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Intimate Candlelight Ceremony

— Rachel & Marcel


2 September 2015


70 people


Lelia Scarfiotti

Rachel & Marcel by Lelia Scarfiotti
Rachel & Marcel by Lelia Scarfiotti

Beautifully moody embelishments, illuminated by flickering candlelight. The intimate candlit ceremony of Rachel and Marcel was an individual take on the symbolic ritual of exchanging vows, a backdrop of century old blush facades, complimented by pale rose hued blooms spilling lustrously in twilight evoked beauty at every turn.

Beautifully captured by LANE handpicked photographer Lelia Scarfiotti..

NAMES: Rachel and Marcel 

WEDDING DATE: September 2, 2015


HOW WE MET: We lived just blocks away from each other in San Francisco and met the old fashioned way – in a bar; where Rachel worked nights. Over the next year we spent countless hours in that wine bar as friends, immersed in conversation and getting to know one another. These conversations turned into flirting and our friendship developed into the relationship that we are lucky enough to have today.  

OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: The first time Marcel asked me on a date, he asked me to dinner at a well known Italian restaurant in our Russian Hill neighborhood. Fate intervened and somehow in our 6 year relationship never went to dinner there! So be it, we were both in the mood for Italian food mid-week so Marcel made a reservation. Honestly, I really didn’t think much of it as we still try to go to all of the wonderful restaurants that we missed while living in our old neighborhood –this was still one on our list. We already had dinner plans with other friends, but I just had a feeling I needed to be ok with cancelling them.

Allegro Romano is located at one of the highest streets up Russian Hill, so we slowly walked up the hill from Polk in the rain. When we reached the top, Marcel told me that he wanted us to go see the view. We cleverly hopped a fence to an amazing viewpoint, as we had done years ago. Staring at the 360-degree view of the bay, Marcel got on one knee and asked me to marry him. Then of course we went finally went to dinner (and celebrated) at Allegro Romano.

MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Being a family.

WEDDING LOCATION: With our love for travel along with food, wine and family – Italy seemed to be a no brainer. The Italian culture and values coincide with what is important to us and set the stage for how we wanted to begin the next chapter of our life together. We chose to hold the wedding festivities at Vignamaggio which is a 14th century villa and vineyard located near the small town of Greve in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy. The property, set up in the Tuscan hills, was large enough to accommodate the bulk of our guests and housed amenities such as tennis courts, a wine bar, two pools and beautiful Italian gardens.

(Interview continued beneath gallery)

THEME/STYLE: With a 14th-century villa as our location set, we wanted to really embrace the historic Italian elements of the property while adding a touch of elegance and intimacy. We used the locations unique spaces and elements as prominent features and inspiration throughout our wedding planning as well as the wedding itself.

PHOTOGRAPHY: You can’t help but fall in love with the work of Lelia Scarfiotti. We went through a long list of photographers individually and she was the one who grabbed both of our attention. She came highly recommended from our wedding planner, as they have worked together for years. Lelia’s style and ability to take notice in the subtle details as well as capture the big moments unexpectedly won us over. Not to mention she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She has an unobtrusive and kind way of shooting that makes you feel at ease.

The results were truly amazing and to be honest I am kicking myself for not booking her for the entire three days. Maybe we will need to visit Italy again just to have some more photo’s taken from Lelia’s lens.

BRIDE’S DRESS: I wore a couture gown by Suzanne Hanley of Atelier des Modistes. The illusion bodice was comprised of French lace and appliqué, which climbed down onto the sides of the silk chiffon skirt and up the neckline. The hand-sewn buttons on the illusion back added the final touch to a simply elegant dress. Sue and her team at Atelier des Modistes are a dream. I couldn’t be happier with the work that they put in to create this beautiful piece. I highly recommend them to any Bride.

BRIDE’S SHOES: Bronze Fabric Manolo Blahnik sandals. As they move they change from gunmetal grey to gold, tying in the charcoal grey and gold foil from the invitations.

MAID OF HONOR DRESS: Molly’s dress was Badgley Mischka in silver and blush fabric’s, floral lace embellished with shiny sequins and metallic embroidery. She and I had both been a bridesmaid countless times and this time I wanted something special, something you looked forward to wearing. I wanted her to love the dress. That was the reaction when she tried it on. Being that we were having an evening wedding I loved the idea of the metallic embroidery shimmering in the candlelight and the light blush tied in with the flowers. She was stunning.

JEWELLERY/ACCESSORIES: I choose not to wear a veil and given that my dress was long sleeved, jewelry options were limited. Statement earrings were a must. The earring’s I wore were Miu Miu and the Brazilian Agate cocktail ring was my grandmother’s. It was a gift from my grandfather to my mother from one of their many trips together to Brazil. The ring was a very special 'something borrowed' from my mother.

RINGS: We both wear platinum wedding bands with a twist. Mine is an eternity band of round and baguette diamonds, Marcel’s ring has black rhodium channels. My engagement ring was custom designed inspired by a JB Star ring that we saw at Shreve & Co. in San Francisco. The center stone is a radiant cut and is surrounded by half-moon and shield side diamonds.

GROOMS ATTIRE: Marcel wore a John Varvatos suit and a textured black tie by Thomas Pink. These were paired with a lavender shirt we purchased in Paris and multi colored pocket square. His suit, straying from the traditional navy, had a small black glen plaid pattern.

STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: I worked with Robyn Love Designs to create a custom calligraphy save the date map. Being a destination wedding, I really wanted this first look to entice our guests to take a European vacation and come to Italy. Our simple but elegant invitation features gold foil calligraphy on slate paper. A romantic peach and blush garden rose envelope liner was paired with matching slate envelopes.

FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: For flowers I wanted something soft and romantic. Keeping a neutral color palette for the bouquets and arrangements, our florist Tommaso of La Rosa Canina, paired blooming blush Peonies with black Anemone and delicate English roses. The greenery that peeked-out from the bouquets complimented the garlands that were placed at the altar and the sweetheart table. Various arrangements dotted the property and evoked beauty at every turn.

CEREMONY DÉCOR: The ceremony décor was simple but elegant. We chose to have our ceremony inside the villa in the Monna Lisa Salon. This room with ancient stone floor and arched doors that led out to the main garden served as a blank canvas for our vision. The Orthodox ceremony began at sunset and was performed solely by candlelight to create a more intimate and romantic setting. Tall-antiqued gold pillars with ivory candles hugged the altar in front of the antique fireplace. Two green garlands were created by La Rosa Canina and hung behind the altar, which adorned the fireplace.

RECEPTION DECOR: Pre-ceremony our guests gathered in the shade of the Lecci garden for the aperitif hour. Rossana filled the garden by creating different entertaining spaces for guests to mingle. A green vintage couch served as the main prop for the photo booth area, which welcomed guests to smile and snap a Polariod for our guestbook. This area was finished with a chandelier, rugs and props –such as feather boas and floral umbrellas (by La Rosa Canina). The antique trunk “coffee table” displayed the embossed velvet guestbook. Around the corner generations of family wedding photos decorated the trunk of an ancient tree.

The aperitif and appetizer table, dressed in white linen, was nestled underneath the shade of a tent. The circular garden tables with wrought-iron chairs dotted the remainder of the space and were decorated with a mix of lanterns and little vases of flowers. Guests nibbled on Italian delicacies and sipped Prosecco while taking in the breathtaking view of the Tuscan hills. On the iron gate that led guests to the main villa and garden circular escort cards hung organically on blush ribbon.

The intimate and romantic setting that was so important to us for the ceremony tailed into the reception décor as well. The dinner in the garden glowed with natural light of the villa, two strings of small bulb lights and candles. Bluish grey tablecloths served as a backdrop for white, gold and silver place settings. Antique gold vases were filled with black Anemone, blush garden Roses and greenery that served as the centerpieces for the dinner tables. Guests celebrated in black Chiavari chairs with white cushions.

Lanterns lit up the walking paths at the dinner and in front of the wine cellar where the dancing was held. The photo booth furniture and props were moved from the apertif to create a cozy resting area across from the bar.

WEDDING PLANNER: Online shopping for a wedding planner in general and in another country is not an easy feat. I must say we got extremely lucky by finding Rossana and The Knot Italy. Rossana was the first person to respond to my many international inquiries. After our first phone interview I knew she was a perfect fit. I continued to interview candidates because I couldn’t just sign up with her without speaking to anyone else. I now take that back –Yes, you can! In the nine months that we worked together Rossana and her team were extremely personal, professional and organized. She listened to our wants and needs and always considered our budget. Besides delivering flawless weddings, she is an amazing person.

CAKE: For our cake we chose to have a traditional Italian wedding cake – Millefoglie. The cake was made up of thin sheets of filo-like pastry, which were layered with a light mascarpone cream then topped with berries. It was delicious and Vignamaggio’s Vinsanto wine was the perfect pairing.

WEDDING SONGS: Recessional: Island in the sun, Weezer. First Dance: Whatever it is, Zac Brown Band, Father-Daughter: Tupelo Honey, Van Morrison, Mother-Son: Ümit Besen, Bahar, Bekleyen.

ENTERTAINMENT: We worked to create our own playlists for the aperitif, dinner and reception. We did however enlist a DJ to orchestrate the selections for both the ceremony and reception. Marcel was in charge of selecting the dinner and aperitif music as well as the traditional Turkish dance songs. I worked on the reception music, determined to have a never-ending dance party. The evening’s music ranged from Spanish guitar to Hall & Oats to JT.

FOOD & BEVERAGES: Vignamaggio helped us create a traditional Tuscan menu with regional dishes. A selection of local cheeses as well as meat and salami from Antica Macelleria Falorni were served alongside traditional antipasti dishes like panzanella. The dinner began with a beautiful stacked Caprese salad with eggplant, tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella from the garden; our favorite followed - lasagna with chianina beef then beef fillet and potatoes flan with a Chianti classico reduction was served as the secondi. For drinks we served wines from Vignamaggio cellars as well as spirits after dinner and cake.  

HONEYMOON: Before the wedding we spent a few days in Paris to kill our jet lag, then after the wedding we took a road trip down to the Amalfi Coast. With both of our love for the ocean and much needed relaxation it was a perfect choice. We first settled into the sleepy hilltop town of Ravello. From there we traveled to Praiano, Positano and Capri. Everything about the Amalfi Coast is charming –except for the roads. Well really they are not too bad, but we may be biased as we live in San Francisco. If you do end up driving there know that it is a two-person job: one person to drive and one to be a second set of eyes. Regardless the views are a must see and the fresh seafood is some of the best we have ever had. We ended our trip in Rome soaking up the rich history of the city and filling our bellies full with as much fresh pasta and Amarone as possible. Delicioso!

CELEBRANT: Reverend Papadopoulos from Chiesa Ortodossa in Florence, Italy.

ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: Being that Italy was a destination for everyone attending the wedding, we wanted to plan activities that embraced the region as well as allow time for guests to really get to know one another. Optional activities included Tuscan cooking classes (at both Vignamaggio and Fagliori) and a wine tasting tour. In addition, we hosted a welcome reception the first night, a pizza dinner and henna party the night before the wedding and then a farewell breakfast the morning after the wedding. 

On the day of our guest’s arrival a small wine tour was organized by local sommelier Sandro Checcucci. With his extensive wine knowledge and sense of humor, we toured the ancient wine cellar of Tenuta del Palagio as well as the more modern Santa Margherita Tenimenti Lamole with a group of our guests. Afterwards we returned to Vignamaggio and welcomed the rest of our friends and family with gelato. The cart from Antica Delizia was placed in the shade of a vine-covered terrace. Booklets of wedding week activities were also passed out at this time –these included a schedule of events as well as regional recommendations of restaurants, day trips, etc.

The night before the wedding we invited all of our guests to join us for dinner and to participate in a tradition from Marcel’s families heritage –an Aramaic Henna Party. Dinner was held at a small family owned restaurant just a block off Piazza Matteotti. We chose a casual family style pizza dinner with antipasti and wines that were produced from the restaurants owners themselves. Alessandro, the face of the Chianti Classico label, and his family were very accommodating and entertained by our lively group.

After dinner, the dining room became a stage - friends and family surrounded Marcel and I. Traditional songs and dance began to take place while our family and friends sat us down and danced around us in circles with a flaming platter of Henna. After everyone had his or her turn dancing with the plate, Marcel’s mother placed a gold coin into my hand, covered it with the Henna mixture and then a red embellished flower for decoration. It was really special to include this tradition as part of our wedding. We were so thrilled that everyone participated and were eager to celebrate in a different way. Over the next few days we all laughed as the Henna stain on our hands was still very visible and a great reminder of the fun we had that night.

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: Wedding blogs via Instagram and Pinterest with special attention to Italian gardens, European weddings and candlelight. I will say Pinterest confused me more than it did help. If I could do it again I would actually compile a tangible inspiration board vs. virtual.

A MEMORABLE MOMENT: Saying goodbye to everyone the morning after the wedding. It sounds funny but it was so wonderful to see everyone say goodbye to one another. Being that some of our friends and families met for the first time it was great to see the friendships that were cultivated throughout the week of the wedding. We are truly lucky to have such amazing friends and family.

IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE: Planning a destination wedding is hard even when you enlist a wedding planner. My advice would be to focus on the two or three key elements that are the most important to you and your partner. We tried too hard to focus on every single piece because people were travelling so far and we wanted everything to be flawless and worth the trip. In the moment it is hard to realize that everyone that attends the wedding and travels is there to celebrate you two and will not care if you have wood lanterns instead of wrought-iron. Don’t sweat the small stuff; look at the bigger picture and rest assured that no matter what happens your guests and you will have an amazing time!


PHOTOGRAPHY: Lelia Scarfoli

BRIDE'S DRESS: Atelier des Modistes

BRIDE’S SHOES: Manolo Blahnik




HAIR: Jury Mej from Mej Salon

MAKEUP: Sue Fedas


FLORIST: La Rosa Canina

CATERING/CAKE: Monna Lisa Restaurant: Vignamaggio

WEDDING PLANNER: Rossana Sapori - The Knot Italy.

CELEBRANT: Reverend Papadopoulos, Chiesa Ortodossa Florence

WEDDING VENUE: Vignamaggio


GIFT REGISTRY: Williams-SonomaZola

OTHER: Sommelier and Wine Guide: Sandro CheccucciBed & Breakfast FagiolariPizzeria La CantinaL'Antica Delizia .


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