This Couple Invited 18 Guests to Italy's Amalfi Coast for a Garden Wedding
In the summer of 2011, Alexandra's grandparents were having dinner with their long-time friends when they learned that their son, Joseph, would be attending the same college as Alexandra in the fall. A group dinner was arranged to introduce them, and, two short months later, Alexandra and Joseph were dating. After seven years in a relationship, Joseph planned a sentimental proposal at Franklin College, with both of their families were there to share in the moment.
"Since our story began on campus, Joseph thought this would be the perfect spot for our engagement," says the bride. Her future groom decorated the Old Well House ("Legend says that years ago, students had curfews and when the evening bell would start to ring, the boy would meet his girl for a good night kiss at the Old Well House and then run back to his dorm before the last bell rang," explains Alexandra) with twinkly lights and candles, before leading her there one night: "As we strolled campus after an event, he led me over to the Old Well House and got down on his knee."
The couple had a 21-month long engagement and, while they had plans to tie the knot in California, wildfires and mudslides destroyed their venue. "We had a unique opportunity to start planning again, and this time, we planned it how we wanted it," Alexandra says. Inspired by their love of travel and Alexandra's prediction during a 2007 trip that she'd end up getting married in Italy, the pair invited 18 guests to join them for an intimate wedding in at Hotel Belmond Caruso in Ravello on July 9, 2018. They asked planner Federica Beni to help them realize their vision of a memorable dinner underneath the olive trees at the hotel's Wagner Gardens followed by drinks and dancing around the hotel's infinity pool.
Invites to Italy
As invitations, guests received boxes that featured a watercolor painting of the venue's infinity pool; the illustration was created by Momental. When they opened the box, they found a blue and white ceramic tile pattern with a lemon in the center and a hand-painted invite, which showed off a view of Ravello from the venue's gardens.
The Welcome Dinner
The local lemon groves and patterned ceramic tiles authentic to the Amalfi Coast served as inspiration for the welcome dinner, which the pair hosted at Villa Mariella, a three-bedroom villa close to the hotel on the evening before their wedding day. Guests left with ceramic vases filled with limoncello.
Alexandra and Joeseph share a love for travel and adventure, and when they decided to tie the knot in Italy, Hotel Belmond Caruso immediately came to mind. Hosting their nuptials in Ravello also allowed them to thoroughly revisit one of their favorite places—the couple enjoyed the ten days leading up to their wedding traveling to Rome and the Amalfi Coast with most of their guests. "We were so grateful for this time together and everyone bonded and shared something unique and beautiful," Alexandra says.
The bride knew she was going to end up in a Berta dress on her wedding day, and she fell in love with the second gown she tried on. "When I put the dress on, I felt how I wanted to feel on my wedding day," she remembers. She chose an embroidered lace gown with spaghetti straps and a plunging neckline.
The Bride's Accessories
Joseph designed a bracelet for Alexandra to wear with her wedding dress, customized with charms featuring three diamonds, each having belonged to both of Alexandra's grandmothers, her great-grandmother, and her great-great grandmother. She also borrowed a headpiece from her grandmother, who wore it at her own wedding in 1956. Christian Louboutin flats were the finishing touch to her bridal look.
The Groom's Look
Joseph looked timeless in a black Dolce and Gabbana tuxedo paired with a white shirt, black bow tie, and black dress shoes (all by D&G).
The Wedding Party
The wedding party included Alexandra's matron of honor and two bridesmaids, along with Joseph's twin brother, George, who was his best man. The bridesmaids wore neutral gray gowns from Twobirds while George wore a black tux with a bow tie to match his brother.
The ceremony took place in the hotel's Wagner Gardens, where guests took in a jaw-dropping view of the Amalfi Coast and the town of Minori.
Alexandra and Joseph had a civil ceremony underneath a vibrant floral arch, designed by Armando Malafronte at the Belmond Hotel. Later, they were officially married in the Ravello courthouse by the town official.
The Bride's Entrance
A string quartet played "What a Wonderful World" as Alexandra walked down the aisle, accompanied by her father.
Rose Petals During the Recessional
The quartet played "Do You Believe in Magic" as guests tossed rose petals and lavender during the recessional.
During the cocktail hour around the hotel's infinity pool, guests enjoyed classic Italian songs by a Neapolitan quintet headed by Marco Cantarella of Wedding Music. The musicians returned to perform at dinner in the Wagner Gardens.
The couple enjoyed an intimate dinner with all of their guests at one long table, which took place underneath vibrant lemon trees adorned with twinkling lights.
The Place Settings
Each place setting featured gold-rimmed plates topped with simple white linen napkins and a white David Austin rose.
Flowers are Alexandra's favorite part about a wedding, which explained her lush centerpiece choice. She decided on peonies, David Austin roses, and dahlias, for the arrangements that spanned the length of the dinner table. White taper candles in tall gold candle holders were placed behind nearly every place setting.
The Italian Meal
The couple teamed up with Ciu Ciu Chef to create a dinner menu that reflected fresh ingredients true to the Amalfi Coast. They served prawns and artichokes with a savory mille feuille and herbs before the first course, which featured a risotto with cream peas and taleggio cheese, followed by a seabass dish with mashed potatoes and lemon sauce for the main course. While the first two courses were served alongside Limoncello, the plate of chocolates they served for dessert was paired with a dark rum.
Dinner underneath the canopied olive trees was the groom's favorite part of the whole day. "It was such a surreal moment—a once in a lifetime moment—where I felt as if the whole world had stopped and I was living in a memory," he says.
The hotel's caterer created a three-tiered white wedding cake for the couple, embellished with a cascading arrangement of white, red, ivory, and blush roses and greenery.
The couple offered guests favors of perfume diffusers and soaps in scents that reminded them of Italy, both from Profumi di Positano.
Alexandra and Joseph enjoyed a cruise through downtown Ravello in a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Spider. The happy couple decided to continue their European adventure on a honeymoon to Santorini, Mykonos, and Paris.
Photography, Katie Grant Photography
Event coordination, Federica Beni
Venue, Hotel Belmond
Calligraphy, Moya Minns, MM Ink Studio
Bride's gown, Berta
Bride's shoes, Christian Louboutin
Groom's suit and accessories, Dolce and Gabbana
Bridesmaids' dresses, Two Birds Bridesmaid
Flowers, Armando Malafronte
Music, Wedding Music
Catering, Ciu Ciu Chef
Hair and Makeup, Natalia Issa
Favors, Profumi Di Positano