Bride Rebecca chose to have her “hen stomp” a few days before her wedding, which was held in a rustic finca in the middle of the Sierra de Las Nieves nature park in the Andalusian region of Spain. As many of her guests had traveled far to be with her, Rebecca wanted to show them more of the gorgeous region that she calls home. Her closest friends gathered in the mountain village of Yunquera, not far from her home, to go on a hike. The trek (led by Jacqui, a friend who knew the area well) took them along country roads, down a steep gorge to a lush valley, a huge dam and the Zarzalones cave, where the Rio Grande river is born. Afterwards, the group gathered at the bride’s favorite nearby restuarant and were joined by other women from her family for a night of delicious regional food, wine and laughter. Photographer Ruth Joy, a close friend of the bride, captured the beautiful countryside walk and emotional dinner party that followed.
From bride Rebecca:
I chose to have a long walk for my hen party because so many guests had come a long way to stay in this particularly beautiful part of the world, and I wanted to show them some special local places. As everyone had paid for their flights and accommodation, I didn’t want to ask people to start forking out for activities. My friend Jacqui, who knows the area well, led us along country roads and pathways, down a steep gorge to a lush valley, a huge dam and a cave called Zarzalones, where the Rio Grande river is born. We sat on the dam and enjoyed the surroundings with a glass of bubbly. A friend, Kayte, picked some wild flowers on the way and wove them into a crown, which I still have. A few women jumped off the dam into the crystal clear, very cold river water, to cool down after the hike. We then walked across the dam and into the cave, to find the source, where the river bubbles up from a deep underground channel. There were bats hanging from the roof, and a wonderful stillness and darkness inside. Some of us had a swim in the source pool, which was icy cold but very invigorating. This was one of my favourite moment of the whole day—bathing in the source pool while singing with some wonderful women.
After an hour or so at the cave, we made our way back up to the path, and walked the last five kilometers into the village, to a restaurant called Enara’s, my favourite in this area. The owners are so welcoming and accommodating. We had about ten more people than I’d booked for, but the lovely food just kept coming and the wine flowing. There we met the rest of the hen party—those who’d been unable to join the walk. We got changed and scrubbed up a bit in the loos, then sat down to a fantastic feast. My best lady, Steph, had prepared a Mr and Missus quiz, which got quite awkward at times because my Mum was there! Steph had also made a slideshow of photographs taken during our long friendship, along with pictures of my childhood, my family and—this part had me crying—my two daughters.
I’m so grateful to Ruth for capturing the magic of the day with her photography. We’ve been great friends for half our lives, and I admire her talent for capturing the beauty and essence of people and places.