Is there a more romantic destination than Italy for a wedding backdrop?!?! The answer to that is a big, fat NOPE. And might we add that the scenery of Villa Catureglio mixed with the images of Rebecca of Docuvitae Photography are seriously heart-palpitating. This plays out like an ultra-romantic film complete with two scrumptious dresses and a happily ever after. How’s that for every girl’s dream? Now if only we could set up on-site blogging for the editor of this post, all would be well. Grab a glass a vino and see it all here.

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From the Bride…Because our families are so spread apart (mine in the Czech Republic and Ben’s in Oregon), Ben and I wanted a venue where everyone could meet and spend the week getting to know each other. After tons of research, I saw a few photos of Villa Catureglio online. The setting looked stunning and remote and I liked the understated, yet thoughtful, decor and landscaping. Luckily, it turned out to be even more magical in person! One of our happiest memories of the wedding process was the first day and night we spent there, getting to know the wonderful couple who run the place, Kate and Richard, and feeling giddy with the realization that we could get married in such a beautiful environment. Part of what makes Catureglio special is the quintessentially Tuscan architecture set against a wilder, mountainous setting. Walking around the property you see groves of olive trees, stone walls, mossy paths dotted with porcupine quills and an abandoned olive mill—it’s an incredible place to explore. In planning the look of the wedding, we tried to stick with the natural color palette (lots of gray, green, brown and ochre) and existing ambiance.

The downside to a rural location is that we had very little choice for our main vendors, which worried me. Luckily, we absolutely loved our florist, Sabrina, who made every effort to satisfy my vision, down to the tiniest details. For the tables, I had my heart set on using tons of herbs in mismatched zinc pots and she sourced the perfect mix of vessels and plants, AND surprised me with the prettiest baby olive trees! I brought a bunch of gray stone votive holders and a few extra zinc pots in different shapes (all from OneKingsLane) from home to round out the look. For my bouquet, we went simple with cream peonies and lily of the valley since my dress had so much embellishment on top. Our only colorful elements were wreaths made from burgundy peonies that Sabrina hung on the chapel windows.

Our “Amore” save the dates from Cynthia Warren helped set the tone for the whole event. She used layers of ochre ink to replicate the look of an old Tuscan wall, and oyster gray envelopes—colors we used throughout the event. Our invitations were based on watercolors of Catureglio’s buildings done by a friend, Christine Wraga, and letterpressed by another friend, Emily Johnson of EMprint Press. I went to Champion Stamps in New York and found vintage stamps featuring Italian greats like Francis of Assisi, Garibaldi, Fermi, and Caruso—not sure anyone noticed these but me! Grace Edmands did the beautiful calligraphy and, at the last minute, I asked her to letter zinc tags with white ink to use as place cards. (One of the nice things about a small wedding is that you can use first names only!) Ben’s sisters helped me tie the tags to brown linen napkins (bought in the U.S. from Simrin) using vintage embroidery floss. Grace also made signs that said “Sposa” (bride) and “Sposo” (groom) for our chairs and a sign for the escort table that said “Your tile will tell you your table!” Tracking down the Etruscan-style tiles we used as escort cards/favors turned out to be one of the highlights of our planning. We ordered them from Surrena Terracotta in Umbria, Italy and decided to pick them up in person to save on shipping. We were treated to a tour of the factory and saw how our tiles were made by hand, using an ancient process that includes burying them underground. Each tile is one-of-a-kind and full of natural imperfections.

Of course, one of the best decisions we made was hiring Rebecca from Docuvitae. She not only takes the type of timeless, emotionally-driven photographs we love, she also has a real understanding of Italy that comes through in the pictures, especially the black and white shots. I was very nervous before the ceremony and Rebecca helped calm me down—she even stayed calm and unflappable (and helped translate!) when we got in a car accident minutes before the rehearsal dinner!

My advice to destination brides…don’t agonize about the legalities. Up until a month before the wedding, we really wanted our wedding ceremony to be legally binding and our families wanted that as well. Ultimately, it was very expensive to do the Italian civil ceremony and get it translated, and we still weren’t sure it would be valid in the U.S. So we wrote our own symbolic ceremony and asked Ben’s uncle, John, to be our officiant. It was beautiful and personal and should have been our decision from the start. Also, don’t overbook your guests. I’d been to destination weddings where I felt like I barely got to see the location I’d traveled to, so we wanted to leave lots of free time.

Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier (“magical” skirt + “meringue” top) / Short Dress: Nanette Lepore / Groom’s Suit: John Varvatos / Tie: Theory / Bridesmaid Dresses: Cynthia Steffe / Flower Girl Dress: Halabaloo / Wedding Photography: Rebecca of Docuvitae Photography / Venue: Villa Catureglio / Save the Date: Cynthia Warren Design / Invitations: Christine Wraga + EMprint Press / Stamps: Champion Stamps / Calligraphy: Grace Edmands Calligraphy / Tiles: Surrena Terracotta

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