Our Intimate Stress-free Wedding in Italy

…And How We Managed to Do It ‘Our Way’!

A couple of months ago, Paul and I got married on our son’s first birthday. I was never one to dream my own wedding, but if I had to pick one thing I truly wanted over everything else: it was for it to be an intimate stress-free ceremony. I wanted the atmosphere to be as relaxed and fun as possible, with the focus being all on the meaningful moments. Many of my close friends from Italy had not met Leo in person yet, so a wedding/birthday was the perfect opportunity to introduce our child while celebrating with the people we love.

I made a point to not waste this unique opportunity over the stress of making it ‘perfect.‘ Where perfect means for everything to look flawless and magazine-like. Nothing goes without errors in life, so why should our wedding day? I am so glad I approached it with this spirit. Being relaxed and accepting, really allowed for the day to go smoothly and for me to embrace it all and just enjoy every second of it.

After some consideration, we decided we would love to have an Italian wedding. In spite of me being originally from gorgeous Naples, our choice ended up on that little gem that is Perugia. Genuinely Italian in its beauty, yet still a bit ”undiscovered”. Perugia is not overly touristic and that preserves some of its raw charm. In other words, our day turned into a small destination wedding and we really enjoyed celebrating with our friends and close family for a whole three days. They all travelled from different parts of Italy (Naples, Rome, Parma, Ferrara, Milan and so on) and from different countries (Germany, Spain, U.K. etc.). One very special guest even flew from the United States to join us! In a way, our wedding felt like a perfect embodiment of the multiculturality which represents us as a couple and has always been such a big theme in my life.

With only fifty people including ourselves, our wedding was tiny for the Italian standards, where the majority of weddings are very family-oriented and might easily include a couple of hundreds guests. In spite of traditions, we decided to have a friends only wedding. It was a challenge to keep it small, but we found very rewarding to have an intimate wedding.

Having such a small group of like-minded people helped us create an incredible one-of-a-kind atmosphere.  Our guests shared similar interests and lifestyle and, by the end of the first evening, they were already really at ease with each other. After spending a whole three days together, they all looked more like old time friends and were even sad to depart from each other. I often see them interacting on social media now and it makes me smile so much! To have people from different chapters of our life gathered together in one place, to see them all sharing a laugh, dancing together was by far the coolest part of the whole experience.

Our Team

Like everything, our day was a success because of a great team effort. I personally handpicked most of them. I must say that I got really lucky with that, as in Perugia I found a fabulous group of like-minded suppliers: young, modern and extremely creative. I am for ever thankful to Elisa Monelletta, wedding-planner and coordinator from youco, whom I am happy to say I consider not only the best professional I’ve ever worked with, but also a friend and a lovely person. She helped me through the whole process, taking care of the communication with all the suppliers and minimizing the distance.

The location was the incredible Abbazia dei Sette Frati, a magic place with a unique look to it. An outstanding twelfth-century abbey converted to a cardinal’s mansion in the sixteenth century, the Abbazia features some truly beautiful frescoes. We loved Annalisa and Francesco Sposini, the young couple who owns the abbey. They take wonderful care of it, trying to organize cultural events and many other interesting activities. Paul and I really treasured the idea that hosting our wedding there, we were supporting a project which is brought forward by them with genuine passion and enthusiasm. As a fun touch, we decided to keep the location secret to all of our guests (including family!).  They were all picked up by a bus in the morning to be driven to the mystery location.

Unlike many brides, my dress was a very quick and easy choice and could only be by Jenny Packham: I was absolutely conquered by the style of her dresses and by how flowy, romantic and yet stylish they all looked. I basically picked it straight away, but really it could have been pretty much any of her creations. Natalie from Exquisite Bridal Couture in Winchester was amazing in helping me with everything.

My favourite part was hands down the gorgeous flowers created by an extremely talented duo: Miriam Valeri and Marta Dozzini from Botanica Laboratorio Floreale. When I found them online, I knew straight away they were perfect for what I had in mind. They made all my hydrangea dreams come true (look at those table centrepieces!). I had this vision of a necklace made out of fresh flowers to go with my wedding gown. The girls really went the extra mile providing their own creative input to it. It looked even more unique than I could have hoped for (you can see me wearing it in most of the photos and I am so in love with it!). My fabulous bouquet is the only item that I still miss and I wish I could have back again!

Overall, there were many cute details. From little surprise welcome bags for our guests to a custom game of ”cards against matrimony” on their tables. I walked the aisle to the music of my favourite Tom Waits, and got emotional when one of my closest friends who officiated the ceremony while another one helped translate everything to English. We also had programs to help the guests navigate through the bilingual ceremony. The little things all helped us make the day more personal and relive our story together. One, in particular, meant a lot to me. I adored my custom-made ring pillow made out of a vintage edition of a book by Leo Tolstoy. My personal homage to a very influential figure in my life.

The Photography

I’ve left this one for last because this was, of course, a ‘biggie’ for us. As stated before, I managed to stay very chilled throughout the whole planning and the wedding itself. The tricky bit for me was choosing our own wedding photographer. Way harder than choosing my wedding gown! The full story would probably require a post of its own. I must admit I agonized a bit over this choice, considering hundreds of very talented professionals from different countries. The issue was not a lack of talent (quite the other way around!), but more a case of struggling to single out which style I wanted our story to be told in.

Choosing our own wedding photographer was not just a decision regarding the wedding itself. It made me also think of what kind of photographer I want to be and what style I value the most for myself and for my couples. What I found out has changed me and made me a much better photographer. I still appreciate different styles of photography, but I realized that storytelling is a priority for me.

Our choice ended up on the amazing Victor Lax and his wife Erika. Victor’s passion for photography and his enthusiasm conquered us straight away: we felt a really good connection from the beginning and were impressed by his professionalism on the day. You can appreciate yourself his gorgeous work all over this page.

Do you want to find out more?

There would be a lot to add and I would love to share my own experience with future brides. So if you are a bride-to-be planning a similar wedding style, please feel free to contact me.