‘Trash the dress’ or ‘post wedding’ photo shoots are some of my favorite creative projects. They are fun, adventurous, stylish. The bride gets the chance to enjoy her gown one more time in a relaxed, pressure free context. A nice contrast from the (sometimes) fast paced wedding day, when time matters.
I got excited when Laura contacted me and mentioned she was thinking of having her photos taken in Muskoka. One does not neeed to travel to exotic destinations in order to get some great images. I usually have a pretty good idea about where I am going and the type of feel I am after. This time around we were planning for some beach shots. A couple of nights before the shoot I was sitting by the beach in Toronto with a friend of mine. While enjoying the colours on the water at sunset, I noticed a lady doing standup paddle boarding. By herself, in the middle of the lake. The sight was surreal. I turned to my friend and said: ‘can you imagine how that would look if the woman was wearing a wedding dress’? Whenever something like this happens to me, I know I need to follow through…I just could not get that vision out of my head. I came home and emailed Laura. Against many odds, she told me she was familiar with standup paddle boarding as she has previously done it. After a bit of research, she found SUP Bala, a lovely and super friendly rental place. The rest is…what you will see below.
I have to add one more thing, which made it all even more fun: Laura was done with her paddle board and came out of the water. Just to find out that Carling, the beautiful Husky belonging to one of the SUP Bala owners, loved to go on the paddle board! I looked at Laura and asked her if she would go on the water once again…she gladly accepted and so did Carling…
I drove back to the city with a big smile on my face and with a feeling of joy at the thought of magic coming my way again…
As I look back at everything that happened before and during my trip to Jamaica, I can say it was synchronicity at play. Many things came together in a way that makes me think of magic.
I am sure it is, by now, pretty obvious that I love horses. And I travel the world to meet them in unique locations and write stories about them. This is how I stumbled upon a wonderful place close to Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica, the resort Jana and Darren got married at. Braco Stables is a beautiful equine operation offering horse back riding in the St Anne parish area. Under great management, the Braco horses are healthy, fantastic looking and sweet natured. Knowing I was going to spend time there, I asked Jana and Darren if they would be interested in a ‘trash the dress’ session at the stables. Luckily they both love horses and they responded to my suggestion with great excitement.
The rest is…what you see below. I do not quite have words that can do enough justice to the feeling of gratitude I experience every time I recall the hours spent together: us, the horses, the ocean.
I may have similar chances in the future. But this absolutely unique adventure will stay in my heart as a first of its kind.
Jana and Darren, thank you again for playing along with so much nonchalance, which made everything flow…enjoy these images and memories for a very long time. Hugs, Manuela.
Destination weddings are a lot of fun to begin with but the experience feels even more rewarding whenever it is followed by a shoot that is more relaxed, laid back, casual: the so called ‘trash the dress’ photo session that usually does not have much to do with spoiling the dress. Even though many times brides choose to go into the ocean with their gown, nothing really happens to it. It can still be kept in its original shape.
Shivani opted to wear a light summer dress, very appropriate for the beach. That was a great idea considering the elaborate outfits she wore the day of. It was perfect for the purpose of our little creative adventure and she did not have to worry about anything.
By the time we made it to the beach the sun was already going down but we still had a little time to play. The beautiful cove had so much to offer: plenty of colourful backdrops, boats, a wonderful beach with super warm water. I think we were quite able to take advantage of all this while fully enjoying ourselves in the process.
The result: another lovely series to be used as a forever reminder of a good time shared with some fantastic people. Enjoy!
The very first person who knew about the potential chosen spot for Mona and Emon’s post wedding photo adventure was my dad. This past December I was back home in Romania. One relaxed evening we were sitting beside each other, him doing his Sudoku and myself researching cool spots in the Punta Cana area. This is how I discovered Altos de Chavon. I showed my dad photos of it and he said to me: I really hope you make it there, it looks breathtaking! I brought the idea up with Mona and Emon while being a bit nervous about it. Because I knew it would take time and effort to get there especially the day after their wedding. I can’t say how excited I was when they decided to go for it! I knew this was going to be a memorable journey. Altos de Chavon is a replica of a Mediterranean village, built on a cliff and looking down to the Chavon river. To those interested, this is a private property and one has to pay quite a lot to get to take photos. We did not know how much until we got to the gate! The journey to this dreamy place was also rich in surprises as we got to stop in a sugar cane field, by typical Dominican homes and last but not least, we caught an unbelievable sunset which Mona and Emon got to enjoy while stepping into the ocean.
The images below are a colourful record of our adventures that day. One thing I love about editing the photos I take is that, while looking at each one of them, I get transported back and relive each single second.
Mona and Emon, I know how tired you were that morning when we started our journey, therefore thank you for being willing to go for it!
I trust you will look at these images and smile to yourselves while recalling many of those great moments we had together. Hugs, Manuela
After a splendid wedding day at the Riu Palace, Reyhaneh and Will decided to continue their adventures with a ‘trash the dress’ photo shoot. But the photo taking was just a part of the journey the three of us have embarked on that day. We made a first stop in Cabo San Lucas, the little town just 10 minutes away from the resort. What I recall as a dominant feeling throughout the day was our willingness to live through things as they came. Not a lot of planning ahead, with just a general time frame guiding us, welcoming each moment as it presented itself, we soon found ourselves floating away in a little boat taking us to the Lovers’ Beach, our next stop. I guess our Mexican friend somehow managed to tap into the way we were that day, so he decided to give us a little ‘tour’ before dropping us off on the beach. We drove around on choppy waters, getting extremely close to birds and sea lions, smelling the ocean, feeling slightly frightened at times but being immediately comforted by the calm on our Mexican friend’s face. Once on the beach, I felt it was really hard to take all that unusual beauty in. We needed a while to get over the initial amazement which literally left us speechless. The images below are just glimpses into the wild pure beauty of the place. Even though the surroundings were absolutely stunning, I am certain the photos would have not turned out the same if it wasn’t for the way Reyhaneh and Will are. Simply put, a dream to be around and photograph.
After a couple of hours spent on the beach, our friend came to pick us up and offered to drive us back to the resort in his boat. The tide was really high though and I recall one moment when, still in the boat and literally on top of a massive wave, I looked down at the shore and thought: we are stranded. We had to find another more calm spot and rush out of the little water taxi the moment it was pushed close to the beach for one fraction of a second. Once all safe on the shore, we watched the boat driving away and I still recall Reyhaneh’s words: ‘this feels like a movie: the boat vanishing into the sunset’…
Indeed, it all seems like a dream now. Yet, there are clear proofs of the fact that we have been there. Every time I look at the photos we took my heart fills up with joy and gratitude. Thank you again dear friends!
Heather and Christian got married last year in August. I have thoroughly enjoyed being there on their day.
It was to my nice surprise that almost one year later Christian contacted me thinking to surprise Heather for their first anniversary by offering her a ‘trash the dress’ session with me. He knew his wife would be absolutely thrilled to wear her gorgeous dress again.
So here I went to Barrie on an amazingly beautiful September day. We had, again, a lot of fun together. Heather looked stunning, she was so playful and daring, she ended up going into the water all the way! I feel blessed for this great opportunity that allowed me to fully express my creative vision while getting to work again with this very special couple!
I have to say a big Thank You to Christian who has organized it all and even brought a canoe. He was so very patient and helpful throughout the shoot, making sure his wife was comfy and having a lot of fun!
In case you are wondering, the dress is doing just fine, it did not suffer any injuries in the process and I am very happy about this part. I am all for ‘mild’ such sessions, following which the bride gets to still enjoy the intact beauty of her cherished gown.
Big hug to you guys and we shall see you soon!