I first met Cleo at Shannon and Derek’s destination wedding way back in Puerto Vallarta in 2011. I loved their group of friends and we stayed in touch. When Cleo reached out to me to tell me that she was engaged to Weston and wanted me to be their wedding photographer I was honored and excited! Cleo and Wes are the second wedding I’ve photographed where the couple first met on an airplane. (Shout out Sarah and David!) In Cleo’s words:
“Weston had just come back from a deployment and was flying back down to San Diego. I was going down for a fun weekend in San Diego. We sat next to each other on the Virgin America airplane from San Francisco to San Diego. I pretended to have some issues with my light to start the conversation with Weston who rushed to help me (and almost broke the light in the process). We spoke through the length of the flight and found out that Weston's sister lived near me. He was coming to visit his sister the next weekend and offered to ‘check out the nightlife' in San Mateo (There is no nightlife in San Mateo but we still decided to get together in the shady corner bar). As we walked off the plane Weston asked if he could find me on Facebook… and I offered up my number instead. The rest is history :)”
I love Cleo and Wes’ choice for wedding location. Weston is an US Navy oceanographer and his lone request was that they be close to the water on their wedding day. When they got engaged they also didn’t know here Weston’s next duty station would be and at the time they thought they might be moving to Japan. Cleo’s family is Swiss and she was born and raised in Switzerland, so she was immediately struck by the volcanic mountain beauty of St. Lucia. With their families and friends split between Seattle and Geneva, St Lucia was almost equidistant from both and a destination wedding for everyone just made sense.
I love flying in at least two days before a wedding I’m photographing, a big part of this decision is to avoid any possible travel complications. The best part of course is that I can photograph all the fun activities leading up to the wedding! I arrived at Bay Gardens Beach Resort late in the evening, its about an hour drive overland from the airport. I could smell the fresh sea breeze mixed with jungle air as we ascended through the rain forest and then descended back toward Gros Islet and Rodney Bay on the north end of the island. I arrived at the resort, checked in and asked the front desk clerk, “If I were a group of 20 or so young people here for a wedding looking to go out in town and party, where would I go?” He pointed down a dirt road, I grabbed one of my cameras and headed off on foot where I found everyone dancing and having a good time at a local bar called Delirius. The next day we headed out by boat to Pigeon Island National Park, for hiking and beach fun.
The wedding ceremony itself was on the north side of Pigeon Island near the ruins of the old fort. Many thanks to Michele of Awesome Caribbean Weddings for doing an excellent job with the wedding planning. And thank you Cleo, Wes, family and friends!