Gary and Mike’s elegant gay wedding in Tuscany, Italy, was what dreams are made of.

5 days of love, hugs, activities, friends, family… a much desired encounter, after 18 months apart, plans gone to ashes, and a global pandemic standing in the way of so much hope.


It’s my first post of 2022! Please bear with me…

Being divorced for almost three years now, add two of them during Covid, I confess I became a bit sceptical of things:

Work, emotional damage, being literally alone with the cats in my flat for so many months, having to pursue a different career while all my weddings got postponed or canceled, and a few failed relationship attempts.

I never thought I’d find myself dating again in my life, for sure, and I did wonder how it would all feel when weddings came back.


That’s how it felt after a summer of being back at it!

Today as I watched the last episode of the new season of Queer Eye, a quote stroke me and touched my heart:

‘I learned that I’m the most powerful when I’m doing my art’ – Andre 3000.

And the truth is, that the summer of 2021 showed me I should be hopeful that love will knock on my door again, but until then, oh, I truly find pleasure doing my art and documenting other people finding their person.

And with this wedding, it felt like everything had come around like the closing of a cycle, and I can’t tell the story of Gary and Mike just by starting with my arrival in Italy on September 18th 2021… truth is, I have to go back to when I started shooting weddings!

And here’s why…

I met one of Gary’s best friends through a referral seven years ago!

I had been shooting weddings for roughly 2 or 3 years while still working part-time as a teacher, part-time as a tour guide in Lisbon and part-time doing the late shift at a coworking space.

Things were picking up nicely but I couldn’t yet invest in being a photographer alone.

So one day, I got asked to help with a shoot with my friend Marta in Sintra. The planner was portuguese-american Jeannette Tavares, who was visiting Portugal with friends, now owner of distinguished Evoke DC. The project went beautifully, and we made a friend for life.

She invited us to come to the USA the next summer to work on inspiration, do a few shoots together, create content, and that’s how she introduced us to Katie and Julie, friends of hers who had just gotten engaged.

I was thrilled to have an engagement shoot in trendy George Town, Washington D.C.

In fact, brunch with Katie, Julie, Jeannette and Marta made me dream of the possibilities of one day becoming a destination photographer and being able to travel to meet couples in love wherever in the world.

That day with Katie and Julie, was the real first time I believed my dream could be a ‘thing’.

Fast-forward to 2019…

And Katie sent me a text about a good friend of hers getting married soon.

Me and her had kept contact throughout all these years and even worked together on different occasions. Getting a referral from her for a wedding in Italy, and for one of her best friends is all a photographer can ever be grateful for!

She got me and Gary and Mike in contact, we immediately clicked during a zoom call, I even introduced them to my good friend Hugo who has done the videos for my clients for years now, and all seemed well… until a pandemic hit.

2020 was tough, so very tough, but this wedding was still going to happen… in 2021!

I remember jumping up and down when my dear friend Hugo Sousa called me to let me know he had been hired for Gary and Mike’s wedding in Italy and that we were all going forward but with a new date.

It was all very shaky due to not knowing how the COVID restrictions were going to be in September 2021, but we kept the ball rolling in our heads. Hopes were high, and I was in my car in Portugal, in a parking lot, just done shooting two weddings back to back when we had a new zoom call with the United States, and Gary and Hugo met me on screen.

Gary was hopeful, calm, and told us everything about the new plans for their wedding week in Italy.

The key word for their wedding was JOY. And attached to it, were colours, flowers, dinners al fresco, a small group of guests coming to Italy, and another group watching everything from afar, through ZOOM.


Here’s how the week was going to go for this elegant gay wedding in Tuscany, Italy:

The team at Montestigliano was going to keep everything in house, and was prepping to welcome us with open arms. This was THE ONLY wedding they allowed to happen at Montestigliano in 2021, so all the love was invested in making Gary and Mike’s week to make it unforgettable and safe.

  • The festivities were going to begin with a welcome Pizza dinner and karaoke for the arrival of the couple’s guests. Al fresco, farm to table, organic, healthy, colourful.
  • The next day would be the rehearsal dinner. A Montestigliano special home made BBQ by the garden of one of the most beautiful Villas in the property, with our own set of musicians.
  • Day three would be the Wedding day, with the ceremony happening with a grand view of Tuscany in the background, appetisers in another big garden overviewing sunset (by the Villa where I stayed for the week! I mean, talk about convenience, huh?). And wedding breakfast in the big courtyard, bespoke with beautiful flowers and food, just between the main Villa and the Cellars.

I need to say this: The BEST panna cotta of my entire life was made for this dinner.

  • Day four would be the perfect setting for relaxing before everyone started to leave, and the couple organised a kaftan party by the pool, with music and drinks.

This is how the wedding day went…

The first tales of Montestigliano go back to the 1700s… In the heart of Tuscany, Italy, the family that currently owns it acquired it in 1953 and has since been developing it to the beauty we see today.

The family has always been dedicated to farming, and with time, in 1985, the farmhouses slowly became available for tourism. The Villas are a lovely part of life in the farm and perfect to get the all the Tuscan feels.

The sun kisses this property all day, it is humble, the family who owns it is warm, and their staff is welcoming, caring and fun.

I could tell immediately why Gary and Mike chose it for their elegant gay wedding in Tuscany, Italy.

The couple stayed in the charming casa Emilio. From the outside it looks like a tiny house, but going down the steps you find a beautifully decorated and spacious living room with its own private terrace.

Just the perfect size to be in the same property as your friends and family, but still enjoy some alone time with your person.

As me and Hugo arrived in the afternoon, the table was being set for a light lunch, and the couple and their wedding party were hanging out, sharing stories and waiting with anticipation.

Katie, who referred me to the couple, had just been to Venice and gifted Gary with beautifully crafted blue murano cufflinks.

It was such a special surprise that got us all in tears. These cufflinks were to be Gary’s something blue, and hopefully, one day he could pass them on to her son on his wedding day.

The couple also had custom made presents to their wedding party. A thoughtful piece made with each of their personalities and traits in mind.

The ceremony was in this stunning setting.

A flower arch had been built for the occasion, and everyone understood the assignment of dressing for joy.

I was flabbergasted with how talented each of Gary and Mike’s friends are. They contributed to the music during the ceremony, celebrated the wedding and delivered the three camera live feed/zoom of the whole thing.

The ceremony moment was heartfelt. The grooms celebrated having found each other, they honoured a dear friend who had recently passed, shared vows, danced, laughed and cried.

I could feel the love in the air. Everyone could. In my mind, I also wished to find something like this one day.

I need to do a side note for Aniello on the right, who not only celebrated his birthday the day before the wedding, but who also kept bringing me and Hugo (the videographer) glasses of water so we stayed hydrated in this hot summer day.

The cocktail party happened in another section of the property, overlooking the sunset.

Tuscan delicacies, hams, cheeses, wines were served as musicians echoed in the background.

The night was filled with speeches, tears of joy and a lot of dancing!

The couple also projected photos of them and in adventures with friends and family to the wall of the main Villa. A beautiful gesture to homage everyone present and those who couldn’t come, but who were in their thoughts.

I just couldn’t get enough of this sky

The couple also called the whole team from Montestigliano to the stage. Together, everyone clapped and thanked them for their amazing work, support and friendship from day 1. I honestly cannot phrase this enough: This was one of the best teams I have ever seen in action in my life. THANK YOU.

I also got a photo!

Enough of reading for the day…

I’ll share a small post with days 1, 2 and 4 sometime soon.

I hope you feel as hugged with JOY as we all did on this magical day.

Gary and Mike, THANK YOU for trusting me with your wedding week. I felt so much love.

It was beautiful to meet your friends and family, and to be able to spend time with you.


And THANK YOU Katie, for making this happen for me… I am so grateful for our friendship.

Love, Lu

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