Oh the power of the internet. Megan and Zack are based in the US but found gorgeous Sarah Jane Ethan via a google search – luckily for them, she’s not only lovely, but rather fabulous with a camera too. As these stunning photographs show. If you’re eloping, incredible photos are essential* as you’ll want to show everybody back home what a wonderful time you had.
Megan looks utterly radiant in these images and just so, so happy. The whole wedding looked relaxed, joyful and there’s a sense of contentment just screaming from every single photo. Maybe it’s being on holiday? Maybe it’s because it’s a wedding? Maybe it’s the limoncello? All I know, is that I want some.
*to be honest incredible wedding photographs are always essential, whether you’re eloping or not. PLEASE make sure you book someone who will create these for you…
Megan the Bride: I told the boutique consultant I worked with I was getting married in Sicily, and so she brought me out something with lace. I loved it immediately. It felt very European. I also wanted it to be budget friendly so I selected a sample, which meant I received a large discount. By being willing to purchase a sample, I could get a more expensive dress that came out to my price range, and really looked brand new after fittings!
Earrings were matched to my engagement ring! I asked a BHLDN consultant to help me do this, and the close up pictures look stunning with both the ring and earrings complimenting each other. Halo was a surprise purchase. I never thought I would want one but when BHLDN consultant said I should try it on, I found I really liked it! It was delicate and matched the lace on my dress. Lesson I learned: try on whatever the consultant recommends! You can always say no, but that possible “yes” is worth it.
Zack found EVERYTHING at Banana Republic. We went to the store with a picture of what we wanted and the consultant found everything we were looking for! Doing research before and finding a picture of what he liked to mimic and reference was helpful.
Choosing to get married in Sicily came from Zack and I discussing what was important to us in our wedding. We knew we wanted our wedding to be more of an experience (versus one day), intimate (versus big), and destination (versus local). I am Sicilian, and have always wanted to go there, and in researching Sicily, it looked picturesque, romantic, and peaceful! And after going there, it was that and more!
Why Taormina: Sarah-Jane Ethan’s amazing photography! After googling “wedding in Sicily” SJ’s website popped up with amazing pictures from a previous wedding. And with amazing views of the Mediterranean and Mount Etna in the background (which happened to be erupting!) Taormina did not disappoint!
Why Parco Duchi di Cesarò Taormina: We are outdoor people, so having a wedding in nature was a no-brainer. And getting here came with the perks of having gardens as a backdrop for pictures and less stress over booking and payment!
I kept this one simple! I found a bouquet I liked on pinterest, sent it to my incredible wedding planner Mariangela, and she took care of the rest! Flowers used: Juliet Dustin Roses, white lisiathus, white mini roses, green ranuncoli, Matthiola, eucalyptus, lavender, green barbatos. The centrepiece we were able to use at both the ceremony venue and dinner.
Officiant: Our wedding was very intimate and personal, and so we designed the ceremony this way. My role model for love, kindness and joy is my younger sister, whom both Zack and I are close to. We knew we would feel good and happy with her officiating. And also more calm!
Ceremony content: We wanted a short wedding! The ceremony was a total of maybe 20 minutes. This was not a religious ceremony, so instead Zack and I came up with five core values to live by in our relationship. I saw this done at my dear friend Jessica’s wedding and was moved by the idea that at the beginning of our marriage WE CHOOSE what values we want to live by rather than being told. Coming up with our values together made it very touching for us both. We also both love poetry, and so asked my Mom to read a poem my Grandpa had written my Grandma. They could not be physically present at the wedding, so it was incredibly sweet to have them both there in our ceremony in another way.
Vows: Making our own vows made the ceremony so much more personal and powerful for us both. And making our own served as a powerful reflection for me prior to my marriage. The vows ended up being deeply touching, humorous, and the sweetest moments of our ceremony. And framing personal wedding vows makes a great wedding present (thanks Angela)!
Ristorante Villa Antonio took care of everything for us! They sent us three menu options, and we would have tried to eat all three if we could have. We went with this menu selection though because of the broccoli and crab risotto, which we knew our guests and selves would love. So happy we did! And the naked wedding cake was beautifully decorated with the same flowers used for my bouquet! Having a nude cake was perfect for a 5 course meal, as it was not overly rich, heavy, or creamy.
Cube of sesame-crusted salmon, celeriac and apple fondue, balsamic vinegar
Risotto with cream of broccoli and crab
Ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, caciocavallo ragusano sauce and chopped almonds
Fillet of fish pauro in a crust of tomatoes and aromatic bread, endive with orange sauce
Nude Wedding cake with chantilly cream filling
Pineapple with vanilla bourbon whiskey ice cream
The Wedding Planner
If you are planning a destination wedding, finding a wedding planner is a MUST! Picking out the right venue, caterer, florist, accommodations is stressful enough to figure out locally, but doing so in a foreign country adds on a whole additional layer of challenge! Zack and I did not go to Sicily before we got married, so really had no idea about the venue or vendors available. I really didn’t even know what I didn’t know until I was BLESSED to find Mariangela Spinella of Taormina Weddings, whom asked me all the right questions to determine what would be the best fit for our wedding. She was thoughtful and knowledgeable about vendor selection, was able to translate and clearly communicate with local vendors in English and Italian, and maybe most importantly, gave me peace of mind knowing someone so kind and organised was looking out in our best interest for our big day. I cannot imagine our day without Mariangela!
Selecting our photographer was one of the most important decisions for us especially because we were eloping! We wanted the right person to capture our day for our memories and to show those who were not there. This was also what I went into the wedding dreading the most. I really dislike having my picture taken and could not imagine having a camera following me around 24/7. Then we found Sarah-Jane Ethan’s website through googling “Sicily weddings” and made the best decision of our wedding (other than committing to each other of course ☺) which was hiring her! I was immediately inspired and in awe of her bright and natural pictures. Every picture I saw made each moment big or small look like a fairytale. While I knew I loved her skill with the camera, what really sold me was watching her video on her website. I got a sense of how joyful and humorous and easy she would be to be around, and knew immediately she was the one for us! I (and probably all brides) take the best pictures when I am comfortable, so getting to know our photographer’s personality and making sure I felt comfortable with them was really important. And SJ was just incredible. Not only did her personality put us at ease, but her style of photography is to follow you around and capture moments- not creating too many forced or posed pictures that can often look awkward or leave you feeling exhausted. We truly had the best time, and received the most amazing pictures because we were so relaxed with SJ taking them! And we were so glad her husband Matt Ethan attended to help us get the perfect pictures and laugh with as well! So while I initially dreaded pictures the most, SJ’s skill and personality made picture taking one of my favorite parts of our wedding. We are now plotting to fly her to us for an anniversary photoshoot ☺
Let your wedding be exactly what you two want! Which sounds ridiculously simple, yet seems to be what so often gets lost in the planning process when people start telling you about what they want, or when you feel like you are going against what is traditional or expected. For us, we really wanted a destination wedding, but we also knew we wanted to include loved ones who would not be able to travel. So we decided to have a civil ceremony in San Francisco close to our families so they could attend, and then we eloped to Sicily and had a symbolic ceremony that was truly a dream. We loved that we got to have two ceremonies, for we got the wedding that we wanted and that felt good for our loved ones, and really just got to extend how long we celebrated our commitment for! And in the spirit of what we wanted, even though one ceremony was on 3.10.17 and the other ceremony was on 3.19.17, Zack and I are choosing to celebrate our anniversary on 3.21.17 just because we liked those numbers better! Our wedding became so much more fun, meaningful and “us” when we let go of what we thought we were “supposed to do for a wedding” and instead focused on what we wanted! As much as you can, make your wedding about what you want, because, after all, this is about you two!