they gave us a tour of the property. Sweeping coastal views and rolling natural hills make Royal Isabela a dream for any photographer. As we approached one of the overlooks a light rain started to fall. This didn’t phase Cristabelle or Francisco one bit we walked and talked in the rain. I realized it had been ages since I had really let myself get wet walking in the rain. “I just love walking in the rain, it make me so happy.” Cristabelle said. She wasn’t worried about rain on wedding day or the fact that we were getting soaked, she was living in the moment and enjoying the rain for what it was. This idea of being present and living in the moment is a concept that gets tossed around a lot and it often looses its meaning. Both Cristabelle and Francisco embrace the joy of living in the moment and the authenticity that comes from accepting things as they are.
In a way this same love and acceptance is echoed in the landscape of the Royal Isabela. Francisco is an avid golfer and the Royal Isabela has a special place in his life. He shared with us that the no land was moved in the construction of the property and many of the trees and natural habitat in the surrounding area had been preserved as part of a land trust. This embrace of nature allows for a more authentic interaction with the land. Wandering the grounds of the Royal Isabela feels more like walking through a natural garden than a golf course.
On wedding day Cristabelle and Francisco got ready in separate villas. All the Villas at the Royal Isabela have large windows that open up onto patios overlooking beautiful cliffs that lead to the ocean. It is peaceful and you feel very close to nature. Just before Cristabelle started her makeup there was a large thud on the glass windows. I didn’t know what happened but I pointed my camera in the direction of the sound. It was a small ‘Reinita’ bird that had flown into the glass. Reinitas are beloved birds and considered by many to be the official bird of Puerto Rico. Cristabelle quickly scooped up the little bird and brought it inside, “This bird cannot die on my wedding day”, she said. It was the sweetest and most loving thing to watch her cradle the limp bird in her hand. It was such a simple action that said so much. She called her cousin a veterinarian to come and help. The bird looked lifeless and I was worried it might die right there in her hand.
Its moments like this that I sometimes question if I should be pressing the shutter or not. If the bird dies in her hand what kind of moment will this be, is this a memory I should be capturing? We do our best on wedding day to shoot throughout the day and not to make judgements on what should or should not be captured. In the moment we don’t know what something means, it’s only after time has passed and we are reflecting back that we are able to give meaning to a moment. Sometimes it feels awkward taking photographs during difficult moments; when people are crying or something isn’t going well. These tend to be moments of great importance for us as people, so it is for this reason that we choose to continue photographing even when things feel tense.
I was relieved when the bird started to wake up and look around. Celeste, the veterinarian arrived and took the bird to care for it. Later, everyone was happy to hear that after a full checkup the bird was able to be released.
As wedding photographers we have clients tell us how happy they are to have us there photographing their weddings and so often the feeling is mutual. I think its the sense of value we place on moments and our attempt to reconcile the real with the beautiful, that comes through in our work. This makes it possible for us to connect with the people whose weddings we photograph. We certainly felt this way while photographing the wedding of Cristabelle and Francisco.
Their outdoor ceremony was followed by an epic reception brilliantly coordinated by Enita Acevedo of Innovations Planning. Every detail was symbolic of family from the table napkins that belonged to their grandmother and the Pitorro that was a gift for the wedding in exchange for a prized bull from Cristabelles family’s farm in the mountains. There was lots of laughter, a few tears of joy shed, and dancing that carried on all night.
Many thanks to Cristabellle and Francisco for inviting us to capture this important day in their lives.
Venue: The Royal Isabela
Grooms Attire: Leonardos
Brides Gown: Cuca Fernandez
Accessories: Lili Weds
Band: Cuenta Regresiva
Catering: Jota at Royal Isabela
Hair Stylist: Tania Rodriguez
Make up Artist: Tania Rodriguez