On the rooftop of their stonewashed villa nestled amongst the treelined hills of Puglia, Emmanuelle and Anthony exchanged vows in an intimate elopement at Borgo Egnazia. Ardent travelers with a lust for adventure, the pair were romanced by the raw clifftops of the Italian coastline and the purity of its rural surroundings.
Forgoing overflowing guestlists and large crowds, Emmanuelle and Anthony were excited to share this significant moment together, yet no detail was spared in preparation for the day. The bride, a stunning silhouette in a beaded, feathered gown moved ethereally against the seascape below. Following a sunrise photoshoot poetically captured on 35mm film, the couple wandered into town at Polignano a Mare for morning espressos (and gelato!) and inimitable moments quietly shared.
Names / Emmanuelle & Anthony
Elopement Date / 3rd June, 2019
How We Met
We were both assistants at the time, me to a partner at a top motion picture agency and him to one of our biggest Hollywood screenwriters. I was setting up all his bosses studio meetings, and finally, Anthony asked me to work drinks, just to put a face to the name. I was so slammed at work that I just kept cancelling. Then, one night after cancelling our drinks (again to stay late at the office), when I looked up from my computer I saw a very attractive man walking down the hall with an agent and they stopped by my desk. I finally realized the attractive man with glasses was the guy I cancelled on. The moment we saw each other, we decided to leave the office and get those drinks. That was on a Monday evening, the next day we went to a concert together after which he asked me out to dinner the next night and we’ve been together ever since. That was seven years ago.
Our Engagement Story
We were about to leave the country for a Christmas vacation just the two of us to Copenhagen and we always get extremely emotional about leaving our dog for so long. So Anthony made a date for us to take our dog to this incredible property that we had access to which is basically a huge park all to ourselves. It was a regular weekend activity for us and when we got there I saw a picnic set up and thought we were interrupting someone else’s romantic date. He proposed to me right there with our dog.
Marriage to us means…
Being a team so that you both feel safe to explore yourself and the world, take risks, and grow in ways you never dreamt were possible.
We planned to elope to Italy just the two of us. Our parents were supportive because they know us and know we are pretty independent rebellious spirits, but deep down we knew they wanted to be a part of it somehow. Our mom’s and my sisters-in-law were throwing me a beautiful bridal shower in LA and flew in. So we decided it would be the perfect time to surprise them and also have the dad’s and grandparents fly in to surprise the moms. After the bridal shower wrapped up, Anthony and I snuck off to go change at home and grab our dog and then head to Owlwood where we were engaged. Our sisters helped get the mom’s there who had no idea what they were walking into. When they rounded the garden they found us standing there in our wedding outfits with the dads and my aunt and grandmother who were there to surprise them. Our best friend and roommate of five years married us in the most intimate simple and meaningful setting. Where we were engaged and where we had hosted a beautiful Mother’s Day brunch.
Then we flew off to Italy just us where we did it all again but privately. At first, we thought maybe we made a mistake, stealing the thunder of our epic Italian elopement, but when we dressed up and read our personal vows on the rooftop of our villa in Puglia overlooking the sea and olive groves, we realized that we both longed for that raw and pure experience so that we could look at each other and no one else for this.
Event Aesthetic & Inspiration
We love things that are a little funky.
As filmmakers and photographers, the images from that moment were so important to us. I have very specific tastes around the mood of a photo and knew that I wanted it to feel very raw and real. We were fortunate enough to work with undoubtedly some of the most talented storytellers and artists working in this field.
Our surprise marriage was photographed by our friend MK Sadler, who I’ve worked with on Architectural projects and always knew that when I got married, I wanted to be on the other side of her lens. She’s a poet and she writes with light.
Our elopement in Italy was photographed by the most incredible Italian photographers who are also a couple, Monica Leggio and Giuseppe Marano. I was immediately drawn to the joy of having another couple with us for our elopement and I have an extra respect for lovers that also are creative partners like Anthony and I. I loved that they are different in their styles and approach. Monica as a storyteller enjoys telling the narrative of the day in a timeless and evocative way. Giuseppe is very much about seizing the moment unfolding in front of his eyes and his camera. A timeline of the day seems less important to his creative approach. Because I’m also a filmmaker and photographer, I knew I wanted our shoot to be captured on 35mm film and medium format which Giuseppe also brought. Together, they gave us the greatest gift of all – memories.
Amanda James is truly incredible. I knew I wanted something so unique and special that still somehow felt effortless and modern. Amanda designed a fully custom gown for me from every step of the process from custom beadings and stonewashed silks. My dress was a hand-embroidered gown of shimmering champagne palettes, nude and bronze beads with ivory feather applique throughout. The guilted tulle fabric floats around the nude silk corset and fitted lining beneath, giving the caftan-like silhouette that modern feeling.
Gucci Moire Leather T-Strap Pumps with Pearls and Vernice Crystals. I wanted everything I wore to feel unique and the cascading pearl chains and square-toe silhouette made me feel like a cheeky Renaissance lady. In keeping with the vintage theme, they’re set on a shapely low heel, feature a wallpaper-style rose-printed lining, and are topped off with an enchanting crystal-embellished bow.
Hair and Makeup
For our surprise wedding, I had my incredible friend and artist Ashley Cornett do my hair and makeup. Natural and loose waves. But in Italy, we kept it so low key that I just did my hair and makeup myself in a very undone ethereal style. It was relaxed and imperfect. I tried to focus on feeling like myself as much as possible.
I fell in love with the spirit of Jessica Seaton, my wedding ring designer. She’s a true artisan and her pieces are entirely hand sculpted and cast using an ancient method of lost wax. It’s a piece of art rather than something made by a machine. Anthony and I really connected with her inspirations, her mild obsession with death, rebirth and the unknown. My custom ring is called ‘The Callisto’ and is 18k gold tapered cigar band with an inset 2k diamond. I love the masculine-feminine timelessness of it. My gold band is engraved with “the end.”, which is a special sentiment between Anthony and I. We have a neon sign of “The End.”, handing over our bed and Anthony also has a tattoo. I also wear a ring with Anthony’s initials. That is one of our most sentimental possessions passed onto him by his grandfather with the same name.
Anthony’s band was made by Black Barc, a talented Japanese designer.
Jewelry & Accessories
I wore these unique cool Dior Tribales Earrings. The small gold pearl rests on the ear while the largest silver pearl peeps out subtly from behind the lobe.
Flowers, Bouquets & Styling
For the surprise marriage in Los Angeles, it was a hilarious story. My mom, my best friend and I went to the Downtown LA Flower Market and my friend knew that not only were we making the flowers for the bridal shower, but we were also going to have to secretly pull off a bouquet for the surprise wedding after. We hid it from my mom by making a larger centerpiece set for the bridal shower that I literally picked up on my way out of the bridal shower brunch and used it as my bouquet. It was anthuriums and pops of vibrant colors. I was inspired by the ocean. I love flowers that remind me of seaweed or sea creatures and the anthuriums waxy tropical modernity was so perfect for that.
In Italy, Anthony and I spent the morning getting to know our photographers, Monica and Giuseppe over breakfast in our villa. We took some romantic photos and then went swimming in our pool. Giuseppe jumped in too where he took some really fun underwater photos of us. Anthony and I went to get massages then came home to write our vows and get ready for our sunset vows on our villa rooftop.
We let the view and the natural setting be the decor in both our ceremonies so that we could focus on each other.
We honeymooned to Italy starting in Rome then Puglia where we exchanged vows. Then we went to the Amalfi Coast to Positano and Capri and finished it off with a day in Paris where we got matching tattoos by an incredible french tattoo artist Jean Pierre at Bonjour Social Club.
A Memorable Moment
We took photos at sunrise in Polignano a Mare overlooking the sea. At that time, it was only us and a few fishermen awake. After some photos on the cliff, we walked down to the beach and put our toes in the water. I decided to turn the camera on our photographers, so I took a few film photos of Monica and Giuseppe where they look absolutely in love. It was such a nice moment to see them on the other side of the lens feeling sweet and romantic and vulnerable. Then we walked into the town and found an open cafe for an espresso. As it was a special occasion, I sat there in my full wedding gown at 8 am savoring Nutella gelato while my husband and our new best friends chicly drank their espressos.
Why Were You Inspired to Elope Over Choosing a Wedding
Marriage for us is so personal and intimate. We feel like eloping let us focus on our connection and not get lost in potentially stressful details. We like to spend our time writing and creating film projects together, so we simply preferred to spend our engagement working towards our goals instead of planning a party.
If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice
Getting married is such a beautiful vulnerable experience even for those of us that sometimes don’t believe in the institution of it. I think especially for those of us that are more non-traditional, find the things that do mean the most to you and cherish them. For us, it was writing personal vows, gorgeous photography and traveling together.
Rome, Puglia, Positano, Capri and Paris.
Bride’s Dress / Amanda James
Bride’s Shoes / Gucci
Venue Location / Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy
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