It was only natural that Nasim and Shek’s wedding be as magical as their love story. I’ll wait for you to hear the full story from Nasim but let’s just say it involves months of letter writing in French and a real-life love at first sight moment at JFK airport. Friends and family from all over the world spent a relaxing weekend at the Chateau de Varennes in Burgundy, France, eating gourmet meals, playing in heated pools and trampolines and celebrating the much anticipated union of a beautiful couple. There couldn’t have been a more perfect choice than Vinicius Matos as photographer, who artfully captured these moments of natural beauty and emotion.
The Newlyweds: Nasim and Shek
Junebug: What were your most important goals in planning your wedding?
Nasim and Shek: Our biggest concern was finding a way to bring our guests, both friends and strangers, together to feel like one family. We believe that the happiness and longevity of a couple relies on the love and support of their community. We organized chateau rentals for people to share and planned many events so our guests could get to know each other. As a fun ice breaker, we wrote all of the names of the guests at each table on a sign with a riddle. The answer to the riddle was the name of their table. This forced people to talk to each other and work together to find their seats!
Junebug: How would you describe your personal wedding style?
Nasim and Shek: Simple, modern and quirky.
Junebug: Where did you hold your wedding and reception, and why?
Nasim and Shek: Our wedding and reception was at a gorgeous, family-owned chateau in Burgundy, France. We chose France because it was a central place for all of our friends and family. We chose the Chateau de Varennes because the place is magical. It is beautifully renovated with the perfect balance between old and new. Also, we chose the Chateau because the owners, Sonia and Aymeric, made us and all of our guests staying there feel so comfortable. We had the luxuries of a perfect life – huge grounds, pool, trampoline, private chef – and the warmth of feeling at home.
Junebug: What three adjectives describe your wedding best?
Nasim and Shek: Magical, fun and cultural
Junebug: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your wedding, your love story or your lives?
Nasim and Shek: Shek lived in Los Angeles and I lived in New York City when a mutual friend thought we had a lot in common and casually introduced us via email. With no intimate interests, we began writing in French so that I could practice my skills with a native speaker. To our surprise, we quickly became addicted to emailing each other. After three months of writing letters about everything and anything, Shek asked for my phone number. Our connection was strong, but I had no interest in long, deep phone conversations with someone I would never see, so I said no. So Shek asked if he could call me if he visited me first. I agreed and within three days, I was meeting him face-to-face at JFK, hearing his voice for the first time. That spontaneous weekend changed our lives.
We talked about marriage the first night and knew immediately this was it. The only lingering concern was who would move. We decided to plunge into the commitment and leave that question to naturally evolve. With the need to constantly feel connected, we traveled every two weeks to be together, or to meet each others friends and family. As two intense people, we wanted to be together more than we possibly could, and we were feeling dissatisfied with the distance.
Skype saved us. Starting from our first Skype call, we slept next to each other every night online. We blocked all of our other contacts and set up automatic answer. We worked side-by-side from 3,000 miles away. We woke up to love notes on the screen if one was out of the house first. We took our computers along on all our trips and continued to Skype from any city or country we visited alone. Skype became our new addiction – it made us feel close and helped us get to know each other more.
As an Iranian and an Ivorian, it seems that we are opposites. However, we are connected far beyond love. Maybe it is the fact that we were raised in the US and France, or that our cultures are much more similar than one would assume. Whatever the case, we are lucky that we are extensively aligned both morally and emotionally. Therefore, it was not a surprise that my parents felt so close to Shek that they offered him my mothers wedding ring to pass down to me. A few months after we got engaged, I gave in and moved to Los Angeles. From there, we planned our dream wedding in Burgundy and began a life as husband and wife!
Junebug: What were you looking for in a photographer?
Nasim and Shek: We wanted someone who could capture our connection and freeze our love in time. I wanted pictures that were not too trendy so that they could transcend generations and even be appreciated by our great-grandchildren.
Junebug: What specifically drew you to Vinicius Matos and his imagery?
Nasim and Shek: There were many great photographers to choose from; however, there was no one like Vini. Many were great at capturing the quirky, fun moments or just intense still photography. Vini was the only one who captured both passion and excitement. His pictures are timeless and exude talent. I could blow up and hang many of his photos of strangers because they are artistic pieces. Beyond his talent, all of his communications with us have been sincere, nice and professional. I trusted that he would be able to feel what we felt and translate it into beautiful images for others to experience as well.
Junebug: What did you enjoy most about working with Vinicius?
Nasim and Shek: Vini and Fabio worked hard, were always smiling, and never forced a moment. They captured truly honest photos. When it came to the candid shots, we never even noticed they were there. Most of all, we really like them – they are great people!
The Photographer: Vinicius Matos
Junebug: How did you approach this particular wedding and what did you most want to capture during shooting?
Vinicius: For this wedding, I tried to interfere and guide the bride and groom as little as possible. They really trusted me and they gave me total access. I left Brazil to photograph in France – a couple who hires someone that lives that far has a lot of trust in their photographer, and they will certainly give you freedom in your work.
My biggest concern was capturing the two completely different cultures – the family of the groom are African and the family of the bride are Persian. The pictures resulted in a very interesting combination, aesthetically speaking. It was very different from anything I had ever photographed.
Junebug: Were there any special photographic requests from the couple that made this wedding especially exciting creatively or personally?
Vinicius: No. The most exciting thing was that they didn’t ask for any specific picture – they let me work freely and produce my best for them!
Junebug: What was the most fun part of this wedding for you to photograph?
Vinicius: The Persian ceremony was very entertaining! The bride and groom received gifts from the guests, but the mother of the bride was more excited about these gifts than the bride and groom! The party was also very fun. There were few guests, but everyone was happy, and there was a lot of good energy in the room.
Junebug: How did the locations available to you affect the type of images you shot and how you shot them?
Vinicius: The castle of Chateau de Varennes is one of those locations straight out of a fairytale. It created a very different environment than I’m normally used to shooting. It’s beautiful, magical and inspiring. It motivated me a lot – we worked nonstop for 14 hours on the first day!
Junebug: Were there any special locations you were able to choose that made for really great images? (Great light, amazing backgrounds, interesting contrasts, etc)?
Vinicius: There were a lot of places. The ladder where I shot photos of the dress had some beautiful arrangements that matched the details of the dress. The castle gardens had haystacks that made me think of the agrarian region of France. That was something that got my attention.
Junebug: What kind of equiment did you use while shooting this wedding?
Vinicius: I used 2 Canon Eos 5D mark III, a Canon 85mm f 1.8 lens, a Canon 35mm f 2.0 lens, a Canon 50mm f 1.4 lens, 2 Canon 600 ex flashes and 12 Sandisk 16gb cf cards.