Here I am at the airport again, kissing hubby good bye, hugging baby Moira as tight as I dare and telling her mummy will be back in the blink of an eye. This time, I’m off to Ratua. If the name Ratua doesn’t mean anything to you, I suggest you head to Google when you’re looking for a dream destination, or the place for an absolutely perfect beach wedding.
In the Vanuatu archipelago, 0ff the coast of Santo, Ratua island resort is a private island, with hundred years old wooden bungalows and a spa facing the ocean, ancient trees lightened up with storm lamps perfect for a diner in the wild, turquoise waters home to green sea turtles and colorful fish, and the list goes on. The feeling of freedom and serenity that wraps you, the minute the island is in sight, is truly, very special. I could just go on and on about it. I have photographed a couple of weddings there, and I must say, it is definitely one of my favorite wedding venues in Vanuatu. Ratua is a rare, hidden gem, perfect for couples who envisage a destination wedding as a little bubble in time and space, when all their closest beloved are gathered, to take a swim or paddle out in the sunset, sip cocktails on a fishermen’s deck, get to know each other while enjoying some vacation for themselves, be pampered with a massage while the kids are having the time of their lives. It’s the perfect place for a couple who thinks nature is all the décor and color palette they need and who are happy saying their vows on the beach with sand on their feet. It’s the ultimate place for a couple who wishes to dance their night away under the stars. Like I said, I could go on, and on. I will just say, some of the most wonderful couples I have met and weddings I have photographed were in Ratua. And, every time I go there, I think to myself, if I should get marry Oli again, and have my loved ones gathered in one place for a little bit of heaven on earth, this is the place I would go to.
And so I am off to Ratua again, to meet Holly and Andrew and spend 3 days with them. I have been looking forward to this wedding for months. From the moment I first spoke with Holly, and she told me a little bit about her story, and their story with Andrew, I just knew, I wanted to be their wedding photographer and capture this celebration. Holly sounded energetic and fun, friendly and warm. She felt excited about planning her dream wedding, but she knew to never lose focus on what really mattered: love. The more I photograph weddings, the more convinced I am, that finding the right wedding photographer for you, and working with the right couples for me, as a wedding photographer, but also as a person, is the true key to creating magic. Everything about Holly, Andrew, their family and friends resonated with me. Their vision for their wedding felt perfect, and on the day, the laughter, the hugging (so, so many hugs I couldn’t count them if I tried), the happy tears, the ones loaded with true emotion, the warmth, the love, the genuine happiness of all the people gathered there to witness them commit to each other for a lifetime was incredibly fun and moving at the same time. This was the perfect beach wedding and so, so much more, a true celebration of love, family, friendship, and life.
Another thing I loved about Holly and Andrew’s wedding was the meaningful details that held the true soul of this celebration. Holly wore a ring that belong to her grandmother, a true family heirloom, and her mum told me the story of how her father bought it for her mother in Brazil. In her shoe, Holly wore a lucky penny dated from 1902, which had been worn as a something old and lucky charm by various women on their wedding day and passed on to beloved brides on their own, until they passed it on again to carry the tradition. I had never seen something like that before and absolutely loved the idea! Later in the day, when our newlyweds set off to their first dance as husband and wife, they were surprised with a guitarist and singer duo who interpreted the favorite song of Holly late father. Yes, my eyes were teary. Being trusted to capture moments like these is simply an honor.
A wedding with the kind of magic that cannot be forgotten, see for yourself.