Photography by Mike Larson.
One thing I love about this job is how quickly you learn that every wedding is special, and just right for that particular couple. But if I can be totally honest, every once in a while a wedding hits my inbox that I know will make almost any bride-to-be (or former bride!) think “ok, just copy and paste us right there, please!” I guess it’s no wonder when the bride is a stylish wedding professional—a member of the team at Yonder Design, as well as a former planner! Victoria & Marco’s Italian wedding is seriously the stuff of fantasy. For a start, there are few places in the world more beautiful than Lake Como (hey, if it’s good enough for George & Amal…) and with that as their backdrop, they added beautiful details in the soft greens, creams and peach of their villa. Go ahead and soak up all the beauty in every one of these gorgeous photos!
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? Marco was born in Italy and his entire family lives in Domodossola, a tiny town right on the border of Switzerland. Most of his Italian relatives speak only Italian and we wanted them to be an equal part in the wedding festivities. Italy is also a large part of my life; I have my BA in Art History and lived in Rome writing my thesis on the Sistine Ceiling. Marco and I wanted our guests to get a glimpse into why we feel so connected to Italy by having the chance to travel and see what makes Italy such an incredible place.
Villa Balbiano was built in the 16th century and was home to a famous Cardinal. The villa is adorned with 17th century frescoes that tell stories of Italy centuries ago, and the walls hide the secrets of the infamous parties the Cardinal threw. The villa is a magnificent work of art. When I walked in for the first time, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It is a dream wedding venue. We were also the first couple to get married in the villa. Being the first to get married in this incredible place felt so romantic and so special. We owe it all to our wonderful planner, The Lake Como Wedding Planner, for showing us this villa. When we first saw it, the entire grounds were being redone and the building was being remodeled. We committed to the venue when there wasn’t even plumbing or lighting installed!
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? Yes! Something old: my ring, which has diamonds from both of my grandmothers’ engagement rings / Something new: my gift from Marco, a diamond bracelet / Something borrowed: a gold bracelet that was part of one of my grandmother’s jewelry collections / Something blue: my great aunt Gladys chose a blue wedding dress for her wedding. My mom took a piece of the lace from her dress and sewed it underneath my wedding dress.
Both of my grandmothers have passed away and I was lucky enough to inherit both of their engagement rings. I had them recreated into two bands where every other stone was from each grandmother. My mom was equally close to my dad’s mom as she was to her own, so I surprised her with one of these bands, while I wore the other. The moment where I gave her the ring was one I will always cherish and I now have a piece of jewelry that not only commemorates these incredible women but also reminds me of this special moment with my beautiful mother.
Your ceremony in three words. Emotional, religious, romantic.
What was your ceremony music? We hired a four-piece Italian folk band to play for our ceremony and cocktail hour and they were incredibly willing to learn new music when we asked. Marco and the bridal party walked into I’m Yours by Jason Mraz. We love dancing to this song in the kitchen while we cook so it brought back great memories! My dad and I walked down the aisle to God Only Knows by the Beach Boys. I grew up dancing to the Beach Boys with my dad; he’s always called me his “California Girl!” The band played it so beautifully. I started crying instantly when it began to play.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We took cues from our priest, but Marco and I really spent a lot of time on the ceremony. We translated the entire ceremony into Italian so Marco’s family could follow along. We worked alongside our priest to create a really meaningful ceremony by selecting the readings, music and working on the homily together.
I am very close with my family so it was important that my brother and mom were with me, in addition to my dad, when we walked down the aisle. My mom and brother walked arm-in-arm down the aisle just before my dad and I. That quiet and private moment we had together as a family just before my mom and brother started to walk down the aisle was really special.
Also, my parents saved their wedding ceremony program, so we included some excerpts from their ceremony. That was really fun to work on together!
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? My childhood priest, Father Hawtin. He baptized me, and has remained a good friend of the family for many years. We wanted to have a religious ceremony but also wanted to add personal touches and he was very open to working together to include those.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We did traditional vows, but we said them in Italian. This meant that Marco’s Italian family could understand and feel as though they were also truly witnessing our commitment. We then said our personal vows in English so our English-speaking friends and family were equally involved.
What were your ceremony readings? Solomon 2:10-13, read by my dad in English and then by Marco’s dad in Italian. // Romans 12:9-16, read by my godmother in English, then by my Marco’s Cousin in Italian.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Our personal vows. We were so overcome by emotion. It felt so right to say them and to vow those things in front of all of our friends and family.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? Our photographer gave us an awesome tip: after you’re married and you walk down the aisle, turn around and look at your guests. They will all be smiling and cheering you on! It was a nice moment during the wedding that we both have a as a memory forever!
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Marco knows how much I love surprises. As part of his gift to me, I received a box of cards, each a handwritten letter meant for different moments in our lives. I had letters titled “on our wedding day,” “before you walk down the aisle,” “on the way to our honeymoon,” “one year anniversary,” “when we face our first big challenge in life,” “when we find our we are pregnant,” etc. it was really special and I can’t wait to continue opening these throughout our life together. Also, Mike Larson, our photographer, recommended that Marco surprise me for the honeymoon as he did that with his wife. Marco told me what to pack and that was it. When we got on a plane the Monday morning after we got married, I had no clue where we were going until we landed in the Maldives. It was the perfect end to our wedding weekend.
How would you describe your reception? Formal, Italian, fun!
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? It’s hard to DIY when you’re getting married far away from where you live, as transporting those items can be a challenge! Nonetheless we made it work; I carried all of our paper items with me onto the plane and didn’t let them leave my sight! I knew they were the one thing we were bringing that I couldn’t recreate quickly.
When guests sat down for dinner, at their seats they had little boxes with their names calligraphed on them. Inside the boxes was the traditional Italian confetti (also called bombonniere). These are five candy-dipped almonds (made by Marco’s aunt) that symbolize health, fertility, happiness, wealth and long life. Under the boxes were personalized handwritten notes to our guests from us. It was important to us that we connected with our guests by sharing past memories of why we cherished them and why we were so grateful that they had made the journey to be with us on our wedding day.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Being a former wedding planner, I was able to really understand what it was like to be a bride before I was a bride, so I was very grateful for having that experience prior to my wedding. The biggest thing is that when the day arrives, make sure everything is done. If anything goes wrong on the day of the wedding, let others troubleshoot it for you. Hire an amazing planner whom you trust to make those decisions so you can relax and enjoy your day. As for the rest of the time, make sure you also trust them and enjoy spending time with them. // Do an engagement shoot! It is a great opportunity to get to know the style of your wedding photographer and how he or she likes to work. We loved our engagement shoot as it gave us time to really get to know our photographer, so by the time the wedding day arrived, we were friends! // My number one wedding tip would be to make sure you have an authentic moment with the people who are most important to you at some point during your wedding planning or wedding day. Those are the moments that matter and the memories that will last forever. // This isn’t really advice but I think it’s fun for brides to think about: our venue accommodated our entire immediate family and our bridal party. It was like having a giant sleepover with all of the people you care the most about. We shared all of our morning breakfasts together and jumped into the pool late at night together. Staying in one place was one of the best decisions we made as it gave us time with our closest family and friends outside of the frenzy of the wedding events!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Marco and I love surprises so we surprised each other and our guests a lot over the course of the weekend. We even kept the venue a secret so our guests would be surprised when they arrived by boat! Marco really wanted a band but we couldn’t for the life of us find a contemporary dance band in Italy. So I went on a little incognito trip and discovered a Sinatra band that had just formed in Milan. Marco is a huge Sinatra fan and I knew this was going to be a hit. I planned for the band to play during dinner, and then after dinner we’d go upstairs into the main room of the villa and have an awesome late-night dance party with the DJ. So we were introduced into dinner and went straight into our first dance. Imagine turning the corner into dinner, and realizing that you’re dancing to Beyond the Sea not on a recording, but played by a live band! Marco lost his mind. It was so fun! So the first dance was a real highlight for me; not only because I surprised Marco, but also because our dance lessons that we had to prepare for it were a way for us to connect outside of the wedding planning madness and craziness of work. It was our break from reality. And on the day we even pulled off a few lifts in the routine!
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We wanted to have a wedding reception that was truly Italian. So Italian that in fact we couldn’t choose between the pastas offered at our menu tasting, so we picked both. Instead of a salad course, pasta course and main course, which is the traditional Italian dinner, we had two pasta courses! One was a pesto pasta that included green beans and potatoes and the other was a saffron risotto with fresh tomatoes and burrata. We figured our guests could enjoy salad another time, haha!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Your relationship with each other is most important. Understanding that that is at the core of why you are doing all of this makes it easier to not sweat the details and avoid arguments. It’s a stressful time, so making sure you stay unified throughout is important! Make sure you spend time talking about other things, not just the wedding!
Planning a destination wedding is tough unless you have someone who you entirely trust locally to get the job done. For us, that was Rachel and Leonora at The Lake Como Wedding Planner. They sourced our caterer, florist, transportation and so much more. I knew that their relationships on the lake were of utmost importance and because of that we would get fantastic service and quality. They exceeded our expectations.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? My biggest budget tip is to be open about your budget with your planner and share your budget with him or her early in the process. If your planner knows exactly where your numbers lie, he or she will be able to help you stick to those numbers by referring vendors who fall within your budget. // Things will pop up that you don’t expect. Add some buffer to your budget. We ended up having to spray a mosquito repellent on the lawn because the mosquitos were so horrible and we didn’t want all of our guests getting eaten alive! It was an expense we weren’t anticipating, but having the buffer in our budget just for surprises like this helped us not freak out, because we’d saved part of our budget for this exact reason.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? It was vanilla cake with buttercream frosting and fresh strawberry filling. We also served late-night tiramisu
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Zero! And I definitely would do it over again…and again and again!
And we have one more treat for you – Veronica & Marco’s wedding video by Artisan Production!