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Villa d’Este Pre-Wedding Portrait Session // Kelsey & Rowan

I knew I wanted to do something amazing with Rowan & Kelsey for their pre-wedding portrait session in Italy before their elopement day. Since we were all traveling to this beautiful country, we wanted to make the most of our time in Italy. We discussed the idea of a pre-wedding portrait session and were trying to figure out exactly what we wanted to do. It took some research to hit on the right plan. Luckily Rowan is a research GOD and we found the beautiful Villa d’Este and its gardens in Tivoli. Bingo! We could capture their pre-wedding portrait session while doing and experiencing something cool. I couldn’t say HELL YES fast enough.

Because Rowan & Kelsey are great planners, they left some pockets of time unplanned in their schedule for their Italian elopement. This is such a great idea that I want to share with you. When you’re making the trip to elope somewhere special, leave time to explore and enjoy the new location {and your guests}! Rowan & Kelsey discussed the idea of this really beautiful portrait session as a way to help on their wedding day, too. By capturing this truly epic portraits, we could have a more relaxed schedule on the day of their actual wedding event. It worked super well for these two!

Pre-Wedding Portrait Session in Italy

So, anyway. Back to Villa d’Este! As soon as we landed, we dropped our stuff at our AirBnb and met up with Rowan & Kelsey out front. Rowan & Kelsey then motored us to the other side of Rome with some expert driving skills. Getting to hang out with these two a little bit more was such a treasure. Not to mention, they got to catch us up on everything they’d learned so far in Italy, like pro tips on the public transit and where the best local gelato was! Clearly, important stuff.

Before long, we arrived at the beautiful Villa d’Este. This villa is one of the symbols of the Italian Renaissance and sits in Tivoli, near Rome. While I knew that this place was going to be incredible, I truly had no idea what to expect. Rowan & Kelsey {to no one’s surprise} chose well. The villa and gardens were stunning and I couldn’t have asked for a better first day in Italy!  I LOVED being able to explore the natural world here. So did Rowan & Kelsey. In fact, Rowan and I have come to realize we’re very much kindred spirits. While exploring, we began Rowan & my new favorite thing: turning to each other with “can you freaking believe this?!” gestures. Everywhere you looked was magical.

There were outstanding views, enormous fountains, sculptures covered in moss and ferns, it was phenomenal. And just before sunset, we hiked through Villa Gregoriana as well, full of waterfalls and amazing nature as well as some of the spookiest and coolest caverns! It was seriously the best pre-wedding session that I could have imagined for Rowan & Kelsey! We also lucked out because the gardens were pretty empty. Major tip here: if you’re planning a destination elopement, plan to explore and be wed on a weekday. It helps a lot with crowds! (Read more tips here about elopements in Italy!). Rowan & Kelsey, thank you for asking me to be your photographer for this trip. I’m still in awe of our entire experience!

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Raven is an Atlanta Wedding Photographer who captures real people on their totally unique and awesome wedding day, specializing in people who feel awkward in front of the camera. She travels throughout Georgia, including Athens, North Georgia, and beyond.

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