Recently, I was honored with an invitation to photograph a special wedding in Puglia, hosted by a prominent Italian family. This event bore immense weight, not solely due to its inherent significance, but also because, as a non-Italian, I was bestowed with the honor of partaking in the occasion and immortalizing it through the lens of a “newcomer’s” profoundly impressionable perspective. This journey also encompassed delving into the intricate cultural subtleties of Puglia.
As someone who has always harbored a profound affection for Italy, Puglia felt like a return to my roots. It was as though Puglia and my homeland of Cyprus had converged in this place. The interwoven tapestry of shared moments, traditions, and even the familiar echoes of an ancient Greek dialect woven into Apulian folk songs served as a reminder that the human experience transcends geographical confines.
Amidst the captivating landscapes of Puglia, I found myself humbled by the profundity of human connections. Within this Italian wedding, which transcended mere event status to become a festival of heritage, I unearthed a fragment of my own identity—one that felt intertwined with the culture, legacy, and essence of this land.
This encounter left an indelible imprint on my soul, akin to a spiritual awakening, reminding me deeply of “what a wedding is for”:
- Weddings are a beautiful commemoration of human connection. What more compelling motivation to convene could there be than the pledge of love and togetherness?
- They are a cultural festival. I’ve attended weddings where efforts were made to incorporate cultural facets, yet often it feels contrived regardless of the best intentions. However, there are instances, like the Puglia wedding, where local heritage is honored in a manner that seamlessly integrates with the essence of the event. These weddings truly embody the spirit of a cultural festival!
- Moreover, weddings foster self-actualization. A couple that stands in front of their closest loved ones for the initial time not only pledges themselves to these individuals, but also constructs a personal dedication regarding their shared identity, their envisioned ideal selves, and the path they aspire to tread in their journey together.
In the end, a wedding is not merely about the aesthetics or the spectacle; it’s about the threads of humanity that we all share, the connections that bind us across cultures and generations.
“Kalinifta” (or, “Kalinichta” in Greek, meaning goodnight is a folklore song sung in griko, a Neo Greek dialect. The griko is a cultural heritage left by the Greeks first and then by the Byzantines, emigrated to Salento.