On the southern tip of Finland, right by the ocean in the charming little summer town of Hanko, Eva’s family runs a small hotel in a few old villas from the Tsar era. Eva has spent most of her summers in those villas and in that little town, ever since she was born. And even though Eva has already lived in such far-away places as Michigan, Hawaii and Australia, and even though she really lives in Helsinki, she knew from the start that when she married Harri, the man of her dreams, it would be in Hanko. The wedding reception was naturally to be held in the villas of her childhood summers with guests from near and afar. Friends came from as far as Hawaii to take part in the celebrations.

In late August, when I came to Hanko to take pictures at Eva’s and Harris wedding, summer season in Hanko was coming to an end, the streets of the small town were nearly empty, and the family hotel was being reserved exclusively for wedding guests. In one of the many rooms in Villa Thalatta the bride was getting ready for her wedding, helped by her sister-in-law and her bride’s maids.

The bride at the salon

Eva is made up by her sister-in-law, who is a make-up artist

In a different room, in another part of the old villa, the groom was getting ready for the celebrations. Harri did not spend much time fixing his hair. A quick shower would have to do, and then it was on to get dressed. He spent some time figuring the tie out, but after a few minutes the coat was on and Harri was on this Vespa scooter on his way to the small chapel in the woods where the wedding ceremony was to take place.

Harri takes a moment to get the tie on right

The groom shows off the ring that he will give to his bride

Harri waits for his bride

Anti gives away his daughter

A beautiful ceremony in a lovely little chapel filled with friends and family

Eva and Harry on the steps of the chapel

After the wedding ceremony the guests lined up outside the picturesque little chapel to congratulate the bride and groom as they came out on the chapel stairs. But Eva and Harri fooled everybody and came around the corner on their Vespa instead. A rain of rose pedals poured down on the newly-weds before they made their way to the road and set course toward the villas and the wedding party.

The maid of honor is ready with a basket of rose pedals

Eva and Harri surprised the wedding guests by driving off on a Vespa

As the wedding guests arrived at Villa Tellina they were served bubbly refreshments while Harri’s daughter Ella entertained with her guitar. After a bit of mingling and the execution of a group photography of all 80 guests, dinner followed with lots of speeches. Some speeches made the guests laugh and some speeches made them cry. Many speeches did both. When Ella spoke, thanking Eva for making her daddy happy, and welcoming the bride to the family, I don’t think there was a single dry eye in the room. I think even the wedding photographer might have cried a tear, and he didn’t even understand one word that Ella said…

Outside Villa Tellina the wedding guests were served refreshments with bubbles

The groom’s daughter Ella entertained the guests before dinner

After a rainy summer the weather gods smiled, and on their wedding day the sun shone on the couple

The father of the bride speaks to the wedding guests

The father of the groom spoke too.

The wedding photographer snapped a few shots on the cliffs behind the villa

Love, kisses and Champagne

They were such an adorable couple; kind, warmhearted, funny. And they shared the moment with their families and their friends at a magnificent location filled with dramatic history and good old memories. The old Villas have survived several wars and have served as headquarters or hospitals for German, Russian and Finish soldiers, depending on which way the winds of war blew. This day in late August of 2012, Eva and Harri wrote a new chapter in the history of the old villas; a chapter of love and of family and friendship. After Eva’s and Harri’s first dance, the wedding photographer put his camera away and joined the celebrations.

The bride and groom outside Villa Tellina, while the guests are enjoying dinner

The first dance was followed by many more, and celebrations went on until morning.