This Romantic Italian Wedding Features a Historic Venue—and One Amazing View
Amanda and Patrick
Amanda Elser and Patrick Murray met in Pennsylvania at college. It was Greek week, and her sorority and his fraternity were having a social. He asked her to be his beer pong partner and they've been together ever since. Five years later, it was off to the Finger Lakes region of New York for a weekend trip, complete with a hike through the waterfalls, sunset ride on a boat called "True Love," and finally a wine tour, during which Pat mustered the courage to pop the question in a picturesque rose garden overlooking a lake.
But it was one more locale, a bit further away, that was the setting for the biggest part of their relationship. On June 10, 2016, together with 48 guests, they ventured off to Orvieto, Italy, to tie the knot. The New Jersey-based beauty editor and managing consultant booked La Badia Hotel sight-unseen. Though they planned a vacation three months after booking the venue and were able to visit, they were blown away in person by the 12th century monastery that had been converted into a hotel complete with the original church prime for an small ceremony.
Swiss Cottage Designs created the invitations, comprised of the couple's custom crest and other subtle illustrations. The suite was mailed in soft gray envelopes calligraphed by Pretty in Ink and sent using a collection of vintage stamps from Gubba Gumma. A wax seal boasting the couple's monogram was the finishing touch.
The Welcome Bags
When they decided to have their wedding in Italy, the thought of rain didn't even cross Amanda's mind. Yet it rained every single day of the week leading up to the wedding. Amazingly, though the big day's forecast called for rain, nothing came and it was the most beautiful afternoon. Pat's father calls it the luck of the Irish.
But deciding to get married there was the best decision Amanda and Pat made. All of their guests were able to stay at La Badia Hotel, making it an intimate, destination weekend to remember.
This lace Danielle Caprese gown was the third one Amanda tried on during her appointment at Kleinfeld Bridal. It brought tears to the eyes of her mother and mother-in-law, and was exactly what she wanted. With a blush underlay and sweetheart neckline it was perfect for the Italian setting of the big day. She paired the dress with satin J.Crew pumps, a cathedral-length veil with lace trim that was a gift from the bride's sister, and Theia earrings.
The Bridal Bouquet
Oleander created the bride's lush bouquet in a muted palette inspired by the venue's stunning stonework and surrounding grounds. It was a mix of delicate blooms in neutrals, nudes, and lavender, contrasted against spills of grey, olive, and aubergine. Summer peonies, heirloom garden roses, olive branches, lavender, herbs, eucharis lily, and lisianthus came together with draping hand-dyed silk ribbons.
Amanda let her maid-of-honor and only bridal attendant—her sister—chose any dress she wanted to wear. It just so happened that she, their mother, and Pat's mom all ended up in shades of blue.
A Banner Day
Joanne Day Calligraphy painted a banner reading "Per Sempre Tua" which translates to "forever yours," to hang outside of the chapel over the doorway. The couple kept it for the remainder of their Italian journey before bringing it home as a memento of the day.
Going to the Chapel
Trailing greenery and plenty of pillar candles adorned the altar of the intimate church.
A string trio and soprano performed, echoing off the ancient stonework creating what the bride dubs a "magical echoing." Pat, his groomsmen, and then the herb-scattering flower girls (who Amanda has been babysitting for five years) entered before the bride and her father entered to Pachelbel's "Canon in D."
"It was such a blur," Amanda notes of the ceremony. "But I do remember Pat holding my hand throughout the entire mass."
The Grand Exit
The newlyweds were showered with lavender tossed by guests from rubber-stamped muslin pouches. They stole a few minutes behind the church for photos as they hadn't seen each other prior to the service, and then rejoined the crowd in the olive groves nearby for cocktail hour. Guests dined on an assortment of traditional fried foods and a classic antipasto spread.
The Reception Setting
Everyone moved to the other side of the church for the al fresco reception, complete with views of the 12-sided tower on site, the Orvieto Duomo and surrounding Tuscan countryside. Two long tables were set in the courtyard as well as a table of family wedding photos to honor the generations and those that couldn't be there to celebration with Amanda and Pat.
The Reception Tables
"Our thoughts in designing the courtyard tablescapes focused around combining classically tailored, romantic, textural components with looser, organically-styled florals to created a space that was elegant and refined by also warm and inviting," notes Cynthia Manchester of Oleander.
The tables featured a mix of lush and delicate blooms woven into a wide, cascading runner of local olive branches and dark foliage set on a raw-edged slate gray linen.
In addition to the flora, a bounty of dark, summer fruit, eggplants, and fresh herbs gathered from that morning's farmer market adorned the tables. And plenty of candlelight too—in the form of gray tapers in gold candlesticks and gold mercury glass votives.
The Place Settings
Clear, gold-rim plates set with menus doubling as place cards graced each seat.
The meal kicked off with a quail terrine with zucchini, beetroot, and ginger. It continued with a pasta course of risotto with eggplant, basil and mozzarella, as well as a tortelli with ricotta and pistachios in a duck ragu and pepper cream. The feast continued, with and entrée of filet and mignon in a sangiovese red wine reduction with roasted tomatoes and flan of escarole and olives.
The Nooks and Crannies
The inset areas on the buildings façade were filled with candles to add a warm glow or made into lounge areas thanks to cushions and pillows.
The Wedding Cake
A traditional millefoglie cake boasted a topper with the couple's new shared last initial, picked out by the groom, who counts stuffing the cake in his wife's face was a highlight of the celebration. The bride agrees, noting that before she knew it there was cake in her lashes. "It was exactly what I needed to relax and laugh before we spent the rest of the night dancing," she recalls.
Pat took ballroom dancing lessons during college and showed off some of his moves during their first dance to Frank Sinatra's "The Best Is Yet To Come". "I let him dip me all he wanted," Amanda notes. Guests surrounded them with sparklers, lighting up the moment even further.
Amanda changed into a beaded Adrianna Papell dress during the reception. "It was light and easy to twirl in while dancing, which is pretty much all I wanted," Amanda says. And she swapped her veil for a celestial Jennifer Behr headpiece and rose gold diamond studs that Pat had given her that day. And Pat had an outfit change too—putting on a black dress shirt as the evening progressed.
The dancing went until 4am, and even the bride's 86-year-old grandma stayed up until the party ended.
Photography, Lauren and Tim Fair of Lauren Fair Photography
Location and Catering and Cake, La Badia di Orvieto
Event planning, Italia Celebrations
Flowers and event design, Oleander
Videography, Evergreen Film
Stationery, Swiss Cottage Designs
Bride's gown, Danielle Caprese
Flower Girl dresses, J.Crew
Groom's suit, J. Hilburn