A classy Italian-style real wedding abroad, sprinkled with bridal bargains…
WHO: Gemma and Phillip
WHERE: Santa Maria a Chianni and il Castagno, Tuscany
WHEN: September 2009
PHOTOGRAPHER: Nadia Attura
“As a surprise, Phil took me to the Landmark Hotel in London – my favourite hotel – for New Year’s Eve 2009,” says the bride. “He then whisked me off to the diamond shops in Hatton Garden and New Bond Street, where we chose my beautiful engagement ring from Boodles. He officially proposed later that day, having already asked my Dad’s permission!” What a guy!
The couple – both mad about Italy – decided to tie the knot in picturesque Tuscany real wedding abroad. “I spent some time living in Italy during my degree and fell in love with the country,” explains Gemma. “Tuscany is such a beautiful region, and as I still have lots of Italian friends out there, it seemed the perfect place to get married – and we thought it would be a lovely weekend break for our English guests, too”
The bride’s real wedding abroad outfit
The bride looked a million dollars in her sensational Grace Kelly real wedding dress by David Fielden, from Milton Keynes bridal boutique Once in a Lifetime. “It was vintage-style lace with brushed silk and tulle, and was just stunning,” she remembers. “It made me feel like a princess: the best I’d ever felt in my life”
“I was in no hurry to find my dream dress – I went to 11 shops in all and loved trying on all the different styles…”
Gemma sparkled in her beautiful jewel-encrusted tiara from SP Collection, glittering Swarowski earrings and a diamond necklace from her Mum. Her ruched satin Rainbow Club shoes and billowing veil by David Fielden were the perfect finishing touches to her traditional bridal look.
The groom’s outfit
The couple joined forces to choose his real wedding outfit: a charcoal grey pinstripe suit from Hugo Boss, teamed with a baby pink shirt, tie and handkerchief. “He looked gorgeous – I was so proud that I was going to be his wife,” says Gemma
Gemma chose her two best friends and her cousin as bridesmaids, with her little niece Matilda as the flowergirl. “There was never any doubt about who I’d choose: they’re the closest people to me, and helped me out so much with their time, support and advice,” she says. The bridesmaids looked stunning for the real wedding in their flattering blue-green, knee-length dresses with tulle skirt and sequinned bodice – bargains from the Warehouse sale at only £20 each! “With silver shoes from Faith, pearl accessories and simple flower hair decorations, their outfits fitted in perfectly with our vintage theme,” Gemma explains of the style chosen for her real wedding.
To help her florist – a local company based in tuscany – put together the right image for their real wedding day, Gemma cut pictures out of magazines and sent them over to Italy in advance. the bridal party’s bouquets featured ivory lilies and pale pink vintage roses, bound together with ivory ribbon
Took place at the beautiful Santa Maria a Chianni church in Tuscany, dating back to the 12th century. “When we first saw the church, it took my breath away,” explains the bride. “It looks almost dilapidated from the outside, but the interior is beautiful, with amazing views over the open countryside. It was also just the right size for our 75 guests.” She walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. During the service, a 16-piece ensemble of Gemma’s Italian friends performed three traditional hymns, before the newlyweds walked out of the church to All You Need Is Love by David Linden Hall.
“One of our Italian friends painted a picture as a gift – a special memento of our Tuscan wedding!”
The 70 lucky real wedding guests dined on a mouth-watering Italian banquet starting with canapés and Prosecco. “We then moved on to risotto, then lasagne, then steak and vegetables, then fruit skewers, then liqueurs, then dessert!” laughs Gemma
Gemma and Phillip continued the Italian theme by choosing a millefoglie – a traditional Italian dessert made with layers of puff pastry interspersed with whipped cream and fresh fruit – instead of a traditional wedding cake
The happy couple said thanks with miniature bottles of Prosecco for the English guests, and a selection of English sweets for the Italian ones
During the drinks reception, a harpist played, continuing the romantic vintage theme. Then later in the evening, guests danced to a playlist compiled by Gemma and Phil ahead of the wedding. “Our first dance was to Everything by Michael Bublé,” adds Gemma. “The lyrics were perfect for the occasion”
The couple stayed at the Royal Hotel in Cancun and even got to swim with dophins!