There is a particular romance to intimate weddings held abroad. A collection of guests descend upon a venue; a pilgrimage made to witness a relationship’s progression…
Drawn to moody settings and intimate scenes, Ali and Dani’s wedding was a family affair held beneath the stars. Set in a sprawling estate carved into the Chianti countryside, the couple were wed amongst flourishing olive gardens and grapevines. Vows were exchanged in a timeworn church, with bronze chandeliers suspended overhead and pews adorned with bunches of fresh foliage.
Dinner was served under the Tuscan skies, in a garden setting illuminated by lights strung above. Styling mirrored the horizon, sunset hues and neutral palettes perfectly paired with votive candles and installations of olive branches which spilled from tablescapes…
Photography by Sandra Von Reikhoff.
NAMES: Allison Schulze and Dani Bchara
WEDDING DATE: September 9, 2016
GUEST NUMBERS: 60
HOW WE MET: Dani and I attended Florida State University together and knew each other for three years through mutual friends before we began dating in 2010.
OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Dani’s proposal was incredibly romantic. We had been traveling throughout Europe in May of 2015 and decided to end our trip in Paris. Neither of us had been to the City of Lights before, so we tried to fit everything in to one short weekend. On our last day, May 23, we woke up and got cappuccinos and croissants to-go and walked to The Luxembourg Gardens. We were strolling around taking pictures when Dani stopped and asked me to wait for a moment. He then got down on one knee and proposed! I completely blacked out and don’t remember much, except that I screamed ‘yes!’ (meanwhile noticing there was a bit of croissant stuck in his beard!). Knowing how much I love photographs, Dani hired a professional photographer to capture the entire proposal and we are so thankful for those memories.
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Eternal love, support and loyalty.
WEDDING LOCATION: I studied abroad in Florence during college and knew that I wanted to marry Dani in Italy after witnessing a romantic Italian wedding there. After we got engaged, a close friend of ours recommended the divine Castello Vicchiomaggio in Greve in Chianti. Fortunately, the Castello also had a Catholic church on the premises, which was very important to us. After visiting Castello Vicchiomaggio, we knew it was the perfect place to get married.
THEME/STYLE: We wanted the wedding to feel like an intimate Italian dinner with family and close friends underneath the stars. We chose neutral colors to avoid taking away from the natural beauty of the Chianti countryside and we were thrilled with the outcome.
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PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY: I found the amazing Sandra Von Riekhoff through previous weddings she had photographed and fell in love with her work. I contacted her immediately after getting engaged and was fortunate enough to book her for our wedding. Sandra introduced me to Stephanie Trowell, who did our video, and both women completely exceeded our expectations. We feel so fortunate for having been able to work with them. The way they capture the moment and their eye for beauty is beyond talented!
BRIDE’S DRESS: I decided to go with something extremely simple to avoid taking away from the overall look of the wedding. I wanted classic and simple but form-fitting. I chose the Abigail gown by Nicole Miller and had the back lowered to make it feel more like my own.
BRIDESMAIDS’ DRESSES: I chose Twobirds for my bridesmaids. I loved the combination of the mocha, oyster and putty colors. The great thing about these dresses is that you can wear them several different ways, so no two girls have to look exactly alike.
GROOMSMEN’S ATTIRE: Groomsmen wore their own suits, all in shades of navy blue.
HAIR: Down, curled to one side with volume at the top.
MAKEUP: I chose a bright, dramatic lipstick and warm, bronze colors for eyes. I loved that I still looked like myself but a little more glammed up.
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: We wanted simple, elegant, Italian-inspired invites. We worked with an amazing store called Rock Paper Scissors of Charlottesville, Virginia. A close friend of ours also painted an image of Castello Vicciomaggio and Castello di Verrazzano (our wedding events venues), which we included. We were thrilled with how our invites turned out.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: Bridal bouquet: Red garden roses, burgundy dahlia and astilbe celosia, white lisianthus, peach ipericum berries, green amaranthus, leucadendron, artichoke, eucalyptus and olive leaves. Maids/matron of honor: white lisianthus, eucalyptus and olive leaves. Bridesmaids: olive branches. Groom: white lisianthus and olive leaves. Groomsmen: olive leaves. Table greenery: eucalyptus garlands
PREPARATION: The wedding party ate breakfast together at 10am on the day of the wedding. Afterwards, my bridesmaids and bridal party got ready in the bridal suite while drinking champagne and listening to our favorite music.
CEREMONY DÉCOR / RECEPTION DÉCOR: Each place setting had an olive branch (native to Tuscany) on the napkin along with a plethora of greenery. Atmosphere was very important to us, so we had cylinder glass votive candles dispersed throughout the tables and fairy lights above the dinner area. We made sure there was plenty of Italian wine throughout the night and we used king tables to enhance the feel of a ‘family dinner’.
A lovely friend of mine did all our calligraphy, wrote the nametags on paper tags and attached an olive branch to each one. We ordered ‘Sposa’ and ‘Sposo’ signs for the bride and groom’s chairs and had beautiful floral arrangements attached to the signs. We wanted a simple, natural, rustic, chic look and Pinterest, wedding blogs and hours of sleepless nights helped us to achieve this
CAKE: We had a traditional Italian wedding cake, known as a millefoglie. It was so delicious and light.
WEDDING SONGS:Ceremony and aperitivo: a string
Processional: “A Thousand Years” - Christina Perri
Recessional: “Bittersweet Symphony” - The Verve
a DJ accompanied by a sax player - the combination was amazing!
First dance: “Everywhere” - Fleetwood Mac and “The Way You Look Tonight” - Frank Sinatra
Cake cutting: “Crash” - Dave Matthews Band
FOOD & BEVERAGES: We chose to have a classic Italian aperitivo with Prosecco and small bites before the formal sit-down meal began. This allowed the guests to really absorb the Italian culture and taste the local delicacies. Dinner was an authentic affair and included wine pairings with each course.
HONEYMOON: We went to The Amalfi Coast for a week and it was the best experience of our lives. It was so wonderful to relax and reminisce about the wedding. We stayed at the most incredible Villain Positano and Dani and I were on cloud nine. We can truly say it was the best week of our lives.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT: Having all our closest friends and family in our favorite place in the world was beyond memorable. Most of our guests decided to turn the trip into a week-long vacation, so we hosted events in Florence leading up to the wedding. Everyone arrived in Greve in Chianti the day before the ceremony and we spent the day drinking rose, swimming in the pool and laughing! That night, all 60 of our guests attended the rehearsal dinner and it was an amazing kick-start to the wedding weekend.
Having a ‘first look’ was also very special. It allowed for private time with Dani before the celebrations officially began. Lastly, the speeches made by my maid-of-honor, Dani’s brother and my father were truly heart-warming. It made the entire evening feel so personal and special
ONE THING I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY WEDDING PLANS… Planning a wedding is stressful but you’ll remember the day for the rest of your life, so enjoy it!
IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE… Organize as much as possible, try not to leave last-minute details until the very end. Have a detailed timeline ready for everyone in the bridal party and your vendors and communicate with everyone involved about your expectations. Get plenty of sleep the night before and be sure to eat and drink water on the day. Also, if you are using a wedding planner, be sure to read the contract thoroughly, ask any and all questions and go through each and every aspect of the day before signing a contract. A wedding planner is so crucial (in my opinion) but you have to choose wisely. In addition, be sure your planner is experienced. Check his/her credentials and do not assume they know what they are doing.
ALI & DANI'S CONTACTS:
PHOTOGRAPHY: Sandra Von Riekhoff of Divine Day Photography
BRIDE'S DRESS: Nicole Miller
BRIDE’S SHOES: Gucci
BRIDESMAIDS’ DRESSES: Twobirds
WEDDING RINGS: Kathlein Jewelers
JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES: Fariba Designs
HAIR: Consuelo Makeup
MAKEUP: Consuelo Makeup
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: Rock Paper Scissors
FLORIST: Florum Floral Decorations
CAKE: Castello Vicchiomaggio
CATERING: Castello Vicchiomaggio
CELEBRANT: Fr. Paolo Tarchi
WEDDING VENUE: Castello Vicchiomaggio
WEDDING PLANNER: Savvy Event Studio
HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Amalfi Coast (Capri, Positano and Ravelo)
ENTERTAINMENT: Situation Party of Florence
VIDEOGRAPHER: Stephanie Trowell of Divine Day Photography