I’ve just got back from Italy myself, so it feels fitting to share Kate and Davide’s beautiful Italian wedding, which Alice photographed in Sicily a few months ago.
I’ve known Kate a while and I was pretty sad that I wasn’t available to photograph her Vila Fago wedding to Davide. I left them in Alice’s more than capable hands though and I feel like I was there, looking at the joyful set of wedding photographs that Alice has created.
A pastel coloured Sicilian villa, Cypress trees dotting the landscape, mountains of mouth watering Italian food and picture after picture of Kate and Davide grinning from ear to ear.
Here’s what Kate and Davide had to say about their day:
We met when Davide’s English teacher fell ill and Kate replaced her for the last month of term. (He was an adult student, before anyone gets the wrong idea!) We got engaged 18 or so months after meeting, and were married five months after that. The proposal happened over the washing up one evening and was possibly the least romantic thing ever, along the lines of ‘So, do you think we should get married, then?’, but was all the more wonderful for it. I (Kate) may have wept a little bit. There’s been a lot of that over the past five months, along with a lot of laughter, as evidenced by the photos of the ceremony …
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The Venue and Location
As a bi-cultural couple, we knew we wanted to have two different ceremonies in our respective countries so that no-one from either country felt either constrained to pay for expensive plane tickets and accommodation or to miss out on the party. Plus, it meant that we would get the chance to do the deed twice over – hooray! (In the end, we actually ended up having three ceremonies, because red tape in Italy meant we couldn’t be legally married in the beautiful place that we ended up falling in love with for our ceremony, so we had an admin ceremony before either of the parties, but let’s not split hairs!)
We had our Italian ceremony at the gorgeous Villa Fago three days after becoming legally married. We’d been there earlier in the year for Davide’s nephew’s christening party, and knew that the food was good, but hadn’t seen it in daylight. When we did, however, straight away we knew it was the right place for us. It’s a classic Sicilian villa set on the foothills of Etna with views of the sea from one side of the villa, and Etna from the other. And all this surrounded by beautifully maintained, somehow strangely English, gardens – the perfect way to celebrate our cross-cultural relationship.
I’m not one of those girls who has had her perfect wedding dress in mind all her life. In fact, I had not the first idea what I was really looking for when I went wedding dress shopping. I had a vague idea of Dior New Look-style shapes, but that was about as far as it went. I made an appointment with the closest bridal boutique to my house and went along to it with a male travel-writer friend who was in town for two days, as it was going to the be the only chance we’d get to catch up. I had no idea of how to explain what I liked in Italian, and certainly no expectation of finding the right dress straight away – but that’s exactly what happened. Even though when I tried it on it was full-length with a train and we ended up cutting two foot of satin off the hem. The in-house seamstress was horrified: ‘But no-one will know you’re the bride if you don’t have a train!’ I laughed and told her that I thought they’d still work it out … My shoes, headdress and veil topped the whole look off amazingly – I can’t recommend Rae (Agnes Hart)’s beautiful retro veils highly enough, and kitten heels rock when you’re already taller than your groom but don’t want to wear flats.
The bridesmaids outfits were a happy accident. I’d originally thought of going with Vivien of Holloway dresses, but then Lexy found the dresses that they ended up wearing on Light in the Box. None of us had actually looked all that closely at the details on the website, and we didn’t see the bridesmaids’ and bride’s dresses all together until the morning of the wedding, so it was pure luck that they all turned out to have similar ruched bodices! The bridesmaids’ bolero jackets and corsages were handmade by Lexy’s brilliant mum and Aunty P, and their jewellery was original vintage 50s sourced on Etsy.
Davide’s cufflinks were commissioned specially from Hannah Louise Lamb, as a surprise wedding gift. I wanted something that represented us both, and was initially going to go for Italy and the UK as the shapes on the links – but then Hannah said she could do just Sicily and England if I wanted and I was sold. Thankfully Davide liked them, too!
Our florist was recommended by the ceremony venue, as being super-local and someone that other people had used successfully. We had absolutely no idea of what we wanted, so she got the vaguest brief ever (“errr … I like lavender …?) but came up trumps with a beautiful bouquet of white roses, alstroemeria and lavender which I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. Signora Enza of Oasi Verde in Santa Venerina. I wish she had a website so I could sing her praises more widely, but in some ways I also love that she’s so old school. When at one point I mentioned Pinterest to her she just laughed and told us that all she knows is flowers.
Our table centrepieces/bomboniere (wedding favours) were another happy accident. We couldn’t come to an agreement about them: I’m a minimalist and not a fan of trinkets, but the Italian side of the family were horrified at my suggestion that we just do away with them completely. When we went in to Oasi Verde to talk to Signora Enza about the bouquet and buttonholes, however, we spotted some mini olive trees and had a lightbulb moment. Olives are both a sign of peace, and also living things which will grow and flourish given the right care – rather like a marriage.
My dad walked me down the aisle, and we were accompanied by my two best friends from England, Ali and Lexy.
We didn’t tailor our vows (it was scary enough for me to say them in Italian in the first place without trying to write new ones!), but we did have a fabulous reading from Lexy. We’d asked her to read something but had given her free choice as to what it was – and she ended up writing something specially for us and surprising us with it on the day. It ran the gamut of content, from philosophical quotes, to sage advice, to Boyzone lyrics, and it made me weep like a baby. It was perfect.
Alice was so fabulous to have around. We were lucky in that we got to hang out with her for a couple of days both before and after the wedding in Sicily, and so when it was time for her to photograph the wedding it was just like having a friend (who happened to have particularly impressive camera equipment) taking our photos. We had so many comments from our Italian guests, who were mainly used to a more formal style of wedding photography, about how lovely it was having someone so relaxed and unobtrusive taking the photos, and we love the way that she’s captured our day. Not once did either of us feel stressed out by having our photos taken – and that’s even with us having decided to do our couples shots right at the end of the day, when all our guests had left.
Italian weddings tend to be focused on food and conversation, rather than drinking and dancing. (We both had a few WTF moments in the planning of the two weddings, as we realised how differently the two cultures celebrate the same thing!) Our Sicilian ceremony took place at 11am and lasted for about twenty minutes. We then spent the next four to five hours eating. There was no disco or DJ or wedding speeches, just a string duo accompanying the ceremony, five courses of food, mild to moderate drinking of prosecco, and friends and family hanging out together in a garden, chatting. And much as I was apprehensive about how something so low-key would work beforehand, I absolutely loved the simplicity of it in the end.
The Words of Wisdom
-If you get to do a food tasting beforehand, enjoy it to the fullest, because on the day you’ll be too excited to taste anything – and wedding dresses often don’t allow for stomach expansion …
-Don’t let other people hype you up into being nervous. We may have got lucky with Villa Fago, who I can’t praise highly enough for how smoothly everything was organised, but if you’ve got the right people around you, wedding planning doesn’t have to be stressful.
-Despite what anyone may try to tell you, it’s perfectly possible to plan a wedding from proposal to ‘I Do’ in five months without killing either anyone around you or each other. Hell, we planned three. In two different countries.
-If you’re planning on applying false eyelashes, either practice beforehand or get someone who knows what they’re doing to put them on for you. Mine were looking like drunken spiders by the time we got to the end of the ceremony. Possibly because I sobbed my way through it. Which brings me to …
-Carry tissues. You WILL cry.
I’ll leave the last word to Davide who, when asked by various people how he felt now that he was a (gasp) MARRIED MAN, simply answered,
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