We first met Jeff at his sister’s wedding in Portland last February. Jeff was one groomsmen among many and while they were an awesome group, Daniel could tell he was going to have to wrangle this rowdy bunch of dudes. So he looked at Jeff, pulled him aside and said, “You look responsible, you’re going to have to help me with this group.” Of course, Jeff was on board and he was the go to guy that day. At the end of the night, the tables turned as he pulled Daniel aside and said, “I’m getting married in Greece in September, we should talk.” A couple months passed and we got an email from Jeff titled, “Cyprus Wedding”. Truth be told, we had to google Cyprus’ exact location. Turns out, Jeff’s fiance, Christina, is from Cyprus. Cyprus is a small island in the East Mediterranean, just below Turkey. It is officially the Republic of Cyprus, it’s own island country and it’s mostly occupied by Greeks and some of it by Turkey. Many emails and months later, we found ourselves on a flight to Athens, Greece where we would overnight before heading to Jeff and Christina’s amazing wedding weekend in Ayia Napa, Cyprus.
Jeff and Christina currently live in Hong Kong, often visit Portland to see Jeff’s family and frequently “stop over” in Cyprus while traveling the world for work and vacations. They are an amazingly energetic couple, with huge hearts, immense passion and a very large network of friends from all over the globe. Their intensity for travel and work does not surpass their commitment to their family, friends and most importantly, each other. After spending 3 days with them, we learned more about their story, their pet names, and their shared love of food, wine and travel. Oh and Greek frappes, an iced coffee drink which we also grew a quick addiction to.
Ayia Napa is an amazing beach community in Cyprus. This wedding was the first time we spent 4 days with a couple and their family. We ate ridiculous mezza platter meals, drank great Greek wine, spent the day at the beach with the wedding party and had an incredible rehearsal dinner where Jeff and Christina’s family welcomed us as if we had known them for years. Jeff and Christina were ridiculously amazing hosts, caring more about their guests (and us) being entertained, well fed, and happy. During our day after shoot, they kept asking if we wanted any photos of us! We had to remind them. We’re here for you. It’s your time.
Their traditional Greek Orthodox wedding literally blew our minds. It was not just a wedding, it was a cultural experience. Christina’s family chose this tiny church overlooking the ocean. We should mention that Christina’s family went above and beyond to prepare for the marriage of their daughter. The church was pressure washed. The Greek flags, old and tattered, were replaced by new ones. They literally constructed the reception area themselves, putting in flooring, a huge tent, and fantastic lighting that beautifully lit the tent and the beach. A traditional Cyprus wedding is held in the tiny villages inland, where literally everyone in the village is invited. They are normally 1800+ person events. Jeff and Christina “kept it small” with just 400 guests. People crowded around them as they participated in a ceremony that involved 6 priests and 1 incredible bishop with traditions such as kissing the bible, blessing the rings, circling the altar and many more elements that we had to look up later because the entire wedding was in Greek and we actually understood very little of what was going on.
But what we did understand was that this was sacred. It was special. And it meant a lot to Jeff, Christina and their family. That is an undeniable fact in every wedding we shoot and it was more than evident in what was truly one of the most unique wedding experiences we have ever had.
After the ceremony…well, let’s just say Cypriots know how to party. The eating, dancing, shots, toasts, hugging, kissing and laughing went until 4 am. And as Jeff and Christina lit lanterns, barefoot on the beach, with the people closest to them, we photographed like crazy but not without stopping to marvel at this incredible opportunity we just experienced. All because we love photographing people getting married. We love it. And it has brought us to the other side of the world, where it turns out, people love the same way as they do on this side. Fully, unabashed and without reservation. Cheers to that.