Hidden in the Tuscan hills, Villa Catureglio is sheathed in winding olive branches and climbing vines, the air filled with the citrus scent of lemon from trees scattered throughout the grounds. Exchanging vows in an idyllic courtyard adorned with wild eucalypt and antique roses, Chloe and Ryan’s wedding was the epitome of summer romance; a perfect collision of un-orchestrated elegance and bohemian luxe.
In an iridescent gown, Chloe moved throughout the villa in a sea of liquid silver, luminous before a backdrop of rolling hills and vineyards...
Photographed by Katie Harmsworth
NAMES: Chloe Hawking and Ryan Skeggs
WEDDING DATE: July 30, 2016
GUEST NUMBERS: 89
HOW WE MET: We met in a very long taxi queue at an industry event at the Hurlingham Club in London.
OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Ryan had planned a weekend away to visit his best mate (later best man) up near the peak district in England. They had just had a baby so that was the focus of the weekend - at least I thought so! Ryan had planned the trip for weeks in secret with his future best man. They had mapped out a hike of the peak district for us all to do, but on the day, our friends made a grand story about why they couldn’t join and insisted that we should hike alone. On a usual grey England day, we reached the peak of a beautiful hill and as we did the sun broke through and Ryan popped the question. Little did I know he had been carrying a bottle of champagne and two champagne glasses in the backpack the whole time!
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Marriage means adoration when least expected.
WEDDING LOCATION: We started very open when thinking about venues, with Ryan’s family in England and mine in Australia, we could have chosen anywhere in between! We had been to Italy twice together and loved the country’s culture, food, wine, scenery and romance. It was a pretty quick decision as it was a good midway point for our family and friends, and one we thought people would be happy to travel to. We came across Caturelgio online during our hours of searching and after using Instagram to see more pictures we booked it quite quickly.
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THEME/STYLE: There wasn’t really a specific theme we were going for other than Tuscan summer. The lemon trees, sun and bees were out, the dress code was summer brights, and the music was a mix of soul, jazz and a bit of reggae. We managed to have a touch of Australiana with eucalypt on the tables and the bridesmaids and myself in Australian designers. It wasn’t a completely orchestrated theme, just bringing together the music, people and vibes that make us both happy.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Katie Harmsworth (and her partner Eric Ronald) who travelled from Australia. We found Katie’s work online and loved it, so it was a massive treat to have them with us for the day of the wedding and the surrounding days. Our photographer Katie Harmsworth was excellent. We had spoken to a few photographers before we had a Skype call with Katie, but after our chat my husband and I were certain we wanted Katie at our big day. Katie was very relaxed but clearly exceptionally experienced and professional; the perfect combination to reassure us and have someone we could easily chat to about the big day. Throughout the process, Katie had genuine enthusiasm and was there to capture both the formal and incidental moments on the wedding day, as well as at the surrounding events.
BRIDE’S DRESS: The dress was from Karen Willis Holmes in High Street, Armadale. I had been home for a family event a few months after being engaged and tried on the sparkly, slimline number. It helped to have the important people around (Mum, my sisters and best friend) to help me with the decision. The ladies in the store were lovely.
BRIDE’S SHOES: Mimco glitter heels
BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: A mix of styles and coloured dresses from Zimmermann.
FLOWERGIRLS/PAGEBOY OUTFITS: The flowergirls picked their favourite summer dresses so we had a mix, while they were all adorned with floral headpieces.
WEDDING RINGS: I only had one ring, which was my great grandmother’s diamond band engagement ring from the 1930s. Ryan’s ring was purchased from an antique dealer in London. His ring is a wide, heavy, gold band from the 1920s.
JEWELLERY/ACCESSORIES: I wore a pair of diamond earrings purchased in Bologna on the way to the wedding.
GROOMSMEN ATTIRE The groom’s suit was from Ted Baker, while the shirt was from Burberry and the belt from Hugo Boss. The groomsmen’s suits were matching navy from TM Lewin, and they wore neck ties from Hugo Boss which were a gift from the groom.
HAIR: Given the heat and low-back style of my dress, hair was styled into bun to have a clear neck and back. The simple style was complete with a gold crown hairpiece.
MAKEUP: My makeup was quite natural as I don’t wear a huge amount usually and I wanted to be recognisable. Having said that, I couldn’t help myself but pick a Laura Mercier red lip stain for a bit of indulgence!
INVITATIONS: Paperless Post.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: The flowers were local and in-season, so we went for small roses, dahlias and peonies in reds and pinks which matched the lip colour of the bride. The bridesmaids were in navy and beige so the flowers helped to lift the palette and connect all of us together.
VIDEOGRAPHY: Headshot Studio.
PREPARATION: On the morning of the wedding, the bridesmaids had arranged a private yoga instructor to come to the villa to help us prepare for the day. We found a grass terrace up on the hill to stretch out; it was the perfect way to wake up and welcome the day. After yoga, the ladies had prepared the floor of the villa for a champagne breakfast, including a feast of goods from the local Italian deli. I gifted the bridesmaids cotton pyjamas embroidered with their initials, which they wore while we had our hair and makeup done. Meanwhile, Ryan stayed in the swimming pool until about 40 minutes before the ceremony!
CEREMONY DÉCOR/ RECEPTION DÉCOR: For the ceremony, we had cane garden chairs laid out in two semi-circles in the central courtyard at Villa Catureglio. The lemon trees lined the area and we had a table on the lawn in front of the chapel, which is where we stood to get married. We had fresh rose petals as confetti in individual cones, and fans for each of the guests. For the reception, we moved through to the back garden which looks over the hills. The tables were laid out in a big U-shape and covered in wild eucalypt and roses. We had white ceremony chairs and linen, with silver plate holders and long-stemmed glassware. Candles down the tables and fairy lights in the trees provided just enough glow and brightness under the starry sky.
WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST: We didn’t use a wedding planner or stylist and we live in London, so arranging a wedding from afar without speaking the local language felt like a major DIY project! Our caterers were exceptionally helpful and familiar with the venue. We also had Kate from Villa Catureglio help to coordinate the finishing touches on the day.
CAKE: The cake was from our amazing caterers. It was a cheesecake covered in meringue and raspberries. I have never seen a wedding cake consumed so quickly!
WEDDING SONGS: We were so lucky to have Ryan’s brother, Gavin Skeggs grace us with his amazing voice during the ceremony. He is a top-class jazz singer and has played all over the world, including at London’s famous Ronny Scotts.
For walking down the aisle, Gavin sang Etta James’ “At Last” (which was fitting as it was 30 degrees and Ryan and his groomsmen had been standing in the sun for at least 15 minutes before I came out!) For the signing, Gavin sang “Lovely Day” (original by Bill Withers). For our recessional, we played “Must be Love” by Etta James. For our first dance we had Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness”.
ENTERTAINMENT: We had the talented Gavin Skeggs providing us with live music during the day. For the apertivo and dinner ceremony, we had a friend who DJs put together a playlist. Lots of people were dancing in their seats in the evening. For the disco we had a local DJ who played our favourite tunes and as a result both Ryan and I didn’t leave the dancefloor all night!
FOOD & BEVERAGES: Food and drinks were very important for us. With our family and friends travelling so far, we wanted to be sure they were well fed. Thankfully, we had amazing caterers who exceeded our expectations. Of course the menu theme was the best of Italy! Straight after the ceremony we had several tables set up in the garden for drinks and apertivo snacks in the afternoon sun. We had a table of local cheeses, a table of fried vegetables (zucchini flowers, peppers, courgette), a table of Tuscan hams and salamis (including a large leg of prosciutto being freshly cut for the guests) and a table of mini bruschetta. This was pared with Aperol spritz, Prosecco and beers to keep everyone cool in the sun. Once the guests moved through to the dinner setting, we had a starter of burrata-filled ravioli in a fresh tomato sauce with asparagus on the side. This was followed by a porcini mushroom risotto course, and finally the main was a char-grilled beef entrecote with vegetables on the side. A beautiful selection of Tuscan red and white wine flowed. For the evening, we had an open bar with staff making cocktails that kept everyone dancing well into the evening. By 1am we suspected everyone would be ready for their second helping, so our fantastic caterers brought out a whole suckling pig and sliced it up to make pork rolls – that was a joyful moment!
TRANSPORT: As we were staying onsite at the villa, we arrived on the day by foot.
HONEYMOON: We took a short flight over to Sardinia after the wedding. We stayed in La Maddalena islands which were beautiful and calm - exactly what we were looking for. On one of the days, we hired a boat to travel around the coves, and spent other days hiking to get to the secret spots. It was bliss!
GIFT REGISTRY: We didn’t want any gifts and were just grateful people could make it all the way to Italy to join us for the special day. We did request that if guests felt compelled to give a gift, that they donate to Race Against Blood Cancer, a charity we are both heavily involved in.
CELEBRANT: Our celebrant was a good friend Oliver Mackwood. Oliver was married a year earlier and was a great support for us both in working through our ceremony plan. Having him conduct the day was extra special for us.
READINGS: We had “I’ll be there” by Louise Cuddon enthusiastically recited from one of our bridesmaids. We also both wrote our own vows, which were very personal.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: The LANE was a key website for getting inspired for destinations, dresses and general advice! Otherwise, Instagram was great - specifically a few bridal salons’ accounts which post-wedding I can’t stop following, they are so beautiful!.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT: A moment at our reception dinner, when we had the wine and dinner in full swing. Our friends and family were laughing and chatting, and the kids were running between olive trees spilling with fairy lights. We were surrounded by the Tuscan hills, under the starry sky, and sitting as husband and wife we watched the bliss and had a private cheers. It was a perfect moment.
IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE… Google Sheets was essential for us both to stay organised! Also, some advice that I was given was to pretend the wedding is two weeks before the actual date. That way you can make sure you have everything sorted well in advance and nothing is too last minute. Despite this, I was still writing my speech 10 minutes before the reception!
CHLOE & RYAN'S CONTACTS:
PHOTOGRAPHY: Katie Harmsworth
BRIDE'S DRESS: Karen Willis Holmes
BRIDES SHOES: MIMCO
BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: Zimmermann
GROOMS FORMAL WEAR: Ted Baker
WEDDING RINGS: Addy’s Vintage jeweller in London
JEWELRY: Fenwicks of London
HAIR: Alina Coiffeur
MAKEUP: Carpe Diem of Luisi Elena
INVITATIONS: Paperless Post
FLORIST: Sarbina Barsanti
CAKE: Il Farrtore Party
CATERING: Il Fattore Party
WEDDING VENUE: Villa Catureglio
HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Sardinia
ENTERTAINMENT: Gavin Skeggs
VIDEOGRAPHER: Headshot Studio