This "Love-Filled" Welcome Party with Colorful Coral Accents Took Place on the Edge of Lake Como

wedding couple in blue portrait in italian garden
Oliver Fly

Anastasia and Eliran first met while working toward their masters degrees at Columbia University in 2018. "Eliran saw me on campus," says Anastasia, "and slid into my DMs on Instagram." Two years later, he proposed during an intimate beach walk in Cape Cod. "He knew that I wasn't a fan of public proposals, so he found super private spot on a small beach strip," says Anastasia, "and also managed to film the proposal with a drone, so we had it captured for our friends and family."

The couple hosted 140 friends and family at a multi-day event in Italy in 2021, beginning with a welcome party on August 18 at Villa Pizzo on Lake Como. "It was very important to us that the event itself was different from the wedding—not only through the colors, décor, and entertainment, but also via the overall vibe," says Anastasia.

They leaned on Italy when ideating the tone of the party, which was originally intended to be a pizza night. Though they ultimate took a different approach, they kept their locale top of mind. They offered a variety of traditional music, including a folk quartet during cocktails and a tenors' performance during dinner; served an authentic menu; invited their closest friends to share favorite memories and speeches; and created an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. "Most of the guests arrived on the morning of the event, so we wanted to make sure that everyone could relax from the travel stress and have a fun and love-filled evening," says the bride.

01 of 16

The Perfect Location

italian villa
Oliver Fly

Anastasia and Eliran envisioned a welcome party with a colorful aesthetic inspired by their surroundings, and the architecture and gardens at Villa Pizzo provided the perfect backdrop. "Our vision was to create a romantic, relaxed, and authentically Italian night," says Anastasia. "Due to COVID-19, we weren't able to actually travel to view it in person, but we fell in love with the venue from all the pictures and videos. I will never forget the first time we actually saw it in real life, about two months before the wedding—the aura, garden, and just the overall vibe of the location was so magical and special. We couldn't have been happier with our choice."

02 of 16

A Warm Welcome

colorful wedding welcome boxes
Oliver Fly

Welcome boxes, filled with sparkling water, a monogrammed fan, and a booklet of weekend events greeted guests upon their arrival in Italy.

03 of 16

Blue Mood

bride in flowing white and white dress on italy street
Oliver Fly

Anastasia chose a floral-printed dress from Mestiza New York in her favorite color, blue, which she paired with embellished Manolo Blahnik heels. "Since New York is the city where our love story began, I loved the idea of picking a local designer to wear at one of our wedding events," she says. "I rented a bracelet with diamonds and sapphires from Verstolo in New York, and wore a diamond necklace which my grandmother gifted to me after finishing my M.S. at Columbia University."

04 of 16

Set, Match

bride and groom holding wedding personalized fan
Oliver Fly

Eliran also chose a suit from a New York City-based designer, too, donning a bespoke light blue outfit from Alan David Custom. "We designed all of his suits together. Since I didn't want him to see my dresses, I had to help him pick the colors to make sure they matched with my outfits," says Anastasia. Dodo Design & Co. created the stationery and custom fans for the welcome party.

05 of 16

Sunset Views

couple standing on dock getting into boat in lake
Oliver Fly

The venue's waterfront location on Lake Como allowed the couple and their guests to arrive by private boat, giving the group the opportunity to take in the region's world-famous scenery.

06 of 16

Joy and Love

overhead view of wedding welcome party by lake como
Oliver Fly

The bride and groom arrived last to the venue, walking into a garden filled with their family and friends. "One of the most amazing moments was arriving and seeing everyone that is so close and dear to us," says Anastasia. "With COVID-19 and our family and friends living in so many different countries, it was just the most special thing to have everyone in one place for the first time in our lives."

  • Three Reasons Why You Should Consider Hosting a Welcome Party Ahead of Your Destination Wedding
07 of 16

Musical Notes

woman playing violin for wedding welcome party
Oliver Fly

As the couple's guests arrived in the garden, a folk quartet from Blunotte Eventi provided background music; during dinner, a group of tenors sang some of Anastasia and Elian's favorite Italian songs. "We ended the evening with an amazing performance by the Marching Nights, which got all guests to dance," says the bride. "We decided against a DJ to make sure guests didn't party too hard. We wanted everyone fresh and ready for the wedding the next day."

08 of 16

Space Planning

outdoor wedding lounge with fuchsia velvet couches
Oliver Fly

Throughout the venue's gardens, jewel-toned lounge furniture, surrounded by lush and brightly-hued floral arrangements, offered areas for socializing, nibbling passed appetizers, and sipping the couple's signature cocktails: an Aperol spritz and Pimm's. "The venue just lent itself so beautifully to creating different areas," says Anastasia. "We drew inspiration for that from a wedding we attended in India, where it almost felt like a new event presented itself as you walked through the various parts of the venue. We tried to create something similar, guiding our guests through various parts of the beautiful gardens of Villa Pizzo."

09 of 16

Jingle All the Way

wedding welcome party tambourines hanging on floral installment
Oliver Fly

A display of custom tambourines, hung from a metal arch, was surrounded by flowers; the instruments were a take-home gift for each guest, and included their name and table assignment on the back.

10 of 16

Party Pieces

personalized wedding tambourines
Oliver Fly

"Guests absolutely loved the tambourines and used them a lot during the dinner to express their excitement, which only made the Italian theme more authentic and amazing," says Anastasia.

11 of 16

Something for Everyone

outdoor wedding food station with red and cream florals
Oliver Fly

During the cocktail hour, guests found small bites and charcuterie at a display adorned with a lavish floral installation. A thoughtful menu offered meals for a variety of dietary preferences, accommodating vegan and Kosher attendees. "We asked our guests in advance what they preferred to be served at all events, since it was important to us to minimize food waste as much as possible," says Anastasia. "The dinner was a four-course meal with a tuna or stuffed zucchini appetizer, pasta, seabass, and vegan eggplant parmigiana."

12 of 16

Bright and Bold

wedding welcome party long tables with elegant primary color decor
Oliver Fly

For the seated dinner, long tables dressed in white cloths were set up in the walled garden, facing the water, and laden with flowers and candles. The couple used a collection of bright, colorful shades "with an accent on corals," says Anastasia. "Light pastels were our palette for the wedding, so it was important to us to create a contrast."

13 of 16

Picnic Mode

orange and blue elegant wedding welcome party table settings
Oliver Fly

Floral-patterned plates, gold-edged glassware, vibrant tomatoes, and vine-accented menus and place cards brought a cheerful, elegant atmosphere to the dinner party.

14 of 16

Set to Perfection

elegant floral wedding welcome party table place settings
Oliver Fly

The couple's first menu idea—an authentic pizza night—didn't pan out, but they tried to recreate a similar vibe: "Even though we didn't end up having pizza, at the end, we stuck with the Italian theme and fully embraced it," says Anastasia.

15 of 16

Words of Love

overhead view of wedding welcome party toasts
Oliver Fly

Knowing that their family's speeches would take center stage during the wedding, Anastasia and Eliran opened the floor to their friends during the welcome party. "Both of us have been friends with some of our bridesmaids and groomsmen for almost all of our lives, so it was so special to have them tell stories from our past and just simply be there with us and share the special moment," says Anastasia. "All of them were so emotional and made both of us tear up."

16 of 16


wedding couple kissing on boat ride
Oliver Fly

Photography, Oliver Fly
Venue, Villa Pizzo
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Eventoile
Catering, AFM Wedding
Flowers, Chiara Sperti Floral Events
Videography, Lumos Produzioni
Stationery, Dodo Design & Co
Rentals, Latini Design; Preludio Divisione Noleggi; Privatera
Bride's Attire, Mestiza New York
Bride's Accessories, Manolo Blahnik shoes; Verstolo jewelry
Hair and Makeup, Yana Rybalko for BLBS Management
Groom's Attire, Alan David Custom
Music, Blunotte Eventi

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles