Isabel and João’s Convento de São Francisco wedding in São Miguel island, Azores is another one for the books.

It’s really hard for me again to start a post, due to the fact that there’s so much history and connection to this day. And the days that led to this day.

Let’s go back in time, shall we?

One fine day, I opened my emails, and the longest, most spectacular, detailed message was waiting for me.

It was from this lovely girl called Isabel. She had been working in her university lab while having the radio on and stumbled across an interview I did on May 2nd 2015 for the radio show ‘Mais novos do que nunca‘ (it’s in Portuguese! Sorry to those who don’t speak the language).

The show interviewed Portuguese youngsters who were doing what they loved, living “outside the box”, and who had been succeeding through adversity and the economical crisis that was haunting the country.

Here I spoke about turning my life around, starting my business, my blog, my startups, the hardships and the battles, and overcoming everything with hope.

Isabel wrote me with beautiful words of encouragement and also of admiration for my journey. Then, she proceeded to tell me a bit about herself, that she was from the island of Santa Maria in the Azores, that she was going to get married at Convento de São Francisco in São Miguel and that from what she had heard from me in the interview, it felt like I had the right spirit to cover the day.

She wondered if she could afford me too.

After such a beautiful email, I answered back, in one of my biggest replies in the world.

There was no way I wouldn’t text back to someone who had poured her heart like she did… and suddenly, we became pen pals.

Getting sandwiched like this is amazing! I actually have this pic on the door of my fridge and it makes me so happy.

What we found out through our emails seemed to be really meant to be!

Curiously enough, I told Isabel that I had lived in Santa Maria island too, because my mother is a ‘mariense’ (this is what we call someone born in Santa Maria). My grandmother was from the island next door (São Miguel), and like a snow ball, we discovered something amazing:

Not only had we been in the island growing up at the same time, but if we traveled back in time enough, we discovered her father and my mother had been childhood friends. Her dad and siblings used to buy ice lollies from my grandmother, and both our families knew each other.

How CRAZY is this!?

I proceeded to send Isabel a few galleries for her to check out my work. She really wanted me to be her photographer but her partner was divided. And then (and these were her words to me, as how they reached a consensus) as she went through the photos of this Arrábida wedding I did, she started to cry.

Her partner from the kitchen asked ‘what is it?’. And she commented ‘It’s just so beautiful!’.

And he said ‘you want Luisa, right? Let’s have Luisa!’.

Introducing you to the Convento de São Francisco…

I have all the chills for this Convento de São Francisco wedding in São Miguel island, Azores.

The convent (or monastery) dates back to the 17th century, and is positioned facing the ocean (way to go, architects of the 17th century!). It is an integrant part of tourism in the island of São Miguel, and its old feels and furniture are mixed with modern paintings and the sweet breeze of the sea.

It is a perfect secluded location with several terraces, lounges and 12 rooms.

From the highest top, you can see the islet of Vila Franca do Campo. A beautiful paradise that tourists can visit for a day and be mesmerised at how beautiful this corner of the Atlantic Ocean is.

I am so proud to have the Azores in my blood.

Morning prep was smooth and calm…

It really felt like time had stopped.

Isabel was getting ready in a suite upstairs and João downstairs. I was the only photographer for the wedding and I never felt stressed, or like I’d miss something important.

And that was simply because they had had months of planning, family living locally and everything under control. And what could not be under control, they were great at the possibility of letting go.

One thing I forgot to tell you, is that the couple was currently living in Exeter, England. We had already met in person for their engagement shoot in which I visited them, and was welcomed in their home for a night. By the time I was to leave we were already friends for life. We had eaten, shopped, played Nintendo switch and that other game with choreography.

So on their wedding day at Convento de São Francisco in São Miguel island, Azores, we were at home with each other. And more than just their wedding photographer, I was part of the family.


All the emotions…

I am always on the lookout for little moments that time can’t recreate… and Isabel’s grandma looking at her putting her dress on was one of them. Her friends holding her hands was another.

On João’s side, the way his mum looked at him, and the pride in their brothers’ face was something to tremble over.

Shout out to his diagonally cut vest. I’ve seen many groom’s outfits in my life, but that was a first, and it was so lovely!

Their first look…

The ceremony was supposed to happen in the main terrace, but the weather being a little unpredictable on this day made it so that they had to move it indoors.

In any case, we couldn’t let it go to have a few moments shot there, and decided their first look was going to be done at the terrace.

This moment always gives me the chills… and it’s such a great moment for couples to also just have a little bit of time to themselves and enjoy each others company in a day that will be filled with other people and so many moments.

I am a big fan of this American tradition, and get so happy when couples from other parts of the world decide they want to have it too.

Ceremony time!

It was cozy, fun, tearful and intimate. Each of their vows pulled a little tear, and you could feel the love in the room.

I confess it was also so weird that everyone on Isabel’s side knew who I was, and everyone asked how my mum was doing. I was like… in another planet!

Enough of writing for now… enjoy the rest of their wedding day!

Oh, and if you want more vibes, press play bellow. When Isabel told me about the vibes for her wedding day a year before, she told me it made her feel like this song does.

João’s mum texted me one day after having seen the gallery and told me this was one of her favourite photos. The way João’s older brother is looking at him here is all a mother can wish for their children. She told me she could feel the love and pride in his face, and she thanked me for this photo. This goes to show that the way we see something isn’t always the way others do. I was so happy with her text message and it taught me so many lessons I’ll take with me throughout my career.

The photos in each table are from the engagement shoot we did together in Exeter. I felt so grateful for this. Isabel also printed 99% of her wedding pictures and showed me the albums. It’s just such an honour.

When the unpredictable happens… you should go with it!

The reason why I posted this photo and the other two bellow is because it just goes to show the happiness and feels of their friends and family.

It finally rained on their wedding day as we were doing the cake cutting outside. As everyone ran, the closest refuge was the outdoor toilets.

The music was still on and we were all dancing and laughing, and the cake was saved last minute and it was also bouncing up and down.

We were all wet and we didn’t care, and I am so glad I kept shooting, because moments like this are so worth looking back to.

Every request matters!

I remember Isabel had asked me for a photo with the lights outside way before the wedding day… And as it rained during cake cutting, the technicians put them down, and I felt like I was failing her.

So I ran to them before they left and I begged to have the lights on just for 5 minutes. Isabel had even said that it was ok, no problem… but I don’t think I could have lived with myself…

Today, after (well, kinda still during) a pandemic, a big change of work and life from Exeter to the University of Harvard in Boston, MA, USA, Isabel has this photo of the lights by her bedside table.

And that… is only one more of the reasons why I am a wedding photographer.

Can’t wait to come visit you, friends!

We also did a trash the dress!

The next day we met again to use the beautiful scenario that São Miguel island, Azores has to offer.

We couldn’t avoid going to the Lagoa das Sete Cidades. A little paradise on earth where both lagoons are connected at the center, but one is green and the other one blue.

Everytime I’m here I’m reminded of summers with my family, traveling around, camping, laughs and hugs… São Miguel island is where one of my grandmas was born.

This was a great opportunity for the couple to put on their wedding outfits one last time, and do the scenic photos they wanted without compromising the time and schedule of their wedding day.

Isabel also had some fun bringing her own camera out, and I also got some shots of my adventurous side.

Thank you for trusting me with your wedding day, my sweet Starlings.



Side note

I am so grateful to the radio show ‘Mais novos do que nunca‘ that introduced me to Isabel and made me have in her a friend for life.

There are really no words.

The interviewer also became a friend of mine, as he joined the same coworking space as me, only a few desks behind.

He passed away two years later and we all mourned this terrible loss.

Today as I sneaked into listening to my interview (which I hadn’t in YEARS), I felt so many emotions just through hearing his voice.

I do thank him for having been such an integral part of my career journey due to this interview and all that it brought to me.

Cheers to you, friend Pedro Rolo Duarte. Wherever you are, I am hugging you.

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