Real Weddings

A Poetic Castle Wedding in Florence

Photography by Katie Harmsworth for Kayla and Shahem

The inimitable allure of ancient spaces…where weather-worn walls and age-old narratives entwine to create a venue steeped in magic…

Romanced by the timeworn facades and majestic beauty of Florence’s Castello Di Vincigliata, Kayla and Shahem’s wedding was a celebration imbued with elegance and old-world charm.

Set within an ancient castle, Kayla and Shahem let the poetry of the venue speak for itself, layering accents of white to style their dreamy reception. Simple, yet timelessly chic, small arrangements of baby’s breath sat upon tables dressed with classic decor and crisp white linens. Playing backdrop to the evening’s festivities, a focal arch of hydrangeas and greenery stood against the dramatic courtyard wall, while glass candle votives glinted amongst the space, mirroring the starry sky above.

Photography by Katie Harmsworth.

Our Story

Names / Kayla & Shahem

Wedding Date / October 10, 2018

Guest Numbers / 95

Budget / $66,000 USD

How We Met

We met through a mutual friend I worked with. Shahem had come into the restaurant to meet her after her shift to have dinner, I joined them after my shift was complete and we talked for hours. We exchanged numbers but didn’t reconnect for an entire year.


Our Engagement Story

Shahem knows how hard it is to surprise me and wanted to make sure I had no idea of his proposal plan. I had an upcoming proposal photoshoot so Shahem connected with my client and asked for his help with the surprise. The client asked me to go and take a look at the space he was thinking of for his proposal when in actuality it was for my proposal.

With the help of his mom, my mom, and both sets of sisters, they turned the loft into such a beautiful space. As I walked up the stairs he had ‘Perfect’, by Ed Sheeran playing. As I came around the corner there were white rose bouquets lining a pathway to Shahem. White rose petals scattered along the pathway, there was also a “will you marry me” marquee to one side. Shahem was standing there waiting for me.

The Details


Wedding Location

We chose the Castello Di Vincigliata because it is the most romantic castle set among the rolling Tuscan hills. The breathtaking view of Florence from the balcony, the romantic courtyard and venue’s grounds made for an unforgettable wedding and is exactly where we pictured our wedding.


Event Aesthetic & Inspiration

The theme of our wedding was simple elegance. We had the entire venue covered in baby’s breath and greenery. We chose to have the ceremony on the grounds. We wanted the castle walls as our backdrop, we had babies breath and greenery lining the aisle and a beautiful arch where we stood to exchange our vows.

Our guests were able to enjoy a bountiful aperitif in the gardens between the ceremony and reception. The reception was set up in the castle’s courtyard. We lined the rectangle tables in a U shape family style. Tables were filled with candles, baby’s breath and greenery. We enjoyed a candlelight sit down dinner with our family and friends. We had a backdrop of a fresh flower wall behind Shahem and me.

The inspiration was romance and elegance, I wanted to look back on my wedding in 50 years and still feel the timeless beauty of a wedding that was not just on-trend.



Katie Harmsworth was our photographer and we can’t rave about her enough. I was initially drawn to her couple portraits as they never seemed forced yet had structure. The hues she uses and the time she takes to craft the photos make you feel like you are back at the exact location on the exact special day. It’s something you will be able to look at in 20, 30, 40 years and still obsess over.

Fashion Notes


Bride’s Dress

My ceremony dress was a formfitting long-sleeve design with a high-neck in vintage lace by Pronovias. I purchased this dress a month before the wedding off the bridal consignment site, Still White. I didn’t have to make any alterations to the dress and it fit me like a glove.

My reception dress was designed by Sarah Seven, it was in silk with a satin pearlescent shine. The dress had spaghetti straps and a lowcut V-neck with a pleated full skirt. It was designed to not walk, but float, which was perfect for dancing the night away. I also added a lace skirt overlay by Rime Arodaky. I ordered this dress at The Dress Theory in Seattle.


Bride’s Shoes

Stuart Weitzman Nudistsong Sandal in Adobe Patent Leather.


Bridesmaids Dresses

Since my bridesmaids are all different builds, I decided to give them a color and for them to pick their own cuts that best flattered their bodies. We went with black and felt it added an element of elegance to the day and photos.


Wedding Rings

My engagement ring is an oval shape diamond with a halo setting to accentuate the length of the diamond. We decided on a simple diamond band to accompany the engagement ring.

Shahem wears a classic gold wedding band with the date of our wedding engraved on the inside.

Jewelry & Accessories

Diamond earrings with a pearl drop that Shahem’s parents gifted me on our engagement.


Groomsmen’s Attire

Shahem wore a custom made Indochino tuxedo with a Tom Ford shirt and bow tie. His groomsman wore a custom Indochino tuxedo as well.



Shahem’s sister Noor de Villiers is a well-known hairstylist back home so I planted seeds since the second we were engaged to have her do my hair for the wedding.



My makeup artist had double booked my wedding day and let me know this a week before the wedding that she would be taking the other job. I was left to do my own makeup. I loved the way it turned out!

Style Notes



Shine Wedding Invitations. They had a clean-cut white background with black writing in cursive. The envelope had a gold wax stamp seal. They had a very simple elegance to them.


Flowers & Bouquets

I have always loved baby’s breath; they are simple yet make a statement. Everything was styled in baby’s breath except for our flower wall which was white hydrangeas, baby’s breath and greenery. I am so happy the way they turned out in photos.



As this was a destination wedding we all stayed in a beautiful villa. It had an olive grove and we had the team there make up a small glass bottle of olive oil with names and our wedding date stamped on them. We thought this would be something our guests could look at and remember the wedding week together.



We chose a videographer duo from Turin Vallone Films. They were fabulous to work with, their work is so creative and they were able to capture the love shared on the day between all of our family and friends.



The morning of the wedding was very relaxed. We had a large suite in the Villa which my immediate family and I stayed in and we were able to all have breakfast together. All the women in my family wore matching pyjamas and robes. I did my first look with my Nonno (grandpa), it was one of my favorite moments of the day!

Wedding Planner

The company we used was Weddings Italy, the wedding planner was named Claudia. As we live in Canada and the wedding was in Italy, we leaned heavily on Claudia to bring our vision to light. I provided mood boards, pictures and we had many skype calls to ensure she understood our vision and she did a fabulous job.



Our cake was made at the reception by the catering company we hired. It was Italian-style, made as we watched. It was layer upon layer of the finest cream, pastry and fruit. It blew my mind and I have yet to taste a better dessert. It was right next to our champagne tower.


Food & Beverage

For our rehearsal dinner, we had all of our guests at the restaurant Trattoria Cave Di Maiano for a family-style sit-down and it was a great prelude to the wedding. Francesso and his staff were fantastic and the food was absolutely delicious.

Cavalieri Ricevimenti was the catering company for the wedding day. The aperitivo was excellent, they had appetizer stations as well as drink stations. The table settings for our reception were very elegant and then adding the candles and baby’s breath brought it all together. We had a sit-down dinner with a seven-course dinner. The food was exquisite.


Wedding Songs

Walking down the aisle song was an acoustic version of ‘All Of Me’, by John Legend.

First dance song was ‘At Last’, by Etta James.



We had a two-piece band that played as guests arrived as well during the aperitivo.

Our DJ was Simone Alinari. He was absolutely fabulous, he had the dance floor full the entire night.



Tuscan Pledges.



We wrote our own vows, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.



We decided on Morocco as neither of us had been and we wanted to experience the culture, colors and scenery together for the first time. We enjoyed Marrakech and all the colorful markets.

Special Details


Sources of Inspiration

Sicily. Every aspect of the island is a source of inspiration.


A Memorable Moment

One of the most memorable moments was during dinner sitting next to each other when ‘Stand By Me’, by Ben E King started playing. Our family and friends all stood up, raised the candles in front of them and swayed them back and forth then all started singing this beautiful song. We all just looked at each other with so much love. Sharing our special day with each one of our guests at that moment gave us all goosebumps. It was surreal and you could feel the love in the air.


If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice

One piece of advice I would give to other brides planning a local or destination wedding is to be flexible in your expectations as I changed my mind at least 100 times. Don’t forget to take a few minutes every hour to soak it all in with your partner. As the saying goes, “time flies by” is indeed true!

Our Contacts

Photography / Katie Harmsworth

Videography / Turin Vallone Films

Bride’s Dress / Pronovias & Sarah Seven

Bride’s Shoes / Stuart Weitzman

Hair / Noor de Villiers

Groom’s Formal Wear / Indochino & Tom Ford

Wedding Planner/Stylist /  Weddings Italy

Stationery /  Shine Wedding Invitations

Catering / Cavalieri Ricevimenti

Cake / Cavalieri Ricevimenti

Wedding Venue / Castello Di Vincigliata

Entertainment / Simone Alinari




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