Elizabeth and George's colorful wedding in italy

Elizabeth and George's colorful wedding in italy

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You guys!! If a colorful Italian wedding day is something you've ever considered, let Elizabeth and George's gorgeous nuptials at Castello di Vincigliata convince you to DO IT. Florence, Italy holds a special place in the hearts of both the bride and groom, so the decision to marry there was a natural one. What they wanted, however, was something completely bespoke to them so they enlisted the skills of SposiamoVi to make their dreams a reality. A lively palette of yellows, pinks, blues and greens shines in a ribbon installation and the amazing graphic florals by La Rosa Canina. The courtyard ceremony and candlelit outdoor reception filled with lemons and cafe lights highlights the historic location and are everything destination wedding dreams are made of. Lucky for us, Lisa Poggi Photography was on hand to capture all the amazing details of the day.

What made the wedding special and unique?

We wanted a wedding that was totally bespoke to us, and were very hands on in every decision, so that everything had a personal touch. Our "Save the Date" in the form of mini bottle of limoncello stamped with a save the date sticker, accompanied by a recipe card for a cocktail to be made using the limoncello. We also knew we wanted to get married in Florence: I have grown up going to Forte dei Marmi, a nearby beach resort on the Italian riviera, which is where my brother got married. I lived and studied in Florence for 3 months when I was 18, and the following year (the year we met), I went back for a month and George came to visit me there. This is where we truly fell in love, and we have been back to visit Florence every year since then. All the ideas for the wedding stemmed from our love of this beautiful city.

Of course, the setting for the wedding itself - the breathtaking Castello di Vincigliata - made the wedding unique in itself, but we decided to create a completely different vibe to how it is normally used. We chose an c and made it far less formal than it can sometimes appear. We also had special permission to use the cloister area to hold the actual ceremony, which was just the most dreamy setting - even if I had to walk around a giant plant pot in the middle of the aisle!

Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!

I always knew I wanted a backless gown, as this is a style I wear often and I know George loves it. I also wanted something that was unstructured and light weight, because Florence can be hot in September and I hated the idea of having to wear lots of structured underwear. I wanted to be able to move, eat and dance! I did struggle to find something, and got more and more disheartened as I left wedding shops empty handed. By complete serendipity, my mum and I visited Morgan Davies, right around the corner from my house in Islington, on just the weekend they were hosting a Kobus Dippenaar trunk show. His dresses were exactly what I was looking for - ethereal and Midsummer Night's Dream-esque, but they also had a more sultry edge to them, like the way the material was light enough to see the outline of my figure even though the skirt itself was full, and the deep v down the front. I knew it was the right one because my mum cried when I came out of the dressing room! It also seemed like fate: they said if we'd come any other weekend, the dress wouldn't have been there. The shop was so close to wear I lived, Kobus is a South African designer and George's dad is South African, so it was a really nice sentiment to honor that side of the family.

What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?

I am the head of marketing for several restaurant brands in the UK, and George writes about food, so it was important to us that the food and drink was up to scratch - which it certainly was - our caterers, Galateo, were fantastic. We had personalized cocktails at the reception which were named after our middle names - the "William Hugo" and the "Lily". The starter, pear and pecorino stuffed mezzalune pasta, is our favorite dish from our favorite restaurant in Florence, 4Leoni, and the bomboloni (mini stuffed doughnuts) which we served to guests at midnight were from childhood memories of mine, buying them on the beach in Forte and eating them right on the sand. Instead of champagne for George's toast, we asked for Sgroppino, an Italian cocktail of lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco, served in a flute, which my family and friends always have when we're celebrating in Italy. In his speech George introduced it thus: "The drink before is called a Sgroppino. It's short, sweet, but not too sweet, and 90% alcohol...Ladies and Gentlemen: my wife!" (I admit to being most, if not all, of the above).

We have very happy memories of eating ice cream in Florence together (our wedding website actually included a section with a list of our favorite spots), so we knew we definitely wanted to have an ice cream cart. We're not really "cake eaters", so instead of a wedding cake we had a tower of cheese, topped with a heart shaped brie and decorated with flowers and fruit. We didn't think anyone would eat it after so much food, but the caterers decamped it and set it out by the dance floor, and by one o'clock in the morning it was absolutely ravaged!

My South African dress actually inspired me to feature gorgeous great blush pink protea flowers in my bouquet - they're actually the national flower of South Africa, and the first flower George ever bought me. I'm not really a roses type girl, so our artist of a florist, the wonderful Tommaso from Rosa Canina, worked with these as well as wildflowers, including beautiful blue eryngiums, which they always have in vases in the hotel we stay in every year in Forte. Tommaso did a fantastic job of tying in all the flowers to our very colorful scheme - I'm quite OCD about aesthetics, so this was just perfect for me. He took the "logo" we had designed for our stationery (which was designed as a favor for me by the lovely Susannah from Allies Design, who usually does design work for food retailers) and brought out all the color and details from that. He also helped with our wonderful table settings, which had lemons with a name tag attached to them instead of place cards, and a sprig of rosemary. Sticking true to the "Italy" theme, we had cardboard cut-outs of David and the Birth of Venus for people to photograph themselves with, and cheesy Italian postcards instead of a guest book. I even managed to find an Italian postbox for guests to "post" them to us, which we're going to open on our first anniversary.

The ceremony itself was incredibly personal to us: I am Jewish, but George is Christian, so even though we had to all intents and purposes a CofE (Church Of England) wedding (after doing the legal bit back home), it was important that both faiths were represented. Alongside the typical CofE ceremony, we wrote our own version of the Jewish "7 Blessings," read by two of our dearest friends who I actually met in Florence, and we signed an interfaith "Ketubah", the Jewish marriage certificate. Our other readings were equally important: we didn't have bible readings, but instead asked George's youngest brother, who is studying Italian at university, to choose a reading from Dante, which he read in beautiful Italian. Our university friend Ellie, who's wedding we were both participants in, read from Phillip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass; it's one of both of our favorite books, and the passage itself is one that always moves both of us. Finally, in complete contrast, Bob, one of our closest friends, read an extract from the Sarah Cane play "Crave,": a fairly bold choice, as her plays are usually about pain and torture, but her writing is also starkly beautiful. I was reading the play when George first came to visit me in Italy, and when he left for the airport I texted him that passage - although we had to remove some of the more colorful parts for our older guests!

What was the most memorable part of the day?

Everyone says this, but it just goes so quickly. I had the most relaxing morning with my oldest friend (and maid of honor) Debbie where we had our nails done together, ordered a very decadent room service to the incredible suite we were given at the Four Seasons, and blasted out music from the playlist she had put together.

But our first dance was my most memorable moment with George. You are so manhandled throughout the day that even when you are together (for the ceremony, the pictures, the dinner), you're surrounded by other people. This was the first moment I felt properly alone with him. Our first dance was to Sixpence None the Richer's Kiss Me (after a brief stint in which we thought about having Ante Up!); it is such a gentle, sweet song, and so evocative of first love - it made it feel like a really special moment.z

What was the most memorable part of the day?

Everyone says this, but it just goes so quickly. I had the most relaxing morning with my oldest friend (and maid of honor) Debbie where we had our nails done together, ordered a very decadent room service to the incredible suite we were given at the Four Seasons, and blasted out music from the playlist she had put together.

But our first dance was my most memorable moment with George. You are so manhandled throughout the day that even when you are together (for the ceremony, the pictures, the dinner), you're surrounded by other people. This was the first moment I felt properly alone with him. Our first dance was to Sixpence None the Richer's Kiss Me (after a brief stint in which we thought about having Ante Up!); it is such a gentle, sweet song, and so evocative of first love - it made it feel like a really special moment.

Tell us how you met and became engaged.

We actually met on our first day of university! Our lives have been pretty much intertwined since day one: we were both studying English at Cambridge University at the same college (Corpus Christi), and there were only 8 of us in the class (I like to tease him it's merely a result of slim pickings). We were actually assigned to each other as "college brother and sister" (like a buddy system), and became very good friends very quickly. George had his eyes on someone else in our first term, and I went back after the Christmas break determined to fix my attentions on someone else. A week later we had our first kiss (famously dressed as Freddie Mercury and Madonna, at an 80's night), and have been together ever since. We had been together for 8 and a half years and had just bought a house together before George proposed - my family was getting visibly antsy, and my big brother (who is a huge part of my life, and walked me down the aisle) was getting ready "to have a word with him." We went on holiday to Mexico and on our last night in Tulum (after doing "fake outs" for an entire week) he proposed on a midnight walk along the beach, with a woven wooden ring he'd bought in the market in Oaxaca (don't worry, the proper ring came later). I was so emotionally wrought by that stage with no proposal in site, that George says I was like the scene out of the Shawshank Redemption, when he's finally free. When he started getting down on one knee, I followed him to the floor and he had to make me get up again!

Who was your wedding planner?

The amazing, amazing Sara Bartolini from Sposiamovi. My mum (who had been mentally planning my wedding for the past 8 years) had already earmarked Sposiamovi as a first point of contact when we got engaged, knowing I always wanted to get married in Florence. We were so unbelievably lucky to have Sara as our dedicated planner. She completely "got" the vibe we were looking for: relaxed, and youthful and fun but also beautiful and romantic. She completely threw herself into our ideas and was so full of enthusiasm for everything we suggested. We had so much fun working together and became really close over the 18 months we planned the wedding. She truly felt like part of the family, and we both cried when we said goodbye - I'm hoping to see her again when we visit this Summer!

Do you have any tip for a bride you could share?

Don't stress about things that are beyond your control. I was determined to be relaxed and enjoy the whole wedding process from start to finish - I didn't want to be a ratty, stressed out bride - and the only way I could do that was to put my faith in the team around me and trust that they had the expertise to do what's best. In a way (and this was advice my sister-in-law passed on to me), having a wedding abroad is a bit of a relief, because you can't be there, fussing over every little detail. We took a couple of trips over to Florence for the important details, but apart from that everything else was done via emails and phone calls, and what I couldn't control I let go. I absolutely loved the planning - I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Wedding Design and Planning: SposiamoVi // Photographer: Lisa Poggi Photography // Flowers: La Rosa Canina // Calligraphy (Menu / Invitations): Allies Design // Venue: Castello di Vincigliata // Video: Matteo Castelluccia // Ceremony and Cocktail Music: Lorenzo Borneo // Light design + DJ and PA Systems: Alma Project // Hair + Mua: Lara Navarrini // Catering: Galateo Ricevimenti // Rentals: Preludio // Rental Vintage Car: Drive in style // Bridal Gown: Anna Georgina by Kobus Dippenaar, Morgan Davies Bridal // Groom's Tux: Favourbrook // Bride's Shoes: Christian Louboutin // Groom's Shoes: Todd's // Rings: Bespoke Design by Shaun Avery

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