SUBMIT WEDDING
Two Stylish Gents, One Incredible Italian Engagement

“Stylish” doesn’t even begin to describe the engagement session of Tom and Tim. In fact, these two gents took their impeccable sense of fashion and paired that with the backdrop of Tuscany for absurdly romantic photos captured by Rebecca Yale. Join us on their trek through Italy with lots more right over here.

From Rebecca Yale Photography My favorite thing about engagement sessions is they get to be a little slice of life so is there anything better than a destination engagement session which can perfectly capture the memories of an incredible trip exploring the Tuscan countryside? I spent a lovely Fall weekend photographing the incredibly sweet (and fashionable) Tom and Tim at Il Borro, a 1000-year-old castle estate, and medieval village in Tuscany owned by the Ferragamo family.

Tim, a former bronze medalist Olympic Ice Skater, was celebrating his master’s degree from NYU and of course their recent engagement. Tom popped the question at the historic Chanler in Newport, RI, where the couple will say their I Do’s next year. The trip was spent wine tasting, sightseeing in Cinque Terre, truffle hunting, shopping and eating way too much incredible Italian food. Minus a little rain in Cinque Terre we lucked out with a perfectly gorgeous Fall weekend, getting to enjoy the bright red leaves crawling up the wine caves and the perfect little breeze as we explored the medieval town.

The Proposal

From the Grooms… Planning an engagement proposal is very involved as there are many moving parts. For Tim and I, it started about 18 months before I actually proposed. In a non-traditional move, I mentioned to Tim that one day I could see us getting engaged. However, it would happen only after he went back to school to pursue a Masters in his field. With the proposal out there, I assumed it would be at least two to three years before we would potentially have serious conversation around being married; after all, at this time, marriage equality wasn’t even passed in New York yet and it was well before the Supreme Court decision made same-sex legal across all 50 states. But, Tim applied and was accepted into NYU Stern’s Masters program by that Fall 2015.

During the time that Tim was in school, I spent a great deal of time looking into unique options for a potential engagement. Ideas ranged from watches to cuff links, to bands, to an actual diamond, to just words. At the end, I worked with a jewelry designer in designing a unique diamond ring for Tim for our future engagement. This process took six months from start to finish. With the ring completed in late March 2016, I reached out to his parent’s to schedule a weekend together in early April while Tim was preparing for a series of exams with his programs. I arrived at his parents’ home in Arlington Heights, IL with a bottle of champagne and ring in box. His parents had a very strong idea of why I was there as their smiles were cheek to cheek upon walking in. Tim wasn’t aware that I flew to be with his parents for the weekend specifically; I mentioned that I was in the area for work and figured I’d stop by and spend time with them while he focused on his school work.

I asked Tim’s parents for their blessing to have the honor of asking Tim to marry me. His parents were beyond excited and we began celebrating from that point forward until that Sunday, which is when I headed back to New York to see Tim. Tim asked what exactly I was doing with his parents that weekend. I noted we were shopping for his graduation gift. So, upon returning home to New York on Sunday afternoon, Tim demanded that I share with him what I brought back for his graduation gift from his parents. The only thing I brought back was his ring.

Tim insisted on seeing the gift and went through all of my luggage. Fortunately, I had the ring in my pocket. I realized at this time that I was not safe in our home with the engagement ring – and with time, he was going to find it. So, we went for a long walk along the Hudson River. We ended up walking to where we first had cocktails together, Orient Express. We were the first guests of the day as they opened at 5:00pm. We ordered a cocktail and Tim inquired about his graduation gift from his parents. I started to laugh; I had no choice because of what I knew and he didn’t. Also because I was pretty sure that my perfectly planned proposal was about to be replaced by an impromptu proposal. Tim looked at me, grinned and asked what was so funny. I turned to him, took his hand, went into my pocket to pull out “nothing” and ask for his hand in marriage. Tim looked at me and sternly said, “this is not funny. You have repeatedly asked bent down on your knee before and proposed, you have repeatedly asked him in public for my hand, and you’re doing it again.” To which I replied, you’re right. Let me try one more time. So I went back in my pocket to search for the ring (mind you, I couldn’t find it in my pocket the first time as it was stuck in the crevice of the pocket) and presented Tim with a ring and a request for his hand in marriage. Tim was in shock and couldn’t believe it had actually happened. But it did. We toasted over another round of cocktails and made our way back to Perry Street to celebrate.

It wasn’t the proposal that I had spent the past few months planning in advance. However, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world as it brought us full circle from where we first fell love in one another to making our relationship “official” with a proposal.

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Photography: Rebecca Yale Photography | Rings: Custom by Anari Jewelry | Belt + Boots: Salvatore Ferragamo | Black Blazer: John Varvatos | Blazer (Cinque Terre): Hugo Boss | Boots (outfit 2): Gucci | Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab | Grey Blazer: Ermeneglildo Zegna | Jackets: Salvatore Ferragamo | Jeans: AG Jeans | Location: Il Borro | Pocket Square: Hermes | Sneaker Boots (outfit 2): Salvatore Ferragamo | Sweater: Ermeneglildo Zegna | Vest: Ermeneglildo Zegna | Watch: Cartier | Watch: Rolex | White Shirts: Thomas Pink

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The Dreamiest Al Fresco Destination Wedding EVER

What could possibly be better than a wedding in Tuscany? How about a wedding in Tuscany with Peter & Veronika behind the lens. Yeah, we’d say that tops the charts. An al fresco celebration complete with gelato and the dreamiest tablescape we’ve ever seen, it’s all waiting for you to fan favorite in The Vault!

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From the Bride…I never imagined I would be married at a spectacular Agriturismo in the heart of Tuscany, Italy. If there is one thing I’ve learned from my husband, it’s that life is always full of surprises. I met Ben while we were both studying at the University of Toronto. Born and raised in Munich, Germany, he thought he would only stay in Canada for one year. Fast-forward five years, and Ben was not only still in Canada, but we were also engaged with two cats. So why Italy as our choice of destination? We each come from two very different (but amazing!) cultures. I am proud of my Canadian roots; and Ben is equally as proud of his Bavarian heritage. We wanted to have our wedding somewhere that was ‘neutral’ – not overly Canadian, and not overly German. In 2014, we rented a car and explored the picturesque hills of Tuscany, and it was love at first sight. Amazing meals, great wine, balmy weather, and beautiful scenery…we knew it would be the perfect location for us to tie the knot! And we could not have been more right.

Our main inspiration was one thing: family. We wanted an ambiance that was warm and inviting, with long tables that were reminiscent of family-style eating. We pictured our guests having a long, luxurious dinner together, with plenty of wine and smiles (in true Italian style). When we first visited Montelucci, we knew it was the perfect venue for us. It was both rustic and elegant, with an interesting history and lovely managers. We liked the fact that it was a working farm that produced great wine and olive oil, and this passion for freshness and sourcing local food came across in their meal preparation. They also had a beautiful garden area, and we knew right away that we would have our dinner and dancing beneath the stars, with the Tuscan hills as our backdrop.

Our colour palette was meant to reflect late summer, with bits of greenery, blush pink, off-white, fuchsia, and deeper burgundy accents. We also wanted to stay true to our Italian theme with garlands of olive leaves and garden roses. My maid of honour wore a blush pink dress, and our mothers also wore shades of nude and light pink. I also stuck with the tradition of ‘something old, something new…’ and was given a beautiful family heirloom: a white opal ring that my father had given to his mother when he was 18 years old. It was also important for me to have something that was made in Canada, which I found through the beautiful gold hair combs I wore. They were handmade in Vancouver, and they were the perfect addition to my bridal ensemble.

In the end, we decided to do a four-day wedding weekend for all of our guests, as many were traveling over eight hours, either by car or plane. And we were so happy with that decision: it was an amazing feeling watching 85 of our closest friends and family relaxing, chatting, laughing and enjoying themselves. The venue was the perfect fit for all of us, and we love that we created a weekend that everyone will look back on with fond memories. Although planning and organizing a destination wedding had it’s trying moments, everything executed even better than expected. All of the vendors we chose went above and beyond to make our day perfect, and we couldn’t be more happy with the final result. It was exactly what we hoped for, and more. The warmth and love from everyone who was part of our celebration was breathtaking, and it really was the perfect way to start the rest of our lives together!

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Photography: Peter & Veronika | Event Planning: Marry Me In Tuscany | Floral Design: Fiorista La Gardenia | Wedding Dress: Willow by Watters | Bride's Shoes: Anniel | Hair + Makeup: Lidija Malinovskaja | Lighting: Wedding Music And Lights | DJ: Simone Alinari | Car Rental: Zephyrus Sienna | Venue: Montelucci Country Resort | Decor: Preludio Noleggi | Hair Accessories: Davie & Chiyo | Vintage Gelato Cart: Class Ricevimenti | Violinist + Harpist: Alma Project

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The Dreamiest Wedding in Italy

If you found yourself on the hunt for the dreamiest wedding in Tuscany, this is it. A cross-contentntal love story that came full circle under the Tuscan sun and we’ve got SAVVY EVENT STUDIO and Ben Moore to thank for every beautiful detail sitting in The Vault!

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From the Couple…What do you get when a boy from Nottingham, UK meets a girl from New York City? Robin from the ‘hood! And so this cross-continental love story between a forest boy and a gritty urban girl all began on a little app called Tinder, on the mystical island of Hong Kong.

After “swiping right” and matching with each other on Tinder in March of 2014, we cautiously met for after work drinks at Mario Batali’s Italian rooftop bar in the middle of Central, Hong Kong. By the time we met, we had both been through some arduous blind date dinners and were nearly ready to delete app completely.

What we both thought was going to be a quick drink turned into a moonlight dinner accompanied by the silly nonsensical banter exchanged between two people who speak very different variations of the otherwise common “English” language — for over six hours. We were both very surprised about how well we got on and also how very different we thought the other would be based solely on our Tinder profile photos. Insert the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”!

But what really cemented us was a life-changing moment in Lisa’s life. Just six months into our relationship, Lisa’s father unexpectedly passed away. As we are both thousands of miles away from home with no family nearby, Lisa needed strong support, patience and love and Paul stepped up to the challenge without a second thought. Still just early into the relationship, it was a true test for both of us; one that could have easily and understandably overtaken us.

Over the weeks and months, Paul took care of Lisa and made sure she was eating regularly, cradled her when she cried. Moreover, he took on Lisa’s greatest passion for photography (www. Wanderandlust.com) as his own so that she could keep that connection with her late-father, who was also an avid photographer.

From the Bride…Ever since my father handed me his old Nikon FM2 for my beginner photography class in high school, I would come home year after year to show him new stills of the world through the lens he passed on to me.

Having escaped the Nanking Massacre in his hometown at the age of four, survived through the Great Leap Forward in his 20’s, run from the Cultural Revolution and persecution by Mao’s Red Guards in his 30’s and then emigrating to the United States in his 40’s with nothing but a suitcase of clothing and books, my dad did not have many happy memories. But those moments that gave him warmth, and perhaps every now and then made him laugh, were carefully documented with his camera and filed into one of his photo archives.

With 50 years of age between us, photography was the only joy we truly shared. The time we spent over our photos (he with his printed albums and I with my iPad) was when we, but for mere moments, overcame the vast cultural divide between us.

We would spend hours going through his film snaps neatly arranged in albums and the colorful stories that came with them. Trekking Yellowstone Park’s forest trails in the 1970’s, shooting faces and NYC street scenes in the 1980’s, documenting family trips to Disney and Shanghai in the 1990’s.

As my dad hit his late-70’s, he became less and less mobile and even the lightest of DSLR cameras became too heavy to tote around. I carried the torch now: grainy film black and whites for high school – 1990’s, grinning friends acting older than our age – 2000’s, vibrant cities and varied landscapes – 2010’s. While his body slowed with age, his eyes continued to dance as if he were the one behind the lens, traversing through endless scenes in search of that perfect shot.

For months after my dad passed away, I kept my camera locked away in my dresser; we both laid as still as the moments it used to so avidly capture.

Paul picked up all these broken pieces and helped me rebuild my life and the shared passion I have with my father. He purchased his own equipment and planned weekend trips for us to explore new cities around us. Slowly, day after day, I began to heal and feel happiness creep back into my life.

I know that somewhere, somehow he’s reviewing this latest camera roll — the one capturing the best day of our lives — and feeling the warmth of the Tuscan sun and the beaming love of two united families.

From the Maid of Honor (who captured our love story so well and brought everyone to tears with her speech)… A bit of history — Lisa and I met in junior high. Not only was she my friend, but she protected me as a sister would, and many times at her own expense. I could share a million stories but I’ll share just this one-

Lisa and I took the train together to school every day. One morning, at the foot of the stairs, we heard the train pulling in. She flew up the stairs and I huffed and puffed my short legs after her. By the time I reached the top, she was already on the train. As the doors closed she stuck out her arms and leg to hold them open, completely ruining her outfit. But she pressed on, shoved the doors open and pulled me in. And as we were plastered against the doors, she somehow managed to pull an oil blotting tissue from her bag and started to blot my face. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Along the same vein, I attempted to show my love for her when I wore my superman T-shirt and superman ring to threaten to beat a girl up who was spreading lies about Lisa. True story–even the T-shirt part. Our friendship was basically cemented in stone from then on.

Though our lives led us to different colleges, jobs and cities, Lisa remained my close friend, never judging, always listening, always loving.

When Lisa called to tell me she was engaged, I felt what probably many sisters felt to hear that kind of news–joy, relief, and overwhelming excitement. But most of all, I felt pride — for reasons I will explain in a bit.

But first, some honesty — when Lisa first told me about Paul, I think my exact words were ‘I give him 3 months…’

Don’t get me wrong, it had nothing at all to do with Paul. What’s not to like about him? First of all, he’s from the UK, which means he has an English accent, which pretty much immediately puts you on any American girls’ scoreboard! She said he was tall, kind, funny, had a great job and big hands… And you know what they say about big hands… Big hands = big gloves. Big gloves for the best hugs! But still, I had my doubts and here’s why.

I believe that in order to fall in love, you must first learn to love yourself. Lisa grew up in NYC — arguably the best city to learn how to do just that. But over 20+ years, I witnessed Lisa time and time again, leave herself on the bottom of her love-list. I, myself, have been guilty of being on the constant receiving end of her love.

You see, Lisa taught me how to be loved, which in turn allowed me to open my heart to Josh, my husband—and now we have a beautiful son together. Naturally, I wanted the same for Lisa, so it broke my heart when she nonchalantly said at my wedding, ‘I’m never gonna find the one.’ Two months later, enter Paul.

Prior to meeting Paul, his name was just ‘the Brit’ — I couldn’t be bothered with dedicating his name to memory since I was sure he had a 3-month shelf life. But within hours of actually meeting Paul, watching them together, I noticed a distinct shift in Lisa. She was visibly relaxed, always laughing and truly happy. He woke up at dawn 2-mornings of our short 4-day Halong Bay cruise without a complaint because Lisa wanted to take photos of the sunrise. In the streets of Vietnam, she held his hand and scurried behind him as he walked swiftly through the crowds. I’d never seen that balance of power in Lisa’s previous relationships…Perhaps this Brit did have some staying power.

Sadly, Lisa’s father unexpectedly passed in the fall of 2014. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Paul made the trip with Lisa to provide support. As I watched Lisa quietly weep for her loss, I wanted nothing more than to put that superman T-shirt back on and shield her from whatever was hurting her. I ran to give her a hug but when I got to her, Paul already had his arms around her and she was clinging to the back of his pants, the way a little girl would her father. Lisa had finally found her real superman.

Paul, thank you for loving Lisa as she is, and for opening her heart, something many have tried but all have failed until now. I never thought of it as the impossible, but knew it would take someone truly special to do. I hope you will always cherish her and know that though she’s strong, you have her heart–she is vulnerable.

Lisa, I could not be happier for you. I am so proud that you finally learned to love yourself enough to be unconditionally loved by this man. As I wrap up this unnecessarily long speech, I’ll leave you with this quote–“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I believed that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together forever.

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Photography: Ben Moore | Cinematography: Waterfall Visuals | Event Planning: SAVVY EVENT STUDIO | Floral Design: Gianluca Florum | Wedding Dress: Inbal Dror | Wedding Dress: Noel Chu Atelier | Cake: Sylvia Brighina | Hair + Makeup: Daniela Delia | Lighting: Wedding Music And Lights | Groom's Attire: W.W. Chan & Sons Tailor | Officiant: TUSCANPLEDGES | Venue: Castelfalfi | Bridal Boutique: Audella Bridal Hong Kong | Furniture Rental: Preludio Noleggi | Printed Materials: Lisa Wang

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