Nina and Sebastian ~ Masai Mara

Some places stay with you forever. When wildlife photographer Nina and her Sebastian asked me to shoot their wedding in Masai Mara in Kenya, I didn’t know this land would touch me so deeply. It sung to me in a way I didn’t know possible, found new chords and played on strings I didn’t know I had inside me.

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
~Karen Blixen

From Nina:

“The last couple of years I have spent many months in the Masai Mara following one pride of lions on my project about the world’s last wild lions. During this time I have become very close friends and almost family with the Maasai who have welcomed me into their lives. Therefore and because we were planning to hold our ceremony on the land of the Maasai it was very important to us to incorporate some of the traditions of the Maasai culture into the ceremony; for example the arch built is a traditional symbol of the entrance to a boma – the typical house construction of the Maasai, and after the announcement a traditional Maasai song and dance followed according to tradition. Also, the bride of the Maasai normally wear a lot of jewelry where the necklace, called enkarewa, is especially important. When I first told my closest friend in the Maasai community about our wedding early in 2014 he came back to me with a necklace and bracelets as a special gift made for me by his family. The stick carried by Sebastian was also a gift from the local Maasai community. But even more generously my friend then offered to bring warriors from the Maasai community to the celebration. So in the end our two cultures and nature merged in the perfect moment and the best day of our lives.”

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson
Masai Mara Wedding by Jonas Peterson

This wedding was edited with VSCO Film’s new pack – FILM’06. Get your copy here.

Cinematographer: Pieter Ten Hoopen
Wedding Planner: Vanda High Events and Gina Vuolo
Jewellry: Maasai beadwork necklace and bracelets given as a gift from the Maasai in Masai Mara
Flowers: Tom Cawley and Priscilla Schaeffer
Ceremony Venue: A tree on Paradise Plain, Masai Mara
Reception Venue: Governors Camp, Masai Mara
Celebrant: Peter Green

 

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COMMENTS Expand -
  1. the story has been captured with style and classical elegance, moments to be reflected upon to return to the special day of the wedding…long may it last…

  2. When two are knotted as one, both families and friends share in oneness of their marital union; may this marriage be a bridge to usher happiness, peace and prosperity.

  3. Alles, alles Gute und beste Gesundheit für Sie Alle! Vielen vielen Dank für diese phantastischen Fotos und die schöne Geschichte.
    All the best for You and best health! Many many thanks for the wonderfull pictures and nice story.

  4. that beautiful work and great history of the couple , congratulations on your photos , amazing and great place. Saludos de Venezuela.

  5. Saw you at Way Up North last week… and heard your talk for the 2nd time… the images from this wedding, and the stories that you told still inspire me SO much. Keep up the amazing work Jonas.

  6. Wow, I lived in Masai Mara myself and this post made me cry. Masai Mara has the gift of touching your soul.

  7. hi Jonas, y have never seen something like this before… it’s amazing, your pics are incredible! you are a inspiration for a lot of photographer i think, im the one of those :) thank’s for that

  8. This is my favorite wedding of all time. I look at it every few months. Jonas, you’re the man.

  9. I have been to Masai country in Tanzania and I too didn’t expect to hear that land call to me like it did. Your photos of a gorgeous wedding are beautiful and make me homesick for Africa.

  10. I look at a lot of pictures…I mean..a LOT…nothing has ever stood out as lovely as this set. Amazing work, hats off.

  11. what a spectacular opportunity and freaking gorgeous images !! All about the story telling and natural emotion that he put into the photos

  12. Seriously one of the most breathtaking weddings I’ve ever seen…..how incredible it must be to photograph such occasions on film. Your work is inspiring and poetic. Thank you for sharing it!

  13. Wow, Jonas. Truly Breathtaking. How fortunate you are to be the window to all these experiences that most average people would never experience or even know occurred. May your career continue to flourish and let us be taken on the journey. x Megan.

  14. This is the idea what i’ve been looking for , creating some artistic & elegantly by nature wedding photographs. Thanks for inspiring me and other wedding photographers in the world.
    Cheers !

  15. I like how you have deleted all the comments to have deemed negative with regards to using the masai people as props. Well I guess you can delete them but they will stay with you!

  16. That was a beautiful wedding in plains of Masai Mara. we appreciate wedding in the bush and promoting our cultural heritage.thank you for respect and honoring Masai Mara and Masai community at large. Masai mara manyatta camp

  17. Of all the places I have traveled to, the Masai Mara is the only one I miss every single day. You did this justice beyond words. Beautiful work, Jonas.

  18. Horrible pictures! I cannot believe how normalized has become the act of decorating with color people. Why aren’t the colored community interacting with the white people? I mean, if they are so close as the article says! For damn sake, at least give them a chair so they can set down or something! They are not interacting with the other people and they are instead segregated! These pictures might be well taken, true, but it utilize people, color people, as props and decorations. .. and that is horrible!

  19. I am always quite amazed when I see things like this, as a matter of fact disgusted! As beautiful as the pictures are YET again it looks like black people are just used as props in the wedding pictures having the masi people jump around to entertain their guests. Considering these people don’t even have a person of colour in their entire guest list leaves me to wonder what they think of any body outside of their or if they even associate with anyone outside of their race when not feeding their saviour complex. Scratch that their pictures say it ALL!

  20. I don’t often get my breath taken away from wedding photographs these days, but seriously Jonas you have just done that. You have completely moved so many people by these images and I can’t imagine how thrilled this couple would be with htme, you are an incredible artist, well done.

  21. With all due respect, Mr. Peterson, a white person doesn’t have a right to speak on behalf of black people and other people of color as to whether the photos in this particular wedding set are racist. As you perhaps have realized, many people of color do interpret the photographs as condescending, as reminders of what should be a bygone colonial era (but which apparently is not), regardless of whatever connection the bride has to the “local” community.” If she had such a strong connection, why is the entire wedding guest list, according to the photos you’ve taken, white? That is, apart from the intricately garbed Kenyan men. Where are her close black Kenyan friends or that of the groom’s?

  22. Using the Masai people as background props to a wedding, what a wonderful way of reviving neo-colonial fantasies. The concept behind this photo shoot has been lost in translation. I cannot believe that nobody has openly stated that cultural appropriation does not equal cultural respect.

  23. Let me address a question that has come up here on social media. The couple have been accused of using the Maasai warriors as props and questions their connection with the Mara. The truth is that Nina has a very strong local connection, working as a wildlife photographer on a book project about a pride of lions in the immediate area. Having been there many times, she’s made ties with the local people as well. The jewellry Nina is wearing and the staff/cain Sebastian has, was gifted to them by the Maasai in the Mara. As an end to the ceremony, the warriors danced and celebrated the union. When I shot a wedding in New Orleans recently they had a “second line” where local musicians walk the guests around the block to a marching band. When I shot in Mexico a Mariachi Band let all the guests from the ceremony to the reception. In Bali some local kids perform temple dances at almost every wedding. No matter if the couple have local connections or not. They’re paid to perform a service the same way the celebrant, opera singer or photo booth operator is. In this case the bride actually DID have a strong local connection, but I still think the comment about using locals as props is super ignorant, sorry.

  24. These photos are beautiful and the setting and couple are stunning. I am wondering however, did the couple know the Masai tribespeople who were involved in their wedding and were they friends with them? Were these folks invited to the reception? I would hate to assume that they used these people as props to make their wedding more photogenic, but it appears this way from the photos.

  25. The most beautiful wedding I’ve ever scene. My love for Africa is second to none. This would be my fantasy wedding. Smashing.

  26. This was beautiful. One of the most beautiful weddings I’ve seen on your site, and you always shoot the most wonderful weddings.

    All the animals, the wonderful dark colors in the sky. It was all just breathtaking.

  27. Completely mental my friend. Deeply moving, beautiful pictures. The storm clouds seemed to magically hover in perfect position and yes, it was in Africa with lions, giraffes and elephants, but most importantly you captured in such a quite, delicate and beautiful way that only you know how. Bravo.

  28. Once again you have challenged all of us that consider ourselves wedding photographers to work with all of our hearts, and not just produce snapshots but tell a story. This and your previous post of the Bali wedding belong in the front page of your site. Stunning work Jonas. Thank you.
    Jorge

  29. I had read a previous comment somewhere – I think on FB probably, and someone had said that they cried while looking through these photos and I thought, “he always does good work, but cry? hmmmmm”

    I’m now sitting here with tears running down my face. This is just simply the most stunning set of wedding photographs I’ve ever seen and I’m sure ever WILL.

    Just GORGEOUSLY mindblowing. Tears and more tears.

  30. Just when I think not one more image can be better than the last…bam. And my shoulders drop and I say “what the fuck” out loud. This is truly beautiful scenery, but your vision overwhelmed me. Well done to the couple on all of the beautiful details, so truly unique! Thank you for sharing.

  31. wow…I don’t you people…but damn…..best wedding photos I’ve ever seen… and best venue ever…… congrats and cheers:)

  32. Have been waiting for this one! Jonas, it is truly breathtaking. You have captured the pure, raw beauty of the environment so well – places like that are often hard to convey properly in a photograph, but not here. You’ve told the story just perfectly.

  33. These are just breathtaking – a seemingly effortless balance of epic landscape fused with intimate relationship. A real testament to your storytelling. Nice work.

  34. Jag kan inte smälta bilderna. Herregud. Och sången. Vet att det är heavenly father men vem sjunger?

  35. Quite simply AMAZING!!!!! Gosh I would have loved to have seen your face when you got the first email or phonecall describing their wedding they wanted you to photograph. Just WOW.

  36. Amazing is a small word to describe this wedding, the music is a perfect combination, deeply moved by this images! this one is your mark in the history of wedding photography!

  37. Amazing! Some of the wild-life portraits are nick brandt-level. I bet they’d look even more incredible in print. I see why you’ve been talking so much about Africa on social media lately. Fantastic work!

  38. Det är så magiska bilder och jag kan nästan höra ljudet och känna värmen av savannen, människorna och känslorna. Du är fantastisk! Tack för att du delar med dej, vilken inspiration du är.

  39. I have loved this series and couldn’t wait for you to publish the blog. It was worth the wait! Its absolutely stunning. I’ve never been interested in going to Kenya until I saw your photos & words on this wedding and the safari you went on. I can’t imagine how the real thing would affect you if some beautifully captured moments can already make you feel so much.

  40. There’s this rush of emotions flooding into my heart as I’m watching these images. Outstanding.

  41. I think i have never seen a so amazing wedding like that… Really. Unique, rare and real. Waw!!!!

  42. I can only repeat what a lot have said here already. This is by far the most stunning wedding photography I have ever seen. Really breathtaking surroundings but how you have captured it just blows my mind…..

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