The Secret Retreat – Santa Maria Di Castellabate Wedding Photography

Two years ago I noticed that some of my favourite kick-ass female wedding photographers were all raving about a course. The photos they were posting were incredible and I immediately thought ‘I need me some of that!’ I signed up straight away for the email alerts and for a rather long time waited for information and dates to be released. Time passed and on the morning the amazing Claire Penn, Lucy Woodrow, and Andrea Ellison launched the tickets to The Secret Retreat I was literally bouncing in my seat. As soon as the email came through I was on it and so very very lucky to secure my place since it sold out in under 8 minutes!

My Italian Adventure with The Secret Retreat

Fast forward a few months later and I along with lots of inspiring creative ladies were Italy bound. Never meeting any of these ladies before it was mad how I felt that I already knew them due to our online chatting beforehand. The drive from the airport took us through some of the most beautiful coastal roads and the excitement on the bus was almost tangible. Upon arrival at the beautiful Hotel Mareluna we were rather warm, hungry and in need of a drink. Que lots of screaming, hugging and introductions over gorgeous food and best of all booze! Amazing!

The first evening saw us head on up into the beautiful town of Santa Maria Di Castellbate to take in the spectacular views and food! The top of the mountain was the perfect place to view the sunset.

I heart ‘My Sectret Italy’

I have to give a massive shout out to the incredible Julie and Emillie from My Secret Italy. Their organisation and local knowledge meant we made the most of every minute there. I think I need to get married again just so I can do it under the Italian sun and have these guys plan it for me. They are incredible!

We were really lucky that when we got arrived that there was actually a wedding portrait session taking place! Not wanting to annoy or get in the way of the wedding photographer I respectfully stood back. I did however manage to get in this sneaky silhouette. I officially became an Uncle Bob!

Amalfi Coast Wedding Photographer

If someone had told me that in literally 4/5 hours I would have made 20 new friends and feel at home I never would have believed you. This however was very much true. Over the three days we were shooting our days were split between more classroom based learning and tasks (the classroom was out on a beautiful patio overlooking the sea so I couldn’t complain) and shoots at beautiful locations.

Santa Maria di Castellabate Wedding – Italian Elopement

The fucking fabulous Andrea Ellison (you really couldn’t just refer to her without the f-bomb) lead our first shoot of the retreat with the gorgeous Magda and Piedro. They were an absolute dream to work with and we couldn’t stop giggling because they didn’t speak English. The use of non-verbal communication was hilarious! We must have looked like right idiots communicating that we wanted them to dance, twirl and snog eachothers faces off in the street!

Destination Wedding Photographer

Destination Wedding Photographer

Santa Maria Di Castellabate Wedding

Italian Engagement Shoot in Santa Maria Di Castellabate

Day two saw us shooting the Steph and Stephan who ultimately became better known as ‘The Two Stefs.’ These gorgeous humans endured a rather warm afternoon around the town being directed and photographed for hours on end. What troopers! Lady Steph in particular needs an extra special pat on the back for enduring all that time in heels and a black dress. Top effort guys!

Engagement shoot at Santa Maria Di Castellabate

Engagement shoot at Santa Maria Di Castellabate

I really couldn’t imagine anything worse for myself than having to quickly navigate the cobbled streets in heels. It was time to whip them off for my shoot and enjoy something a little more fun and relaxed!

Destination Wedding Photographer – Santa Maria Di Castellabate at Il Casino Di Mare – Dimora Storica

The third and final day of shooting took us to the most beautiful villa Il Casino Di Mare – Dimora Storica. The beautiful villa surrounded by olive trees and just a stones throw from the beach. It provided the perfect backdrop for our final shoot of the retreat. Steph and Stef looked absolutely stunning! I literally could have worked with them for hours at the venue. There was just so much gorgeousness! 

Il Casino Di Mare - Dimora Storica

Il Casino Di Mare - Dimora Storica

International Wedding Photographer Italian Wedding

Destination Wedding Photography Italian Wedding Amalfi Coast

Destination Wedding Photography Italian Wedding Amalfi Coast

Destination Wedding Photography Italian Wedding Amalfi Coast


Thank you so much to Claire, Andrea and Lucy for organizing the most amazing retreat and workshop. I had the most incredible time and made some fabulous lifelong friends. There is so much I have learnt that I have taken with me and apply each and every day. Not only to my business practice and when out shooting.

I am desperate to get myself and my cameras back out to Italy. If you or someone you know is planning to wed in this beautiful part of the world, get in touch!

Helen xxx



Share this story