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A Gilded Garden Celebration

— Christine & Duncan

Date

10 September 2016

Guests

40 people

Photographer

Lelia Scarfiotti

Christine & Duncan by Lelia Scarfiotti
Christine & Duncan by Lelia Scarfiotti

Inspired by the raw simplicity of bohemian luxury, Christine & Duncan exchanged vows between elegant willow branches in Tuscany. The Bride celestial in a delicate golden gown, glimmering with metallic inclusions and coppery silks.

Effortlessly celebrated in a nearby garden, the reception was transformed into an opulent soiree, a seemingly infinite tablescape spilled with metallic tableware paired with inky linens and pastel botanicals. 

Beautifully told by LANE handpicked photographer, Lelia Scarfiotti 

NAMES: Christine Marie Serchia & Duncan Barrett

WEDDING DATE: 10 September 2016

GUEST NUMBERS: 40

HOW WE MET: We met at the Natural History Museum in New York. We both remember the exact moment we saw each other and it’s a moment I think about all the time, and I never get tired of telling the story.

OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Duncan is from England and I am American. The year we met, he spent flying to and from London and New York so we could see one another. For valentines, we spent a lovely long weekend in Paris together and after learning that my UK visa was unable to be renewed, I asked when we would be able to be together again. Duncan replied so simply and so confidently ‘I think we should get married, then we never need to worry about not being together’ and so we did.

MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Devoting your life to loving and understanding one another; and supporting what each of you most want from your time on this earth. 

WEDDING LOCATION: I once lived in Italy and my father’s family is Italian, so I knew I wanted to give our wedding guests an excuse to experience what an inimitable destination it is. Duncan and I traveled through the countryside in search of venues, and found Borgo Stomennano in Monteriggioni, Tuscany. When we drove down the dusty poplar-lined road to this incredible family owned villa, we felt what everyone does when they visit, how exceptionally grand it all was with surprises at every corner, and how comforting it was to be in this perfectly private ‘magical’ place torn from the pages of a folktale. Luisa and her family accommodated our every request; their warmth, kindness, and helpfulness was unmatched. They gave the best wedding we could have ever asked for by sharing the beautiful and unforgettable place they call home.

THEME/STYLEThe inspiration was very site specific and was a reflection of the stunning architecture and surroundings. From the outside, the villa resembled ancient rustic ruins, but inside is so surprisingly glamorous.The theme was to blend antique rustic ideas and unexpected exotic elements. We used metallic notes throughout to add a celestial colour scheme with endless gold and silver touches, wild flowers everywhere, a ‘mess of candles’ and beautiful handmade objects.  

(Interview continues beneath gallery)

PHOTOGRAPHYOf everything we had to plan, the photography was the most important part, which is why we specifically choose Lelia Scarfiotti. The first time I saw Leila’s mesmerizing photography I was brought to tears and I knew she had to be our photographer. Lelia was an absolute goddess through the entire process. When it came to the wedding weekend, she helped us feel comfortable in every way,  even moments before walking down the aisle. Anything Leila photographs becomes a work of art. Whilst I myself have studied photography for years, I have never come across another photographer whom uses such a quiet and pictorial depth of field to make every moment captured seem like the most important moment. I strive to make images like Lelia does, and when I look at the way she viewed our special day, I feel even more honoured that her images are my own memories. With her photographs, we have a tangible means to show others how beautiful these moments truly were to us. Leila’s photography is the most meaningful gift and beautiful reflection of the start of our lives together.

 BRIDE’S DRESS: When envisioning my dress, the muses I kept returning to were: Cleopatra and Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface) – a mixture of exotic and 70s inspired glamour. I wanted to design a dress that no one else has ever worn, which is how I found Charlotte of Wilden Bridal. I’ve never met anyone who understands the silhouette and construction of a dress like Charlotte does, she made whatever I asked for possible, even when the details I wanted were not so typical or easy to make. She effortlessly constructed the most beautiful dress I’ve ever worn, and made it exactly as I asked. The design was effortless, made from a semi transparent golden silk with a plunging neck, tall side slit, and a landscape of beads and sequins. I wanted it tol ook like a constellation of stars so whenever the dress caught the light it it looked like a completely different. Everyone told me how it was the most stunning wedding dress they’d seen, and I was so honoured it was my own. 

BRIDE'S SHOES: Stuart Weitzman Nudist Heels – minimalist, metallic, not too high, and were another way for me to add glitter... gifted to me by one of my best friends, and honorary ‘best women’ Jules.

BRIDESMAID'S DRESSES: Celestial was the underlining theme for our wedding, which is why I asked my sisters and my mother to also wear gold. They found completely different styles and looked stunning in their own way. My twin sister Jennifer whom is iconic for her unique taste wore a eclipse dress by The Reformation, with a star-studded body chain from ASOS with shoulder-dusting earrings by the Greek designer SANKTOLEONO and a vintage ring from our parents. My youngest sister wore a shimmery, floor-sweeping crepe dress, with a low neckline veiled by her long beautiful hair and vintage crystal earrings from my mother. Lastly, my mother wore a gold shift dress with a roped halter neck, which we found together years ago in Florence at a tiny shop called Otto D’ame. She also wore a stunning vintage jacket covered in ivory sequinned leaves. My mother has always been a style inspiration to me, and continues to inspire me every time I see her.

BRIDESMAID’S SHOES: Jenny wore sandals by Marais USA, Frances’ sandals were from American Eagle.

WEDDING RINGS: My engagement ring was made in two parts: Duncan chose a stunning diamond, and I designed a band for it. It’s a sparkling solitare diamond held by a very delicate rose gold eternity band with petite diamonds dotted around it. Duncan chose a classic silver band for his wedding ring, and mine was a simple band made in a hammered rose gold.

JEWELRYACCESSORIESI choose to wear beautiful sentimental jewellery, my mother’s gold bangles that she wears everyday and also a gold friendship bracelet I share with my friend Jules. Later in the evening I wore a simple gold bodychain that fastened around the waist by Edge O’ Beyond. My long veil was custom made as a gift by my dress designer Charlotte of Wilden Bridal with etoile lace flowers sewn all over a soft toile.

GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: Duncan wore an impeccable bespoke three-piece blue suit, with a gold silk lining, tailor-made by London based Harris and Zei. To match our ‘Best Men’ dressed in blue suits and we gifted them each a champagne coloured silk-knit necktie and a cotton pocket square with their initials embroidered in a grey thread. Their Boutonnières were exceptionally constructed by Fluida Design with Thistles, Palm leaves, and Protea… each one unique, and each one befitting of our groomsmen’s personalities.

HAIR: I naturally have very long thick dark hair which is wild and untamed, so I curled the ends of it to resemble relaxed natural waves

MAKEUP: I wanted a make up look that was natural, golden and dewy. My friend Korrie is a makeup artist and she spent a day helping me learn application techniques and offered many inspired ideas. I used a luminous foundation with dewy mist; a gold dust shimmery eyeshadow palette and eyeliner, with a matte red lip.

STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: As a calligrapher and designer myself, whom owns London-based creative brand Just Friends Studio, it was so important that I designed and made every piece of printed matter. Our invitations were a tiny travel guide, with our names blind embossed on the front, and a hand drawn map on the back; the envelopes were calligraphed in white ink on gray paper with a metallic silver washi tape seal. I also made a hand-painted wooden sign for our ceremony and small wooden bistro-style sandwich boards for our handwritten dinner menus. Our guests’ namecards were vintage paintbrushes, which Alessandra (Fluida Design) hand-stained, and I painted with our guests names to offer as a keepsake. I love to think that they’re displayed in our loved ones homes as a tangible memory of our weekend together.

FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: An added benefit of staying at Borgo Stomennano is that they make their own delicious wine and extra virgin olive oil on site. So we choose for our guests a Chianti Reserva, and house speciality olive oil.

FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: I discovered Fluida Design online and was immediately inspired by the dramatic flower statements she makes. For my bouquet, I requested Thistle as a nod to Duncan’s English heritage, accented with Protea and Palm leaves to create a statement. Fluida Design added bluebells, deep red leaves and tall flowers. I couldn’t believe how beautiful my bouquet was when she showed me. She made corresponding bouquets, for my bridesmaids, a bracelet of thistle for my mother. Our tablescape resembled an exotic jungle with palm leaves jutting out of mercury tainted glass at varying heights amongst glowing candlelights. Unforgettable!

PREPARATION:We had a sunset ceremony, so in the morning we had a delicious relaxed breakfast in the Limonaia of the Villa. Later we even had time to lay in the sun by the pool. I had portrait photos taken in a glamorous room with the most beautiful antique mirrors and expansive view of the Tuscan hills. My mother and bridesmaids showed up fashionably late (it’s hereditary) dressed in their varying gold shades. We exchanged our gifts. I gave my sisters a pair of dangly gold starry earrings and a lariat necklace; my mother a pair of gold leaf ear crawlers presented in a heart shaped chocolate box. I had just changed into my dress and veil when my mother came in to thank me, and she started to cry, it was such a sweet and emotional moment.   

CEREMONY DÉCOR/ RECEPTION DÉCOR: Fluida Design absolutely exceeded every expectation I had with every touch of detail. Alessandra and her team constructed a gorgeous floral arch of elegant willow branches to frame us where we stood, with white rose petals at our feet. There were soft white Protea flowers floating in the inky waters of the antique stone fountain surrounded by a theatre of plié chairs to either side. Fluida Design also, suspended a gorgeous set of white curtains, which swayed dramatically from the overhang of the villa, as we walked through them to the ceremony garden. It was such a simple, but dramatic look, and the fabric was so light it would gracefully slide back and forth over the green grass as people came and went throughout the evening.

WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST: As we had such a small sized wedding, we did did all the wedding planning ourselves. I shared a secret Pinterest mood board with our photographer and florist, Lelia and Alessandra so that we could share our inspiration and visually get to know one another’s taste and style. Our narrative was to create the unexpected in a quiet way and create details that were memorable. I’m so amazed at what we were able to achieve and grateful to have these two incredible people involved.

CAKE: A traditional Italian Mille Foglie cake, with layers of cream, chocolate shards and a floral bouquet on top. It was so delicious that I had two helpings in spite of the incredible dinner we had just finished. 

WEDDING SONGSAs I walked down the aisle, Duncan’s aunt Annette sang Nat King Cole’s ‘If I Give My Heart To You‘. Post ceremony, my friends Alessia  and Andrea performed a hauntingly beautiful version of the Italian song ‘Senza Fine’ (Without End). Alessia recommended this song, as the significance is so perfect for two people who know they will spend their lives together.

ENTERTAINMENT: For the cocktail hour, my twin sister, Jennifer planned an incredible set of playlists that she created ranging from vintage french music to favourites that we listened to growing up. Our DJ, Cristian played a lively mostly 90s soundtrack with intermissions of Frank Sinatra songs… everyone danced together to “New York New York” and with my parents as the last two on the dance floor we ended the night with my father’s favourite “This house is not a home.” Our dance floor overlooked the beautiful infinity pool and by 3am everyone left standing was ultimately pushed into the pool…it was amazing.

FOOD & BEVERAGES: We still receive comments form our guests about how incredible the food was at our wedding. Oste Gentiluomo, our caterer composed a delicious menu of seasonal Tuscan classics with a contemporary take. For the cocktail hour, we had glasses of Prosecco and Aperol Spritz, with a buffet of delicious antipasti, tuscan breads, homemade jams, meats, fresh salads and regional cheeses. Our wedding dinner was Ravioli stuffed with pecorino and pear with butter & sage; Risotto with fior di zucchini and Champagne, and Bistecca Fiorentina with truffle oil and roasted potatoes in rosemary and olive oil. We also had a vintage gelato cart where guests could help themselves to whichever flavours they liked... and how much they liked

HONEYMOON: Duncan suggested we travel to Thailand, and it was the most incredible trip in the most tranquil and exotic place I have ever been. We stayed at Santhiya Resort & Spa on the tiny island of Koh Yao Yai. A lush treetop villa overlooking the sea, with a private infinity pool, an outdoor stone shower and oceanview bath. It was breathtaking from every angle. The staff were so warm and welcoming and the food was delicious. 

GIFT REGISTRY: We had a honeymoon registry in lieu of presents, and were overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity. Although we didn’t request gifts our thoughtful friends and family offered them anyway! My parents carried Waterford crystal glasses all the way from Niagara Falls for us. Our friends Tinty and Ali, gifted us a gorgeous glass and copper pendent lamp... and our photographer friend Meira made us an album of all the pictures she had taken that weekend.

CELEBRANT: Janekke of Tuscan Pledges was recommended to us by Luisa (of Borgo Stomennano). Jannekke did a stunning job conveying the most important and personal aspects of our relationship throughout the ceremony, we were very grateful.   

READINGS: Duncan’s mother, Juliet poetically read Pablo Neruda Sonnet LXVII 

ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: My Aunt Lauretta, passed away only months before the wedding. In tribute I asked Charlotte of Wilden Bridal to sew in the back of my dress my mothers and aunts personal gold necklaces. Also, when embroidering the pocket hankerchiefs for our groomsmen, I specifically requested ‘dada’ for my father’s  (as that’s what my sisters and I all call him). After receiving it, my father folded the pocket square over his pocket so that everyone could read it, and wore it that way the entire night.

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: My greatest inspiration was exchanging ideas and imagery with Lelia (Lelia Scarfiottl) and Alessandra (Fluida Designs.) Sometimes one picture could inspire an entire concept. I also faithfully followed The Lane / Festival Brides / Houghton / LOHO bride Instagram accounts. As for resources, Luisa from Borgo Stomenanno helpfully sourced our lighting technicians, caterers, and celebrant. 

A MEMORABLE MOMENT: The ceremony seemed to happen in slow motion. I asked both of my parents to walk me down the aisle, and I’m so thrilled to have them both give me away, it was a surreal moment. Also when Duncan and I exchanged rings during our vows. I don’t think you ever forget a moment like that.

ONE THING I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY WEDDING PLANS…Have someone by your side who is willing to do all the things you won’t have the chance too. Everyone helped in their own way, but my youngest sister Frances was my guardian angel & did everything I needed on our wedding day. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her!

IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE…Don’t feel compelled to do anything out of obligation or tradition. If there was something Duncan and I felt didn’t suit us, we omitted it. No matter what you do, how or where you do it, on your wedding day you are exclusively surrounded by people who love you and whom you most love, even if there is nothing else, that is enough.

CHRISTINE & DUNCAN'S CONTACTS:

PHOTOGRAPHY: Lelia Scarfiotti

BRIDE'S DRESS: Wilden Bride

BRIDE'S SHOES: Stuart Weitzman

BRIDESMAID'S DRESSES: The Reformation

BRIDESMAIDS SHOES: MariasUSA , CoachAmerican Eagle

GROOMS FORMAL WEAR: Harris & ZeiThe Tie Bar

WEDDING RINGS: Samara James

JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES: Veil by Wilden Bridal

FLORIST: Fluida Design

CAKE & CATERING: L’Oste Gentiluomo

CELEBRANT: Janneke from Tuscan Pledges

WEDDING VENUEBorgo Stomennano

HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Santhiya Resort & Spa Thailand

ENTERTAINMENT: Audio Dress

GIFT REGISTRY: Buy Our Honeymoon

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