This Couple Invited Their Immediate Family to Ravello, Italy, for a Seaside Wedding
When a college class brought Jacqueline and David together in January of 2013, their romance took off at lightning speed. Just two months into their relationship, the pair made a bold decision to move to Thailand together to travel and teach English. "Everyone thought we were crazy," Jacqueline says, "but I knew he was the one and was following my heart!"
In August of 2018, David planned a romantic proposal at Jacqueline's parents' lake house in Wisconsin. He led Jacqueline to the pier, where he had set up framed pictures—taken throughout their years together—and scattered flowers. As a surprise, David flew in his family and Jacqueline's sister so they could spend the remainder of the day on the lake with them, celebrating the engagement. This couple envisioned an intimate wedding that felt romantic and ethereal, so they invited just their immediate families to the Amalfi Coast for their intimate nuptials, which took place on June 27, 2019. The pair's 12 guests joined them at Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello, Italy, for the ceremony and reception; the locale treated attendees to breathtaking views of the coast.
To mitigate the fact that they chose their venue without actually visiting it, Jacqueline and David worked with the hotel's coordinator and a day-of planner; overall, they felt that the process went smoothly. The easy part was putting together the small guest list, and the couple felt they were in good hands with the vendors they worked with from afar. "The venue, florist, musicians, and day-of planners made it an extremely enjoyable experience!" Jacqueline recalls.
Invites to Italy
The couple's invitation suite gave guests a first glimpse at their color palette—soft blues, yellows, greens, and pinks. The notes were hand-lettered with watercolor by Paige Spearin, who also drew the personalized illustration of the duo. Each blue envelope was calligraphed in white with guests' names.
The Bride's Ball Gown
Jacqueline's Monique Lhuillier wedding dress featured a plunging bodice embellished with delicate flower details and a layered tulle skirt. When she tried it on in front of her sister and mother, she didn't want to take it off. "It was elegant, romantic, and flowy," Jacqueline says. "I felt perfect in it."
The bride paired her ball gown with a custom Monique Lhuillier veil, gold sparkly Jimmy Choo heels, earrings that her sister wore to her own wedding, and her mom's blue sapphire ring purchased in Ireland (she considered this both her something borrowed and something blue).
Her bouquet was a full arrangement made up entirely of white peonies with exposed stems.
The Groom's Look
The Wedding Party
While David's groomsmen matched him in white tuxedo jackets and black pants, the ladies in Jacqueline's bridal party were asked to wear gowns in soft watercolor tones, inspired by the setting and the pair's invitation suite.
The First Look
The couple planned a first look in the hotel's gardens before the ceremony. "I was a little nervous walking up, but as soon as I saw his face, I was ready to get the wedding rolling!" the bride recalls.
Wedding Photoshoot in Ravello
It was important to Jacqueline and David to be fully present for their entire wedding, considering how far their families traveled to share the experience with them—which is why they opted to take photos together before the ceremony (to therefore maximize their time with loved ones), in the streets of Ravello. "It really confirmed our decision of traveling to Italy with only our family because we were able to have so many special intimate moments together and stay present," the bride says. "Everything felt so exclusive to us."
When Jacqueline and David researched Belmond Hotel Caruso, they were drawn to its epic backdrop. "Belmond was the perfect escape from our day-to-day lives with its magical setting on the mountains, oceans and gardens," Jacqueline explains. "Essentially, we could not think of a more romantic venue or country."
Their service embraced the view—it took place overlooking the sea and the town of Ravello.
The couple enlisted florist Armando Malafronte to create a stunning floral arch with white, cream, and blush flowers with pops of purple throughout.
Jacqueline and David had a Catholic ceremony back in their hometown of Chicago, so their ceremony in Italy wasn't religious. Jacqueline's father, James, accompanied her down the petal-covered aisle as a harp and violinist played Pachelbel's "Canon in D." The couple then exchanged their own vows and included some of their favorite quotes and readings for a personal touch.
The Cocktail Hour
The cocktail hour unfolded in the hotel's garden and pool area, where lounge vignettes were set up and a trio band played music to set the mood. Guests enjoyed an open bar and passed appetizers, including a leek and tuna tartlet, Neapolitan bruschetta, individual calzones, and stuffed pumpkin flowers.
The Reception Setup
With only 14 people total in attendance, the dinner was decidedly intimate; all attendees sat at one long table underneath a canopy of trees.
The Floral Details
White flower petals were scattered around the table's edges; 40 floral strings were hung from the trees, creating a unique visual effect around the dinner table. Bulbs also hung from the grove, providing soft lighting as the sun went down.
The table was topped with floor-length white linens and a long garland featuring white-and-blush roses, while tea and taper candles were placed along the center of the station. Patterned blue-and-white plates rested atop gold-rimmed chargers; menus were calligraphed with each guest's name.
Surrounded by their closest family members, Jacqueline and David asked each guest to give a toast at dinner. "It was overwhelmingly emotional to have them all there and I feel so lucky to have an amazingly supportive family—[and to be entering] a new family that reminds me so much of my own," the bride says.
The Sun Sets
A pianist played quietly during the meal, which encouraged conversation. Dinner began with marinated raw tuna and pasta with rockfish sauce, followed by olive-crusted sea bass.
The First Dance
The couple shared their first dance to "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis, because it reminds Jacqueline of her love story with David. "The song has a special meaning because I knew right when I met David that I was going to marry him," she says.
Jacqueline and David chose to serve a Millefoglie cake—a traditional Italian custard and puff pastry cake with strawberries and raspberries—for dessert.
A New Tradition
One of Jacqueline's favorite moments from the wedding day was smashing the confection in David's face. "I had seen that my mom had done it during her wedding 35 years ago and it was an impulse decision to do the same," she says. "We had lots of laughter during this and I will always remember the look of love and laughter on his face!"
Eager to take in more of Italy's food, people, and culture, the happy couple traveled to Positano, Capri, and Rome for their honeymoon.
Photography, Jacqui Cole
Venue, Catering, and Cake, Belmond Hotel Caruso
Event Coordinator, Francesca Chianese
Flowers and Lighting, Armando Malafronte
Day-of Paper Goods, Paige Spearin
Stationery, All She Wrote
Bride's Gown and Veil, Monique Lhuillier
Bride's Shoes, Jimmy Choo
Bride's Hair, Gerardo at Total Hair Design
Bride's Makeup, Enza at Frai Form
Groom's attire, Formally Modern
Groom's accessories, Tom Ford