Italy. You just need to utter the name to conjure up images of sun-drenched olive groves, azure seas and warm personalities. The wedding we’re sharing with you today features a beautiful couple who chose, arguably, the most romantic destination in the world to begin their married life. But it very nearly didn’t happen…
It was fate and a string of lucky coincidences that brought Elizabeth and Andrea together, back in May 2010. Hailing from Colorado in the US, Elizabeth was in London to study a Masters degree in Art History, while Italian born Andrea was in the capital working towards an MA in Economics. A chance meeting saw the pair share a lift with a mutual friend, but they weren’t to see each other again for another six months.
“We eventually got to know each other around six months after first meeting,” explains Elizabeth. “We went to the same church and I think it’s fair to say that we both felt something pretty much straight away.”
An instinctive pull drew the pair together, as Elizabeth admits they “gravitated towards each other” almost immediately. In a whirlwind of certainty, the couple knew it was “right” after just two and a half months.
“We both knew we had found ‘the one’ very early on in the relationship,” laughs Elizabeth. “In fact, we had only been dating for a couple of months before I took Andrea to meet my family for Christmas in Colorado. I met his family a couple of months after that in Italy, and we were engaged by the following summer!”
The proposal was a cinematic piece of perfection, as Andrea surprised Elizabeth with a trip to Italy’s Amalfi coast for her birthday. “It was my first time visiting such a beautiful place, but I knew it had special meaning for Andrea as it’s the home of his family heritage,” Elizabeth tells us.
After two days of exploring, eating delicious food and soaking up the ambience of the place, Andrea cooked a special meal for Elizabeth, serving it on the villa’s balcony overlooking the ocean.
“At sunset, he took me aside and got down on one knee. It was the most romantic moment and I felt a huge rush of emotion and joy at him asking me to become his wife,” recalls Elizabeth.
That perfect proposal set the scene for a truly special wedding that didn’t once disappoint.
But to get to that point involved a year of meticulous planning, as Elizabeth explains, “We got engaged in the summer and married the summer of the following year. We had a year of planning and looking at the finer details. We knew the wedding just had to be in Italy, so Andrea was very involved in the preparation because he was the only one who spoke the language!”
Finding the dream venue and photographer proved fairly easy though, as the Internet and the couple’s friends came to their aid. “I found the reception venue online and, at first, Andrea laughed because he said I’d picked the most expensive one,” chuckles Elizabeth. “But once we had both visited it, we knew other places just couldn’t compare. And we were right, because it was simply stunning.”
With the ceremony in the striking church of Santa Maria a Gradillo in Ravello, the couple chose to host their reception in the nearby Villa Cimbrone. The rolling arches give way to views across lush gardens and the emerald sea beyond. It’s clear to see why this place captured the couple’s imagination.
“Even though I’m American, I think my taste is probably more European,” Elizabeth tells us. “Having studied Art History, I have an appreciation for old architecture and gravitate towards the antique style. Italy has a magical touch – everything is just beautiful and elegant. And our venue, set right on the cliffs overlooking the sea and gardens, was the epitome of that beauty.”
The vibrant natural colours of the gardens, sky and ocean made for a striking palette, which Elizabeth and Andrea chose to compliment with pastel shades in their classically elegant design touches.
“There was so much natural beauty to the place that we didn’t want to take away from that,” explains Elizabeth. “We chose Ravello as our destination because it’s full of grand architecture, lush gardens and the landscape is just so striking. It has a rustic elegance to it that perfectly suits our taste.”
With the classic architecture of the venue and the elegant floral arrangements the couple had chosen, Elizabeth set about finding a dress that would live up to the setting. “I looked for my wedding dress while I was visiting my family in the US. My mum and sister were with me and we went to three different bridal shops – it was the fifth dress that I tried on and I knew straight away that it was the one.”
The La Sposa gown featured the perfect balance of lace, with an elegant shape and, most importantly for Elizabeth, a train. “I loved the train! I felt like a beautiful bride in it and loved wearing my dress – it was exactly what I wanted.”
After exchanging vows in the historic church of Santa Maria, the guests made their way to Villa Cimbrone, also in Ravello. There they were greeted with the sight that had taken Elizabeth and Andrea’s breath away months earlier. The rolling gardens and vibrant sea sat like a painting, behind the grand arches of Villa Cimbrone.
“We chose silver candelabra surrounded by flowers for the centerpieces of the tables at the reception,” smiles Elizabeth. “The flowers were Casablanca lilies, peach and pink roses – and I had white hydrangeas in my bridal bouquet.”
But don’t be fooled into thinking that classic elegance took away from the carnival atmosphere of the day. “Italians and Americans are both naturally warm people,” laughs Elizabeth.
“The atmosphere on the day was one of overwhelming love and support. We felt so blessed that our families had made the effort to travel to be with us on such an important day – and the mixture of languages and laughter just added to the vibrancy of it all. It felt festive, with a real air of celebration.”
Surrounded by the love of family and friends, it’s no surprise to see the couple so relaxed in their photographs. There was, however, another element to the day that helped them feel at ease in front of the camera.
Elizabeth explains, “We decided very early on that we wanted our friend Hamish Jordan to take our photographs on the day. He was a friend from church and we’d seen much of his work. He is so talented and it felt right to have him there. It also meant we were completely relaxed as he shared in those intimate first moments we experienced as a married couple. In fact, much of the time, we weren’t even aware he was taking our photograph.”
In front of Hamish and their beloved family and friends, Andrea and Elizabeth took to the floor for their first dance; a song that held significant meaning for them.
“We chose Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy as the music for our first dance,” Elizabeth tells us. “It was played on the piano by Andrea’s cousin, Gianluca, who is a professional pianist. It’s one of our favourite songs and we used to listen to it often while we were dating.”
Translated into English, Clair de Lune means, quite simply, “moonlight”. Elizabeth says the song couldn’t have been more fitting, “On the Amalfi Coast, the moon always reflects on the ocean with such beauty.”
And it seems the moon was watching down on them as they danced. “It’s funny,” Elizabeth muses, “You know, the moon was especially beautiful and full the night of our wedding.”
Elizabeth and Andrea’s Little Black Book
Wedding Photography Hamish Jordan -Eternal Imaging
Wedding Venue & Catering Villa Cimbrone Ravello, Italy
Event Planning & Design Bride and groom, with the help of Elizabeth’s mother
Favors Bonbonniere (traditional Italian favours) – wrapped candied almonds
Flowers Armando Malafronte – Ravello, Italy
Wedding Cake Villa Cimbrone
Wedding Dress La Sposa – purchased at Ana Cristache London & Emma Victoria Payne Bridalwear
Bride’s Shoes Badgley Mischka
Bride’s accessories Nordstroms Bridal Salon (U.S.)
Groom’s Suit Hugo Boss
Photography by Hamish Jordan Eternal Imaging
Words by Molly Forbes Tigerlily