This incredibly pretty, destination wedding comes with a tissue warning. The emotional first look and outdoor wedding ceremony captured by Jason Mark Harris are absolute tearjerkers. Which is exactly what you want from your wedding photographs. Then come all the candlelight reception pics, which scream luxe. Just like the wedding party attire. Hello there groomsmen in Tuxedos and wowsers bridesmaids and bride in Monique Lhuillier gowns. The blush pink, pure white and greenery flower arrangements will also have you picking your jaw up from the floor, so get yourself comfortable and enjoy this one lovelies, it's a goodie.
Ariana the Bride: I was looking for a wedding dress that was understated and elegant and I wanted to choose a gown that truly felt timeless, yet modern. Much like the venue and décor, through the dress’ simplicity, I wanted the elegance and natural beauty to shine through. When choosing my bridal look, I really gravitated towards structure, texture and detail. I loved the ruffled, layered look of the dress skirt. I decided to take the skirt design and match it with a lightly ruched top with a sweetheart neckline. I also added silk buttons down the back of the dress. I’ve always wanted a romantic chapel length veil and I choose a veil with a thin pencil edge to complete this clean, classic look. After the ceremony, I wore a beautiful handmade headpiece by Australian designer, Tania Maras. The Versailles Floral Headpiece had ivory clay flowers and silver leaves, which brought a whimsical and feminine element to my bridal look. A nod to the rustic Tuscan countryside. I wanted my jewellery to feel classic and timeless. I love the intricacy and romanticism of art deco jewelry – my engagement ring is an art deco estate piece from the 1920s, so I wanted the rest of my wedding jewellery to complement it. I wore an art deco diamond tennis bracelet and drop pearl platinum and diamond earrings.
Michael wanted to emulate the classic Tom Ford look with the shawl lapel tuxedo in a midnight blue with black lapel. A nice complement to the bride’s classic and elegant look. Michael wore heirloom gold cufflinks passed down as a wedding gift from my father. The cufflinks were given to my father by my great grandmother from Greece. The custom gold cufflinks featured two Greek Drachmas (gold coins) from the late 1800s. A nod to the bride’s Greek heritage and a meaningful symbol and gesture from the bride’s father, welcoming Michael into Ariana’s family.
The most important aspect to me when choosing the venue was making sure the entire wedding party could stay together under one roof. I really wanted a communal feel throughout the weekend and I wanted to give guests the opportunity to truly bond over the course of three days. This was the first time our family and friends were coming together from the US and Ireland, so we wanted to maximize our time together. It made all the difference to have everyone together – from Australia to Ireland to San Francisco to New York - at one place to laugh, bond, hang out and make memories together throughout the weekend. Villa Pitiana really had it all - it was a historic estate that maintained that Tuscan charm and didn't feel like a typical resort that could be anywhere. The walls and grounds of the villa exuded so much history, it was an intriguing and unique place that felt truly and authentically Tuscan. The staff was so friendly, helpful and accommodating, which also made the villa so appealing. Its proximity to Florence, the quality of the food and their talented chef Mario, and of course the magnificent grounds and beautiful views, sold us on Villa Pitiana.
I wanted the wedding decor to feel elegant, rustic, natural, romantic and warm. I wanted the décor to simply enhance the natural beauty of the venue. My colours were blush, green, gold and white. This was incorporated in the florals, candles, garlands and place settings. I wanted the ceremony to feel intimate and rustic while celebrating nature and highlighting the beautiful cypress trees in the distance. The ceremony spot I selected wasn’t the typical place wedding couples at Villa Pitiana hosted their ceremony. I felt the view overlooking the cypress trees in the garden was magical and I wanted that to be the ceremony backdrop. It has always been my vision to get married outside in nature. The ceremony arch draped with chiffon and garlands with white and blush flowers, framed the trees in the distance. This mixed with the white florals, candles and flower petals lining the aisle, created a truly warm and romantic feel. At the cocktail hour, we had incredible sunset views from the terrace. We decorated the terrace by incorporating various candlelit vignettes throughout, giving the space a vintage and rustic feel. The grand staircase was draped with green garlands and candles lined the side of the steps. The dinner setup really blew me away – originally, the plan was to host dinner underneath string lights in the garden outside, but due to weather we had to quickly make a call before the ceremony to move the dinner inside. Everything really does happen for a reason, because the indoor restaurant space ended up being so intimate and cozy, you could really feel the love and joy exploding in the room. We had a guitar duo playing in the corner throughout dinner and I’ll never forget the moment we walked into the room – the view of long tables strewn with candles, garlands and flowers - all of our family and friends stood up and gave us a standing ovation as we all clapped and sang to the guitar duo playing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” It was a magical way to start an intimate candlelit dinner. We ate, drank, laughed and cried while lightning and thunder raged outside of the open windows. It was truly beautiful and set such an amazing tone before the party.
I wanted the florals to feel garden party-esque. I incorporated a lot of greenery and kept the colour palette fairly neutral with elegant white and blush tones. All of the various wedding spaces were tied together with the consistency in the floral arrangements – all accented by gold details and candles.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I wanted the bridesmaid dresses to exude the same elegance, modernity and simplicity as my wedding dress. It just so happened that Monique Lhullier also designs some beautiful bridesmaid dresses. I gave my bridesmaids 3 style options and 3 color options, I really wanted the bridesmaids to love what they were wearing. I loved the mismatched style, but everything felt pulled together with the repetition of the same coluors and fabrics. The groomsmen opted for a classic black tuxedo with a shawl lapel, matching the grooms attire.
The ceremony was very emotional and personal, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. We opted to write our own vows, because we wanted to speak from the heart to one another, which was extremely special and meaningful to both of us. The two readings we chose “Blessings for a Marriage” and “The Art of Marriage” really spoke to us and our values. We realize that marriage is hard work and requires sacrifice and compromise. We wanted the readings to speak to both the work and rewards of marriage, acknowledging that we are committing ourselves to working hard to build a happy and healthy marriage.
The wedding entertainment began with a string quartet for the wedding ceremony. I loved the classical element of having a live string quartet and ended up putting a personal touch on the music. The quartet learned how to play the song Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros, which I walked down the aisle to. During the cocktail hour, we had an amazing guitar duo that played a mix of songs – Italian, latin and acoustic versions of classic rock and pop songs. They were the hit of the party! They continued to play throughout the dinner, which really helped created an amazing, intimate ambiance.
We wanted the wedding food to feel authentically Tuscan. Simplistic courses where the fresh, seasonal ingredients became the star of the show. We offered a risotto course to start and then gave guests the choice of two pasta dishes and two main courses. The cocktail hour was filled with an incredible spread of Tuscan meats and cheeses and a selection of canapes. Our signature cocktails included the classic Aperol Spritz and Negroni. For the wedding cake, we opted for a traditional Millefoglie Italian wedding cake with fresh berries. The cake was light, fresh and handmade by the Villa’s chef Mario right before we cut it.
Photography was one of my most important decisions when it came to my wedding planning experience. It was extremely important to me to be able to look back at our wedding photos and have them evoke a feeling that would transport me back to each moment captured. I wanted to find a photographer that could successfully mix the fine art and documentarian style. I can’t say enough about our photographer Jason Harris. He is so exceptionally talented at capturing natural, intimate moments that tell a multi-dimensional story. He has such a relaxed approach, yet he effortlessly captures such incredible, candid, personal moments. His approach put everyone at ease, which really allowed everyone to put their authentic selves forward. We trusted him fully to capture the essence of our wedding without a lot of disruption or interruption for staged photography and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. Our friends and family all agree that the photos captured bring us all back to the moments we shared and the love and joy we experienced. It’s exactly what we wanted.
I immediately fell in love with Angelo’s work when I came across his website. His emotional storytelling and cinematography style moved me, and I knew he would do an incredible job capturing and telling the story of our wedding. He was such a pleasure to work with on the day and his work perfectly captured the essence and intense emotion of our wedding on film. It was amazing to see his point of view come together in even just a short 3-minute video. Anecdotally, so many friends reached out to say how incredibly moving his film was – random co-workers of our friends got teary eyed and even the in-laws of my maid of honor chimed in on how beautiful his wedding film was.
My biggest piece of advice is to truly not sweat the small stuff. It’s tough to get out of the weeds of wedding planning, especially if you have a type A personality, however your wedding experience is truly made by the friends and family who partake in your special day and of course the food, drinks and dance party. No one will notice or think about the granular details, except for you! My second piece of advice is don’t compromise your vision. This is truly YOUR day. Too many times during the planning process I was considering the opinion of others and allowing that to influence my vision. Be considerate, but be authentic to yourself and what you want. You only get to have your wedding day once. I have no regrets because I truly look back on my wedding and can say this is exactly what I wanted.