Sophie and Louis are simply adorable. Both of their facial expressions as they are getting ready are priceless – anticipation, nerves, excitement and joy – there’s nothing quite like the melting pot of emotions that is your wedding morning! Sophie looks like a Princess in her stunning Suzanne Neville gown. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s always worth trying on a style of dress you hadn’t considered before. Sophie’s stylist at her boutique suggested this gown and I have to say, it’s perfect for her!
Oh and one final mention – THAT incredible lighting! The evening festivities look simply magical – a fitting end to the day for our Princess bride.
Sophie The Bride: When we first got engaged, we went to look around lots of different wedding venues, from houses to barns. Even though we loved all of the venues we went to look around, there was something stopping us from choosing one for our wedding day. When expanding our search online for other wedding venues, we discussed the fact that we are both never happier than when we are away with our family and friends. Louis had the idea that we could go away and find a venue where we could have our wedding but also have some time on holiday to celebrate the special occasion. We wanted to go abroad but knew that we wanted to go to a country where our marriage would be legally recognised in the UK. We had both never been to Italy but as soon as we set eyes on Villa di Ulignano, we fell in love with the villa. After researching to find out everything we could about the amazing villa, we came across the wonderful Italy Weddings website. We spent hours looking through the photos and thought that the pictures of people eating outside under the cedar tree looked like our kind of wedding. We then got in touch with Ben and found out the exciting news that we could be married in the Town Hall in Volterra, another stunning building. Paola, who owns Villa di Ulignano was amazing, she really helped us to think about how we could use the villa for our guests. A few months before the wedding, Louis surprised me with a trip to Volterra to see where we’d be getting married – the villa and the Town Hall were perfect and we were so excited about showing our friends and family.
My wedding dress is a Suzanne Neville dress, purchased from a beautiful boutique in Tutbury, Derbyshire, called Charlotte Thompson Bridal Boutique. When trying to find my dress, I selected lots of vintage lace dresses. I always envisaged myself in a lace dress with an intricate back. After trying on four or five dresses and coming out of the fitting rooms to very underwhelming responses, I decided that perhaps this wasn’t a style that actually suited me. Charlotte then told me she had a dress that she thought would suit me but that I’d have to wait until I was in it to make a judgement. I stepped into the dress without looking at it in too much detail, came out and finally got the reaction that any bride hopes for when shopping for her dress. Everyone absolutely loved the dress and as soon as I saw it on, I just loved it and got so excited about Louis seeing it. The dress fitted me perfectly and was the last one in the shop (which meant that it was also a total bargain!) My shoes were Rainbow Club and I couldn’t believe I managed to keep them on all day – it may have been the adrenaline, or the Prosecco!
The suit was tailor made by Doherty Evans Stott. Louis sorted the colour and style of the suits and this was kept as much a surprise to me as my dress was to him.
Our ceremony was held at the beautiful Town Hall in Volterra. It is such a stunning building and we love our gorgeous photos from inside. The ceremony was read in Italian but translated by our wonderful wedding planned Ben Singleton. My sister and one of my bridesmaids read at the wedding, which made it really personal. We also had guitar soloist, Dave Fidler playing during my entrance and the signing of the wedding certificate. By the time we had left the Town Hall, a rather large crowd had gathered all wanting to wish us congratulations, which was lovely.
We drove back to the villa together in our lovely wedding car and stopped for photos on the way. We also asked the driver if we could stop for a little while, this was a really great chance for us to take everything in- I would really advise couples to put some time in the day where you can just be together, as the day goes so fast.
We got back and had canapés and welcome drinks. We had an artist doing caricatures of our guests which was a wedding present from Louis’ brother and his wife. Louis and I had hoped to have this at our wedding but decided it was out of budget, so this was such a thoughtful wedding present and a great surprise to come back to. Dave was also playing the guitar outside, it was a very relaxed vibe and a great chance for everyone to talk about the ceremony and the Town Hall.
Our wedding breakfast was a mix of all the best Italian food – all of our guests commented on how great the food was. When we visited Italy earlier in the year, Ben took us for a tasting session where we got to try the delicious food and handpick our menu. Our wedding cake was a white chocolate Bavarian cake with fruit decoration. This was the desert course of our meal- it was lovely to see our guests enjoying it all together. We decided on one long table and found that this made for a really lovely family feel dinner.
We had Limoncello favours for all our adult guests and jelly bean dispensers and colouring books for the children. We bought all the limoncello bottles and made both the labels for them and the place cards.
Le Petit Jardin designed our flowers and worked from pictures to create exactly what I’d requested. I was overwhelmed when i saw our bouquets and when I saw the gorgeous roses and peonies lining our table. Ben Singleton at Italy Weddings designed our lighting and we think it set the mood of the evening and made the party so magical.
We had a dance floor set up just next to the table which allowed a smooth transition from the meal to the evening dancing. Dave Fidler & Blue Bird Kid Clark performed the night away. The lighting was truly beautiful and the photos really capture the feel of the evening. We all got very merry and danced the night away. During our first dance, we looked over to the gorgeous cedar tree with our loved ones below and were amazed that it was our wedding.
The lovely Mary and Maurizio from Quattro Studio photographed our day and it was one of the best decisions we made! They came to the pizza party we had the night before the wedding to meet Louis and I and take some extra photos and we just found them to be the most brilliant photographers. They cared so much about what we wanted. They weren’t intrusive and captured the most beautiful natural shots. We love our wedding photos and think they capture our day so wonderfully. Looking back at the photos, we still can’t believe it was our day.
Sam Jordan and his fiance Amy Simms filmed and edited our wedding video. They have such a lovely style and we are so pleased we decided to have our day filmed as it is a lovely thing to look back on. They also filmed a very funny video guestbook for us which was filmed once everyone had started drinking!
The Wedding Planner
If you are thinking about getting married abroad, we couldn’t recommend a wedding planner enough. Ben at Italy Weddings was fantastic. We had a very busy year in the build up to our wedding and he took care of so many aspects of our wedding with such thoughtfulness. On the day, he helped ensure everyone was happy and enjoying their day. When planning a wedding from so far away, in a country with a different language, a wedding planner like Ben is the most valuable person you can possibly have. There are lots of things to consider when marrying abroad and the paperwork can be quite daunting, but someone helping to guide you through it is brilliant. He did everything he could to make our wedding day magical and we are very grateful.