When Niel was seconded to his company's new office in Russia, he never imagined that he would fall in love with a woman who didn't even speak his language. And the night the couple met, Olya was convinced the handsome man across the room that she was so smitten with was certainly Russian. How surprised she was when she discovered he didn't speak a word of Russian and she only had a handful of very simple English words. But the two had a deeper connection and that first night, Olya was certain she should not let Niel disappear, even though she usually loved chatting yet in their case, they sat in silence. She didn't understand it, but she had something inside her driving her to stay close to him. The two started dating and after six months "in the silence", she realised she was not going to learn English solely by speaking with Niel. She had the best motivation to learn and so she did an eight month intensive course learning English for 4 - 5 hours a day. During her studies, the couple started to speak more and more and it was then that they realised that there really was something much deeper to their connection than a simple initial attraction. They fell head over heels in love and after three years of dating, the couple were engaged. They now live back in Bermuda, Olya speaks beautifully, and their love just keeps blossoming.
I was so excited when the pink taxi arrived with Olya and her attendants. My kids are obsessed with this taxi and when the play the "taxi game", they get 10 points for spotting it! Such a fun wedding transport option.
Olya always dreamed that when she met her true love, she would like to have a church wedding, which in Russia, is not that easy to arrange as most couples are married in a civil office. St John's was the obvious choice as it was the family church and where Niel had been christened, and Bishop Nick Dill was very welcoming to Olya and make her feel at ease.
Bishop Dill tells a sweet little story about a rope, and how each strand that makes up the rope is not strong on its own, but when woven together, it is unbreakable - it is a sweet analogy for marriage that really highlights what is important and what makes couples strong, from two of the strands representing the couple and the third strand being the love of God.
Olya's glam sparkly silver shoes were designed by Lasonia.
After the ceremony, we popped over to the South Shore for some beach shots with the bridal party and of the couple. The couple had cleverly obtained permission to do the shoot at Grape Bay which was close to town and so beautiful.
Less than a month before Niel was to return to Bermuda after his time working in Russia, Olya and their friends hosted a leaving party in Moscow for him. There were about 60 friends in their apartment and Olya had tailored and sang a song for Niel, "From Olya with love", which was quite emotional. Niel knew that a speech would be expected from him but he delivered to Olya and their friends something nobody was expecting. He bent down on one knee and proposed to his love. Needless to say, Olya was extremely surprised, but managed to say "yes!" and just like that, a rather sad leaving party had become a very happy engagement party.
Can you see Olya reflected in Neil's sunglasses below? Gorgeous flowers by the ever creative and dreamy Petals.
We'd been a bit naughty and hopped this gate to get the romantic moon gate shots and it was particularly amusing watching the lovely Olya with all her masses of tulle scale the gate but luckily on the way out, we discovered the opposite gate was half the height of the one we jumped on the way in.
Olya's ring was made to order at Walker Christopher. It is a classic gold band with seven small diamonds, with space to add more for anniversaries and other special occasions which I thought was so sweet. Niel's ring was also a simple gold band.
I adored the newly weds bringing their cultures together with the sand and sea theme of Bermuda coupled with the darling Russian dolls as centre pieces on each table.
I don't usually include photos of guests as how can one possibly choose and so it never seems fair, but in this case, this is my dear friend and photo assistant, Lana, with her sweet little boy, John. I couldn't resist sharing the photo of these two!
Niel is big into fishing and it is how he spends much of his free time so Olya thought it would be fun to get a shot of her love capturing her on his fishing line.
In keeping with the fishing theme, the couple were not keen to have a big wedding cake, but rather a conversation piece with some fun injected into the day. They decided to have the reverse idea and have it be the bride who was reeling in her diving catch and pastry chef, Ganesh, from Fourways Catering did a beautiful job of manifesting their creativity.
For their first dance, they chose "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain. The two had a dance they had worked on together and I love that as it adds such a fun element to the day - a little glam in a time when that sort of thing has almost died out.
The couple had to over come some pretty tricky immigration hurdles for some of their over seas guests, but they were well supported but a great team of family and friends and ultimately, they were successful in getting almost everyone to the island for a fantastic wedding that was a fusion of Bermudian and Russian culture.