As both stylists and storytellers, we can’t help but be enraptured by the alchemy of chance. While there’s a particular comfort to carefully crafted plans, there’s something more alluring about circumstances presented to us by fate. Moments that transcend all schedules and sense of control to unearth a situation suffused in magic.
Just weeks out from their wedding day, Sarah and Andrew’s venue was forced to close. Propelling all plans into disarray, this mischance made way for an unexpected substitute – a fortuitous plan B that surpassed all expectations. With a revamped styling brief, new vendors and some slightly altered travel itineraries, Sarah’s and Andrew’s star-aligned celebration was brought to life at Sicily’s Tonnara di Marzamemi.
Here, vows were exchanged in a leafy courtyard adorned with displays of dried foliage and dusty roses. Moving to aperitivo, guests mingled on the outdoor terrace, sipping cocktails and grazing on canapes while drinking in the seaside views. For dinner, the converted warehouse was transformed into a dining space spilling with muted tones and texture. Neutral linens were set with arrangements of lunaria, decayed botanicals and driftwood, while fishing trap lanterns elegantly swung from above…
Photography by Nancy Ebert.
Names / Sarah & Andrew
Wedding Date / 28 June, 2018
Guest Numbers / 102
How We Met
Andrew and I met in 2015 at a birthday party I arranged for my best friend Jess. I was living in Auckland, Andrew in Amsterdam. We grew up in the same town, share many friends in common, we even went to the same kindergarten. But Andrew had been living overseas for many years and fortunately he was in town for work and we had the chance to meet. Andrew was able to spend a few months working in New Zealand and after a long stint of long distance, I moved to Amsterdam to be with him.
Our Engagement Story
We were on holiday in New Zealand and Andrew arranged a dinner with our parents. On our way to the restaurant we stopped at a park where Andrew proposed, then we spent the evening celebrating with our parents. It was very special.
Marriage to us Means
Everything. A lifelong commitment to love and support each other. Being a family and sharing life’s adventures with your best friend.
We had our hearts set on a destination wedding from the beginning but we had a hard time finding a suitable location and venue. We explored many options but we kept going back to Italy, and just before we gave up we fell in love with a venue in Sicily. Once we had our venue confirmed our planning was fraught with difficulties and we were heartbroken to receive the news that our venue was forced to close and we had to find a new venue six weeks out from our wedding. At this stage, we felt we had no option but to cancel, yet luckily, we found Tonnara di Marzamemi, which we believe was a much better venue. The change of location meant moving everything from one side of Sicily to the other, our guests had to change flights and accommodation, we had to find new vendors and change all the styling for the new venue. I still can’t believe we managed to pull it off!
Theme & Style
Modern and elegant. Inspired by the venue, the local area and surrounding natural environment.
Choosing and booking our photographer was at the top of my list. Being a photographer myself, I value quality photography and choosing the right person was a top priority. I knew The Lane would be the best resource for my search and I was instantly drawn to Nancy Ebert’s work. I am far more comfortable behind the camera, and I could see in her work that her subjects were relaxed and the style was candid and not too posed or serious. Nancy and her assistant captured all the details, emotions and special moments throughout the day and we have so many photos we love that we are still trying to narrow down our selection for our albums.
A second hand and altered gown by One Day Bridal.
With uneven ground everywhere around Marzamemi and our venue, stability and comfort came first! I opted for a simple block heel with a touch of metallic.
I wanted my bridesmaids to wear what they felt most comfortable in and something they would wear again. They all live in different parts of the world and it was easiest to keep the brief simple and let them choose a dress they loved.
We stopped in Dubai en route back to Amsterdam where we started the process of having my engagement ring made. I wanted a timeless style and we designed an Art Deco style ring with a centre Asscher cut and baguettes either side. With all the drama planning our wedding, we left it late to get our wedding bands so I ordered a five stone Asscher band online and Andrew a simple platinum band. Unfortunately, Andrew’s band was too small so this caused an awkward yet humorous moment during our ceremony and we are yet to arrange a replacement!
Jewelry & Accessories
I wore a cape style veil purchased from Etsy and drop earrings from BHLDN.
All the boys wore tuxedos but with black neckties. Andrew wore a beautiful Isaia tuxedo with a velvet bow tie.
Hair & Makeup
All the ladies had their hair and makeup done by the lovely Ava Belle and her amazing assistant. I didn’t want to look too bridal or have my hair in a style I never wear, so I chose to have it out in a wavy bob. We all had very soft and natural makeup.
We used paperless post for our save the dates. Michaela McBride created our beautiful invitations, welcome cards and place names. The table seating plan and guest message calligraphy were done by Cecilia Boschi Calligraphy. All with a lot of help from my graphic designer friend Sam.
Flowers & Bouquets
A mix of dried and fresh foliage and flowers from Nina ei Fiori. Natural, neutral and eclectic.
We chose the talented Vlad and Jessica from 2Become1. We love their cinematic style and they perfectly captured the emotions and energy throughout the day.
We both got ready at different villas in the area. Our ceremony was in the early evening so the day was rather leisurely and started with a much-needed sleep-in followed by plenty of coffee and champagne. All the boys came to the villa where the girls were getting ready for photos before the ceremony so that we didn’t have to leave our guests once the action started.
Ceremony Décor & Reception Décor
Tonnara di Marzamemi is an ancient tuna factory rich in history and importance in Sicily. It was important for us to honour this history and decorate only to enhance the character of the space and to create an atmosphere. The choice of colour palette, flowers, tableware, decorations, furniture and lighting were all carefully selected to work specifically with the environment. Our ceremony was held in the leafy internal courtyard of the Tonnara and was decorated with beautiful floral displays full of dried foliage and ghost chairs for our guests. The reception dinner was held in the loggia – a stunning warehouse used for storing the old fishing boats which opens out to the sea. Decaying foliage, driftwood, mottled glass plates and fishing trap lanterns set the scene for a dinner in an ancient fishing village. Lights hung from the trees in the courtyard and waterfall string lights illuminated the dance floor.
Cristina Ditta at The Wedding Care was an absolute saviour! We had trouble finding suitable vendors and sourcing what we wanted in Sicily, so we got in touch with Cristina and she turned our vision into reality. Even with the last-minute changes, she was able to pull everything and everyone together, creating the most beautiful event.
Our wedding cake was also our dessert and was assembled in front of our guests. A take on the traditional Italian millefeuille, cream and berries – the perfect summer dessert everyone is still talking about.
Food and Beverages
A modern take on a traditional Sicilian-style menu full of local seafood. We worked together with La Torre to design a fresh, light and summery menu which showcased the local cuisine and produce. We wanted our guests to have an authentic experience so we really embraced all things Sicilian. On the terrace during the aperitif, we had food stations serving small and delicious canapés, and a large selection of local wines, beer, gin and champagne. Dinner started with a tuna crudo, followed by a light pasta then fish for the main course. Dinner concluded with gelato from the famous Caffe Sicilia, whisky, cigars and espresso.
We chose songs that reminded us of happy memories and that were really ‘us’. We love 80’s music and I wanted a song that was powerful and put a smile on my face, so I walked down the aisle to Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears. We walked out together to A Dream of You and Me by Future Islands. For our first dance, we swung to Benny Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing.
During aperitif, we had the amazing That’s Amore band play an acoustic set of classic swing hits which really set the mood for the evening. My bridesmaid’s cousin came to the rescue and flew in from Berlin at the last minute to be our DJ – he kept the party going until 5am!
We were spoilt with gifts, both personally chosen by guests and from our registry at Mildred & Co. The best gift of all was having our friends and family make the journey to Sicily to celebrate with us.
We wanted our ceremony to be intimate and personal, so we always knew we needed a friend to marry us and there was no better person than our friend Frank. He did an outstanding job and made it all the more special for us.
We wrote our own vows. My brother and one of my best friends did readings which were very special.
Sources of Inspiration
Pinterest, Instagram and The Lane.
A Memorable Moment
Too many to choose! Walking in and seeing everyone at our welcome dinner the night before was incredible. To see everyone’s faces and to know the effort they all made to be there was surreal. Standing up on the terrace as husband and wife, overlooking the piazza, with the sun setting and the full moon rising was simply magical.
If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice
Be prepared for anything! Especially when planning a destination wedding. Research and choose your vendors wisely. Don’t be afraid to ask for support, your friends and family want to be involved and working as a team is way more fun. Invest in the best photography and videography you can afford – the day flies by so quickly and once it’s all over you will want to relive it over and over again.
Photography / Nancy Ebert
Videography / 2 Become 1
Bride’s Dress / One Day Bridal / Still White
Groom’s Formal Wear / Isaia
Hair & Makeup / Ava Belle
Jewelry & Accessories / BHLDN
Headpiece and Veil / Noon On The Moon
Stationery & Invitations / Michaela McBride and Cecilia Boschi Calligraphy
Florist / Nina ei Fiori
Catering & Cake / La Torre
Wedding Venue / Tonnara di Marzamemi
Wedding Planner / The Wedding Care
Entertainment / That’s Amore
Gift Registry / Mildred & Co.