Pack your bags, pretties. We’re about to escape via Vicki Grafton’s amazing images to the streets of Florence and the hills of Tuscany. We’re peeking into the ultimate destination celebration with the most talented local vendors like Chic Weddings In Italy and Galateo Ricevimenti. Starting with a pre-wedding shoot near The Duomo and ending with a beautiful film from East West Productions, your Monday just got so much sweeter. More inside The Vault.
From The Bride…Shaun and I met in the chorus room of our high school when we were 15 years old. It was NOT love at first sight! But one year later, we officially started dating and began our lifelong journey of friendship and love. The years went by and we were simply there for each other—through all of life’s challenges, triumphs, struggles and successes. It was just after our eight year anniversary and the day before my birthday when Shaun proposed at a vineyard in the Virginia mountains, owned by a famous Italian winemaking family. It was fitting for Shaun to choose such a location to propose because we studied abroad together in Florence, Italy in college, and fell in love with everything Italian. In the years leading up to our engagement, we talked about the possibility of getting married in Italy as a way of introducing our favorite place to our favorite people.
After our official engagement, it was clear to Shaun and I that we really did want a small, intimate wedding, and wanted to use this time of celebration to travel with our friends and family to Italy. While it was difficult making the decision to have such a small guest list, since Shaun and I both have large families, we knew it was what we really wanted. So we began brainstorming our perfect Italian wedding that we knew would include lots of amazing food, wine, and frolicking in our beloved Florence.
Thanks to our long engagement, I had the time to plan every detail, and really think about each and every decision to be made. Shaun and I both spent many years working in the food and hospitality industry, so we knew what details to consider and prioritize to pull of a successful event and create amazing memories. Thankfully, every single one of our vendors was top notch and extremely professional, and I felt we brought together the dream team to help make our day the kind of event we wanted. We also enlisted the help of Chic Weddings in Italy, as I knew we would need assistance navigating Italian customs and culture, while seamlessly integrating customs and traditions important to us. Sara of Chic Weddings in Italy was an invaluable asset to the team, and the day would not have gone so smoothly if not for her.
After nearly two years of planning, Shaun and I arrived in Florence for a few days of fun in the city before heading off to the Tuscan countryside for three days of rest and relaxation with our friends and family. During the planning process, Shaun and I were able to fly to Italy on a venue scouting trip. Our original intention was to pick a venue inside Florence proper, because we love the city so much. Among the venues we saw, Sara insisted we take the trip out to see Borgo Stomennano. She even drove us herself! Being the stubborn girl that I am, I was not too thrilled about seeing a venue 45 minutes from Florence, but once we drove up the driveway lined with cypress trees and saw the gorgeous villa just beyond the gates, we knew our city wedding had turned into a Tuscan countryside dream. Borgo Stomennano not only was to be the location of the wedding events, but also served as accommodations for the majority of our 35 guests. We reserved the villa for three days and spent our time swimming in the infinity pool, staying up late laughing and drinking wine, and enjoying the surrounding views of the Tuscan hills and the medieval town of Monteriggioni, where we held our rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.
Once wedding day arrived, it was as everyone says, and they day flew by so quickly. Rain threatened the entire day, and it was stressful in those first few hours making the decision to keep our plans of an outdoor wedding. But once the decision was made, I can’t remember another part of the day where Shaun and I didn’t have a goofy grin on our faces—except when my sweet groom couldn’t keep his tears at bay during practically the entire ceremony. Our ceremony was short, but meaningful as we said our vows among the olive trees. We concluded the ceremony by jumping the broom, one of our favorite parts of the day. After pictures with family and the bridal party, and strolling through the olive grove hand-in-hand for our portraits, Shaun and I were able to join our guests during the aperitif held in the gorgeous Italian gardens at the front of the villa. We will never forget when the sun settled beneath the clouds and cast the most amazing glow in the sky, with Monteriggioni in the background. Magical doesn’t even begin to describe the moment!
After the sun set, we moved to the back of the villa were the dinner table was laid out. We set the mood with chandeliers in the trees, many candles, soft and inviting music and incredible florals by La Rosa Canina. Shaun and I love good food and Shaun is a bartender who makes the most amazing craft cocktails, so the food and drinks had to be phenomenal. Galateo Ricevimenti worked with us to craft a perfect menu that included pesto lasagna, risotto with duck, filet mignon with Chianti Classico sauce and various Tuscan wines. We ended the meal by serving a traditional Italian wedding cake, millefoglie. The layers of puff pastry, Chantilly cream, and berries were assembled in front of the guests, and this moment turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole day. After the meal, we ended the evening by dancing the night away poolside and munching on a midnight snack of gelato and various Italian cookies.
As we settle into married life, and recall the day beautifully captured by Vicki Grafton and East West Production, Shaun and I cannot help but feel tremendously blessed. The years leading up to our wedding were the most stressful of our lives as I finished law school, but every second was worth it. The whole wedding week, we were filled with such peace and love for each other and our crew who surrounded us as we entered into the covenant of marriage. The wedding turned out to be even better than we ever dreamed. We are so thankful for our friends and family who all traveled a long way to celebrate with us, and the beautiful memories that were created that week. I have a feeling many more trips to Italy are in our future.
Photography: Vicki Grafton Photography | Cinematography: East West | Event Styling: Chic Weddings in Italy | Floral Design: La Rosa Canina | Wedding Dress: Essense | Invitations: Written Word | Bride's Shoes: Valentino d'Orsay | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Catering: Galateo Ricevimenti | Hair + Makeup: Giulia Cresci | Calligraphy: Betsy Dunlap | DJ: DJ Francis | Groom's Attire: Custom Suit By J Hilburn | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | String Quartet: Firenze Classica | Venue: Borgo Stomennano | Bridal Boutique: Betsey Robinson | Event Production: Chic Weddings in Italy | Groom's Shoes: Sergio Ferragamo | Hair Accessories: jennifer behr | Programs: Written Word | Save The Dates: Carol Woldhuis Designs