I need to start this blog post by saying that I could not be more proud to have been a part of the Secret Retreat Workshop 2015.
Working alongside Andrea Ellison, Claire Penn, Julie and Emilie McKenzie of My Secret Italy and Mandy of Saddleworth Shindigs was a sheer delight from start to finish. What started as a spark of an idea, mid-conversation between myself and Julie suddenly snow-balled into something so special and exciting. We were all hooked and so entirely dedicated to making this unique and enriching for all the attendees. The excitement about the workshop started very early on, working with Claire and Andrea to pull together the website was an intensely creative experience. We all had different ideas on various aspects of the site but it just somehow pieced together and emerged as this perfect little creation that reflected us individually and as a team. The only stumbling block we had was a late-night heated debate over fonts which spilled over into some sort of delirious hilarity!
When the website launched the atmosphere and build up around it all was electric and we sold out in under an hour… such an achievement!
On the morning we launched there was a group of girls out there who were intent on getting their place on the Secret Retreat. Some set their alarms early, some set three alarms and some even took the morning off work. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams what an amazing bunch of girls they would be and I’m so happy to now call them friends.
Last week was just incredible. I honestly feel a little teary eyed when I think back to it and how bloody quickly it came and went. There’s no way I can possibly get across in words how special it all was (there are some incredible and heart-felt testimonials you can read on our Facebook page) so much happened, so much laughter, some tears, lots of amazing food, Italian wine, incredible sunsets, Electrical Storms, Fireworks, Music, singing (some lunatic rapping to Vanilla Ice at 2am), learning, sharing …
Here are some images from my styled shoot on the first day which took place at the Palazzo Belmonte (one of the surprises we had kept secret from the girls). We met the actual Prince and Princess of Belmonte at their summer palace and the shoot took place in the grounds there with our GORGEOUS (seriously, words can’t do these two justice or describe how genuinely loved up they are) couple Bev & Paul.
I decided that my shoot was going to be along traditional(ish) lines with an edge of Italian decadence and so lots of brainstorming took place between myself and the incredibly talented Mandy from Saddleworth Shindigz. Mandy styled the shoot to perfection, she and Emillie foraged for Olive branches and Jasmine, Mandy brought suitcases full of goodies from the UK and put together a gorgeous styled table with grapes, pomegranates, figs and cactus fruits… it was exquisite. Thanks too to Beyond Vintage for supplying the gorgeous stationery … and Melissa Love at The Design Space for our website template which was just fabulously easy to use and tweak.
There are some behind the scenes images to come soon too, probably next week.
Here’s a big ‘Salute’ to Happy Days.
P.S – plans for The Secret Retreat 2016 are afoot.. watch this space.