Visiting Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, you will experience compelling coastal towns that are still untouched by mass tourism. The area is famous for its charming coastal, hill towns, and islands. There, you can walk in the footsteps of ancient civilizations and watch their awe-inspiring legacy come to life. You can also visit hidden spots and explore forests where fairies might live.
Istria is a small peninsula with great people who broke several Guinness Records:
– Hum, one of the most famous centers for Glagolitic script from the 11th century, holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest city in the world.
– Giancarlo Zigante, with the large truffle ever found weighing 1.31 kg – Guinness listed this truffle as the largest in the world in 1999.
– The “Light postcard” by Visualia Festival and “Pula+Istria” in 2015.
– Longest necktie, measuring 808 m (2,650 ft), was made by members of the Academia Cravatica organization. It took five days to complete and was tied around the arena in Pula, Croatia on 18 October 2003.
Pula and its glorious Arena
Pula is the biggest city in Istria and is named the City of Seven Hills. It offers the most preserved Roman monuments, unique gastronomy, festivals, and incredible surrounding nature. The queen of the city is the amphitheater Arena, the most beautiful world stage. Built in 27 B.C., this Arena is the largest and best-preserved monument of ancient architecture in Croatia.
Comparing it with more than 200 Roman amphitheaters in the world, it ranks 6th in terms of size and is the only one in the world whose three Roman architectural orders have been completely preserved. It is considered a rare example of unique technical and technological solutions.
Some of the most famous performers of all time have selected the Arena as their world stage. Among them are Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Sinéad O’Connor, Elton John, Sting, Michael Bolton, Il Divo, and many more.
In the magnificent Arena, Velka Šuran created her world-class wedding magic.
Velka Šuran is an interior designer from Croatia, a woman of unlimited energy and creativity. Her company, LF, is one of the most creative destination wedding planners in Croatia and wider. They create custom-made weddings and offer a 5-star service for every single event. Her inspiration is Istria, an undiscovered wedding oasis, which has won numerous awards from wedding fairs throughout the region. Many clients have used LF wedding services, from members of the royal family to stars such as José Carreras, Sting, and Foo Fighters.
LF successfully held a hockey spectacle in the Arena in 2016. After that, it opened the door to new possibilities. Then came her idea of holding a wedding in the amphitheater. The outcome of the project is these beautiful photos shot in the Arena of “the City of Seven Hills”.
Pervez Taufiq is the founder of PTaufiq, award-winning luxury photography and videography company from the U.S. Pervez Taufiq teamed up with his wife, Nicole Taufiq, to build a global team. He himself was a singer, and she an internationally acclaimed model, before they switched to photography. Throughout the year, Pervez and Nicole can be found traveling the world with their three kids, curating and creating iconic imagery and videos for their brides and grooms. They are one of the most highly sought-after teams in the world for luxury weddings.
The team behind the Luxury Indian Wedding photoshoot
Velka Šuran invited her colleagues Joy Strotz, Pervez Taufiq, Denise Lillie, and Erica Jones, to join together in her new venture. With the support of the Istria Tourist Board, they create memorable, first-time-seen, wedding magic in the magnificent Arena. Let’s talk with them to have a better insight into this project.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Velka and Pervez, why did you decide to team up? What can teamwork do for your clients that each of you – as individuals – cannot do?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Velka and the project and instantly had this beautiful vision when she was describing it. I knew Monica Vaswani from working on Richa and Vishal’s wedding, and she was incredible. She found Anthony Gomes, who is a super-talented designer and model. And we knew we had a great team that understood the vision and would be able to deliver.
VELKA ŠURAN: The idea of our joint connection occurred during the project in the Arena, and the catalysts of our joint work are Erica Jones and Joy Strotz. In our team of professionals, Pervez Taufiq, apart from being a rock star and a top videographer, is a man who connects people from all over the world and is a tireless traveler in search of perfect backdrops for his works.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Velka, so this wedding ceremony is like the realization of your dream?
VELKA ŠURAN: That’s right. The idea was to open the doors of Istria as a wedding destination and present the Arena as a unique luxury location that can host newlyweds from all over the world. For this occasion, we invited the beautiful Indian Monica Vaswani and Anthoni Gomez as guests. The project was designed in collaboration with LF Weddings, Denise Lillie, and Erica Jones, with the support of many local stakeholders, all under the watchful eye of Pervez Taufiq and Joy Strotz. Considering the size of the entire project and the contribution to the realization of Istria as a wedding destination, support was provided by the tourist board of Istria and local tourist boards organized in the South Istria cluster. The project gained special interest from colleagues at DWP (Destination Wedding Planners).
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Can you explain the difference between “destination wedding planner” and “wedding planner”?
VELKA ŠURAN: A wedding planner is a person or a team that plans and organizes a wedding for newlyweds according to their wishes, while a destination wedding planner is actually a “producer” who, in addition to planning, organization, and decoration, suggests a destination or location that he represents to his clients. The destination wedding planner thoroughly researches the destination in accordance with the personality of their clients and recommends exactly the location in the destination that identifies with their character. The destination wedding planner is dedicated to his destination in detail and is familiar with all its charms and possibilities, and is available to the newlyweds for all questions, not only during planning but from the moment of arrival at the destination, the celebration, and ceremony of saying the fateful YES, until the moment of departure guests from the destination.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: If a couple wants to book your service, how would you go through the whole process with them?
VELKA ŠURAN: Times change, styles and trends pass, but the wedding still remains one of the most important family and social events in the life of the newlyweds. A moment that is special, unique, and unrepeatable. For that moment to be perfectly planned and realized down to the smallest detail, it is necessary to create “magic” between the newlyweds and us, in which we begin mutual communication and getting to know each other. The following is the process of designing and planning the future wedding according to the personality of the newlyweds and fulfilling all the small details and wishes that will create a fairy tale that tells about them. Often our communication lasts for months for the future wedding to be planned according to the clients, from the location, accommodation, personalized menu, design, entertainment, and everything else included in the wedding production.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Dear Pervez Taufiq, you were once a rock singer. Can you please tell us about that period in your life?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: I was the lead singer for the band Living Syndication based out of Boston, Massachusetts. We put out three albums and toured for four years, playing shows with bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, Linkin Park . We would play audience of 250,000 people a night. It was an amazing time of my life and I do miss the energy you get while performing to people who bounce that energy back to you. It’s a kinetic experience.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: How did you decide to quit your singing career and become a photographer?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and creating videos. At first, it was something I did for my own band. Eventually, I did the same for other bands and artists, making music videos and creating artistic portraits for their album covers. One day, a friend asked if I would shoot their wedding. I reluctantly agreed, afraid to ruin their photos with such a lack of experience. But for some reason, they loved their photos, and I got by a bug that’s turned into a monster.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: How does the music background help you in photography, especially wedding photography?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: There are so many similarities between being a performing musician and the way I like to shoot. I am not the type of photographer who captures whatever is happening. I like to excite people, rev them up, and make them do things they may be nervous or shy to do. For better or worse, I have no impulse control. I follow what I feel will be fun and make for a great experience. Those photos always turn out epic. The other thing I found and have brought from my musician days is how lighting is everything. Have you ever watched a band on a huge stadium tour and noticed how incredible the “show” itself is? If you notice the lights above the band and to the side, the band is always carving out this cinematic lighting. When I brought that to brides and grooms, they would say, “WTF!” and I kept getting asked to create those moments and called them “WTF Moments”. It’s an incredible feeling being able to give a bride and groom a photo that doesn’t seem possible to even create. It’s one of the things I love best about my “job”.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Together with your wife, Nicole Taufiq, you founded Ptaufiq…
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: I’m blessed to be married to my best friend and partner, Nicole. If not for her, we would never be able to do what we do. Not only is she an amazing photographer, but she is also an amazing mother to our three boys, Arman, Zayden, and Nirvan. When you have a partner like that and a reason to keep working at what you love, nothing can stop you. Do what you love, everything else will work itself out. PTaufiq has taken a life of its own since we started it in late 2019. My wife and I manage and shoot for the company. We did almost 250 weddings last year. Our idea was to create a process of creating epic amazing heartfelt photos and videos, something that’s teachable. Then we decentralized our team, having them all over the world, and trained them to be able to rockstars at their craft.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: How difficult is it to achieve the quality that you want to deliver to your clients?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: Getting a perfect photo is nearly impossible, I’m never fully satisfied and always see little things in retrospect I could have done to make it even better. That being said, I’ve given up trying to make myself a perfect photo. I want to move my couples, whether it be excitement or feeling more romantic towards one another.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: What is the difference between a good wedding photo and a great wedding photo?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: A good wedding photo is good for the photographer, a great wedding photo affects the person looking at it.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Can you describe your clientele?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: Our clientele loves photos and videos, they understand and value the fact that after the wedding, the only thing that remains is the photos and videos. They’re the couples standing with me though they’re afraid of heights, at the edge of that glacier, defying fear and cold and any obstacle in our path. Because they know that what we will create together will be on a level that is unprecedented and unique. We have shot a lot of celebrity weddings, most recently Vishal and Richa from the TV show Family Karma.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Can you share an interesting story/experience of your work as a wedding photographer?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: My wife Nicole and I travel to weddings with our three kids and get to have some pretty unique experiences. Our kids sometimes hold the lights for us. One time in Kenya in the Massai Mara, a hyena started tracking our eldest son as he was walking back to the Safari jeep. He ran, and I ran between the hyena and our son, screaming to scare him off. It was a scary experience, but we learned a lot about the fact that our bubble can be broken. Now we can have a laugh about that day, but at the moment, it was a very scary thing.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: What do you like about your team partner?
VELKA ŠURAN: Working with Pervez Taufiq is above all fun. When you’re in the company of a “rock star”, laughter is guaranteed, but professionalism and perfectionism are his distinguishing features, which are reflected in his photos and videos. Taufiq is a colleague and friend you can always count on.
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: Working with Velka was like working with your best friend. I’m very close to her, and her resilience in the face of adversity is so admirable. And she’s this amazing mother and wife as well, which I have so much respect for. I could go on endlessly about her. She’s truly an amazing planner…
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Together, what have been your biggest achievements?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: This shoot has been an amazing achievement for us to execute so far. We shut down a Roman colosseum for a shoot! That alone was insanely amazing.
VELKA ŠURAN: Our greatest achievement was working together in the Arena, which connected many professionals from the wedding industry who had not had the opportunity to work together before, and who on that occasion functioned together as a perfect philharmonic.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Can you tell how you shot the photos for this cover story?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: This Photoshoot was more of a love story of a couple who gets married in Croatia and falls in love with each other and beautiful Istria. I wanted to show as much of Istria as I could and have this gorgeous narrative, not just for photos but also for video. The interesting thing is that we all fell in love with Istria during the shoot – the place, the people, the culture, the food… It was this beautiful place that didn’t seem real until you experienced it.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: What is your plan for 2023?
PERVEZ TAUFIQ: In 2023, I’ll get to work with Velka again for a bride who’s getting married in Rovign. If you haven’t been there, it’s beyond incredible. I am building new teams in new locations and hopefully spread the love of what I do to as many people as possible. This is going to be an amazing year.
VELKA ŠURAN: We open the year with a joint cover in Harper’s Bazaar and continue our cooperation at a wedding that will take place in Istria, in the old castle of the city of Pula, for the newlyweds who are coming to us from Africa on this occasion. There are still many joint projects planned by all partners from the Arena who had the honor of getting to know magical Istria, but some details must remain our common secret. But certainly, this was only the beginning of a superb friendship and professional relationship that knows no boundaries.
HARPER’S BAZAAR: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
VELKA ŠURAN: Istria, that magical peninsula of Europe, is in many ways unique and recognized in the world. The best proof of this is the superb gastronomy recognized by the best gastronomic guides, confirmed by the award for the best olive growing region in the world for the seventh year in a row. Guided by the same idea of the best quality, we wish to position Istria on the world map of wedding destinations, and on this occasion, we invite all future newlyweds who are intrigued by this announcement to visit Istria and get to know all the charms of “Istria – Terra Magica”.
Photographer: Pervez Taufiq @ptaufiqphotography
Event Production & Coordination: Velka Suran @lf_weddings
Floral & Design Consultation, Wardrobe Stylist: Denise Lillie @deniselillieengagements
Floral Design & Model Casting: Erica Jones @oluxedesign
Florists: Irena Florami @floramistudio, Tea Haler @weddingsbyhaler, Leona Puncikar @leona.flowersandweddings, Daniela Perišić @persic_daniela
Models: Monica Vaswani @monica_vaswani & Anthony Gomez @antorvingomes
Makeup: Tea Flego @teaflego, @lebeautymansion
Reception Decor and Catering: @lf_catering
Luxury Transportation & Yacht: @belistria
Scenography/Filming Equipment: @ghiastaff, @altera_event_tent
Publication PR: Joy Strotz @joystrotz
Retouching: WEON @weon_graphicworld
Locations: Motovun @visit_motovun, Brijuni Island, Istria, Croatia @npbrijuni, Rovigno, Istria, Croatia @rovinjcroatia, Yacht Services @belistria, Pula Arena @pula.arena, Archaelogical Museum of Istria @arheoloski_muzej_istre
Gown/Wardrobe Designers: @vjencanice_angelsweddings; @vjencanice_biba; Ashley Lauren of @neva.vjencanice, @antorvingomes, @evotique, @chrysaliscouturemi, @terra_inde, @livebohame @falgunishanepeacockindia, @advanilondon
Project supported by: @visitistria, @southistria, @croatiafulloflife, @pula_plus, @dwp_congress
Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam