Real Weddings

A Wedding in an Italian Renaissance Garden in Florence

Photography by Pablo Laguia.

Amongst a wildly beautiful Renaissance garden in Florence, Maria and Brayden held their romantic Italian wedding. The symmetrical ceremony was held beneath an ancient stone monument with colossal trees towering above. The long white aisle and altar were elegantly styled with delicate white flowers and emerald green foliage, adding to the tranquil atmosphere.

The couple’s timeless reception dinner was set beneath Villa Gamberaia’s historic facade on a stone patio overlooking the rolling hills of Florence below. A canopy of string lights floated above while the minimalist white linen was embellished with white blooms and candles.

The romantic Italian wedding was poetically captured by photographer Pablo Laguia.

maria & brayden wedding

Our Story

Names / Brayden Zoucha & Maria Kneitschel

Location / Florence, Italy

Wedding Date / June 21st, 2023

Guest Numbers / 32

Budget / $175,000

florence wedding venue

florence wedding venue

How We Met

We met in 2019 in Medellin, Colombia. I (Brayden) was living there for a few months with some of my friends working on building my online business while Maria happened to be traveling through Colombia with her brother. We were only in the same city for less than 48 hours, but we both knew this was something special the moment we met. Our second date was a 4-week trip to Cartagena, I know, risky. As you can guess, it was a great time, and we’ve never parted since. We’ve been travelling full time and working together for almost 5 years now.

 

Our Engagement Story

I wanted to plan the most epic proposal for Maria (no pressure, right?). She’s been dreaming of going to India since she was 5, so I knew it would be the perfect setting for the big question.

I surprised her with a month-long trip to India, the itinerary, stays and activities were all unknown to her. It was an incredible time, we got to sleep in elephant sanctuaries, dine in royal palaces and see the sunrise at one of the world’s wonders.

I popped the question at our last stop in India, Udaipur, the city of lakes. I had the help from a proposal planner who helped arrange all the details. We were staying at the Taj Lake property and arrived by boat to what I told her was a sunset “dinner” at the Leela Palace. I had a part of the property closed off for us, the place was covered in flowers and candles and had a violinist serenading us. After she said yes, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by our chef.

 

What we love most about each other…

What a difficult question. I love everything about him, he’s funny, he’s smart, he’s kind. He loves so deeply, and so honestly. But if I had to point out a unique and remarkable trait of his, I would say, Brayden is a dreamer. The kid that believed he could become president, so he did. He is always true to his essence and the one who sees every obstacle as an opportunity. An eternal optimist. The world is truly endless by his side.

From Brayden:
I don’t think there’s enough room in this publication for my full answer so I’ll try to keep it short. I love her curiosity for the world, how silly and funny she is, and how good of a sister, daughter and friend she is. Maria is incredibly thoughtful and she’s always taking care of everyone else. Above all, she relentlessly pursues her goals and will not give up even when the situation seems insurmountable. She inspires me to be the best version of myself.

The Setting

 

Wedding Location

We picked Villa Gamberaia, a 1600s estate on the hills of Florence. The moment we saw the grounds and view (we got very excited when we realized you can spot the Duomo from up there) we knew it was the one for us.

 

Aesthetic

Simple, elegant, timeless, Italian.

 

Preparation

We both got ready at Villa Gamberaia. Because we had such an intimate wedding, we decided early on not to have a bridal party. Maria got ready with her sisters, mom, grandma and Brayden’s mom. Brayden got ready with his dad and Maria’s brothers.

Not gonna lie, we had a little hiccup, my second dress had to be remade 3 times and didn’t arrive till 2 hours before the ceremony. You could feel the anxiety in the girls room, haha. Lot’s of chocolate and champagne had to be consumed to keep us distracted from the missing dress.

Maria: I got to spend the last 30 minutes before I walked out with just my mom. She helped me into my dress and gave me some pearls that belonged to my great-grandmother. Held me tight and told me all those things only a mom knows to say to calm their child. That moment felt so intimate and special. I will cherish it forever.

Photography

Pablo and Ana Laguia were our photographers. Choosing a photographer was one of the most difficult tasks for us during the wedding planning process. We got referred to so many, and we searched high and low, but for some reason we were not super confident on who to pick. We wanted our day to be captured in a more organic, natural way. When we came across Pablo and Ana, we knew with all certainty they were the ones. Their style of photography is much more spontaneous and fun, their photos are stills of a moment, they tell a story.

They were hands down one of the best decisions we made for our wedding. They made the process fun, and comfortable, and manage to photograph both wedding and rehearsal dinner in such a beautiful way. It’s been 6 months and my family still talks about them (and Israel) they’ll forever have an asado waiting for them in Argentina.

 

Videography

Israel (Till Forever Films) did a fantastic job on our wedding video and all of the content he created and posted on his social media from our wedding day. He made us feel so calm and cool about being in front of the camera and helped us with many last minute preparations on the wedding day (like tying my bow tie). He shot the entire thing hand held which added an organic feel to the video which we loved. We watched the video 5 times the first day we received it because we loved it THAT much. If anybody is wondering if they should invest on a videographer, yes, you should.

Style Notes

 

Ceremony Décor

The ceremony was at the nymphaeum, which has a statue of Neptune crowning it as the center piece. We wanted to work with the symmetry of the space and the length of the aisle. We decided on quite a lengthy isle runner with floral arrangements on both sides. The “altar” was a grounded floral arch as we didn’t want to cover up the statues completely (We LOVE how this came out).

 

Reception Décor

We kept all aspects of the wedding very minimalist and timeless. We styled the wedding with white linens, tons of florals and candles.

florence wedding venue

Wedding Planner & Stylist

Claudia Del Giadice was our amazing wedding planner and she helped with literally EVERYTHING. This would have been impossible without her. She’s the most patient being on the planet, we planned this wedding remotely, in less than 6 months, while traveling full time and running a business, she never once pressured us nor made us feel in a rush, and made every single one of our wedding dreams come true.

 

Flowers

We wanted white flowers and a lot of greenery, for them to feel more wild and organic rather that manicured, think of ranunculus instead of roses. Our team did a great job, we discussed our vision with our vendor, walked the venue together and then let them do their thing. They delivered the most beautiful product.

florence wedding venue

Maria & Bryden Wedding

Stationery

We found a graphic design company from Portugal to help us design and print our wedding invitations. They turned out BEAUTIFUL. The rest of our wedding week stationery we designed ourselves with the help of many Canva templates from Etsy. Sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself rather than going back and forth with a graphic designer.

 

Favors

We hosted all of our guests for the week so we had welcome baskets waiting for them in their rooms. We actually worked on these for quite some time and picked every item of them with a lot of love and care.
All the guests received a linen robe (oat for the women and sage green for the men) and welcome letter.

The women got a moroccan hand weaved basket that included:

  • A toiletry bag with some beauty essentials (guasha, laneige lip mask, beauty blenders, hair clips and eye patches)
  • A lemon shaped candle
  • Jewelry by Bruna the label (Love the simplicity of their jewelry)
  • Sunglasses
  • Vintage handkerchiefs we got in Paris
  • Amadei chocolate (we had to include a tuscan treat)
  • An “emergency” pouch (bandaids, stain remover wipes, aspirin, mints)
  • Dior makeup

For the men we had some tote bags custom made, inside we placed a bunch of local snacks (chips, beer, chocolate, etc), the same emergency pouch, leather toiletry bags from Matt & Nat that contained some skincare and hygiene items (men are way more likely to forget toothpaste, right?) and an aqua di parma perfume.

 

Cake

We chose to have the traditional Italian wedding cake: Millefoglie (but we didn’t even eat one slice of our own cake because we were way too busy dancing hahaha).

 

Food & Beverages

We started with a cocktail hour featuring tuscan hors d’oeuvres, and his and hers cocktails: a summer hugo and orange apperol spritz.

For the dinner we decided on a one long table and we wanted the menu to reflect that family, nonna’s backyard vibe, simple and comforting. Of course we chose pasta and risotto.

Fashion & Beauty Notes

 

Bride’s Dress & Shoes

My rehearsal dress was a linen mermaid dress by Dissh.

My ceremony dress was by Ines di Santo, an off the shoulder, fluted, low back, high slit dress. I stumbled upon an instagram reel of this dress a few days after we got engaged. It was the one and only dress I tried on. I swear this dress was designed with me in mind, haha.

I decided I wanted a veil kind of last minute, so I purchased a hand laced veil from a local shop in Florence, my mom and grandma helped me pick it. I’m so glad I decided to make this last minute addition. For the shoes, I wanted slingbacks, closed toe and not too high of a heel as I didn’t want to get stuck in the grass. Went with some by Gianvitto Rossi.

My party dress was a short, embellished dress (very heavy) by Womance a smaller, Spanish brand. Silver heels from Amazon and they broke in less than two hours.

 

Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories

The engagement ring is a pear shaped 1.6 carat, low set diamond with a thin yellow gold band. For our wedding bands we went with Cartier yellow gold bands and had our wedding date engraved on the inside. For jewelry, a Cartier love bracelet and Bruna dainty pearl bracelet.
Earrings were river pearls.

 

Hair & Makeup

I wore my hair in a relaxed bun with front pieces for the reception. Lose for the party.
My makeup was very minimal and light coverage in bronzy colors. Anything more would have been very uncomfortable in the Tuscan heat.

Maria & Bryden Wedding

Maria & Bryden Wedding

“The ceremony was at the nymphaeum, which has a statue of Neptune crowning it as the center piece. We wanted to work with the symmetry of the space and the length of the aisle.”

florence wedding venue

The Details

 

Transport

Most of the wedding guests stayed together in the same villa in the Tuscan hills about 90 minutes from the wedding venue. We chartered a bus that brought us to the suburb of Florence named Settignano. From there, a few smaller vans took us up the narrow winding roads that lead to the 17th century villa we held our wedding at.

 

Honeymoon

We didn’t have a honeymoon in the traditional sense of the word. We travel full-time and don’t get to see our families as often as we’d like, so we spent a few weeks after the wedding travelling with them. We went to Antalya, Rome and Barcelona.

 

Gift Registry

We decided that the only presents we wanted for our wedding was the “presence” of our beloved friends and family. Having everyone travel thousands of miles for an entire week was the best of gifts.

florence wedding venue

Maria & Bryden Wedding

Wedding Songs

Ceremony song: Dandelions by Ruth B.

We chose “This Will Be” by Natalie Cole as our exit song. It was a 10/10 choice and would make it every time. Now every time that song comes on in public, we associate the happiest day of our life to it and it brings us so much joy.

First Dance: Until I Found You – Stephen Sanchez

Cake Cutting: A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay

Champagne tower: Girl from Ipanema – Antônio Carlos Jobim

 

Entertainment

We had a violinist and guitarist playing for the cocktail hour and a DJ for the party. One of our guests is a well known Reggaeton artist and performed live as well.

 

Celebrant

We used TUSCANPLEDGES as our celebrant company and had no complaints whatsoever. They did exactly what we wanted and were very professional.

Maria & Bryden Wedding

Maria & Bryden Wedding

“We kept all aspects of the wedding very minimalist and timeless. We styled the wedding with white linens, tons of florals and candles.”

Our Advice

 

A memorable moment…

The most memorable moment for me (the groom) was standing at the front of the aisle watching my bride walk towards me and neither of us could hold back our tears of joy.

Having my sisters fly to the US to help me pick my dress, and honestly, that whole week was insane, I’ve never felt so loved. I’m so grateful we got to share our love with our families and friends.

 

One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…

Worry less, people are there to celebrate you and your love. Everything else doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Not everything will go as planned and you won’t even care.

The day of the ceremony truly does fly by, take a minute and try to be as present as possible.

 

If I could give other couples one piece of advice…

Start planning with enough time. Many of the best venues are booked years in advance, and that goes for everything. Better to start asap and do it slowly over a longer period of time.

 

Sources of inspiration…

Pinterest was our best friend.

florence wedding venue

Maria & Bryden Wedding

Maria & Bryden Wedding

Our Contacts

 

Wedding Venue / Villa Gamberaia

Second Villa / Villa L’Arancera

Winery / Tenuta del Buon Amico

Wedding Stylist & Planner / Claudia Del Giudice

Photography / Pablo Laguia

Videography / Israel de Lago

Bride’s Dress / Ines di Santo – Nera

Second Dress / Womance España – Candy

Bride’s Shoes / Gianvito Rossi – Ascent

Hair / Marina Sova

Makeup / Alena Bezal

Stationery / White Design Creative Studio

Florist / Simone Bertini

Cake & Catering / ROLANDS

Food Trucks / Brindapino

Celebrant  Tuscan Pledges

Entertainment /  Gabriele Savarese, DJ Remo Giugni, David Jesus Dejota

Transport / Caf Tours

Directory

Cakes & Catering

Find our handpicked edit of Cake and Dessert artists from around the world on the Directory.