The Mediterranean Dream
Oh, where do I begin…
I met with Michelle and Zach waaaay before their wedding plans were solidified. Michelle had found me for her engagement photos, and we had a wonderful time together. Once she solidified her date and venue, she booked me right away.
Funny story, during their engagement session, which took place at the Shops of Highland Park – I told her, “There’s a venue near Austin that looks like a Spanish village that is literally on my bucket list – you would absolutely love that place, and you should totally check it out!” Little did I know – she was already eye-balling that venue, and she booked it. For me, it was a dream come true!
Just a month after their engagement session, on a busy June 2022 day, while I was moving from my Deep Ellum studio to the Design District, busy with packing and all – Michelle called me,
“Tara!!!! I booked the venue!!! Are you available for September 15, 2023????”
I did my weird happy dance when she told me she had booked Villa Antonia, and I’m pretty sure we booked their date on the same day.
The day before, I packed up my outfits and gear, met with my wonderful friend, associate/second photographer Rachel, and we were on our way to our hotel in Austin. I was pretty stoked that I was going to celebrate and photograph Michelle and Zach at one of my bucket-list venues, Villa Antonia. When I saw the place in person – I was speechless. Villa Antonia is probably one of the most beautiful venues in Texas. (Hopefully, someone from the venue is reading this – hi, hello! Yes, I’m a total simp for your venue. Please let’s chat more about being on your preferred vendor list?)
A few weeks back, Michelle and Zach visited me at my studio for their interview disguised as a gallery reveal – and even though the video of it is not ready to post here yet – here are some snippets from it. I will update this post when it’s ready! 🙂
So, if you were to pick a moment, what part of the day ended up being your favorite?
Z: Just the point when we were done with all of our responsibilities, I guess, and we were able to go hang out and drink and dance with all of our Friends. At one point, I went up with a bunch of my friends from Colorado to smoke a cigar up on the terrace. So that was fun.
M: Yeah. When we were separate places, we had separate plans for the evening. I think our videographer also was like, “I didn’t get anything with you and your husband.” I’m like, that’s because we have different priorities *laughs* But my favorite moment was definitely the dancing and party.
When you think about the whole day, was there anything you would have done differently? What would you advise my couples going through the planning process right now?
M: I don’t think that there’s anything that I would change besides maybe the fact that I was so stressed beforehand because I couldn’t picture everything working together and matching – it was so not worth bugging out over
Z: My advice would be add on as much time as you can to the back end or just overall length, because it goes by way quicker than you think. And one of the parts that I think both of ours, the most fun we had was once we were done with all of our pictures and saying hello and goodbye to everyone and getting all of our responsibilities out of the way being able to actually enjoy the day, hangout and party with our friends… I think having more of that would have been the only thing that I wish I could have probably done because it was probably, like, what, an hour and a half we got of doing that.
We captured many beautiful candids as Michelle and Zach were almost ready to tie the knot. But I think my favorite part of the pre-ceremony photos was when Michelle had her first look with her dad. We talked about this moment when Michelle and Zach visited me at my studio after the wedding – for both their gallery reveal and to do the interview (which is still in the making!)
Sorry, Papa Squillace! I know you tried to turn away from me so nobody saw you could cry, but you got caught by my assistant photographer. We, wedding photographers, literally live for those emotional moments. Watch how many hits we’ll get on this blog with your first look and ceremony photos! 🙂
What was the biggest surprise on your wedding day?
Z: I would say just everyone had told me that it goes by fast, but it was just literally like, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like 8 hours go faster than that.
M: I guess my surprise, which is a positive thing, was that people were like, “This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to.” And I was genuinely shocked. I mean obviously I was having a blast, pretty much everything was tailored to me. At some point I stepped out to get some air and saw all these people lined up in the gazebo and I’m like “Oh, God, is no one having fun? But apparently even older people were like “This is the most fun I’ve ever had.” and that was a great surprise.
How did it feel once you got in your getaway car?
M: It was just some type of, like, I don’t know… Serotonin boost? I was just so proud and happy that we finally did the dang thing. It just made the 18 months of planning so much worth it.
What was your inspiration for your wedding theme?
M:Like, Mediterranean mamma Mia kind of vibes was what really? I don’t know what it’s called, but you know that one tequila bottle? What’s it called?
Z: Oh! It’s the one with the bell on top. Like the white and blue ceramic tequila bottle with the bell on top.
T: I have no idea what y’all are talking about right now, lol!
Z: You have to look it up; tequilla with bell… Yup, there it is – Clase Azul.
T: I don’t drink that much, so I have no idea what that is.
**Michelle pulls up a photo of the bottle from Google**
T: Oooooh! Ok that makes more sense – I can totally see the resemblence from the plates and all.
Z: Yeah, she modeled our whole wedding after a tequila bottle.
T: Also, whoever did your stationary, they did a really good job! *gestures chef’s kiss*
M:Yeah, The Inviting Pear, she worked with me religiously. Like, made sure I liked every single thing. Everything was virtual. I kind of gave her what the vibe I was looking for, and she completely designed it. I loved my venue and I wanted that to be shown, too, as you saw in our envelopes, for invites and things like that. So she really helped tailor to what we both wanted.
Reception detail information here,
It’s been a while since we first talked on the phone about your engagement session, then your wedding, and now sitting here for this interview. How would you describe your experience with me?
M:You were the only vendor that we made travel because we really wanted you there. I felt like the whole experience with you was just easy, like you were actually the first vendor I reached out to. When we did our engagement pictures, like I said, I was expecting us to not get married until 2024. I genuinely thought maybe we would get married in New Jersey. We also talked about Colorado. I had no idea what we were going to wind up doing at that time. But after getting our engagement photos – you just being so thoughtful and easy to work with; I was like, “Yeah, I don’t care where we’re getting married. We have to prepare to pay for her travel, because she’s going to be our wedding photographer and she’s coming with us.”
**Tara blushes – not really, but kinda, lol!**
T: If I cannot just be myself, I wouldn’t be able to do this job. And people like you, literally, people like YOU are the reason. You are the reason. **starts singing “You are the reason” from Celine Dion”
–This is where the recorder’s battery died, so I can’t remember what more we talked about, hah!
I’m just so grateful to be magnetizing couples like Michelle and Zach – making this journey fun and exciting for me, too. I don’t know how I’d have gone through sixteen years as a wedding photographer otherwise!
The damn cold sparklers… They look beautiful, but damn, nobody warmed me how loud and BIG they would get. I was just calmly walking backward, photographing my couple’s exit with itty bitty mini sparklers – and then, with a loud bang, followed by lots of hot/smokey stuff rising on both my side – I instinctively started running like my butt was on fire. *smh*
No wedding photographer was hurt while making those photos – and yes – they are “cold sparklers,” so there is no heat or anything. Just an “unexpected surprise”… ROFL!
Michelle and Zach are married y’all!!
The dream team of this beautiful celebration
Venue: Villa Antonia
Photography: Tara Arseven Photography
Videography: Rob Adams Films
Planning: Shamika Johnson of AETR Events
Invitation/Stationary: The Inviting Pear
DJ: Brandon of Premier Entertainment
Florist: Brian Montague of Monarchy Floral
Catering: Royal Fig Catering
HMUA: Sara Hernandez of Bonita’s Brides
Rentals: Premier Events and Bee Lavish
Transportation: 4 Leaf Limo
Cigar Roller: Jeff Lipton of Bobalu Cigars
Live Painter: Stephanie of Vogue Vignette
Guest Book: After the Tone
Fire Works: Big Dog Pyro
Pet Attendant: Pet Gal