Portuguese weddings are about family, food, and dancing
When you grow up in a Portuguese family in a small town like Ludlow, you spend many weekends at the Ludlow Portuguese Club attending huge Portuguese weddings. Before I became a wedding photographer, these big weddings were the only ones I had been to. Honestly, I thought it was normal to have bridal parties of 30 people, a guest list of over 300 people, a cocktail hour, first course, second course, dessert, and then late night food to soak up the alcohol and refill your belly after you’ve burnt a thousand calories on the dance floor.
And, yes there is lots of DANCING! Everyone gets out on the dance floor, even if you don’t know how to dance, someone’s Tio Joe or Tia Maria will bring you out there and show you how it’s done.
It’s rare to find weddings like this now, but I’ve been lucky to have photographed a few. Casey and Gianna’s Massachusetts wedding had all of the elements of a traditional Portuguese wedding and it was so much fun.
They were married at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Ludlow, right down the road from the Gremio Lusitano Portuguese club. The church was built by the community of Portuguese immigrants in Ludlow many years ago and, along with the Portuguese club, has been a home base for people to connect with local resources and the community after emigrating to America. They had a full catholic mass led by Father Vitor, an iconic figure in the Portuguese community here.
Exploring Ludlow Mills for wedding photos
After the ceremony, we took portraits around the church and down by the Ludlow Mills, which used to employ most of the Portuguese immigrants in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. I love taking wedding photos around mills. They have a nice industrial vibe to them and are a nice nod to the working culture we grew up around here in Ludlow. The church added a nice European vibe as well.
An enthusiastic, upbeat couple
Casey lived down the street from my grandmother when he was little so I’ve known him for a long time, but I hadn’t met Gianna until a few years ago at another wedding I was photographing. One thing I noticed was how well she could dance! Casey found a girl who can Portuguese dance and understands what it’s like to have a big family. Family functions revolve around food, drink and dancing. Gianna is not Portuguese but comes from a very close and big Italian family with a TON of personality.
Casey’s father, Joe, surprised the couple by hiring the Rancho Folclórico to come and perform during dinner. I loved that this was a surprise for the couple. Joe said that Casey loved to dance to Portuguese music with his grandmother when he was little. Joe wanted to honor her and that connection by sharing that love with all of the guests at the wedding. It was a beautiful and playful moment.
After the performance, the Rancho marched out of the reception hall, but I could still hear them playing their accordions and singing out in the hallway by the bathroom.
The night was topped off with cake and even more dancing.
The picture perfect engagement story
Casey came home from work and proposed in front of Gianna’s whole family. It was her brother’s birthday party and her oldest brother was also there visiting from out of town. Casey decided, “This is the moment — everyone is here to witness it!”
At the party, the family gathered together to take their usual group photos. (Gianna’s mom loves group photos. Casey said, “We literally take pictures at every birthday party, I knew that about them.”) Right as the photo was being taken, Casey looked at Gianna and said, “Gianna can you take a look at this?” Casey then kneeled down and asked her. One of her sisters didn’t know he was proposing, and asked “Is he ok?”, as he got down on one knee.
“That was the perfect way to do it because I’m so in love with my family and it was just so nice and meaningful to have my entire family there, even the ones that are living far away.” -Gianna
Casey and Gianna are such an enjoyable couple to be around. Casey is goofy and silly, and Gianna just loves every bit of it. She is a nurse and Casey works for TSA security. They have an incredible energy to them that is fun and lighthearted.
Thank you so much Casey and Gianna for sharing such a special day with me. I loved every minute of your wedding! I wish you both a lifetime of love, health and happiness!
To see more from their wedding, click here.
Church: Our Lady of Fatima Parish
Reception: Gremio Lusitano Portuguese Club
Cake: Chmuras Bakery
Dress: In white
Rings: Rebeka Brooks
Suits: Joseph a Bank
Ceremony music: David Costa
Bridesmaids dresses: David’s Bridal
Flowers: Stacy Ratceyrackliffe
Make-up and Hair: Alta Moda
DJ: Tony Simmons
Second photographer: Oliver Scott Photography