I knew from the moment they described it, I would love being part of Fiona and Jason’s vow renewal wedding: it was going to be a bohemian woodland fairytale in Gougane Barra, a favourite location for its serene, natural beauty and magical vibe.
St Finbarr’s Oratory, a church in a valley at the edge of Lake Gougane Barra, is surrounded by incredible verdant woodland and gentle sloping mountains. This picturesque scene was beautifully reflected by the still waters of the lake. For a couple whose engagement happened in the awe-inspiring tree-lined canyon of Muir Woods, California, the backdrop of Gougane Barra was as much part of the day as the union of this enchanting couple.
Carefully planned by Fiona and Jason to include everything important to them – nature and family – the day had subtly tradition-busting moments. Forget about the groom not seeing the bride until the day of the wedding, I found Fiona and Jason that morning in their hotel room, casually dressed, prepping for the day’s celebrations and going about the morning ritual like it was any other day. This was my first chance to capture them, looking totally loved up and chilled.
In a gorgeously delicate, embroidered Needle and Thread wedding dress, finished with a shawl specially made by her mother, Fiona’s long dark tresses were dressed with a handmade flower crown, also lovingly crafted by her talented mum, who had even transformed a broach Fiona’s grandmother once wore into a simple necklace. The subtle tones of Fiona’s ensemble were beautifully complemented by the arrangement of flowers and bouquet, all of which were, you guessed it, made by Fiona’s mum, going to show that weddings can be a time for families’ talents to shine and grace the occasion with meaningful mementoes.
Fiona and Jason made sure they had plenty of time scheduled for themselves and the all-important photos. They planned a sneak peak session to take precious moments to see one another for the first time in their wedding attire. Sneak peaks are a great way to settle any nerves, and they give you much needed time together before walking down the aisle. Also, I love sneak peaks because they mean I can have fun with my couple, snatching precious photos.
For the sneak peak, I drove with Fiona out to a pre-arranged spot in the forest. Meanwhile, driven by his father to the same location, and also handsomely composed in navy jacket, with pin-hole of purple and white flowers, along with the shoes by Vintage Foundry Co. Jason waited in the midst of the glade. He stood with his back to his approaching, bare-footed bride, each unable to suppress the grins and anticipation while I ran around documenting.
With excitement, each looking like they were about to burst with happiness, Fiona laid her hand upon Jason’s shoulder, prompting him to turn to greet her. Smiles burst amongst the happy pair as they leaned into one another then took in the transformation each had made.
Flanked by towering pine and oak, with soft sunlight pushing through the green and leafy roof, the two shared intimate moments wandering the forest – as intimate as moments can be when you’ve got a photographer crashing through foliage after you, making suggestions and requesting an occasional pause for a shot – before they divided again, for one last time, as I drove Fiona and Jason’s father drove him to join the wedding party on the lake’s shore.
Fiona’s brother walked her down the aisle as Fiona’s father played Uilleann Pipes that blended with the sounds of nature and carried across the open water, creating a Celtic, magical ambience for the ceremony. After which, Fiona and Jason rowed away in a wooden boat to enjoy time, and a bottle of Champagne, on the lake while family gathered on the lawn and observed the happy couple.