What happens when a destination wedding planner plans her own destination nuptials? This. A beautifully designed and equally heartfelt wedding. Barbara, the bride, was so kind to let us in on her whole planning process and is explaining it in detail below. I felt that her insight is so valuable to brides-to-be that I didn’t edit any of it, and I encourage you to read it all.
Can I just say… I love the indigo blue, complemented by a ruby red, as the color scheme for this Italy wedding. So unique. Thank you Les Amis Photo for capturing the entire day and not missing any of the gorgeous details either!
From the bride: “When you are a wedding planner specializing in destination weddings, planning your own destination wedding is actually quite an experience! For us, Italy was, without a doubt, the place to celebrate our marriage. Michele is Italian and I, well I just love everything about Italy. At the time of our engagement, we had been considering planning a trip with friends to the Puglia region, which is by far, one of my favorite places in Italy, and not as known as other Italy wedding destinations (like Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast). When looking for a place to rent for this trip, we came across the most stunning masseria in the Salento region, Masseria Torre Ruggeri, and upon seeing photos of it, we just knew, that that was where we had to have our wedding. Sight unseen, we booked the Masseria before even telling anyone we were engaged.”
About finding and booking her vendors: “At first, I truly thought about handling every single aspect of the planning myself, against the most important advice I give all brides considering a destination wedding. About two months into the planning, I realized that I should actually follow my own advice if I wanted to really enjoy my wedding day (and not have it feel like work). I did not want to have one of Four Nineteen Weddings other planners have to work either, so I needed to find someone local that understood my vision and was OK with the fact that I was going to handle pretty much everything about the wedding except for the day-of logistics. I also needed them to help us finalize some details that were pending, and was so happy to find Katia and Francesco at LeccEventi, who were absolutely fantastic (and so very sweet)!
As soon as the venue was booked, the first vendor we booked was our photographer. Looking for some Apulian wedding inspiration, I came across a feature shot by Erica from Les Amis Photo (who happens to be based out of Milan, where Michele is originally from). Needless to say, I fell in love with Erica’s work on the spot. She then recommended I take a look at the amazing florals created by Sofia from Il Profumo Dei Fiori (also from Milan), and fell in love once again.”
The venue: “I traveled to Italy 8 months before the wedding to meet all our vendors and do a general site inspection and visit of the venue (regardless of the fact that it was January and the Masseria was shut down, it was the most spectacular place I had ever seen – I would be in for the most pleasant surprise of my life when we returned in September and what I had seen in January paled in comparison with the bounty and beauty of the property in then). When looking at photos online, I just assumed I would love the olive grove for the ceremony… but had my breath taken away by the hidden citrus garden, and promptly changed my mind about the olive grove ceremony idea.”
“Like a good bride, I created a little inspiration board and shared with Sofia, the floral designer. However, I gave her only a few indications.
I really wanted our vendors to be inspired and not feel like they were having their creativity thwarted with a set idea of how I wanted thing to look. I truly believe that if you pick the vendors that are perfect for you, or those whose work you love, or with whom you feel a special connection (or let yourself be guided to those who are, which is the case of destination weddings, when you really have to trust your planner to find the perfect vendors for your vision), then you really can’t go wrong. We truly lucked out in that between our research and Katia & Francesco’s help, we had some pretty talented vendors on our side.”
“During the planning process, one of the questions my clients asked the most was “How did you decide how you wanted your wedding to be with all the inspiration and images you see every day for work?”. Truth is, it was very simple for me (I must say, my sweet husband let me do what I pleased in this regard). I knew that I wanted something simple but lovely, and to have the venue itself, the buildings, the citrus garden, the olive trees, the courtyard, the sky, be the center of attention. I was craving to do a lot of DIY (mostly because doing all these little projects were, believe it or not, a bit of “therapy” for me in the midst of our crazy Costa Rican wedding season). I wanted to incorporate some blue printed fabric in the design and found some vintage blue batik textile on Etsy that became our design inspiration. After buying 40 meters of the fabric (and getting it shipped from Indonesia to Costa Rica), I went from considering making napkins out of them to finally deciding on using them as runners. Being a fan of mixing patterns, the fabric inspired me to buy every piece of blue hued patterned fabric I could get my hands on (pillow covers, scarves to use as highboy overlays, wraps to use as throws for the lounges…) The better part of a day was spent dip dyeing sixty plain cotton napkins in a not so subtle blue ombre design (this was probably my favorite project and also the one I loved the outcome of the most). Michele and I spent days making little wood signs and table numbers from scratch and actually worked on the wedding day making a tulle backdrop for the ceremony spot and hanging ribbon from chairs and trees in the citrus garden. I also designed all the paper goods, and with the help of Michele’s family, made the favors (little bottles of olive oil from olives grown in his uncle’s property, that doubled up as seating cards). We created a specialty cocktail, the Guaro Ciao (a pun on the a name of the actual existing cocktail name “guaro sour”), that was the perfect mix of Italy & Costa Rica, mixing local fruit, San Pellegrino, and the Costa Rican national liquor, guaro.”
“We were set on having our family and friends experience a bit of what makes the Salento region so special, and chose all local fare, yummy local wines, and had a pizzica band surprise our guests (and many guests joined in on the dancing). I think that part of having a destination wedding is embracing some of the cultural and visual treats that your chosen destination has to offer, and, well, in that regard, you certainly cannot go wrong with Italy!
We had the good fortune of having a quite a few of our family and close friends join us for the wedding, and most of them actually spent the whole week (or a good part of it) with us at the Masseria (we also rented the house next door, the lovely Masseria Fondo Paolo). In the end, what we wanted was our wedding to be more than just the wedding day itself (although that was one of the high points); we wanted it to be a unique experience for everyone, something that was not the typical Italian vacation but something that really put Italy, and more so the Salento region, in everyone’s hearts (which it most certainly did).
We also opted to do step away from tradition a bit. We did not have a wedding party or a wedding cake, my son walked me down the aisle, and I actually decided on using my engagement right, that I love, as a wedding ring (and in the emotion of the moment, I actually gave my husband the wrong hand to put the ring on; and did not realize it until we were doing portraits!)… Ultimately, I think that the choices you make regarding your wedding day have to feel right for you, regardless of whether or not they adhere strictly to tradition or expectations. While a beautiful wedding is one of my favorite things in the world… I think the most important thing about a wedding is love… not only that shared by the you and your husband but that love that radiates from everyone around you.”
Photo and Video: Les Amis Photo // Floral Design: Il Profumo Dei Fiori // Styling and Planning: Four Nineteen Weddings // Local Panning: LeccEventi // Hair+Makeup: Meleesa & Carolina // Celebrant: Victoria Boukhanets // Bride’s Dress: Catherine Deane Wing Gown for BHLDN // Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo and Joie // Groom’s Attire J.Crew // Catering: TriedE20 // Rentals: GMC Noleggio // Lighting and DJ: Sergio Cacciatore // Live Music Carmen Scorrano Trio // Venue: Masseria Torre Ruggeri