This wedding right here? Well it’s a modern day Nancy Meyers movie, except better. Because with Leighanne Herr Photography behind the lens snapping up every second of perfection, it’s one day that you’re sure to dream about long after you’re left The Vault. Fall in love with it all here.
From The Bride…Patrick and I fell in love swiftly, sweetly, and unexpectedly. I was not anticipating falling in love, especially after the untimely passing of my husband Craig in 2013 from a pulmonary embolism that took him at the age of 29. But Patrick found me in just the right way as to not scare me off, it was almost sneaky! He found me through mutual friends on Facebook and messaged me during a business trip to Hawaii (such a hard life!). I had actually just returned from Hawaii myself on a business trip two weeks earlier (we sound ridiculous) so we had an instantly easy way of chatting about our travels. Patrick was eager to meet me once he returned and we had 3 mini dates within 24 hours! Patrick was easy to talk to, loved to travel and be outdoors, and most importantly he accepted all of me, especially the parts that were most vulnerable and tender being a young widow.
Our courtship was short. From our first date in September 2015, Patrick could hardly wait to propose. The only request I made with regards to a ring was to have a pink colored stone as part of the design. Pink was a comforting color that made me smile during some of the hardest moments of my life. I would often look up at the sky and see what I would call “sunset pink” and think that the heavens painted that color just for me that day. I wanted a constant reminder that Patrick was now that joy in my life.
I didn’t have a clear vision at first of what I would want for a wedding day celebration. It naturally unfolded through trial and error. We visited some venues in Austin one weekend as a thought to have a “mini destination” wedding away from Houston. We both know a lot of people and I didn’t want a huge wedding- it was honestly to keep the guest list at bay. On our way home, I just didn’t feel “right” or the confirmation I thought I should from checking out these venues. We had spoken of a destination wedding before, but didn’t pursue it because we didn’t think anyone could afford to come. I am Italian and have loved family history work and by default became my families historian. I have dreamed of doing a family history tour of Sicily for years and had been planning to go the summer of 2016. I asked Patrick what he thought about our wedding being in Sicily. I said those words and instantly I started to tear up! Patrick was excited and loved the idea and from that moment, we didn’t look back!
I started researching where the best places to have a wedding in Sicily were. I came across several posts about the city of Toarmina, which wasn’t too far from where my ancestors came from. After further research I found these incredible villas through The Thinking Traveller. They were so dreamy and came with so many amenities- like a chef for the week! I wanted to plan a trip that was easy and stress free. We had no idea if it would be just the two of us or if other family and friends would be able to attend so I picked a villa that was flexible (and gorgeous!). I fell in love with Rocca delle Tre Contrade instantly. Jon, the owner of the villa, spent 6 years restoring this historic building and bringing it back to life with all the modern conveniences! They offered a 12 room villa for up to 24 people with incredible views of Mt. Etna and the sea. A perfect mix of landscape to represent both Patrick, who loves mountains, and me, who lives for the beach!
I hired Ashley from Two Be Wed to help create a storyboard of everything I was dreaming of. This was critical in showing my Sicily wedding coordinator and vendors what I needed. My color palette was a mix of muted grays, pinks, golds, creams, and greens. The villa and landscape were already so beautiful I didn’t need a lot of additional decor. I packed 50 brass candlestick holders I had collected from vintage shops, some fabric for the table and archway, and some paper goods to decorate. Ashley was a genius in keeping it simple and organized, especially for traveling! I wanted lots of flowers at the villa so it was really important to me to meet with the florist the villa recommended. My Sicilian coordinator Ornella went with me to the florist (Angela), who spoke no English, to translate and make sure everything was ready to go. I chose peonies, eucalyptus, anemones, and garden roses displayed in a very natural way. I asked her to design an archway with a floral accent for my ceremony, so together with the villa’s gardener, who actually hand built it the morning of the wedding; they went to town making this incredible work of art!
Dionne of Nib & Pixel created the most beautiful watercolor invitation of the villa to get everyone excited! She also created our welcome bags, personalized name cards, and our sweet wooden “sposo” & “sposa” signs (Italian for “bride” & “groom”). My Sicilian coordinator Ornella helped me pick out local goods from the area to stuff the welcome bags for my guests, complete with chocolates from the oldest chocolate factory on the island, a recipe book of Sicilian desserts, lemon soda, and pistachio wafers!
I worked with Leighanne (our photographer) on several styled shoots for business and felt very comfortable with her. She loves to travel and I always enjoyed watching her unique perspective and attention to details. She jumped at my request to come and shoot our wedding in Sicily and made it so easy along the way. She brought along her fiance Jeremy who operated a drone to capture some amazing shots of the villa and surrounding landscape! How cool is that?!
The food was incredible and was made by the chefs at the villa (who fed us all week- best food of our lives!). Our cake was also made by the villa- a white sponge cake with fresh lemon curd (made from lemons from their orchard) and whipped cream. We had Pasticceria Quaranta come serve gelato and granite (a Sicilian sorbet) from an adorable cart after dinner which was so fun! It has been a family tradition for my sisters (I am the second of 4 girls, and have 1 brother) to get together at Christmas to make my Grandmothers Pizzelle (italian cookie) recipe. My oldest sister was unable to make it to our wedding and instead but sent some of Grandmother’s cookies which we had at the wedding.
We had a DJ play for part of the ceremony and the reception, but at the last minute hired a traditional Sicilian Folk band called Triskele. They were absolutely incredible and one of the most memorable parts of my wedding experience. My Father, who is a very quiet man, leaned over to me during one of their songs at dinner and said that this song was one his Grandfather used to sing all of the time to him growing up. It was so special and meaningful to me to see him have such fond memories- the power of music is incredible! We were also taught the traditional dance the “Tarantella” by the group and our coordinator jumped in to show us how it was done. It was so fun to have the staff become part of our family over the duration of the trip! Patrick owns a dance studio and teaches ballroom dancing- a little intimidating to a girl who doesnt dance! Our first dance wasn’t choreographed like most people would have thought. He and I practiced different type of dancing and we winged it to two songs: “Never Stop” by Safetysuit and “Shut up & Dance” by Walk the Moon.
My dress was so tricky to decide on. I work in the wedding industry and having seen so many gorgeous gowns, I didn’t know what to choose! I flew out to Utah to see Alta Moda Bridal who carries many designers that I love. They also get in and alter designer dresses very quickly which was what I needed as I planned and had my wedding in 3 months! I chose a Berta Bridal gown that was completely unexpected in what I thought I would choose. My consultant Madison was awesome at seeing my body shape and style preferences and choosing options that would compliment both. I had the top of the dress custom designed to make it more modest. I chose a Juliet cap veil and gold headpiece Untamed Petals and Blush colored earrings by Haute Bride, all purchased from The Houston Bridal Gallery. My shoes were hard to find as I had a particular look in mind- I almost gave up completely, but I found them at the last minute from Macys! Being a hair and makeup artist myself, I did my own! I wanted something soft and down so a half up half down style was perfect for me! My makeup was soft and feminine with pinks, golds, and a little bronze.
Guys are always so much easier! Patricks suit and shirt was from Jos. A Banks. His tie and pocket square was from J.Crew. We went shopping together to pick out a “wedding scent” to remind us of our special day. He chose “Coral” by Michael Kors for me and I chose “Guilty” by Gucci for him. I surprised Patrick on our wedding day with a Burberry watch he had been eyeing and a vintage 1700s telescope I found during my travels to Australia.
One of the hardest things to navigate was finding someone to marry us! We were advised to actually get legally married in the US before going to Sicily, so thats what we did! It was difficult to explain that we wanted a ceremonial wedding and didn’t need a legal one. It was a blessing in discuss that we didn’t find anyone, as my Father in Law (my first Husbands father) married us! It was the sweetest blending of families I could ask for and a memory I will cherish for a lifetime!
Destination weddings are the best! I loved being able to spend time with our family- (all three of ours!) before we actually tied the knot. Having experiences and sharing memories of touring our ancestors home towns, climbing a volcano, and touring ancient cities with those we loved was truly remarkable. Everyone loved our little slice of heaven at the Villa. The food is still being talked about and I would not have changed a thing!
Photography: Leighanne Herr Photography | Event Planning: Two Be Wed | Floral Design: Tomarchio Angela | Wedding Dress: Alta MODA | Bride's Shoes: Macy's | Hair + Makeup: Adorne Artistry | Band: Triskele | Groom's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Venue: Rocca delle Tre Contrade | Bridal Boutique: Alta MODA | Cake + Catering: Rocca delle Tre Contrade | Coordination + Booking: The Thinking Traveller | Earrings: Houston Bridal Gallery | Gelato Cart: Pasticceria Quaranta | Hair Accessories + Veil: Houston Bridal Gallery | Invitations, Signage, Place Cards + Welcome Bags: Nib And Pixel | Tie + Pocket Square: J.Crew | Watch: Burberry