Kate and Rob along with Olive in Love (who Kate found on our fabulous recommended supplier directory The List) have done an amazing job at planning this gorgeous peachy, destination wedding at Villa Catignano. As well as being absolutely breathtaking its location just outside Siena in Italy was the perfect central spot for their 130 guests travelling from 15 different counties.
As you can imagine with family from all over the world, there were lots of different cultures to incorporate into the day. My favourite being the Pacific dance off between families whilst donning DIY flower garlands around their necks. Such fun.
You definitely need to check out Kate’s Terry Fox gown too. The back and spaghetti straps are exquisite. She is undoubtably radiating beauty, and it’s not just down to being a blushing bride…
Kate the Bride: We chose to have our wedding in Italy mainly because it’s so beautiful! Rob’s Mum is Italian so was fantastic help in researching options. My Mum is from Kiribati, a tiny group of islands in the South Pacific, and most of my family live on that side of the world so we wanted a Villa that could accommodate a lot of people. Villa Catignano is a 17th century villa set in 600 acres of olive groves near Siena and sleeps 90 people. As soon as we saw it, we booked it.
We had a Catholic ceremony inside the beautiful Certosa di Pontignano, which was originally built in 1343. The ceremony was also our legal marriage. It was a bit of a headache to organize with lots of notarized translations required but we had help from Pia, our wedding planner. It was nice to only have the one ceremony to worry about! We bought paper fans for people to use in the church and water in case it was a hot day (it was!). After the ceremony, we had an ice cream trolley which went down very well.
What can I say about Stefano Santucci and his colleague Lucrezia Cosso? Not only are they incredibly talented photographers who captured the most amazing, special moments for us…but they’re also really lovely people! They were such a pleasure to have at our wedding and made the whole process really easy and fun. We chose them because we loved their style and the photos of our day really are a treasure. Thank you both!
Paul Van and I got chatting on Twitter! He got married in Tuscany and kindly agreed to come back out to Tuscany after his wedding to shoot mine! The video he produced surpassed all expectations and truly captured the happiness and joy of our special day. Even though he had never met Stefano and Lu, the three of them made a fantastic team! It wouldn’t have been the same without them.
Wedding dress shopping was a bit of a revelation. I’m not particularly tall and was a bit panicked to discover that none of the styles that I liked liked me back! My mum, who lives abroad, ended up booking a flight to the UK just so we could both visit the studio of Terry Fox in Suffolk. It was the best decision. Terry is amazing and made us feel so at home. She took the time to understand what I was after and made me the most beautiful dress, complete with tiny frangipanis, the flower of the Pacific. She also made my veil (with matching frangipanis woven into it) and my Mum’s dress for the day.
My jewellery was created by my very talented aunt who is a jewellery designer in LA! She very kindly gifted the beautiful necklaces and earrings, made from antique coral, to my four bridesmaids and me.
My shoes were my guilty pleasure – Jimmy Choos, which Rob bought me as a wedding present.
In Kiribati, it’s traditional at weddings for one side to welcome the other side into the family by performing a dance (this often descends into a dance-off pitting family against family!) and then presenting them with garlands of flowers to go around their necks. My mum, her three sisters and a close family friend spent hours and hours making these garlands which were then presented to all of Rob’s side after my family performed a Polynesian dance! It was so much fun to watch them dance and Rob’s family all looked great with garlands of purple orchids around their necks.
The florist, Il Bouquet, is based just outside of Siena. I wanted a really colourful, happy bouquet and they produced exactly that with smaller versions for the bridesmaids. We didn’t want anything tall or obtrusive on the tables at dinner and they suggested various small vases with simple arrangements in them. These worked perfectly and made the tables look beautiful.
The florists were fantastic at sourcing all of the flowers we needed for the garlands. These would usually be made using frangipanis but, as we couldn’t get these in Italy, they spent a lot of time helping us to identify other flowers that could work and we ended up with a lovely mix of freesias and orchids.
Décor / Styling
We didn’t have to put too much thought into decor for a wedding at a 17th century Italian villa! I wanted long tables and we kept them very simple with lace runners and silver platters. The main colour we used was coral, which worked perfectly with the villa itself as it was a brilliant shade of peach!
We made our own invites and ceremony handouts. We really enjoyed the process although hand stamping 140 invitations did take slightly longer than I had anticipated!
For favours, we printed and framed a photo of each of our guests for them to take home with them. This was quite a big job but I’m so glad we took the time to do it as it was our way of sending out a big thank you to everyone who made the effort to be there for us on our special day. One mistake we made was not organising the photos according to the seating plan so, an hour before dinner started and while we were off taking photos, the entire wedding party was running around trying to identify people from the photos in order to put the frames in the right places. Oops! Sorry guys, you were brilliant.
One of the absolute stars of our wedding were the caterers, Albatros Catering. They produced the most incredible food which I still dream about! For appetisers in the garden, we had a number of different food corners including cold cuts, cheese, tempura, bruschetta as well as finger food served by waiting staff. The main courses included risotto, pasta and then Tagliata.
They produced the most delicious traditional Mille Foglie cake as well as a buffet table of crepes, pastry fresh fruit for dessert. They were really sensitive to food allergies, including gluten free wedding cake! I also found out I was pregnant just before the wedding and the staff kept topping me up with Appletiser to keep people from guessing!
They also catered the brunch which we had the next day. By the time we woke up and came downstairs, they had set up all the tables and had everything sorted, under control and everyone was having a fantastic time. I cannot recommend them enough.
My special ladies were my two cousins, who live in Australia, my sister in law in the UK and my parents’ god-daughter in New Zealand! As we were so spread out, I went dress shopping with my sister in law, found one that we liked and then bought in on Weddington Way. They were made in six weeks and shipped out to each bridesmaid, who then had it taken up.
The bridesmaids and flower girls all wore flower garlands, called mais. In their hair, which is very traditional in the Pacific. I also wore one after the ceremony.
Groom / Groomsmen
The boys all wore sulus, which is a Fijian skirt worn by men, and is part of the Fijian national dress. A family friend, who lives in Fiji (and made it to our wedding), sent all the sulus and sandals to us and we were then able to find matching suits. Rob also wore a sulu after the ceremony. It was a lovely touch and it meant a lot that the boys embraced the idea of wearing them!
We started off thinking we could plan this wedding all by ourselves from the UK. How wrong we were! It quickly became clear that the devil was definitely in the detail and we needed someone on the ground in Italy who could help us out.
Cue Pia and Michele from Olive in Love who I found through RMW’s List. They were both completely indispensable and made sure that everything ran according to plan and were able to deal with any and all the last minute issues. Even the random lunchtime thunderstorm didn’t phase them!
We booked Guty e Simone as our band and they were brilliant and full of energy. They played our first dance song which was Paul McCartney’s Calico Skies. We sent them a list of songs to play and they kept everyone dancing into the small hours!
Photography by Stefano Santucci
- Dress Designer & Boutique Terry Fox
- Bridal Shoes Jimmy Choo
- Hair & Makeup Adrienne MUA in Florence
- Bridesmaid Dresses Jim Hjlem from Weddington Way
- Groomsmen Suits Stephen Bishop Suiting
- Grooms Shoes Russell & Bromley
- Venue Villa Catignano
- Church Certosa di Pontignano
- Wedding Planning Olive in Love
- Catering Albatros Ristoranzione
- Florist Siena Flowers
- Band Guty e Simone
- Ice Cream Gelateria Firenze