A destination wedding in a Tuscan castle?! What’s not to love?! Suzanne and Tim and 28 of their close friends and family headed to the Castello Santa Maria Novella in Italy for a festive weekend celebrating their nuptials. From the incredible venue to the pops of red throughout (including a darling vintage Alfa Romeo), this wedding will have you ready to pack your bags and cross an ocean to tie the knot!
“Our guests arrived, one by one, at the castle on Thursday. In the evening we had an informal pizza night. Everybody got to know each other, enjoyed wine and pizza hot from the wood oven. The next day was our wedding day. Tim had breakfast with all the guests, while I was in our room with my mother, sister, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and best friend, getting ready for our day.”
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We had a very DIY wedding, from the planning to the details. My father works in the flower trade, so he made my bouquet and all the other flower pieces, just as he did at my brother’s wedding. We made a photo display board with our childhood photos. I designed the stationery and did the calligraphy, and with help from my sister, made monogrammed napkins for the dinner table. The guests absolutely loved it! Looking back it all took way too much time, but I still think it was absolutely worth it, because it made our day very personal.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The day passes so quickly so enjoy every moment! It’s an old cliche but so true.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? The most important one: Schedule a moment after the ceremony to be together, just the two of you. To take in the fact that you’re finally married in the presence of all your loved ones. This will only happen once in your life!
“The guests went to the ceremony location while Tim was waiting for me in the courtyard. The moment we saw each other was overwhelming! Tim looked amazing and I felt very proud to become his wife. We drove to the ceremony location together in our old Alfa Romeo.”
“We are both Dutch and live in the Netherlands but I lived in Italy for a couple of months and fell in love with this country: the way of living, its residents, food and wine culture, and passion for family. When Tim proposed we talked about what we really wanted for our wedding: a relaxed, intimate, romantic day surrounded by a beautiful vineyard. It didn’t take long for us to decide on a destination wedding in Tuscany. When we found this small chapel surrounded by vineyards and the Tuscan landscape, we couldn’t think of a better place!”
Your ceremony in three words. Elegant, personal, relaxed.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We wrote it mainly together with a little help from our officiant. We wanted him to welcome our family and friends. Recognize our parents and offical wedding witnesses. We asked him to talk about us, the things we told him about each other, how we first met and things we absolutely dislike about each other (this led to lots of jokes and laughter). Quite often you see couples rushing through their ceremony, so we decided to make a genuine effort to craft a relaxed personal ceremony and we did!
Who officiated your ceremony? Because of our destination wedding a language problem popped up. Some of our guests don’t speak English and none of them speak Italian, so we decided to bring a Dutch officiant to Tuscany: Mr. Timen Lalkens. A year before our wedding, we attended a wedding where he was the officiant. The way he led the ceremony, partially in the groom’s Dutch language and the bride’s German language, touched us. We looked each other in the eye and said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if he spoke Italian as well?” And he did! So our choice was made.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? My grandmother handmade our ring pillow. We went to a fabric store together, picked a beautiful fabric and made the design. She does this for all her grandchildren who get married. Since we had no children at our ceremony my grandmother was the one who brought the ring pillow to the officiant during the ceremony. She even did a short speech at that moment. A lovely memory!
What was your ceremony music? I walked down the aisle with my dad to a special version of Vivo Per Lei (translation: I live for her) from Andrea Bocelli. After the vows and the ‘I do’s’ we played John Legend’s All of Me. A very intimate moment between Tim and me, holding hands and sharing a very happy tear. Our recessional was Tutto Sommato by Annalisa Scarrone. The title translates to All Things Considered, and has the loveliest lyrics.
What were your ceremony readings? A small poem by my mother and 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.
What were your vows like? We chose to write our own vows. The moment we shared them for the first time during the ceremony, looking into each others eyes and committing our lives to one another, was a very emotional and intimate experience. It felt like no one else was there but Tim and me.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Tim’s vows. The words went straight to my heart and still bring tears in my eyes. I remember thinking: If a man makes the effort to take time and come up with true words about how he feels about you in front of all your loved ones, he is quite perfect!
“After the ceremony we had a toast outside the chapel where my father gave a toast. He doesn’t like to give speeches, so it was a huge surprise to me and his words were so touching, truly beautiful.”
“Before returning to the castle for lunch, we took our guests along to a very small village where we took photos, walked around together and received congratulations from residents.”
“When we decided to have our wedding in Tuscany we needed a place for all our guests to stay. We found this old castle, Castello Santa Maria Novella, with the help from Roos van der Wielen, co-owner of Get Married in Tuscany. It’s location on a hill overlooking the vineyards, the big old tree just outside the castle doors, the old but beautiful restored rooms, the courtyard, the swimming pool… it all made us fell in love instantly!”
How would you describe your reception? A festive intimate evening with nothing but romance.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? The castle and the Tuscan surroundings are old, green and full of vineyards. We decided to keep the decorations mostly neutral to let the surroundings stand out: ivory, light peach, gold. But we also incorporated a touch of red which turned out amazing in the photos!
“After the ceremony, lunch was served under the big old tree just outside the castle doors. A couple of hours of leisure time followed – all the guests changed into bathing suits and enjoyed the sun at the pool! We took the car for a small drive through the vineyards and joined the guests afterwards.”
“In the late afternoon our guests all changed back into beautiful outfits and joined us for a toast near the pool, while the sun was setting behind the hills. I had a little surprise for my husband and the guests: the saxophone player, who would play during the reception in the courtyard, came to the pool. He led us in a parade to the dinner table – amazing!”
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We had one large table for dinner. All the guests were enjoying the wine, atmosphere and food while I squeezed Tim’s hand. All our loved ones at one dinner table to share our love – overwhelming!
Menu: We love to travel and we love food! Se we decided to take our guests along on a culinary journey through the Italian kitchen. The main course was served on big elegant platters on the table, which gave the cozy atmosphere of a long family dinner.
Antipasti: Prosciutto Crudo, Bresaolo, Mortadella & Salami / Bruschetta / Frittata di Zucchini / Grilled Eggplant with Mozzarella // Primi: Ravioli stuffed with Spinach, Ricotta and Pecorino Cheeses with Sage Butter // Secondi: Bistecca Fiorentina / Italian Fish Stew // Contorni: Rosemary Potatoes with Garlic / Grilled Seasonal Vegetables / Green Salads // Dolce: Naked Red Fruit Wedding Cake / Red Velvet Cake
Did you have a signature cocktail? Limoncello Fizz! Prosecco with a zip of Limoncello.
The groom’s jacket collar hid a sweet little reminder of his wedding day: Sposato!!! 05-09-2014
What was your first dance song? Michael Buble’s version of Feeling Good.
“Everyone enjoyed wine and food until late in the night, and the next day, we had a brunch all together in the courtyard before everybody went home. The little imperfections, the love in the air, it was definitely our most wonderful day!”