DIANA AND VLADI'S BULGARIAN FOREST WEDDING AT GRAND GROVE VILLAGE
SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2017
Where do I begin? I know Vladi since I know my husband. He is my sister in law’s brother, but I have heard about his charm and adventurous spirit long before I met him in person. Both Bulgarians living in the States, Diana and Vladi are very free spirted souls. In the late spring of 2014, Vladi decides to quit his job and follow his dreams. He buys a ticket to Bogota, Colombia and begins year long exploration through South America one country at a time, all the way to Antarctica. During that time one of Vladi’s friends who lives in Chicago introduces him to Diana and in February 2015, she joins him in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is how it all began. When he first saw her she captured him with her mysterious beauty of a wild child. Then they visited Uruguay and Brazil. It was just meant to happen. After coming back to USA Diana moves from Chicago to Orange County where Vladi lives.
In the Christmas night of 2016 Vladi hides a ring in Diana’s Christmas gift box and proposes.
Knowing both of them as happy campers and travelers I can’t imagine having their wedding somewhere else, but in a forest. They planned their wedding not just in any forest, but at the Giant Sequoias at Kings Canyon National Park. All the guests stayed at Azalea campground, which was absolutely beautiful and bonding experience. The ceremony took place at the magical Sunset Campground Amphitheater and the reception at the picnic area near the Azalea Campground under the grant sequoia trees. It was just the perfect setting for their forest wedding.
To be honest I was quite surprised when they asked me to be their main photographer at the wedding. I really didn’t expect it, as my family was one of the guests too and Nikola was invited to be the ring bearer. And to say it was an honor for me to be their wedding photographer is not enough. When someone I know invites me to photograph their wedding, it means a lot to me. It means trust and appreciation to my art. But that also means that I need to work extra hard not to disappoint them and to separate work and personal emotions. Plus it was Nikola’s 4th Birthday at that day. So many emotional events in one day.
Diana and Vladi’s wedding was all DIY. You can see from the images how much they put from their heart in it. There were so many personal elements to it. Diana created all the centerpieces and the decorations. Well, when you have a wedding in the middle of the forest it’s also hard to have a wedding planner or a caterer either. I think that was one of the most creative and beautiful weddings I have photographed. Sometimes, you don’t need a lot to keep it simple and elegant. Boho Chic kind of style, with Bulgarian Live Folk Music and dancing horo , all was merging so well in the enchanted environment of the big trees around.
Not very popular these days , D+V decided to have a touch of authentic Bulgarian traditions in their wedding, like the groom with his entourage picking up the maid of honor and the best man. Then they dance horo in front of their housing , which in this case was John Muir Lodge where they stayed for the weekend . That is followed by picking up the bride from her lodging, which in this case was one of the cabins near. There the groom’s family and friends are trying to “buy’ the bride - giving money to her parents and guardians in order to let the grom enter inside and see his bride. Of course this was done all for the entertainment purposes and it was awesome. Once, Vladi was let inside “the bride’s house” he had to find one of her shoe and put money in it so it fits the bride’s foot. From there they both exited ‘the house’ and the bride led the horo dance . The guests were having traditional pita bread with honey as symbol for the newlyweds sweet life together.
The wedding ceremony was another elaborate scene from Diana and Vladi’s wedding. It was full with humor, love and beautiful mixture between western wedding traditions with Bulgarian ones, and some that I have never seen before (such as telling something on each other’s ear while putting the rings on).
Diana and Vladi’s outfits were custom designed and sewed by their maid of honor Ivanka Georgieva. Her wedding dress was inspired by the legends about Samodiva . And everything else looked just like a magical fairytale in the forest.
beautiful white lace was spread in the middle of each table
Diana made these two wooden tiles by herself. One was for the best man and the maid of honor and the other one for her and Vladi.
The only heavy weight wooden table in the picnic area served as the newlyweds table. It was just perfect . It was decorated with pine cones and wild dry flowers.
Guests dancing horo in front of John Muir Lodge when picking up the best man and the maid of honor.
Milen Varimezov plays gaida (bagpipe) when the bride exists 'her house' .
After Vladi found the right shoe he is trying to put it on Diana's foot and inserts money on the back so the shoe can fit.
The bride leads the horo dance in front of 'her house' .
And someone broke one of the champagne glasses. But as we it ' The broken brings happiness'.
The guests are trying the pita with honey for bride and groom's sweet life together.
Some tourists watching the ceremony from the back.
Bride and Groom Photo session at the Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.
The bride in front of the Fallen Monarch