This Intimate Destination Wedding in Tuscany Had Just 16 Guests
Kelly, a photographer, was in a coffee shop with her sister when she noticed a man with vibrant green eyes across the room. Pete, who works in home remodeling, felt the connection as well. "I knew I had to talk to her," he says. "I was so nervous, but knew I couldn't let the moment pass. Lucky for me, I didn't!" The pair dated for several years before deciding that it was time for a wedding. Kelly picked out the ring she wanted, then waited anxiously for the proposal, which happened on Christmas Day.
A year-and-a-half later, on August 30, 2017, Kelly and Pete traveled from their hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to the Italian countryside for a destination wedding at Villa Lavanda, in the Tuscan town of Bagni di Lucca. Sixteen close friends and family members attended the intimate celebration, which featured a multi-course dinner, an elegant tablescape, and a blue-gray color palette. "It was an unforgettable, magical, and romantic weeklong celebration with family and friends," says the bride.
Julie Ha Calligraphy designed and calligraphed the stationery suite, which featured a gray, blue, and gold watercolor on torn paper and sketched elements like olive branches, the villa, and the surrounding landmarks. A gold wax seal was the finishing touch.
The color palette for the celebration stemmed, in part, from the bride's ice blue sapphire engagement ring.
Wanting to enjoy a romantic week at an Italian villa, the couple asked their family and friends if they liked the idea of a destination wedding. Most of them were interested, so Kelly conducted hours of online research to find the perfect place. They ended up booking Villa Lavanda in Tuscany, Italy. The secluded property is nestled among the rolling hills of Tuscany, allowing for breathtaking views of the natural scenery.
Since the couple didn't have a wedding party and Pete already knew what Kelly was wearing, the couple decided to get ready together. "He zipped my dress and I helped him with his tie," says Kelly. "I love the photos from this part of the day so much."
Pete sported a custom-made three-piece Nicholas Joseph suit, which he bought in Chicago with his bride-to-be. "We knew we wanted blue to go with her dress," he says. He also sported a white bespoke Nicholas Joseph
Kelly didn't want a traditional white dress, and she began searching online for gray options. After scouting various bridal shops (and almost settling on a blush gown), she spotted a limited edition Leanne Marshall "Rain Cloud" dress on Instagram. "I fell in love with the color and the name, since I love rainy days," says Kelly. "I called Leanne Marshall and asked how I could try on the dress, and was told I needed to go to Leanne's studio in New York City. I happened to have a trip planned to New York the following week for business, and they were able to get me an appointment during that time. I was in love when I tried it on!" The dress has two types of silk (one on top and one on bottom), a soft gray bodice, and a blue-gray skirt with blue hand painting. "It's one-of-a-kind and I really love that," says Kelly, who also wore a pair of earrings from BHLDN.
"I love my shoes almost as much as my dress!" says Kelly. She discovered blue-gray laced Valentino flats online, and ordered them in hopes they would match her gown. The color ended up being spot-on.
Rhiannon Bosse created Kelly's bouquet with ivory-, blush-, and terracotta-colored garden roses; deep plum lisianthus; white snowberry; white tweedia; and various types of greens both locally sourced and foraged from the villa grounds. "The colors complemented Kelly's hand-painted gown so beautifully, and they worked perfectly with the end of summer vibe," says Rhiannon, who tied the stems together with silk ribbons.
Pete's boutonnière had white snowberries, spray roses, eucalyptus, and olive leaves.
After getting ready, photographer D'Arcy Benincosa
took portraits of the couple around the villa's property.
The ceremony took place in the olive grove of the villa. Kelly walked down the aisle alone to "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley, played by violin/cello duo Sombras Live Music. The bride calls this her favorite moment of the day. "It was so surreal to see all my favorite people gathered in that olive grove in Italy," she says. "I remember looking at them and then at my husband-to-be standing with my high school best friend [who officiated]."
The nuptials were non-religious, and the couple wrote their own vows. "We wanted the ceremony to be about us and our love for one another. Our officiant wrote it and added a lot of personal details about each of us and our story," says the bride.
The Petal Pouches
Guests received white flower petals tucked in a drawstring pouch boasting the couple's initials, penned by Julie Ha Calligraphy.
The newlyweds recessed to "That's Amore" played by the violin/cello duet while guests tossed the petals. Then everyone attended cocktail hour in a courtyard of the villa, where they enjoyed champagne, light snacks (olives and nuts), and music by the string duo.
The Reception Site
For dinner, guests gathered at a long table in the lower courtyard of the villa. String lights, a stunning tablescape, and music by the string duo catered to the intimately romantic atmosphere.
The Table Décor
According to wedding planner and florist Rhiannon Bosse, "The organic Tuscan countryside and weathered architecture of the villa inspired a lot of the décor choices." Tapered beige and white candles in silver holders, as well as clusters of local grapes, figs, and apples, sat atop the silk runner. The wooden table also held distressed ceramic urns filled with pink and white flowers. The couple positioned place cards for each guest in cute rabbit figurine holders (the bride and groom are animal lovers), which doubled as favors. Each guest's setting also had a loaf of bread from a local baker wrapped in twine and adorned with fresh rosemary from the garden of the villa.
Julie Ha Calligraphy calligraphed the menu, which was displayed on the dinner plate and matched the stationery suite. Sandra Evans
prepared a first course of antipasto (including mixed crostini, aubergine rolls, stuffed zucchini flowers, and ricotta balls); a second course of fresh tomato lasagna; and a main course of oven-roasted fish on a bed of vegetables. Side dishes were roasted potatoes, vegetables, and seasonal flans. "The villa makes its own honey, so there was also a course of local honey and different cheeses," adds Kelly.
An Intimate Dinner
Pete says dinner was his favorite part of the night. He loved "sitting at the dinner table, enjoying the dinner and conversation with all of the special guests that were able to make it to Italy for us."
Local baker Doreen Quashie made a chocolate beetroot cake with creme fraiche filling and buttercream and mascarpone frosting. Rhiannon Bosse spruced it up with beautiful flowers and figs.
After spending a week at the villa, the newlyweds ventured further into Southern Tuscany for their honeymoon. "The wedding was special in a lot of ways, but the most special part was spending an entire week in an Italian villa with some of our favorite people," says Kelly. "The fact that they came all that way for our wedding meant so much to us. The dinners in the evenings when everyone came together to cook (and drink wine) were unforgettable will always hold a special place in my heart."
Photography, D'Arcy Benincosa Photography
Location, Villa Lavanda
Event planning and flowers, Rhiannon Bosse
Catering, Sandra Evans
Stationery and calligraphy, Julie Ha Calligraphy
Cake, Doreen Quashie
Music, Sombras Live Music
Rentals, Preludio Noleggio Firenze
Hair and makeup, Bella Cosa Makeup and Hair Artistry
Groom's suit and shirt, Nicholas Joseph