Our Perfect Wedding in Italy

Hindu tradition says that rain on your wedding day is a sign that your marriage will be strong and last a long time because a wet knot is much harder to untie than a dry one. I’ve always leaned towards Hindu beliefs and I hope they’re right about this one.

When I think about that beautiful, rainy day in April there is nothing imperfect about it. The rain held off until just after the ceremony and even a little drizzle couldn’t stop me from smiling. I mean, I was marrying the man of my dreams after all. What about that would make a girl frown?

It was a beautiful blur of rain, friends and family, gorgeous surroundings, and, of course, love.

We stayed in a villa in Italy outside of Florence for the week of our wedding. Jordan and I loved the idea of a destination wedding where our friends and family would have an opportunity to travel to a new place. When someone on the GLT Facebook group mentioned this villa a year prior, we both fell in love. It seemed too good to be true.

After an endless string of emails to Alessandro (bless him for putting up with my incessant questions), we booked the villa for the week of April 7th. We would get married on Thursday, April 11th – which is 411 (we thought it was funny).

Planning an international wedding was no easy feat. Even with it being a small ceremony, there were still a lot of logistics. I helped people figure out their travel. I emailed and googled countless vendors for hair and makeup, florists, bakers, etc. I had to take into consideration transporting my wedding dress, programs, and favors AND our small family (2 kids under 7 – one being a busy toddler). It was a lot. (Read more about what I wish I knew before planning my destination wedding here)

In the end, the day went perfectly. Francesca from Mani di Forbice Cavriglia arrived late morning to start on my hair and she brought along the greatest makeup artist, Chiara. I was so impressed with both of them. I mean, the set up they brought to the villa was basically suitcases full of hair products and makeup. They did such a great job and were awesome about having the music going and giggling with us. I loved talking to both of them about their lives in Italy compared to us in the US. They truly made me feel comfortable and in good hands.

While I was getting ready, my kindergarten teacher “Aunt” Kelli arrived. I knew not having my mom there on my wedding day was going to be hard. And then finding out my dad couldn’t come either, well it wasn’t ideal. But having Kelli come was like having a part of my mom there with us. My mom volunteered in my kindergarten class and always loved Kelli so much. You know how there are some teachers that fade into the background and you can’t remember them? Kelli was not that kind of teacher. Even in kindergarten, I knew she’d be someone I would always remember. I truly treasured how invested she was in each of her students and I remember how fondly my mom always talked about her. I had not seen her since Kindergarten (on base in Germany) and she came with her son from England (where she now lives) to come to my wedding. It was truly a dream come true!

Amy and Kathy, two of my very best friends from grad school, helped me slip into my dress and buttoned up the thousands of buttons on the back. I was so at ease having them there. They are my protectors. I know they’d do anything for me. Kathy and I are bonded through the loss of our moms. I’ll never forget how much she has held me up during some of my darkest days. Amy and I have a bond that I truly cherish so much. We’ve traveled to countless places together and on one of my hardest days in Ireland after my mom died, she stood with me in the middle of a street as I broke down, unable to walk even another step. And when I was going through my miscarriage, all I had to do was send one text and she immediately called me and talked me through it as I sat outside the LabCorp, knowing I’d be getting my blood drawn to confirm my HCG levels were in fact dropping and I really was miscarrying. These two ladies mean everything to me and I’m so thankful they were there.

The world seemed to slow down as I was getting ready but once I was, it quickly sped up and I realized that it was time. Everyone left me except my hairdresser, make up artist, and photographer.  Laura Barbera Photography did an exceptional job finding the light throughout the villa and making sure she got every little detail of our big day including photos of our favors (bottles of wine with custom labels), bouquet (I got at the cutest florist in Florence), and decorations (string lights with photos, balloons, photo booth, etc). And above all, she was incredibly kind.

Jude and Hattie walked down the aisle first and then Jude came back to get me. We held hands walking down the aisle to Meghan Trainor’s song “Marry Me.” During the ceremony – which I wrote and Amy officiated perfectly – I felt calmer than I ever have. I knew this was my destiny. Jordan was it for me.

We wrote and read our own vows. I tried my best to hold it together through Jordan’s but starting crying reading mine.

There was an empty chair for my mom with a photo of us and a sign that read “Because someone we love is in heaven, there’s a little bit of heaven at our wedding.” I could feel her there. I knew she would be smiling from ear to ear.

We exchanged rings. We kissed. We were married. Our happily ever after began.

But there was more fun to be had. We took photos in front of the villa, then in the garden, and finally Laura and our wonderful driver Marco drove the entire group to Piazzale Michelangelo for photos with a beautiful view of the Florence below.

After the photography session, we went back to the villa for hor devours and wine. A little before 7pm, we headed to dinner at Il Chichibio. They had a room prepared just for our group and didn’t seat anyone in the room adjacent. The lighting was romantic and the food was incredible. There was three courses plus dessert. 

Our menu included:

  • Red wine, water, and coffee
  • Bundle of phyllo dough with seasonal vegetables and pecorino
  • Risotto with herbs and bacon creamed with pecorino cheese
  • Peposo of fornacina trendy dell’Impruneta with baked potatoes
  • Chef Panna cotta with chocolate sauce

It was incredible. When the chef came around asking people if they wanted more of each dish, we all wanted to say yes but couldn’t because we were too full. It was the most delicious meal we had (well, Mina’s meal at the villa was close).

After dinner, we headed back to the villa. Everyone was staying with us so we cranked up Spotify in one of the rooms with no furniture and danced and drank the night away. We even put up a photo booth and took silly photos. Jordan and I had our first dance to Thomas Rhett’s Die a Happy Man. Since my dad wasn’t there, I did a father/daughter dance with my cousin CJ to butterfly kisses – the song I always imagined since I was a little girl. Jordan and his mom danced together. We did a couple of dances for the couples but we all danced to the usual upbeat wedding songs and of course through in the chacha slide. We had tiramisu for our cake but everyone was so stuffed from dinner – we ate it for breakfast the next day!

Our guestbook was a scratch map! 🙂

It was really perfection. I know many people wanted to be able to come and couldn’t. And I know many were unhappy with our decision to get married so far away. But I’m sure all of the wonderful friends and family who came can attest to the fact that this was the perfect wedding for us. I could just burst thinking about how much love there was.

Thank you so much to Amy, Mark (Amy’s husband), Kathy, CJ, John and Jeannette (Jordan’s parents), Kelli, Zane (Kelli’s son), and our sweet kiddos Jude and Hattie for making our day memorable and all we could hope it would be. We really can’t thank you enough for being there and support our wedding and marriage.