So! Back to wonderful Thai wedding of Donna & Dan!

[If you missed the first instalment of this wedding adventure, click here to see part 1]

So if you’ll indulge me…

If you remember, Donna & Dan decided to celebrate New Year with their English / Aussie buddies on the island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand, then later decided “Hell why not, all our pals’ll be there, so let’s get married too!”

So they decided to host their wedding at a plush resort & Spa called Santhiya on the North East corner of the island.

Four times I’ve travelled around the stunning islands of Thailand, and I’ve generally stayed in charmingly ramshackle, budget huts as close to the beach as I could afford.

This time I stayed at the next spot down from the wedding venue at a place called the Thongtapan Resort (that’s my room/office in the top right!) and the massuman curry & sticky rice at the restaurant couldn’t pair better with the cold Changs at the bar!

Thai beaches are generally lazily interspersed with resorts, dive shops & 7Elevens, and with the soft sand, 30°C seas and a empty hammocks, you can hardly ask for more.  I’ve always though of it as the best backpackers paradise going, and the gracious Thai’s have been handling tourists for a good 30+ years now, so if you’ve your wits about you, it’s an easy ride into an exotic culture.

However, in my experience, at the far end of many a Thai beach is the FLASH resort.  The all-inclusive one with beautiful beach beds fluttering with draped white linen, coiffed palms around landscaped pools with eucalyptus oils blowing gently on the breeze & smart, overdressed waiters serving cocktails in ornately carved pineapples.

The Santhiya Resort and Spa was one of those places!

Sporting its own private beach, a 1200m² pool (with it’s own 30 ft waterfall!), numerous bars, shops, restaurants & an AC library (!) all within the most ornately landscaped secluded dwellings; this place it’s as luxurious as they come.

On the day before the wedding, I hooked up with the happy couple to hang out with them, find out the game plan for their big day and hopefully squeeze in a practice shoot to help them get used to how it feels ahead of the wedding day.  We jumped in one of the Santhiya shuttle taxis and wound up to Dan’s mum’s place on the resort hillside.The carved wooden detailing even on the entrance doorways were literally insaneAnd the view from their Presidential villa wasn’t so bad either!It was great to be there to photograph the greets…

…and to chill by their enormous private infinity pool with a few beers.

Before the rest of the gang arrived for the party, it was really special to witness and document the family reading a moving message Dan’s absent brother.  In my eyes, these sad personal moments are just as important as the joys and celebrations, and it’s an honour to be there to capture them.

Soon it was back to partying, pretty much as soon as Dan’s dad turned up neon Full Moon getup!
This incredible 2-floor villa was going to be the setting for Donna’s preparations on the wedding day!Gran seemed to be enjoying herself!So once the party settled, we decided to stretch our photographic muscles and head out into Santhiya for for some practice portraits 

It wasn’t hard to find simply breath-taking locations to cuddle up in.And really it was just about showing Donna & Dan what I was after and letting them loosen up and enjoy the process

I could see that they were super comfortable with one another

…and it wasn’t gonna be too hard a job on the big day!Aww.The beauty of Santhiya & the views across a Thai island really do grab youWe wandered down to the beach for a stroll in the sandLove this moment.I love the typical Thai rock formations at the end of the beach 

Defo one of my faves.

Afterwards, we headed back up join the gang…

…and watched dusk settle over the island……to a few refreshing Changs!

[The thing to watch out for is that this quaffable beer is 8.4% in volume, and can draw forth the most almighty ‘Changover’]

The troops rallied…
…and caught up!Love this one of the mums having a cuddle.

I caught Donna trying on her white wedding havaianas!Then their wedding guests all congregated for the evening Santhiya buffet……to the backdrop of Thai dance…

…and traditional Thai tunes.

As I strolled back to my neighbouring resort to the sound of cicadas and the crashing surf, I thought to myself how lucky I am to be flown out to somewhere as beautiful as this.  It further occurred to me how special it is to be involved in more of the wedding experience than just the rush of the big day itself, and to get to know the party people so I’m one of the gang come the big day!

Which I’ll be posting here on the blog real soon…

[ That’s called a cliff-hanger by the way! 😉 ]

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