An affair imbued in romance, whimsy, and feminine allure set in the heart of Italy’s wine region, Emma and Danny celebrated their love over five days of unforgettable revelry.
Vows were exchanged in a ceremony encircled by towering cypress trees, white Tiffany chairs and resplendent arrangements of soft blooms and pampas grass. A warm palette of silk whites, dusty pinks, and apricot was carried through to the reception where a long, rustic table was framed by a canopy of flickering lights. Adorned in neutral linens, honey-colored candles and pastel florals, the infinite tablescape was lined with transparent ghost chairs, reflecting the poetry of its surroundings.
Behind the lens capturing every fleeting moment and dreamlike detail was Lisa Poggi.
Names / Emma & Daniel
Wedding Date / 21 August, 2019
Guest Numbers / 100
Budget / $220,000 USD
How We Met
Danny and I had grown up in the same town and gone to all of the same schools since kindergarten, but we were a grade apart. Not divulging who is older! Our moms were great friends growing up as well and I had gone to his mom for dating advice in the past. My aunt had even run into him years back, calling me after wondering why I couldn’t date a nice polite guy like Danny, but our romance did not begin until after college.
We met on the night before Thanksgiving when everyone comes how for the holidays and meets at the local bars in town. I came home early and was just about ready to settle in to watch a Hallmark Christmas movie when my friend called and said, “Hey, you know Danny Cotter? Well, he is here asking about you and wondered where you went off to.” I leapt off the couch, threw a little makeup on my minute-before washed face, and headed back to town. Danny gave me his noteworthy warm smile as I walked through the door and I was absolutely smitten.
So, highschool sweethearts? Not exactly, but after all of the Hallmark I have watched in my day, it isn’t just a fairytale. Hometown romance does truly exist.
Our Engagement Story
It was October 1st and the morning started out no different than any other, Danny sipping on his coffee on the couch, me working on some craft project next to him. He casually looked over and said, “Let’s go on a drive.” I was hesitant and unagreeable as I was trying to work on a big project, but after he insisted, I knew there may be something more to this spontaneous car ride. Unbeknownst to me, my mom had packed an overnight bag for me and secretly put it in the back of my trunk. I became a tad suspicious when I reached over to the glove box for some hand lotion and Danny yelled, “Don’t touch the glove box. It’s broken!” and blocked my hand. I knew something was afoot.
Our route started to become clear to me as it’s the same way we drive to Carmel Valley, but all of a sudden, Danny took a random freeway exit that dropped us into a very industrial mall park off the side of the road. He later told me he knew I caught on to our destination and had to calibrate to try to throw me off the trail. After a few more strange twists and turns and some bay area backroads, we ended up at our favorite Carmel, CA, hotel, Bernardus Resort and Spa. We had celebrated many of our special moments there throughout our relationship, so it was entirely fitting.
We picked up a picnic lunch that was prepared by Bernardus and made our way to the 17-mile drive in Carmel. We parked at a lookout point, sat on the rocks, and just enjoyed the view while we picnicked. Danny got down on one knee, had an incredibly heartwarming speech and then nervously dropped the ring onto the rocks and almost into the ocean! He retrieved it quickly and knelt down again and asked for my hand in marriage.
Marriage To Us Means
To us marriages means being thoughtful, caring, exciting, accepting of the sometimes arduous times, joyful, safe, and so much fun if you let go and embrace everything the relationship can offer. It is a co-creative process that requires imagination, presence, intelligence, mindfulness, kindness, a good sense of yourself, humor, and commitment. We believe marriage is one of life’s greatest adventures. It is a relationship we choose to embrace for an entire lifetime, not many relationships have that kind of power.
We view our wedding as the five days we got to spend with our nearest and dearest. We rented out Dievole Wine Resort for the five nights, so all of our guests could spend as much time getting to know each other in our own oasis together. Our rehearsal dinner location was Villa de Geggiano and our wedding ceremony/reception location was La Selva Wine Resort, with beautiful grounds and a circular ceremonial space lined with cypress trees.
“If you have a great wedding planner they will make every change, even last-minute ones, look effortless.”
We started the morning with an early breakfast and an outdoor yoga class overlooking the vineyards, lush hills, and valleys. We then had massages for our guests through the afternoon, and for the more adventurous guests, including Danny, we organized a guided electric mountain bike ride through the grounds.
A few close girlfriends, my mom, aunt, mother in law, and sister in law’s got ready together in my parent’s suite. We took photos, toasted to a wonderful day with a shot of tequila and we were off. Danny and his close friends got ready in the Dievole’s beautiful wine members’ cellar, drinking delicious wine and eating cheese.
Overall Aesthetic / Style
We visualized the entire party sitting at one long table with a canopy of lights and trees enveloping our wedding guests. The venue had a rustic feel, with steps cascading down to the ceremony area which was grand, open and inclusive. We wanted a circular environment with us standing in the middle of all of our loved ones. My goal was to have a wedding that felt romantic, whimsical and feminine. The wedding was soft with white, dusty pink and apricot flowers and pampas grass. We wanted the wedding to be rustic, cozy and personal.
My mother inspired me. She always described her dream wedding depicting Guinevere and King Arthur’s wedding in Camelot. Full of twinkly lights and softness.
Heavy on the soft florals creating an aisle of beauty where we met in the middle of our guests.
The incredibly dreamy dining space was the main attraction to our reception. It was a long tree-lined pathway that we draped with twinkle lights. We put one never-ending table with ghost chairs and neutral linens, honey-colored candles and dusty feminine florals.
We worked with Carolina and Francesca at Tuscan Dream Wedding Planning. It was quite a challenge planning a wedding in a different country, especially when you have a vision and want to be very hands-on with design. These brilliant women were so supportive, patient, and thought-provoking. I couldn’t have asked for a better company to work with. Carolina made everything feel completely seamless and beyond our wildest imagination. The pictures I had always had in my mind of this week were able to come to life with Tuscan Dream in the driver’s seat.
Lisa Poggi. Her photos captured the mood and energy of our wedding experience. Her creative eye captured beauty and art, and we could not have been more pleased with the way everything turned out.
Our video was incredible. It was a way for us to relive the beauty we experienced. Matteo was so great to work with and made us feel so comfortable. He has such talent for putting together the quiet moments and the exuberant ones such as the touching moments between Danny and I, and the warmth of the week and our guests.
Liz Martinez. A thin strap dress with embroidered flowers, delicate, soft, pliable tulle skirt with an embroidered crystal skirt.
Loeffler Randall Camellia Bow High-Heel Sandals with white crinkle fabric, bow and ankle strap details.
A custom design based on a 100-year-old marquise diamond. We worked with the company Trumpet and Horn in Los Angeles. The wedding band was purchased in a little shop in Lake Tahoe called Bespoke.
Jewelry / Accessories
I wore diamond stud earrings and a family heirloom pinky ring of my great grandfathers.
A custom white linen suit with woven leather loafers.
My makeup was soft with light coral cheeks, light pink matte lip and full lashes. I wanted to enhance the natural features of my face and look polished with still looking like myself.
Stationery / Invitations
Invitations were handmade by myself, my mother, and my aunt. We created fresh herbed infused olive oil bottles with a custom label with our wedding details.
Favors / Bonbonnierres
We had welcome gifts for our guests that were presented in a box in each of their rooms. The box contained Italian chocolates, the makings of Aperol spritz (prosecco, Aperol, sparkling water, an orange, and gold drink stirrer), Taralli crackers, a printed recipe card for an Aperol spritz, and our week’s agenda.
We chose to go with a traditional wedding cake made in front of our guests. Millefeuille with chantilly cream, chocolate drops, and fresh strawberries. I chose this cake because this particular cake is one of our family favorites made by my great-grandmother Pauline, who was born in Luca.
Food & Beverages
The wedding began with Aperol spritz and stuffed zucchini flower appetizers. The dinner was broken out into corners, each having a theme, with Galleto serving guests with numerous offerings including a rustic corner of meats, breads and cheese, jam, honey, and mustards. The meat and fish corner included beef taglita, cinta, pork fillet, octopus, salmon served with locally sourced vegetables. A salad bar and a corner with pasta including traditional paccheri in Senese pork ragu and mushroom tortellini.
Upon my insistence, we chose not to have a limousine because I wanted my entire family with me. We had an elegant Mercedes SUV take us to the wedding. On the way back from the wedding we hopped on the buses with all of our friends to return to our hotel.
Our honeymoon is still on the horizon, but we did spend a few glorious days in Florence after the wedding.
We did have a gift registry through Zola. One of my favorite gifts received were recycled hand-blown and floral etched glassware made in Mexico.
I walked down the aisle to a song called ‘Pure Imagination’, played by the string quartet.
The wedding style of music played was nostalgic Italian love songs. We had a string quartet playing while we walked down the aisle, and then a DJ at the reception
My mother, Kimberly Alchimisti. We looked to the person who had come from an incredibly beautiful marriage we look up to and someone who has given us support and wisdom and advice throughout our relationship of ten years. She also happens to be a wonderful writer with a deep soul. We knew she was the perfect person for the job.
Any Other Special Details
On day one all our guests arrived. We had a welcome meet and greet in the Dievolve vineyards and a sit-down dinner in the central garden. Day two buses picked up all the guests and we drove through the Tuscan countryside, stopped in Pienza and toured the lovely city, and then visited a cheese farm and did a tasting and tour. That evening was the formal rehearsal dinner. Day three, the wedding day, we enjoyed yoga classes in the garden at Dievole, mountain bike rides, and massages. Day four was a pool party at Dievole with a gelato truck, then a movie night decorated like a bohemian picnic that had to be moved indoors because of a big thunderstorm. We had a buffet with pizza, salads, meat and cheese platters. On day five, buses took all guests to Siena where we had a wine tasting and wine cave tour at Dievole upon our return and had a farewell game night playing Bunko.
A Memorable Moment
Danny’s favorite song is ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, so after months of going back and forth, I decided a few minutes before our reception dinner to muster up the courage to sing the song to Danny with a few guests participating in solos and the rest of the crowd joining for the chorus. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, and entirely worth it to see how much Danny appreciated it. It felt like the best wedding gift I could have given him.
I love that my original intention was to give my family and friends a grand adventure for five glorious days. I accomplished that goal and gave our entire wedding party memorable moments.
One Thing I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Wedding Plans…
How unpredictable your guest attendance list can be through the process. Tentative confirmations made our plans rushed. We rented rooms for everyone and we had to make sure the rooms would be filled. It would have been easier to have confirmed guests at the onset of our planning stages.
If I Could Give Brides to be One Piece of Advice…
Unfortunately, things don’t always go exactly as planned. Don’t get caught up in what doesn’t work out the way you had hoped. Things may happen during your planning process that may block your creativity and joy. If you have a great wedding planner they will make every change, even last-minute ones, look effortless. Through the stress and DIY, have fun and stay connected to the true intention of the experience. Try your hardest to set yourself up for a day or days where you don’t have to lift a finger so you can enjoy them and not get caught up on the logistics.
Photographer / Lisa Poggi
Bride’s Dress / Liz Martinez
Bride’s shoes / Loeffler Randall
Wedding Rings / Trumpet & Horn
Florist / La Rosa Canina
Cake / Galateo
Catering / Galateo
Wedding Planner / Carolina Casini, Tuscan Dream
Venue / La Selva Wine Resort
Videographer / Matteo Castelluccia
Gift Registry / Zola
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