We are so especially honored to share this beautiful Ukrainian editorial shoot that took place near Odesa! An immense amount of thought and care went into this shoot, and we were absolutely blown away by the results. Model/bride Lan Clarke shared with GWS on what brought her to Urkaine in the summer of 2019 and how this elegant shoot came about:
“Sometimes you find yourself given an opportunity to do something that doesn’t seem consequential but that proves to be almost impossible to do later. It’s all too easy to pass them by when you’re caught up in your daily life. It’s only in retrospect that you’ll realize that moment was your last chance to talk to a family member, reconnect with an old friend, or simply to do something that’s been lingering on your bucket list. One such moment for me was when I decided that my vacation in 2019 would include a stay in Ukraine.
Ever since my early childhood in Vietnam, partly due to the mandatory education, I’ve felt a sense of kinship and curiosity towards other nations that were once behind the Iron Curtain and so had it in my mind that I would one day visit them. Aside from the cultural aspect, there are some extremely talented Ukrainian photographers whose work I had been admiring for years and whom I was determined to work with.
As soon as I knew I was visiting Ukraine I reached out to Irina and Alex, from Kupriyanovy Photography, a husband and wife photography team based in the Black Sea port city of Odesa, about doing a rural Ukrainian wedding styled photoshoot. They introduced me to Happy Doll Wedding (event planners also from Odesa) and we all started exchanging ideas on how to infuse everything with the true Ukrainian spirit that comes through in their amazing photos.”
We can hardly wait to share with you what this team created… let’s take a look!
The Perfect Summer Setting
Photographers Irina and Alex searched for a spot that would give the right lighting and atmosphere for the pastoral theme. They were able to locate an amazing spot an hour outside of Odesa in a field by the sea that embodied the peace and natural beauty you could find, not just in that region, but in all of Ukraine. Their goal was to stage a typical Ukrainian backyard family wedding celebration there and worked closely with the event planners to bring their ideas to fruition.
Under the shade of a tree they arranged a farmhouse table and bench, draped elegantly in simple linens and set ready for a couple at a wedding. At its center was a korovai; the round loaf of bread embellished with traditional symbols of prosperity and fertility that has been shared at weddings in Ukraine for hundreds of years. To complete the mood, the planners created a pen around the tree from woven branches for some (very real and very cute) little chicks to explore. Absolutely breathtaking!
Model Lan shared with us what it was like working on this shoot…and with these adorable chicks!!
“We shot on a beautiful summer’s afternoon, with the sun shining and a gentle breeze from the sea which gave everything a warm and peaceful mood matching the character of the people we met and worked with. While we had planned for the chicks, a herd of goats and a donkey decided to appear and support us (although the donkey promptly departed when it was told that we didn’t have any food).”
The Vyshyvanka Dresses
“I wore two modern interpretations of the vyshyvanka, the national dress of Ukraine (incidentally International Vyshyvanka Day is on May 19th this year). Every vyshyvanka is richly embroidered with different patterns and symbols each with different meanings. The first one I wore has grape vines which symbolize family happiness (and incidentally Odessa is the wine capital of Ukraine) while my husband’s shirt has chevron and star patterns symbolizing the union of male and female principles and spirit.”
We could not be more obsessed with this color scheme! The muted pink florals from the flower arrangement and lace napkins tie in perfectly with her first dress. Gorgeous!
Now This is Love
Lan was accompanied by her husband in this lovely styled shoot. The two couldn’t look more in love!
This was the large (and unexpected!) herd of goats that decided to crash the couple’s shoot!
All in the Details
“My second outfit is embroidered with a variety of floral and herbal motifs on a blue lace which I chose to mimic the nearby Black Sea and also the open blue skies of Ukraine while my husband’s shirt carries the anchor emblem of Odesa.”
We absolutely love this second dress that she paired with these statement earrings! If you’re looking for more head-turning earrings, check this out!
A romantic dance at sunset? Yes please!
“We were privileged to have visited Ukraine as it should be, in a state of peace. It is a country with a rich heritage filled with many inspiring and talented people who are proud to share it. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing war, Irina has had to flee to Italy with their young son while Alex must remain to defend their home. If anyone happens to be in need of a photographer in Tuscany, please reach out to her, I’m sure she will capture some beautiful memories for you.”
A huge thank you to Lan for sharing this special day that was so beautifully put together with her creative team.
Slava Ukraini! (Glory to Ukraine!)
photography: Kupriyanovy Photography // event design: Happy Doll Wedding // wedding dress: Vala-Fashion // wedding dress boutique: Kaftan Saffron // hairpiece: Dolce Gabbana // hair stylist: Albina Nigalchuk // makeup artist: Albina Nigalchuk // groom attire: Honar