Tuscany was an unexpected surprise for us to visit. Having been before many years ago when I was single I absolutely loved the passion the Italians have for both food and family. It rubbed off on me so much that when I came home I found myself visiting local markets for fresh produce and cooking with a delight I had not previously had.
Usually, we stay in each location for a minimum of one month. But with the Schengen visa restrictions, we only had a limited number of days left before having to leave Europe. So, two weeks was the most we could do and it just wasn’t enough to savor all the local experiences.
We stayed at the recently acquired historical estate of Karma Tuscany. Just 30 mins from Lucca and the famous Pisa, in a tiny village called Colleoli next to the picturesque village of Palaia.
You can read more about the area, what to do, where to go, and more importantly, what to eat and drink by visiting our travel blog at Courage to Travel. It is an area, like most of Italy, rich in history and overflowing with romance and passion. The perfect place for a wandering wedding dress photoshoot.
A romantic suite in Tuscany
The photo shoot began inside the Karma Suite we were staying as I was finishing getting ready. The elegantly decorated one bedroom apartment came complete with the most intricately painted high ceiling. Each morning as I did my pilates I was fascinated by the detail and length they had gone to with the painting to make it look three dimensional.
Italians have such a way of oozing elegance, style and romance all rolled into one and these suites are no exception. Each of the outside walls were lined with large windows that opened into the courtyard or the nearby valley. Comfortable yet classical décor, an ornate fireplace, and a deep spa bath tub gave the feeling of opulence without being too over the top.
Heavy red velvet drapes with tastefully chosen gold tiebacks provided the perfect backdrop for the photographs. Together with the afternoon sunlight warming my favourite reading corner. I have to say, I felt like a princess in her castle waiting to marry her prince.
Karma Tuscany rich with history
Next we ventured outside to soak up a little of the history of this incredible location. The land itself was originally purchased in 1438 and for much of its life it was used for both wine making and/or olive oil production.
The award winning ‘I Secoli’ restaurant actually has olive oil tanks below its floors that used to be filled with this rich and very profitable olive nectar. The walls of the wine bar have little outlets that would have seen many litres of wine flow through them over the years.
As I stood at the entrance stairway and then again below the archway to the stables, looking onto the courtyard. I kept thinking, “oh, if only these walls could talk”. I wondered what magical stories of romance, life, love and loss, would they share.
A wandering wedding dress grand entrance
The walk from the carpark to our room was my absolute favourite places to be. Each day I would make a point of walking slowly to and from the car to soak it all in. We were there late in the season and the leaves on the trees were changing to an array of reds, oranges and browns.
We were blessed with sunshine most of the days we were there and if there was a breeze flowing the leaves would fall like summer snowflakes. No two days were the same. Depending on where the sun was at the time would determine what colour the grand entrance would be.
For the wandering wedding dress photos the sun was getting close to setting so it was peering through the trees in a dance of shadows. As I walked from the gates towards the resort I was overcome with gratitude for the sheer beauty of the vision that lay before me. I had to pinch myself to make sure it was all real.
An elderly couple (well into their seventies), hand in hand and deep in conversation, smiled as they passed and continued on, arms entwined. They looked so happy and I took it as a sign of inspiration. Here I was beginning my marriage journey and there they were many years into theirs. I said a little prayer of hope that Clark and I might be blessed to share at least the next twenty years together and still be as in love as they were.
Karma Tuscany the perfect wedding venue
As we waited for the sun to set for the all-important sunset pictures we wandered around the Karma grounds. There are two magnificent pools and although it was a little too late in the season for swimming I did lay on a day bed a few times during our stay soaking up some Autumn sun, the clear blue sky and a good book.
The resident cats wanted to be part of all the action and in typical cat fashion, the attention ha ha. My favourite was the all black one that was appropriately named “Black”. Filled with curiosity as to what was going on with this bride wandering the grounds of Karma Tuscany we had to include him/her in at least one of the pics.
The outskirts of the grounds are scattered with a mixture of olive farms and wineries. Of course, some of the world’s best wines come from Tuscany and some of the purest olive oils. This combined with the award-winning restaurant I Secoli and the outdoor seating in the courtyard makes Karma Tuscany the perfect wedding venue for either a vintage, rustic, or garden style wedding.
My husband finally joins the wandering wedding dress fun
As I have said in previous blogs, my crazy wandering wedding dress idea was something my husband supports me in. But he has made it clear he doesn’t want to be a part of it as he dislikes having his photograph taken, even more than I do. I can respect that and I just appreciate that he agrees to carry my dress in the luggage through all of the airports as we transition to each new location.
I don’t know if it was because our new-found friends were involved this time, or whether it was the romantic air of Tuscany that finally got him. Either way, my heart was filled with happiness when my husband offered to join me for some of the wandering wedding dress in Tuscany pics.
We even managed to convince him to be part of the fun we had playing with shadows for a some very cool “proposal” photos. It still makes me smile now as I write about the experience. He is just such an incredible man! And I’m so thankful to be his wife!
Under the Tuscan sun
Of course, no wedding would be complete without photos under the Tuscan sun. Since watching the movie starring Diane Lane which inspired me to travel here in 2012 I must admit I used to imagine how wonderful it would be to meet a gorgeous Italian, fall madly in love and get married here.
Then I met a gorgeous Italian and realized that what I was really looking for was the “falling madly in love” part and I didn’t need an Italian to do that with ha ha. Fast forward to today and I have fallen madly in love with a Kiwi, who I now get to stand under the Tuscan sun with and I couldn’t be happier.
So, as the last rays of light kissed the sky and the Cyprus trees cast shadows across the lawn we said goodbye to another day and I ticked another item off my bucket list. Standing under the Tuscan sun with my beloved husband. How does it get better than that?!
The Wandering Wedding Dress in Tuscany photographer
On the Sunday after our arrival we were treated to an evening of cocktails courtesy of Karma and there we met several of the other guests and made some magnificent friends. One person in particular stood out to me and I found myself captivated by not just her accent but her stories.
Hailing originally from New Zealand Jo Ivory now travels the world as a qualified skipper and chef. Chartering super yachts through the picturesque waters of places such as the Caribbean, Greek Islands and many more.
What impressed me the most about her though was her inner strength. Having been through several deeply traumatic experiences in her life she wasn’t bitter and instead had a certain zest for life. A silent confidence and a very matter of fact honesty which I love combined with an ongoing passion for life.
It turns out she is also an incredibly talented (and humble) photographer and I am sure you will agree she captured the essence of Tuscany and the wandering wedding dress beautifully.
A special thank you also to her friend for being the best assistant ever!