Fran & Luke were one of the first couples I ever photographed.
This was back in 2020, when I was first deciding I really wanted to take a leap and learn how to photograph couples and weddings. They are, without very much exaggeration, entirely to blame for this entire trajectory of my life.
I had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with Fran in college, on our DIII softball team together as bullpen catchers. I have seen her life, and her love story with Luke, unfold over years as it brought them across the globe - flying over an ocean and finding a home there. We initially connected through our sport and mutual love for travel. Fran has family in Italy; her mother is from Italy and her parents met there. She grew up visiting regularly and is even fluent in Italian. I had just gotten back from a brief ten-day marathon traveling through Germany, Italy, and Switzerland at the time, my first experience in Europe, and was somewhat star struck. We joked about traveling together in those years. We'll call that foreshadowing, or manifestation, or something.
So, when Luke joined the Air Force and found himself stationed in Italy, it was quite serendipitous.
Fran and Luke are high school sweethearts. And college sweethearts. Something about them just makes sense. The support they show each other through life happening, the way it tends to do, is astounding.
This is where the whirlwind starts.
July, 2021, Luke proposed in the Dolomites while Fran was visiting.
(I cannot even express to you how much of a dream this is.)
September, 2021, they eloped in Las Vegas, over a weekend that Luke was stationed in Nevada. They spent the weekend in Zion National Park, a brief whirlwind to get the ball rolling on the paperwork to allow Fran to move to Italy as a military wife.
September, 2022, with all of the paperwork complete, an apartment situated, and the loose ends tied up, Fran moved to Italy to join Luke.
And finally, the weekend of May 26-28, 2023, Fran and Luke held their destination wedding in Tuscany, bringing people from all over the world to see this place they call home. They reserved an entire villa in the countryside, a renovated and refurbished village called Tenuta Di Mensanello, allowing everyone to stay on site, and served farm-to-table authentic Italian cuisine every day. I was so incredibly honored to capture their wedding weekend, and inspired by their dedication to sharing time and the culture they care so deeply for with all of their loved ones.
May 26 - the Welcome Dinner
The energy for Fran & Luke's welcome dinner was simply immaculate. Everyone had just arrived that afternoon to Tenuta di Mensanello, one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen, and showed up with enthusiasm and excitement despite fighting jet lag and general travel weariness. Watching different groups of people learn how to interact together on wedding days is always fascinating, but it was especially beautiful knowing how far people traveled to be in this particular place, to celebrate this particular couple.
There was much laughter, wine, and dancing throughout the entirety of this beautiful evening. Sometimes, joy is palpable. You can taste it. There is an energy that everyone in this room could feel - anticipation, relief, excitement that this weekend was finally here, and that these two could finally have a proper celebration. Pizza was served family-style in seemingly unending waves, birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated, and speeches were given. I don't think anyone left this night without feeling some sense of pure delight.
May 27 - the Wedding Day
After spending the morning together, Fran got ready with the help of dearest friends Paulo and Meg, while Luke prepared alongside his best man Basil. When I asked Luke what he was most excited for that day, he said "I'm just excited to see Fran".
We took our time through their first look, wandering the villa and finding beautiful places to photograph them - from an ancient church right at the heart of town, to an idillic vista over the rolling hills of Tuscany, and hiding in a lane of trees surrounded by butterflies (my favorite image of the whole day is Fran's excitement over a butterfly landing in her bouquet, pictured above).
Their wedding party images against the stone wall are, singularly, some of my all time favorites - and there is absolutely something to be said for having such an intimate wedding party to keep things calm and simple throughout such a blur of a day.
After taking a breath and a break from images, the ceremony was performed in both Italian and English, each in turn by one of Fran and Luke's respective aunts. During the recessional, rice was thrown over them, accompanied by shrieks and laughter and clapping, and the subsequent accumulation of rice everywhere - including Fran's hair, dress, and flowers.
We ate and laughed and talked through cocktail hour before migrating towards the reception space, complete with some of the most beautiful tablescapes I've ever seen: purple florals, greenery, lemons, and every guest's name at their seat. We ate as the sun set, watching each of the dances and listening to speeches while we were served a family style Italian meal, with bottles of wine continuously brought to the table. Both of the speeches, given by Paolo and Basil, were given in Italian and English - which was a surprise to Fran and Luke (as you can tell by Fran's immediate tears). Her Italian family was beaming.
After dinner, we relaxed. We talk and drank and danced eventually until the desserts came out, and then talked and drank and danced some more late into the night.
May 28 - the Farewell Dinner
Everything about May 28 was slow, easy, and relaxed. Time spent by the pool during the day, preparation for one last meal that night. Storms rolled in over the distant hills in the evening. I don't often get to watch how a landscape changes with light over different days, different weather, different circumstances, and it was beautiful to watch the character of this place throughout the weekend.
The farewell dinner consisted of various fresh pastas, served family style, and one more night of wine and celebration before everyone would go their separate ways in the morning. Fran's uncle played guitar and sang a song that he played at her parents' wedding, years before.