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Forget “Out of Africa”, This Is the Most Stunning Safari Excursion, EVER!

For Vicky, the decision on where to honeymoon was easy. The itinerary? A homecoming safari in Africa. The final destination? Setting up camp at Serengeti Bushtops. The outcome? Downright dreamy. Bringing along the incomparable vision of Joy Proctor and talented lens of KT Merry Photography, we’ve got it all (including an Africa excursion packing list) waiting for you below! P.S. stay tuned for Part II

Africa evokes a deep recognition, an inexplicable

yearning to return. The place which still has what

most of the world has lost. Space. Roots. Traditions.

Stunning beauty. True wildness. Rare animals.

Extraordinary people. The land that will always

attract those who can still dream.

Outings brought new and different

paw prints, rare sightings, and lessons

about the order and balance of nature.

From Vicky, the founder of Alchemy & Co., creators of unique experiences and bespoke designs… Though I live in New York, Africa holds a very special place in my heart. It is not only where I grew up and the source of my fondest childhood memories, but also my favorite travel destination. Every trip feels like a homecoming. It is also an opportunity to experience a wild beauty that is both inspiring and grounding. This adventure was one I was eager to share with my husband.

We landed in Kilimanjaro, and from there, Jon and I flew in taxi-like bush planes over the Serengeti to the Koga airstrip. Looking out the window of our small plane, we witnessed herds of wildebeest crossing the waters of the Mara River. Each year, over a million wildebeest make the Great Migration across endless plains, from Tanzania to Kenya, as their internal compasses guide them to chase the rains in search of food.

Little did we know, this sight was just one of innumerable unforgettable memories. Each day’s outings brought new and different paw prints, rare sightings, and lessons about the order and balance of nature. Amidst the necessity of survival, there is also simplicity to life there: eat to live, rest to recover.

Our guide for the trip, Ahmed, deftly tracked animals while teaching us about their behaviors. Being the son of a guide, Ahmed had learned from an early age to read the rhythms of the land and the animals. On our first afternoon, he tracked two families of elephants crossing a river from opposite banks. Led by wise matriarchs, the families cautiously approached the water to quench their thirst and cool themselves. The young calves were the first to rush forward to greet each other; the adults were more formal in their greeting, extending their trunks out like handshakes. We were surprised to learn that elephants blow air into each other’s mouths. Their receptors are so sensitive that they are able to detect each other’s genetic make-up and determine whether they are related or not. Elephants’ intimidating size and strength belie their deep empathy and social grace: mothers are so in tune with their calves that they touch them every five minutes to ensure they are comfortable.

During an early morning game drive, we came across a large pride of some 20 lions sunbathing on a giant rock. The pride included lion cubs of all ages. Despite their youth, the cubs fearlessly explored the world around them, sometimes crouching mischievously in the long grass to pounce on unsuspecting siblings. We saw a mother lioness affectionately grab her cub by his tail as he played on the rock. We also came across a mother cheetah hunting her prey. We watched her quietly stalk a gazelle, and then suddenly break into gracefully powerful strides as she easily caught her target. She then brought the breakfast back and kept lookout as her three cubs eagerly feasted.

In the afternoons, we often drove to a giant boulder to enjoy a sundowner whilst drinking in the brilliant oranges and reds of the African sunset. At the end of each day, we returned to camp. Surrounded by the glow of campfires and hurricane lanterns, we exchanged stories from the day with other travelers. As we walked back to our tents, the river of stars in the Milky Way lit our path, reminding us of nature’s ability to inspire awe.

Our journey to the African plains was an unforgettable adventure. As Kuki Gallman aptly wrote, “It is Africa that, since the beginning of time, has evoked in travelers a deep recognition, an inexplicable yearning to return. The place which still has what most of the world has lost. Space. Roots. Traditions. Stunning beauty. True wildness. Rare animals. Extraordinary people. The land that will always attract those who can still dream”

 We owe a deep gratitude to the Bushtops Camps family; none of these experiences would have been possible without their gracious hospitality. And heartfelt appreciation to the incredible Joy Proctor for her creative vision. Lastly, an elephant sized thank you to the talented KT Merry and Chad Keffer, for not only artfully capturing our adventure, but also being our favorite co-conspirators.

                                               What to bring:

– Generous amounts of malaria pills

-Sunscreen

-Binoculars

– Earth toned scarves, hats, and sunglasses

– Minimal luggage (bush planes only allow 33lbs per person)

*Note: Avoid navy blue + black, Tse Tse flies are attracted to these colors*

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Photography: KT Merry Photography | Shoes: Rag & Bone | Bride's Company: Alchemy & Co | Design + Styling Direction : Joy Proctor Design | Hat : J.Crew | Hatbox : Trousseau & Co | Khaki Shorts: Theory | Location: Serengeti Bushtops | Long Beige Skirt: Elie Saab | Menu : Julie Song Ink | Olive Green Gown: Elie Saab | Purse : Mulberry | Silk Shirt: Equipment | Silk Top: Isabele Marant | Silk White Skirt: Theory | Throw : A Piece Apart | Travel Agent: Frosch Travel | White Robe: Salua Lingerie | White Shirt: Hickman & Bousfield

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Santorini Engagement Session

One place on my dream destination list that I’m just dying to cross off? You guessed it, Santorini. Until I find myself booking a ticket there, I’ll just stare at these stunning captures from Melanie Nedelko. Escape the ordinary and see it all in The Vault!

From Melanie NedelkoFor me there is no other location for an engagement shoot that´s more beautiful and more unique than Santorini! This wonderful, quaint Greek island with its blue church domes definitely is one of the most gorgeous locations I’ve ever seen in real life. Pictorial wind mills, cute kittens and the most amazing sunsets await you.

It’s been a dream of mine for a long time now to explore this volcanic island by myself. So when I got an email from Selena and Jacob from L.A. this April where they told me about how they are going to travel Europe including Santorini for some weeks my heart just skipped a beat.

Shortly before their departure Jacob surprisingly proposed to Selena and it became clear pretty quick that they wanted to have an engagement shooting on Santorini. After traveling through Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro they arrived full of unforgettable impressions on the Greek island to meet me there.

I was more than just excited and ever since I met them in person I couldn’t wait for this day to come.

Jacob and Selena rented an amazing Airbnb Apartment and from its rooftop terrace we had this breathtaking view over the city Oia. We met early in the morning to start shooting. In the mornings this city is enjoyably quiet, only some fisher boats and straying cats cross your path through the charming alleys of Oia.

What else can I tell you…This engagement shooting was just incredible. Jacob and Selena interacted so lovingly and easily in front of my camera, it was a pleasure taking their pictures. I could have continued photographing them all day long if the sun hadn’t become to hot and tourists hadn’t spread out into the city. Within an hour Oia awakes and its bustle takes its usual course. 

I really hope that I may return to Santorini some day. Because if you have been there once, it is all over with you…This island won’t let you go again. But enough said – enjoy my pictures of an adorable couple and a stunning backdrop!

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Photography: Melanie Nedelko | Film Processing: Carmencita Film Lab | Location: Greece: Crete & Santorini

English Charm Meets Brazilian Flair For a Cross-Cultural Wedding

This wedding breaks every “rule” in the book, and you know what? That’s exactly why we love it. Although their wedding was set in the English countryside, incorporating Brazilian tradition was important so the couple worked with Something Blue Weddings to create “a day which had lots of English elements but the party atmosphere of Brazil.” Read on to hear how they pulled it off and more from Julie Michaelsen in The Vault!

From Something Blue WeddingWhen I first drove into the grounds to meet with Eduardo and Clareana for the first time I knew this wedding was going to be special. This hidden gem of a country home oozed English charm and was surrounded by the most spectacular manicured grounds I’ve seen at a private home. The house belongs to Eduardo’s grandfather and holds many special memories for them as a family, so to them was the perfect place to hold their celebration.

The houses’ grounds provided unrestricted views across the South Downs and their own herd of deer and sheep, it was breathtaking and the perfect setting for an outdoor ceremony. All the guests were sat bellow a flower draped stone walled pond with the blessing ceremony taking place at the top of the steps by their pastor. From here the guests were greeted on the formal lawns with a champagne reception and stunning canapés.

When it came to the marquee they didn’t want ordinary and they didn’t want drapes, I knew the perfect match would be PapaKata and as soon as I showed them their Sperrys it was decided. Clareana wanted all the tables to connect to symbolize all the families coming together which not only looked stunning but also was a beautiful sentimental element in the wedding. We kept the English theme by using traditional English flowers in the central garlands. Roses, hydrangea and peonies filled the wooden tables and spilled down the ends as if they were growing, to soften the light we also used 350 pillar candles on brass stands to highlight the flowers and gold bead charger plates.

To tie in with the Brazilian heritage of the guests some traditions were also adhered to. The first was the stunning way Eduardo and Clareana displayed their favurs to their guests, a mass of confectionary and cake flown over from Brazil adorned a table for guests to sample throughout the day.

As with all Brazilian weddings dancing plays a huge part and entertainment was certainly high on Eduardo’s list for the wedding, the Philosophy Band had the dance floor full from the start and they didn’t stop dancing until 1am when it was time to end. 

Colors
Seasons
Summer

From Julie Michaelsen PhotographyThis couple were an absolute joy to photograph, their natural and passionate love for one another was so beautiful and is so clear in their photographs. Their 8-month-old son was the star of the show, charming all with his gorgeous smile, so clearly the apple of the family’s eyes as the first grandson. The typical Brazilian charm, love and affection between family members at this wedding was visible through numerous cheek-kisses, tears of joy and of course enthusiastic dancing late into the night!

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Photography: Julie Michaelsen Photography | Cinematography: Gorgeous Film | Event Planning: Something Blue Weddings | Floral Design: Sweet Pea Flowers | Wedding Dress: Self Portrait Studio - Azaelea Red Dress | Bride's Shoes: Schutz | Catering: Caper & Berry | Hair + Makeup: Sanni Sorma Makeup & Hair | Calligraphy: Judy Broad Calligraphy | Lighting: creative spark | DJ: Mal Williams | Band: Philosophy Band | String Quartet: Mal Williams | Venue: At Home | Chair Rentals: Co-ordination Catering Hire | Guest's Makeup: Lilian Komor | Invitations + Stationery: Papier | Marquee: Papakata | Photography - Assistance: Marni from Bai and Elle. | Tables + Outdoor Heaters: Stress Free Hire