This, my sweets, is a Jose Villa workshop, Italian style. And it comes bubbling over with talented craftsmen like Kate Holt Of FlowerwildLaurie Arons Special Events and a team of artists who transformed Villa Cetinale into pure wedding magic with a good dose of old world elegance. Have a look here for even more inspiration and if you missed it, the engagement session that started things off.

A note from Laurie AronsThe 17th century regality of Villa Cetinale inspired our “wedding” design for the Jose Villa workshop. Built by the Medici family for Pope Alexander VII, the Villa’s Roman Baroque architecture and religious artifacts set the scene for our faux formal wedding in the beauty of the Tuscan countryside. I felt a carefully selected shade of deep plum befitted an occasion at the elegant villa. Used as a accent color against a palette of ivory, cream and rich beautiful gold, it struck just the right note of royalty and romance.

I worked with A Day In May Design to develop the invitation suite, thank you notes, menus and day-of details. Together we enlisted Tara Jones Calligraphy, as her beautiful free hand style of calligraphy reminded us of Old World Italian documents. While most of the printed pieces were created on natural, antique feeling papers, we decided to print our menu/placecards on deep plum card stock with guest names calligraphed in gold. They photographed beautifully on the dining table against the plum taper candles.

Another favorite detail were the welcome trays we created for each student in the workshop. Kate Holt from Flowerwild hand-painted Florentine trays I sourced in Florence, which we topped with personal calligraphed stationery by A Day in May and Tara Jones. We then found gifts from the region including pears from the local market, Italian fine chocolate and candles from Santa Maria Novella, the oldest ‘farmacia’ in the world.

A note from the Kate of Flowerwild“Dove il cielo si incontrano la terra” – where the heavens meet the earth. This quote wrapped around the leather passport covers which were a pre-welcome gift for attendees – a hint at the marvelous and things soon to unfold on their travels to the Jose Villa Workshop. Not to be sappy – but this is my second workshop with Jose and it is so eye-opening for me to observe him teaching, and see all the talents around him come together to create something unique. I learn SO much with each experience. I know I have him to thank for many great strides by business has taken since I was lucky enough to observe him teaching in Mexico a few season ago. No denying… that was life changing for me. I’m certain all his attendees feel the same.

For this workshop I was simply drawing from the space, the unbelievable villa, the tones within the landscape, and the natural environment and architecture to create a look for Jose and his students to photograph. Going there sight unseen -except for what I could gather from online imagery- sort of opens up the experience to half good-planning and forethought, and the other half- a strange mix of luck and an ability to focus and seek out the best of what the environment provides. I find that if I lock myself too deeply into one direction or look – I am inevitably sidetracked or slowed down by certain items not being available, or sought after materials being impossibly elusive.

To begin designing, I started with the little Italian phrase, and then researched traditional Italian weddings to see where it would lead me, to see what I could learn about another culture’s approach to the vows between two people in love. I looked at poems, timeless traditions, wardrobe history, baroque architecture (the style of the villa) and did my best to gently weave these ideas into the bones of the look.

Deep olive and plum tones, veils to the ground, easter lilies, an abundance of altar of candles, dramatic gowns, and gold embroidery are a few notes that I began to build the look from. Laurie and her team dreamed up these very deep toned-plum, standing place cards with gold calligraphy. For me, these set the tone for everything moving forward from there. I basically just looked to balance the high drama and luxuriousness of the villa against the real, rawness of the countryside there. Some items were painstakingly resourced by Laurie, Katie, Summer, and my husband and I – and others were serendipitously discovered along the roadside. With some very generous guidance from a friend on the ground in Italy – Tomasso – and some amazing luck we were able to make it all happen!

To me the workshop is such a collaboration – as all weddings are. We all lend what we can and are lucky enough to have Jose and his students capture it. I hope we can continue to do it “per cent anni!” for a hundred years!

Photography: Jose Villa Photography | Gown: Reem Acra From Gabriella Bridal | Gown: Samuelle | Hair And Makeup: TEAM Hair & Makeup | Calligraphy: Tara Jones Calligraphy | Beaded Charger: The Ark Event Rentals | Car: Zephyrus Sienna | Creative Direction And Design: Kate Holt Of Flowerwild | Design And Planning: Laurie Arons Special Events | Florentine Charger: Casa De Perrin | Graphic Design And Printing: A Day In May Design | Guest Speaker: Summer Watkins | Guest Speaker: Joel Serrato | Guest Speaker: Laurie Arons Special Events | Guest Speaker: Shira Savada Of Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine | Leather Work And Brass Tags: Amber Moon Of Pitbulls And Posies | Models: I Love Management And Casting Italy | Special Assistant And Decor: Tomasso Of La Rosa | Veil: Preston Olivia | Venue: Villa Cetinale | Villa: Villa Cetinale | Wardrobe Stylist: Summer Watkins

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