Well, I’m finally getting round to sharing the adventure of my first-ever destination wedding. This was back last summer, in the August heat of the southern Spanish hills; at an incredibly beautiful mansion called the Palacete de Cázulas, near Otiva. This was the amazing location for Mel and Lee’s Spanish wedding.

I arrived into Malaga airport in the early evening. I had taken my camera and lenses as hand luggage in my Lowepro Pro Roller case, and then checked another case with a few clothes, a couple of lighting stands and some other odds and ends. Mel met me in the arrivals hall and we hurried outside to where Lee was waiting (illegally!) with the hire car. They had already been out in Spain for several days, and during the 90 minute journey up into the hills they filled me in on some of their stay so far. Their dream had been to hire a mansion and bring as many family and friends out to Spain for a two-week party, and so far it all seemed to be going to plan!

It was nearly dark when we arrived at the Palacete de Cázulas. I quickly dropped my bags in my room in the tower, and then Mel showed me around the grounds. The mansion is a traditionally Spanish villa, on a grand scale. It was lovingly renovated and restored to become a stunning country house capable of accommodating up to 18 guests. The grounds are superb, and a walk through the gardens eventually brings you out onto a terrace which gives spectacular views across and down the valley.

We walked back up to the bar and bbq by the pool, and it took about 30 seconds before I’d been furnished with a bottle of beer and a hotdog. I met the rest of the guests who had already arrived, and sat out in the warm evening, chatting and unwinding, thinking about the wedding the next day.

That night, as you might already know, wasn’t entirely uneventful. If you’d like to find out what happened, take a look here.

The next morning I was up early, camera in my hand, ready to capture the day. As you’ll see from the photos above, first thing in the morning the weather was a bit cloudy and grey. That didn’t last long though, and very soon the relentless sun burnt through the clouds. Outside, Mel was busy putting up decorations with a little help from her Mum and her brother. How they managed to get all those delicate paper decorations out to Spain, along with the wedding dress and everything else that a family needs for a fortnight away, I have no idea!

Once everything was in place, Lee took his things and disappeared to get ready. Mel also started to get ready, as more guests began arriving. The temperature was rising steadily, and so for the first time ever during a bridal prep shoot, the bride took to standing in a bath of cold water to cool herself down! Meanwhile, guests began to file into the little private chapel on the estate.

Mel and Lee had arranged for a local ex-pat padre to lead the service, which he did brilliantly, with humour and conviction. Afterwards it was back out into the courtyard for confetti, before I ran back up the bell tower to get a big group shot of everyone. By the time I emerged back outside, the new Mr and Mrs Saunsby and their guests were making their way through the gardens to the terrace for drinks and canapes.

The wedding breakfast was to to be served in the old Olive Mill – another building in the grounds of the mansion. It was here, during the speeches, that I set myself a little bit on fire. On the windowsills around the room were little citronella incense sticks. I inadvertently leaned against one of these while photographing the speeches. Fortunately a quick-witted guest spotted what was happening and quickly put me out before I’d even noticed it myself, and I got away with just a bit of a singed shirt!

The rest of the reception moved back outside into the courtyard, and Mel and Lee’s first dance took place in front of the impressive studded double front doors of the mansion. Sadly it had to be an earlyish night for me because the following morning the gardener was collecting me at 6am local time (5am UK time!) for the trip back to the airport and my flight back to the UK, ready for another wedding the next day in Leeds!

Congratulations once again to Mel and Lee, and thank you for my Spanish adventure! What with nocturnal adventures with birds, setting myself alight during the speeches, and 36 hours with some brilliant people, it will live long in the memory!

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