Through the lens: A Santorum Wedding

By Natasha Boddie/November 2017

It’s not every day you receive a phone call in the middle of the night asking if you want to be a travelling photographer to document pre-wedding activities for none other than Elizabeth Santorum. That call came one night in March when alumnus Kelly Shepherd was asked if he wanted to travel to Ireland. The answer of course was yes. Shepherd had been solicited to be the travelling photographer for the Santorum wedding. But first, he would need to prove he was the man for the job.

Over the next few weeks plans of the wedding and the trip were discussed. Subsequently, as Kelly photographed Elizabeth’s bridal shower. It was immediate. Sealing the deal as Kelly and the Santorum’s made a strong connection. Shepherd was hired to document the Santorum wedding.

And so, the week-long journey began. A story to be told through the lens of a photographer. This would-be Shepherd’s second international photography trip. Excited and grateful for the opportunity. From Dulles to Dublin airport, a drive across the country to Clare County a new adventure awaited.

Let the ceremonies commence as there was much to be celebrated. Unlike any other experience, Ireland was truly one of the most memorable experiences in Kelly’s career as a photographer.

Day One: Starting his morning with a hearty Irish breakfast. Kelly traveled to Knock, Ireland where he spent time at the Castle at Dromoland. Lush green hills of farmed landscapes surrounded him reminding him of home in Virginia. He was joined by the Santorum family and friends to celebrate and photograph Bella Santorum’s first communion.

Day Two: Started much like day one with a hearty Irish breakfast. Destination Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon was on the horizon. A guided tour of the monastery was interrupted by a down pour of rain. Kelly recounts an old saying, “if you don’t like the weather in Ireland, wait 10 minutes.” Beautiful weather all day, suddenly a burst of rain swept across the river drenching everyone. However, it did not put a damper on the mood nor tour. Kelly continued to document despite the uncertainty of the weather. After departing the monastery, the group continued onto lunch after a brief stop at WB Yeat’s tower.

Day Three: Mid-week officially kicked off the pre-wedding festivities. A bridal tea party with the ladies of the wedding took place within the classy Dromoland Castle that afternoon. Kelly continued to document the stories as the ladies reminisced of the events which would lead them to the upcoming wedding. Afterwards, everyone departed for the wedding rehearsal and dinner party.

“The dinner party was awesome! Everyone was dressed up and feeling fancy,” says Kelly. In a place called Azur in downtown Limerick, a thoughtful evening put together with every detail carefully thought out. As family and friends of Elizabeth flew into Ireland. The night went on with fun, laughs, and speeches for the upcoming nuptials Matthew and Elizabeth.

“The thing that astounded me the most was the love and friendliness around the room and from everyone there. It was such a great night … I felt like I was part of something really special,” says Shepherd.

Day Four: Through his camera lens from the beautiful Rock of Cashel, unpredictable Ireland weather continued as Kelly captured all the obstinate moments of the wedding party dealing with the randomness of the weather. From sun to clouds to down pours of rain as everyone scrambles to find a dry place in the various nooks and crannies of the castle. As the tour concluded all departed back to the Inns to prepare for the welcoming ceremony later that evening.

With 200-250 guests who flew in for the wedding. This would-be Kelly’s last day photographing. Music and fun filled the evening as guests danced, enjoyed a few jokes and more heartfelt speeches given.    

Elizabeth’s wedding was, “absolutely stunning, perfect, elegant, and classy,” says Kelly. An experience to remember with all the love, kindness, harmony, faith and unity that everyone shared at the wedding was something Kelly would never forget. He had made so many new friends. Captured so many memories alongside a billionaire and former Senator. All politics aside, “I felt like I was best friends with everyone there who I had been spending time with,” says Shepherd.  

Seeing Elizabeth and Matthew take their first dance, cut their cake and interact with everyone shared at the wedding was something Kelly would carry with him for days to come. It was a special moment in his life as he looked forward to his own wedding.

“Seeing all that love before me made me so excited for my future, I learned a lot about family, love, togetherness, hard work to keep a marriage together and functioning,” replies Shepherd. It was all humbling.


School of Art would like to congratulate Kelly and his fiancée Rachael on their engagement. Cheers to many years of happiness.

To view images of the trip, click here.