An African Assignment – Chris & Sally’s Wedding, Rio Azul, Mozambique

First of all I have to say that I am really looking forward to my next two weddings here in Mayo both at Westport Woods Hotel. Tomorrow is Orla and Ken’s wedding and Saturday is Anna & Anthony’s, where I plan to catch lots of their day’s special moments. I’m sure they will have a fantastic day with their family and friends!

I also do have to tell you about a little adventure I have recently had. My wife Moira & I have recently returned from what must be the most incredible job I have ever been engaged to do.. a wedding in Mozambique!

Our son James had spent a year working with the groom, Chris, on a mining project in Zambia back in 2010 – shortly after their engagement, Chris & Sally got in touch and asked if I could photograph their wedding. They dropped into the conversation that the location was in Africa and then also added that they would love to invite my wife to go along as well! I was thrilled at the prospect and told them I’d be delighted.

We were (and still are) stunned and delighted by their kindness and generosity.

We were met at Vilanculos airport by Chris who took us, and a number of their guests off in 4x4s along the main highway to Inhassoro where we stopped at a local beach bar to wait, with a beer in hand, for the tide to go out so that we could drive an hour down the beach, to our destination Rio Azul, as there was no other way of accessing it! Was this all really happening? It all seemed quite mad and yet really fun! We had to keep pinching ourselves. By now we were getting to know a number of the guests who I have to tell you, were all such nice people. We arrived after our beautiful moonlit drive along the beach at Rio Azul (which is on the Guvoru Rivera’s Estuary, in the Guvoru District of Inhambane Province). We were greeted by Sally & her family and the management of Rio Azul Michelle & Rhiann and were shown to our accommodation, a fabulous thatched chalet. We then all sat down to a delicious greeting dinner and from then on, we continued to be included in all the events of the days that were to follow.

The following morning we woke up to realise that from our chalet we could see the water directly in front of us. From the photographs, you can see that this day was a Hens’ & Bucks’ day, where the men went off on a fishing boat and the women went off in the tinnies to a nearby island for a day of fun and good conversation. Even Sally’s amazing 85yr old grandmother went with them, and thoroughly enjoyed the craic. When everyone was back at Rio Azul the fun continued with all sorts of watersports from kite surfing and waterskiing, which one of the bridesmaids proved to be a brilliant at.

The next day was a busy one for all those involved with getting everything ready to make the wedding day a success; from the arch that the bride and groom were to be married under, which was made by the staff out of local branches and leaves; to the table placenames and flower arrangements including the bouquets for the bridal party that were made by family and friends. It was truly lovely to witness this bonding time between everyone and it was a privilege to have become a part of it. We were making new friends whilst photographing this very special few days.

As you can see from the photographs, the area is just beautiful and the weather was particularly perfect on the day of Sally and Chris’ wedding. The sun shone and the sea was a fabulous shade of azure blue. The morning was all very busy in the brides Villa with the women doing their make-up and the hair dresser doing her magic whilst the men, well they seemed to be happily relaxing at the plunge pool or watching rugby! The time had come for the afternoon wedding and the beautiful bride arrived by boat accompanied by her father. She was greeted by her gorgeous bridesmaids Jules and Lara who were also looking fabulous. Sally then came up the steps to be met by her soon to be husband Chris, who looked particularly dashing in his linen suit with a touch of blue in his pocket handkerchief to compliment the colour of the bridesmaids dresses.

The setting was stunning and the dedications made to each other by the bride and groom during the ceremony were heartfelt and assured. This was the culmination of many months of planning and work mainly on the part of Sally, which certainly paid off, the cake even surviving its trip from Zimbabwe!

For our part, I want Sally and Chris to know that Moira and I will always be appreciative for their kindness and for opening up our eyes to the stunning continent of Africa.

What an amazing introduction we have had to it. We continued our travels having got so far, with a few days on a Game Reserve in South Africa on the Eastern Cape, which was full of amazing animals so lots of photographic opportunities and we ended our trip with a visit to friends Marge and Dave in Cape Town, who showed us unlimited hospitality and kindness. They took us on a tour of their beautiful coastline where we even got to see some penguins.

What an enchanting trip, however it is always wonderful to come back to our beautiful home country of Ireland. I can’t wait to do Orla and Ken’s wedding tomorrow and am really looking forward to taking some beautiful shots of their special wedding day.