Nestled within the whitewashed walls of Masseria san Domenico, Melissa and Adam’s destination wedding was a marvel of dreamlike detail. Friends and family from across the globe descended upon a celebration set amongst the sun-drenched scenery of Puglia.
Following a ceremony in an antique cathedral, guests made their way to the sumptuous seaside estate. Here, the alchemy of celestial styling transformed the reception into a dreamscape of exquisite proportions. Beneath a ceiling embroidered with stars, a whimsical display of pampas, lunaria and cotton flowers floated, the table setting below mirroring its otherworldly theme. Fusing unexpected colorways of rich blues with soft and textured neutrals, tables spilled with arrangements of hydrangeas, roses and phalaenopsis orchids.
Complementing the coastal surrounds, the bride wore a dress decadently draped in pearls from J’Aton Couture. Meanwhile, capturing every magical detail was The Lane handpicked photographer, Cinzia Bruschini.
Names / Melissa & Adam
Wedding Date / 7th, 8th and 9th of September, 2018
Guest Numbers / 100
How We Met
I was having dinner with a friend for my birthday in my favourite restaurant here in Perth, Western Australia. I was with a girl Adam knew so he and his friends said hello and we started chatting. That led to dinner together and the rest is history.
Our Engagement Story
We are both big fans of the architectural interiors of Patricia Urquiola, so in July 2017 we went to Lake Como to stay at her first hotel project, Il Sereno. Adam had managed to design a ring with Rohan Milne from Rohan Jewellery in Perth before we left. Whilst out on a Lake Como Riva boat touring the lake we were admiring a waterfall, I turned around and Adam was on one knee.
Marriage to us Means
Being a team and making a lifelong commitment to love, understanding, sharing, fun, and family.
Our wedding was held over three days with the central location being Masseria san Domenico, in the southern Italian region of Puglia. We both have Italian heritage and love holidaying there, so it is special to us. After inspecting 10 or so properties across Italy in September 2017, we chose Puglia because in our opinion it is authentic and represents the real Italy – stunning landscapes, loving and generous people, and of course incredible food and wine. Masseria san Domenico stood out to us due to its spectacular historical farm buildings and surrounds within an olive grove on the beach. Its 45 incredible rooms were enough to host all of our guests and meant we could have exclusive use of the property for the three nights, giving our guests free reign of the pools, restaurants, day spa and everything else the hotel has to offer.
For our welcome dinner on Friday night, we went to a local restaurant called Masseria Antica Lama and had an authentic Apulian feast followed by Apulian dancing. The wedding mass ceremony was held in the 600-year-old Ostuni Cathedral with drinks in the town piazza, followed by a reception dinner in a beautiful marquee within the olive grove at Masseria san Domenico. On Sunday, we rounded it out with a beach party at the hotel’s beach club, San Domenico a Mare.
Theme & Style
Over the three days, each event really had its own distinct style. The welcome dinner was traditional Apulian with bright colours set amongst the greenery of the restaurant’s limestone masseria and gardens.
For the wedding reception, we wanted it to feel dreamy and romantic without being cliché. When we were designing the flowers and table setting, we wanted natural textures like cotton and soft linens to contrast the subtle metallic detailing of tiny stars handpainted onto the napkins. The marquee was made of white cotton and had tiny stars embossed all through the ceiling. We teamed this with blue hydrangeas, plus hanging cotton and pampas flowers to create the dreamy feel. We stepped it up with a formal dress code for a more elegant dinner.
Finally, we let it all go for the beach party on day three which consisted of a beautiful beach setting with Adriatic Blue waters as a backdrop, framed by the beach limestone, lawns and incredible white buildings and furniture of San Domenico a Mare.
Our wedding photographer was Cinzia Bruschini along with her team Matteo and Paolo from London. I had seen Cinzia’s fashion and editorial work in Vogue and on Instagram, and being a hairdresser I loved her creative style which is very raw and natural – I love the way she captures the light in her photos.
They did an incredible job and we LOVE the photos they took over the three days. They made us all feel so relaxed, and they captured so many candid moments in addition to the set shots. They are now not just our wedding photographers but dear friends as well.
My dress was designed and made by J’Aton Couture in Melbourne. I have worked with Jacob in the past, and his unique designs and attention to detail are in my opinion second to none. The dress he created for me was truly amazing. It all started with a bodysuit that the boys had designed and made for a fashion shoot. I loved it and tried it on and we all just knew that it was perfect. I didn’t have a particular style or vision for my dress, but I knew that I wanted something unique with beautiful textures. The delicate sheer lace and draping pearls were my favourite details. I wore a plain white long traditional veil to walk down the aisle.
My dress for the welcome dinner was a soft metallic pink long dress by The Vampires Wife and Johanna Oritz bright pink earrings. For the beach party, I wore a white perforated Dion Lee dress with a white full-piece bather underneath and a red Perspex bag by Clover Accessories.
Lillian Khallouf. My two sisters each chose their own style dresses in the same jacaranda blue colour.
Flower girls and Pageboy Outfits
I had both of the flower girls’ dresses made by a Perth dressmaker Isabel Aujoulet. They were made with off-white raw silk and lace that had little birds on it. Small frills on the shoulders and a layered skirt. They wore straw hats from Lack of Color and silver glitter pumps from Bloch.
Both my engagement ring and wedding rings were designed and handmade by Rohan Milne of Rohan Jewellers in Perth, Western Australia. For the engagement ring, Adam chose a 3.5-carat radiant cut Argyle Diamond, set with a 0.33-carat baguette either side. For our bands, we both wanted something a little different, and I worked with Rohan on a design that created a band with 20 baguettes randomly offset around the band running laterally down the length of my finger. Adam has a Damascus steel band with offset rose gold lining and inlay.
Jewelry & Accessories
My earrings were small rectangular diamond baguettes in each ear from Brinkhaus Jewellers.
My bag was a gift from my best friend that she had made by her friend in New York, designer Edie Parker. Inside the clutch was a blue love heart, also made by Edie as my ‘something blue’ for the day. My ‘something old’ was a chain of Rosary beads that once belonged to Adam’s grandmother that I kept with my blue heart inside the clutch.
One of my very close girlfriends owns online lingerie store Porteavie and gifted me a beautiful blue silk robe with gold leaf details and a white lace slip.
The Groom and Groomsmen were dressed by Parker & Co in Perth in Ermengildo Zegna Su Misura. For the mass, they all wore linen suits with Tods loafers, Adam in light blue linen and the groomsmen in a darker blue. For the reception, Adam wore a white double-breasted Ermengildo Zegna Su Misura tuxedo jacket with a Gucci bow tie, black trousers and black Christian Louboutin shoes. The groomsmen wore a grey plaid Ermengildo Zegna tuxedo jacket with black lapels and black trousers.
My stylist was Jordan Crugnale from Sydney, an amazing young hairdresser who trained under me in Perth for five years. My hair was styled into a simple textured low chignon. My style is quite natural and not too overstyled so for my wedding day and with my dress, I really wanted something natural and lived in.
Ashley Brockman from Perth did both mine and the bridal party’s make up on the wedding day. In addition to being an old friend, Ash and myself often work together collaborating on many shoots and fashion weeks, so when I knew Ash was going to be in London for fashion week it was the perfect opportunity for him to not only be a guest, but also do the makeup.
I don’t wear much makeup day to day so asked Ash to keep it really natural and minimal for the day. Fresh dewy skin and a light natural lip colour, no lashes and barely any eye makeup.
All of our wedding stationery from invitations to welcome bags, menus, seating charts and programmes were created by Shhh My Darling in Italy. We wanted all of it to reflect the dreamy and elegant style we were looking for in our wedding and to capture the colours and beauty of Puglia with all the stars and the moons. My original brief was natural paper and washed out watercolours with tiny hand-drawn details of stars and moons. They did this by mixing calligraphy and fonts with hand illustrations across the invitations, maps, and details cards, printing them on handmade cotton and embossing them with hot foil. They were tied together with hand-dyed silk ribbon in different shades of light grey and pale blue from Silk & Willow.
On arrival at Masseria San Domenico our guests in their rooms received a welcome bag designed by Shhh My Darling that included a programme for the three days with information about the hotel and the events ahead, plus some local liqueurs, some traditional Italian biscuits made by my Mum, and a wedding survival kit with heel guards for the ladies shoes, band-aids, Panadol, Berocca and Kerastase shampoo and conditioner sets for each guest. At the welcome dinner, we had tambourines as place holders, with each having been hand painted by Shh My Darling with the name and face of the guest. This was definitely a highlight for us and seeing all the guests’ faces as they found their seats was priceless.
Flowers & Bouquets
Our florist Tommaso is incredibly artistic and followed through with every obscure flower request I had. The colour palette for the flowers was white, off-white, grey and soft blue. We had large open white roses, white and grey phalaenopsis orchids, blue and white hydrangeas, cotton flowers, delphiniums, ranunculus and pampas flowers. After the church ceremony, our guests had tiny calico bags made by The Little Press that had written on them, “throw petals and wishes for the new Mr & Mrs” that were filled with rose petals to throw as we exited at out of the church.
There were hanging cloud-like white arrangements above the centre table at the wedding dinner and table length arrangements of mixes of blue hydrangeas, white orchids and open white roses that draped over the ends of the tables to the floor.
Bride – I had a simple bouquet of six long stem Duchess white peonies tied together with an off-white hand-dyed white ribbon hanging down.
Bridesmaids – had a simple bunch of off-white flowers tied with hand-dyed silk grey ribbon hanging down.
Flower girls – same bouquets as bridesmaids but smaller.
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We wanted a wedding video that didn’t really feel like a normal wedding video. As we had the luxury of three days of events, we wanted to capture the great times we had with our friends and family. For that we used someone who we felt would know us all and would be able to capture those special moments, being Jono Laird from Apertunity in Western Australia. He managed to distil three days of footage into a 15-minute video that we have both watched about 100 times in the past two months. The way he has captured so many of our guests laughing, crying, singing and dancing at special split seconds is incredible. The drone footage of the landscape is nothing short of spectacular and we just love it.
I spent the night before the wedding with my sisters (who were also my bridesmaids) at Masseria san Domenico’s beach house. In the morning, we had breakfast with my parents and then we all got ready together there.
Wedding Planner/Wedding Stylist
Our wedding planner was the amazing Laura Frappa and her team from Exclusive Italy Weddings. From our first telephone call after our engagement, we felt entirely comfortable with Laura and she over delivered on every aspect of our wedding. Her attention to detail and the way she pulled every aspect together was incredible, and we quickly discovered that she only works with the best suppliers, who all excelled. What Laura, Elena and the team delivered was not what we imagined, it was well above and beyond.
Ceremony Décor & Reception Décor
Church Ceremony: Our church was incredibly historic, beautiful and little; we didn’t want to add too much. There were two large floral arrangements either side of the altar.
Reception: We had three long tables dressed with table length floral centrepieces made up of a mix of light grey and white open roses, phalaenopsis orchids and blue hydrangeas. They were mirrored by suspended floral clouds of natural cotton and soft pampas bunches.
The tablecloths were light grey linen with matching napkins that had small embossed silver stars on them and tied with hand-dyed silk ribbons. The tableware kept in line with this colour scheme; the plates were a soft grey marble and the cutlery was Cutipol in white and gold. We had soft lighting and tall blue candlesticks in antique brushed-gold candleholders. Our stylists selected an Arabian-style silk lined tent for the venue of the dinner with whitewashed wooden floorboards. Chairs were antique rattan-style. The party continued ‘till early hours on a separate dance floor next to the pool and a long dessert buffet table where we cut the cake.
Our cake was designed and made by the chefs at Masseria san Domenico. It was less formal than most wedding cakes, featuring local berries and three layers of sponge and vanilla custard. Each layer was decorated with cascading red winter berries.
Food and Beverages
At the welcome dinner, we had standing canapés including panzerotti and mozzarella balls made by traditional artisans in front of our guests. The traditional Apulian meal was then served at long tables and we had a bit of fun splitting the seating, with men on one long table and ladies on the other.
For the wedding reception dinner, we chose to feature local seafood including scampi and fish, as well as pasta and lamb over four seated courses. Following the main courses and speeches, we moved from the main marquee to another section of the olive grove by the pool where we had a large dessert table, wedding cake and a bar. Then we moved to the dancefloor.
At the beach party on Sunday we had a buffet lunch of fresh Apulian seafood, charcuteries, salads, cheeses and other local produce. At all events, our guests enjoyed French Champagne and Rosé, as well as Apulian red and white wines, and a range of spirits.
As we were married in a Cathedral, the ceremony featured traditional music performed by the choir including ‘Ave Maria’, ‘Hallelujah’, and Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March’. At the wedding reception, our main songs were ‘You’ve Got The Love’ by Florence and the Machine for the cutting of the cake and ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers for the first dance.
All three events featured our amazing friend Harrison Kennedy as DJ. He played an awesome array of music ranging from old Italian hits like ‘Buona Sera’ by Louis Prima to all the latest stuff.
At the welcome dinner, we also had an Italian band called Terraross, along with local Apulian dancers who lead all the guests into traditional group dances like the Tarantella after dinner. They really set the mood for the next few days. At the wedding reception during dinner, we also had a jazz quintet with a piano and the guests were serenaded by a crooner by the name of Vittorio.
We travelled to and from the Cathedral in Ostuni in black Mercedes sedans. Our guests were brought into Ostuni town centre in black Mercedes minivans. A highlight was using the local Ape (three-wheeled motorbike-like vehicles) that brought all the guests up the fine cobblestoned street to the Cathedral square and also a special floral decorated one including a “just married” sign attached to the back for us after the ceremony.
We didn’t have a gift registry, but we did receive some very generous and thoughtful gifts. Some of our favourites were the art for our new home including a custom piece by Alesandro Ljubicic.
We honeymooned in a villa in Cefalu in Sicily for a few days, but changed plans midway through the week to return to Masseria san Domenico and Puglia, which we were missing following the wedding celebrations! After Puglia, we travelled to Montenegro and stayed at the Aman Sveti Stefan, which was amazing, but the highlights for us were the few days of relaxing back in Puglia at Masseria san Domenico as it had so many great memories for us.
We were married by Father Giorgio Miles, who is an English-speaking parish priest in Ostuni Diocese. Father Miles (or Don Miles) is originally from the UK and was excellent in assisting us with our wedding preparation and navigating the technicalities of the Italian legal system! He also did an amazing job at the wedding ceremony and will be special to us for the rest of our lives.
As we were married in a Catholic Cathedral, we had a traditional Catholic mass with the traditional vows.
Sources of Inspiration
Instagram and Pinterest were extremely helpful especially because of the language barrier and the overseas destination. Our main inspiration came from Puglia itself and the beautiful property and the nearby landscapes.
A Memorable Moment
Everybody said to us that we needed to make sure we took a moment for ourselves on the wedding day, to take a breath and take in everything that was happening. We got the chance to do that as we sat at a garden table in the olive grove looking across to the incredible marquee before we walked into the reception. It was invaluable advice. However, the highlight was definitely when all one hundred guests simultaneously stood up from their seats during the speeches and burst into a flashmob dance to the Fatboy Slim song, ‘Praise You’. Unbeknownst to us, our two MCs had made an instruction video for the dance and been rehearsing it with them in the days leading up to the wedding! It was so, so good!
One Thing I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Wedding Plans…
Not to worry one bit when you have an amazing wedding planner.
If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice
Don’t try to control every little detail and just relax and let the people and your planners do what they do best. Take the time to look around and see how happy your guests are.
Photography / Cinzia Bruschini
3rd Photographer / Paolo Manzi
Videography / Jono Laird from Apertunity Productions
Bride’s Dress / J’ Aton Couture
Bridesmaids Dresses / Aquazzura
Groom’s Formal Wear / Ermenegildo Zegna Su Misura from Parker and Co
Wedding Rings / Rohan Jewellers
Hair / Jordan Crugnale
Makeup /Ashley Brockman
Florist / La Rosa Canina
Stationery / Shhh My Darling
Catering & Cake / Masseria San Domenico
Wedding Planner / Laura Frappa, Exclusive Italy Weddings
Wedding Venue / Masseria San Domenico
Tableware & Rentals / Tableset Luxury Rentals
Entertainment / DJ – Harro Kennedy
Celebrant / Father Giorgio Miles