Overlooking the pastel city skyline of Rome, Caroline and William were wed in the gardens of 1900’s Villa Miani. The poetic view from the restored former home of a noble family set the scene for the elegantly simple ceremony. With the Renaissance-style church St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican City in the distance, the bride walked down a white, platform aisle with a grand Italian fountain behind her.
The romantic al fresco reception dinner at dusk was pure decadence with a view. White fabric-draped circular tables lined the historic villa’s concrete terrace with single soft floral arrangements allowing Rome’s scenery to shine through.
The Rome destination wedding was beautifully captured by photographers Daniele & Marilia.
Names / Caroline Stocks and William Dougherty
Location / Rome, Italy
Wedding Date / September 2nd, 2022
Guest Numbers / 120
How We Met
William finished his training as a physician with a specialty in facial plastic surgery and moved to Norfolk, Virginia in 2019 to work for Eastern Virginia Medical School as an assistant professor and surgeon. At the same time, Caroline finished her nursing degree and moved to Norfolk to be closer to family. William and Caroline worked at the same hospital, but never met each other there. They matched on the dating application, Bumble, and decided to get drinks one night in February of 2020. They spent their first date getting to know one another and asking each other whether they believed the COVID-19 virus would end up impacting their lives. Of course, everything quickly changed after that, and they spent their second date quarantined together playing Mario Kart and eating take-out.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, William and Caroline were able to spend all of their time together, that wasn’t spent at the hospital working. Caroline then decided that William needed to get a dog, so in April of 2020, Poe, was welcomed home. We know that for many people, the COVID-19 pandemic was a dark time, but we look back at our time quarantined together and we are so glad that we got to spend so much time together at the beginning of our relationship. Our relationship was able to grow quickly and soon after we started dating, we knew we wanted to be together forever.
Our Engagement Story
William and Caroline took a trip to Hawaii in March of 2021. The groom, William, planned a surprise sunrise photoshoot on cliffs overlooking the ocean. William got down on one knee and asked Caroline to marry him. Caroline, of course, said “yes” and then immediately started planning their wedding in Italy. Within a week, Villa Miani was booked as their wedding venue and wedding planning was in full swing.
What we love most about each other…
Caroline and William are both independent and adventurous people. Those are the personality traits that drew them to one another, and they are the things that they love about each other the most now. Both Caroline and William have traveled independently around the world for leisure but also for medical mission trips. They continue to travel and explore the world together and are excited about their upcoming medical mission trip to Tanzania, where William will operate on children with cleft lip and palates, and Caroline will be a nurse helping patients recover from surgery.
Caroline was raised in a US Navy family, so lived in Sicily and Naples for many years. Her maternal family is also Italian, and Caroline has many family members who still reside in Italy. When choosing a wedding location, Caroline knew she wanted to get married in Italy because it feels like home to her. Caroline chose Rome because she has many fond memories of traveling to Rome and because it is an easy city to get to from other countries.
When researching wedding venues, simple elegance with an astonishing view was priority. Villa Miani met the criteria. The view of St. Peters Basilica and of all of Rome is unbelievably beautiful, and the venue itself with its elegance and romance was what allowed for a villa wedding overlooking Rome’s skyline.
The aesthetic we went for was classic, simple, elegant, timeless, and formal. While I was in university, I was a wedding planner and learned that wedding trends come and go quickly, and that sticking to something classic and elegant is all I wanted for my own wedding. I’ve seen many people have over-the-top decor and designs, but I have always thought that if you have a nice wedding venue, there is no need to have distracting decor. My mindset has always been that in 50 years I hope that I look back and think that we had a beautiful and timeless wedding! I used Pinterest a lot while planning my wedding for ideas for things like stationary, flowers, and wedding dresses.
Caroline got ready at Villa Miani with the man of honor, the bridesmaids, her mother, the mother of the groom, the bride’s sisters, the groom’s sisters, and the flower girls. The bride gifted the girls pink robes, slippers, and earrings. They all got their hair and make-up done and then enjoyed pink champagne together.
William got ready at the Rome Cavalier Waldorf Astoria with the groomsmen, father of the groom, and father of the bride. He gifted all groomsmen cigar cases and Italian cigars. They enjoyed a bottle of Blanton’s bourbon (a bourbon from Kentucky, USA, where the groom is from) together while getting ready.
Daniele & Marilia photographed our wedding. I was drawn to their style because all their couples look so natural. I was also very drawn to their lighting style. We wanted our wedding photos to be bright and happy and we didn’t want the photos to look too staged. Daniele & Marilia did a perfect job of doing just this on our wedding day, capturing every moment beautifully. They made us feel so comfortable and provided just the right amount of guidance when taking our photos. Receiving our wedding photos was almost just as exciting as the wedding day! They even captured us with the wedding overlooking Rome’s skyline in the background.
Our ceremony was outside in the grass, overlooking Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica. I wanted to keep the ceremony simple, as I didn’t want to distract from the view. Knowing I didn’t want to walk through the grass with my shoes, the florist built a white platform aisle. Aside from this, we had four pillars with large floral bouquets on them at the end of our aisle. I think this was the perfect number of florals, it didn’t distract from the view of Rome, but it was still a beautiful detail that was added. We had white chairs for the ceremony that blended well with the white aisle. It all went together for the most elegant wedding overlooking Rome’s skyline.
For the reception, I wanted to stick with the classic and elegant style that I love so much. We had white tablecloths with one bouquet of flowers and various sized candles on each table. I was adamant that I didn’t want large floral bouquets on the tables that would block the views of Rome and that would make chatting across the table impossible. I really wanted to highlight the feels of wedding overlooking Rome’s skyline. Since my bridesmaids had soft pink dresses on, we added soft pink lighting around the dinner tables to tie everything together. We also had gold chairs to add another element of color without being too bold.
Wedding Planner & Stylist
Our wedding planner, Stefania Zen, was crucial for the wedding planning and details. Stefania and I had frequent FaceTime calls, and we even met in person in December 2021. Stefania knew the venue very well, so she knew the best ways to make sure that the wedding flow was perfect. She made sure that everyone was in the same area of the venue at the same time so that all the guests were always together. Stefania made sure that all the vendors worked together to make my wedding overlooking Rome’s skyline come to life.
I wanted classic, simple bouquets, to keep in theme with my style. I love peonies, so I chose white peonies for my bouquet and white roses for my bridesmaids. The groomsmen had white rose boutonnieres. I wanted to keep the florals elegant and beautiful, without being distracting and colorful. We had white floral bouquets for the dining tables and for the ceremony. I told the florist, Andrea Patrizi, that I wanted to keep everything clean and neat so that the wedding overlooking Rome’s skyline was the main focus. He executed my vision beautifully. He was truly an artist with his floral designs and I’m so grateful to have worked with him!
Our wedding invitations were white, thick, cardstock with a pressed foil gold border. They were very formal and elegant and matched the stationary that was used during the wedding as well. We had a wedding logo designed for us that had our initials that we used on all the stationary.
Favors & Bonbonniere
The bride’s family lived in Italy for many years and travels back to visit frequently. One of their favorite things to do while in Italy is tour vineyards and take cooking classes. On a recent visit to Italy, the bride’s family had the privilege of taking a cooking class with Camilla Romoli. Camilla makes her own olive oil and limoncello, and the bride’s family has shipped many bottles of these back to the United States in the past. We reached out to Camilla before the wedding to see if she was able to make small sizes to be wedding favors. Camilla was able to make 100ml-sized olive oil and limoncello for our guests to enjoy, and she even printed our wedding logo and date on them! She also added white candied almonds for each guest as well, as that is the Italian tradition for weddings.
I wanted to add some traditional Italian elements to my wedding, so I went with a traditional Millefoglie cake. We added fruit all over the top to add that beautiful pop of color and our florist added some flowers around it as well. The cake cutting was such an incredible experience because all of our guests were watching as we cut the cake while fireworks went off behind us. It felt so glamorous and exciting!
Food & Beverages
We had a cocktail hour immediately following the ceremony with a large array of cheeses, meats, and finger foods. The spread was so large that many of our guests assumed that the cocktail hour food was dinner! After cocktail hour ended, we moved over to the seated dining area to enjoy dinner. We had three courses at dinner, including a caprese salad, a ravioli, and a meat or vegetarian option. Drinks were served at cocktail hour and then during dinner we had white and red wine served. We had an open bar during the dancing after the dinner ended. We also had a large variety of desserts available during dancing as well. Villa Miani did a wonderful job at making sure our guests were well fed all evening!
Fashion & Beauty Notes
Bride’s Dress & Shoes
I found my wedding dress at a bridal shop in Washington D.C. The bridal shop had me fill out a questionnaire before arrival for my appointment and the bridal shop employee had picked out the perfect dress for me based off of the description of my wedding venue and my perfect dress ideas. It was the first dress that I tried on and I was so thrilled that my dress journey was easy! My dress designer was Essense of Australia. The dress was a spaghetti strap, A-line, dove silk dress with a mesh back. It had a chapel length train with buttons down the entire back.
One piece of advice that I have for picking a dress is to take photos of the dress because some fabrics photograph differently than they look in person, and you don’t want to hate your dress in photos! I was incredibly pleased with the way my dress looked in every photo that we took in the bridal shop as the dove silk had more of a matte finished look than other silky dresses.
Once I picked out my wedding dress, I began looking at shoes. I knew I wanted a designer shoe, but I wanted to find the perfect one for my dress. Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shoes were options but I couldn’t find anything that I loved. I then found the Christian Louboutin Galativi Mesh Pumps. My shoes matched my dress perfectly and were chic and fashionable. They had the classic red bottoms, but all other parts of the shoes were white. They had the same mesh that my wedding dress had and looked like they were made for my wedding dress.
I chose a soft pink color for my bridesmaids’ dresses, but I allowed all my bridesmaids to pick their own style of dress. I understand that everyone has a different body shape, so I didn’t want to assign one dress to everyone when everyone looks good in different things! All of the dresses were from a well-known bridesmaid dress shop, so I told the girls the color and let them pick the style. I also asked that all the dresses be the same chiffon material so that they blended well together in the photos. I let the girls pick their own shoes as well, I just asked that they wear a nude color shoe that was formal.
Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories
Caroline’s engagement ring is a solitaire, oval, diamond set on a rose gold thin band. Caroline’s wedding band is rose gold with diamonds around the entire band. William’s wedding ring is a simple gold band. All the rings are from a jeweler in Lexington, Kentucky, where the groom is from. All the engagement rings in the groom’s family have come from this store, Shelia Bayes.
Hair & Makeup
I had a half-up hairstyle with curls and a middle part because I knew I needed to have my hair pulled back out of my face so that I wouldn’t touch it all day. I considered wearing my hair in an updo, but I felt more like myself with my hair down, so the half-up hairstyle was perfect!
We rented an electric car from our hotel; the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri and we were able to take that back and forth to the hotel. The hotel is next-door to Villa Miani, so guests were given the option to walk to the venue or take transportation vans that we hired.
We decided to go to Egypt for our honeymoon because we wanted a mixture of relaxation and adventure, and Egypt delivered just this. Starting our honeymoon in Sharm El-Sheikh, a resort town on the Red Sea, we relaxed by the pool, went scuba diving in the red sea, and got a couples massage. We then traveled to Cairo and Giza to see the Great Pyramids. While we were in Cairo, we decided to take a day to travel to Luxor. We flew to Luxor and had the most memorable day of our honeymoon exploring such an incredible city with so much history. I highly recommend that everyone takes a trip to Egypt as it offered everything we wanted and more.
Bridal party procession: “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach
Bridal entrance: “Canon in D” by Pachelbel
Recession at the end after the pronouncement: “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
First dance: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
During cocktail hour we had a jazz trio live band, Blue Moon Jazz Trio. They added so much to the atmosphere during cocktail hour! We originally had booked a band for the reception, but they had to cancel a few months before the wedding. I was disappointed as I had always pictured a live band for my wedding reception, but we were able to book the DJ Gabry Imbimbo and we were not disappointed at all! He played a great mix of everything, and all our guests had the best time. We picked a few songs that we wanted to be played and then we let Gabry play whatever felt right for the crowd. We had guests requesting songs throughout the night as well and he played anything they asked for.
My father married us. He is a U.S. Navy Admiral, and he was honored to be asked to marry us. He is a wonderful speaker, and he knows us very well, so it was an easy choice!
We kept our ceremony very short as we didn’t want to bore guests, so we didn’t choose to do any readings.
A memorable moment…
One of my good friends, Hannah, is a professional ballerina, and she was unable to attend the wedding but as a wedding gift she choreographed the first dance song. Hannah was so patient, and since we aren’t dancers, and she was able to tweak the dance as we learned it to make sure we were able to do all the moves without looking ridiculous. We practiced so much leading up to the wedding and we were so excited to get to perform it for our guests. This was such a memorable moment because we spent so much time practicing and we were a little anxious about it, but it ended up being perfect and so much fun.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
I honestly don’t think I would change anything. It was the best night of my life and I look back on everything so fondly. There were some things that didn’t go totally as planned, but none of those things matter at all as it was such a perfect day.
If I could give other brides one piece of advice…
Hire a videographer! Many people skip this as they see it as an unnecessary cost, but the wedding video can capture the emotions and the atmosphere from the day more than anything else. You’ll watch the video forever!
Sources of inspiration…
I found my wedding planner, Stefania Zen, on Instagram while I was booking my venue. Stefania guided my entire wedding planning journey, most notably giving me a long list of vendors to explore. This made me feel comfortable while booking my vendors as I knew she had worked with them before. I drew a lot of inspiration from looking at Daniele & Marilia’s Instagram – loving the style of her brides! I also used other Instagram accounts, Pinterest, and my own experience as a wedding planner to help with all the details.
Wedding Venue / Villa Miani
Wedding Stylist / Stefania Zen
Photography / Daniele & Marilia
Videography / Fulvio Greco Films
Bride’s Dress / Essense of Australia
Bride’s Shoes / Christian Louboutin
Wedding Rings / Shelia Bayes Jewelers
Stationery / Minted
Florist / Andrea Patrizi Floral Designer
Cake / Rose Cakes
Catering / Relais le Jardin
Celebrant / Admiral Alton Stocks
Transport / Rome Limo Transfers
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