There are weddings you adore and then there are weddings you ADORE… drop-dead gorgeous affairs that are so utterly beautiful, you are almost at a loss for words. This is one of those weddings. A breathtaking Italian soiree featuring a stunning actress marrying her dashing music producer groom, all while surrounded by family, friends and moment after moment of “Miss Havisham meets Florence and the Machine” pretty (YES). It’s the kind of day that will most certainly go down in SMP history and you can see it all captured beauitfully by Matthew Moore in the full gallery.
From the Bride… As an actress and screenwriter by trade out in Hollywood it was destined from the beginning that our wedding was going to be a production. Instead of the standard wedding my husband and I were looking to create the set of a movie that would truly transport our guests to another world.
Besides the fact that we are both very artsy people in general, Zach and I are pretty opposite… er, I mean complimentary. Zach is more of a jeans and t-shirt guy. And I am more of a Jimmy Choo and vintage sequined cocktail dress sort of girl. So when it came time to get married, we wanted to find a way to blend our two tastes: him, casual and me, fancy. Him, laid-back and me, dramatic.
We both quickly agreed on a destination wedding since we knew we wanted the wedding to be intimate. And we wanted the event to be more of a collective vacation than some kind of tribute to our coupledom. And I can’t tell you what a perfect decision that was. We settled on Italy, a small town near Lucca called Borgo a Mozzano where I had spent time in college singing opera. (Told you I was hoity toity.) Borgo a Mozzano is in the Garfagna – the wild and untamed mountains of Tuscany.
I’m obsessed with the faded grandeur you can find in Italy – and the villa we chose for the wedding (Villa Catureglio) just embodies it – ivy growing out of the old stone, olive trees everywhere, that gorgeous light that seems to only exist in Italy… To us, there is nothing more beautiful than patina and we wanted to make that the aesthetic focus of the wedding.
To that end, the colors of the wedding are pulled straight from the discoloration in the stone– from salmon to grey to blue to green. There is a whole kaleidoscope of colors just in the stone. We wanted the wedding decor to have an organic feel to it as if it was part of the villa.
The theme for the wedding was Miss Havisham meets Florence and the Machine. The description I like to give is the wedding should look as if it were set up a hundred years ago and then just forgotten. Over the century the elements took over the ivy and moss began to grow over the decor, age faded the tablecloth. And now the wedding has almost a ghostly feel to it. To me there is nothing more romantic than the Havisham tale of a wedding frozen in time. And I love the juxtaposition of beauty and decay.
We obviously had a bit of a challenge pulling off this vision halfway across the world. Also, we wanted to use a more eclectic decorating style than you can usually rent from wedding vendors (especially in Italy where the wedding aesthetic seems to be mostly ‘lets turn the villa into a Miami club!’). So we had to get creative which is where we had so much fun. My mom and I, along with our wedding planners, combed through different thrifts stores in Florence collecting (at quite a reasonable price) fabulous antiques that we used to decorate throughout. We found gorgeous old mirrors that we hung in the limonaia. We went to an old fabric warehouse in Prato and had curtains made for the chapel and elsewhere. We also found fabric there to make our beautiful burlap lace tablecloth! Its amazing how if you’re willing to hunt, you can find amazing things at quite a discount. Combing through Italian thrift stores may not be heaven for everyone but for me and my mom it truly was!
Zach, of course, provided the music, which was a mixture of current indie music along with music from the 1920’s for the dinner to reflect our desire that the wedding feel both vintage and indie. We ended up having 55 of our closest friends and family and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We all spent a few days together before the wedding.
The wedding started in the private chapel on site: a gorgeous, small stone chapel we turned into an ethereal jewel box. We bought some gorgeous velvet and floral silk fabric from a warehouse in Prato that we turned into romantic drapes to dress the windows. The chapel was filled with Kartell Louis ghost chairs in keeping with the somewhat ghostly feel of the wedding.
The bridesmaids walked down the aisle in beautiful navy, 1930’s inspired David Meister gowns as our indie rock musician friend (my cousin) serenaded us with acoustic versions of our favorite songs (“You’ve Got the Love” by Florence and the Machine, “First Day of Our Lives” by Bright Eyes, etc.) It was so unbelievably special to have my cousin sing for us.
I wore a Reem Acra gown (the Olivia) in flowing ivory with silver beaded cap sleeves. My mom and sister and I got it at Kleinfeld at a trunk show. The look was very early Grey Gardens 1930’s glamour. Think Little Edie when she was young and beautiful and full of promise. Or Miss Havisham in her youth.
Once married, we moved into the courtyard of the villa for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Here we had a wonderful surprise planned for our guests. In the distance, they started to hear a band playing celebratory traditional Italian music. The music gradually got closer and closer until through the olive tree-lined entrance to the villa appeared a 30-piece marching band (concerto bandistico)!!! Traditionally, in Italian weddings, the village band plays after the ceremony so we had the local Lucca band do just that for us! They are a fabulous group made up of everyone from 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds who play traditional Italian folk music with perfect imperfection.
The look of the aperitif hour was gorgeous! Drinks were served in the Limonaia (where the lemon trees are stored during the winter). The limonaia is honestly to die for – it’s so Miss Havisham/Grey Gardens with gorgeous French doors opening into this magical space covered in ivy and other hanging vines. Additionally we decorated the walls with a mish-mash of gorgeous, gold antique mirrors we bought at different consignment stores around Florence all in different sizes and shapes– including one gigantic antique mirror (6 feet tall) which rested on the floor. We asked the florist to bring even more ivy to add to the walls and weave around the mirrors to make them feel as if they have been there for centuries. I’m sure I am the only bride who asked the florist to make the venue look more decrepit, but honestly, they did the most magnificent job. Tuscany Flowers (the best!!!) did the flowers.
Decorating the interior of the limonaia were antique chairs and couch purchased at the Lucca antique market. We ended up turning the limonaia into a grand and formal living room that had been over-taken by the elements. The juxtaposition of the antique furniture with the rustic limonaia and its earthy dirt floor is exactly the kind of contradiction we played with throughout the whole wedding.
After the drinks came dinner. Our guests walked through the villa – out to another beautiful courtyard lined with olive trees decorated with hundreds of hanging candles. In between the trees, was a long table covered in a gorgeous burlap lace we had made into a tablecloth from fabric we bought from a wholesale warehouse in Prato. The table was decorated with antique candelabras and vases, filled with romantic and untamed flower arrangements overflowing onto the table, as ivy climbed up the candelabras. Kartell ghost chairs line the table– interrupted only by the occasional antique chair at either end – and a vintage love seat in the center of the table for the bride and groom. Truly the table was a masterpiece. And as the guests ate, we had 1920s music playing which just added to the ambiance.
Instead of a catering company, we were lucky enough to find (thanks to our wedding planners) a famous chef to cook the meal for us. She’s basically the Paula Deen of Italy and she did an impeccable job. We presented her with a bit of a challenge, since we wanted an entirely vegetarian meal. But she pulled it off beautifully!!
After dinner the cake was set up in the grand hall of the villa surrounded by gorgeous moss and placed on an antique base with a stunning patina – we purchased from a nearby salvage yard. The cake was inspired by Wedgewood with intricate ivory detailing on each tier complete with cameos handmade by our master cake artist, Melanie, and topped with a vintage-inspired crown. It truly was BREATHTAKING. (And tasted amazing as well!)
After eating, we walked down a candle-lit walkway, down the property to the loggia (a covered porch of sorts) – made of ancient stone. We transformed this room into cigar/grappa room. We wanted to contrast the simple and masculine stone with feminine and soft decoration. We draped the open windows with rich velvet fabric. And we purchased an assortment of antique furniture from consignment stores to dress up the space as gorgeous chandeliers hung from the ceiling.
Then onto the dancing. We converted the old stone barn into a dancefloor/club – complete with photobooth! Here we had the most fun juxtaposing the modern with the old. A glowing bar with wrap around one of the central columns of the barn as the bartender served us drinks. Crystal chandeliers hung from the walls. We decorated the barn with simple and modern decorations – clean white modern sofas – all white decor against the stone – as we danced into the night. One of the premiere lighting designers in Tuscany lit the space in blues and purples to help complete the transformation.
Our wedding was really the most magical night ever. Our photographers, Matthew and Katie did such an impeccable job capturing the beauty and feel of the event.
Photography: Matthew Moore Photography | Event Coordination: Weddings International | Florist: Tuscany Flowers | Wedding Dress: Reem Acra | Cake: L'Arte Della Torta di Melanie Secciani | Hair + Makeup: Matthew Moore Photography | Venue: Villa Catureglio