Real Weddings

An Italian Wedding at an Ethereal Sicilian Village

Photography by Lato Photography.

In a secluded historic fishing village in rural Sicily, Caroline and Matteo wed with a backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.  With colossal rock formations rising, the emerald water in the background enveloped the couple’s simplistic ceremony beautifully.

The al fresco sunset reception dinner took place in the central courtyard surrounded by the crumbling vine-covered facades of Tonnara di Scopello. Elegantly rustic tablescapes were crafted as an extension of the rich surroundings. With sheer fabric draped on long wooden tables, and candles paired with white, green, and earth-colored blooms, a naturally luxe ambience unfolded.

The Sicily wedding was masterfully captured by Lato Photography.

Wedding in Sicily

Our Story

Names / Caroline Jenkins & Matteo Segnalini

Location / Sicily, Italy

Wedding Date / October 8th, 2022

Guest Numbers / 125

How We Met

We met at a party in London in January 2020. I was living in New York at the time and Matteo in London, and I’d just made a last minute decision to fly to London for a friend’s intergalactic-space-themed party. Given the impromptu nature of the trip, I had to scramble to put together a costume and ended up with a racy number from Camden market – I won’t say the dress was the reason for our meeting, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Little did he know he’d be in for a life of sweatpants and hoodies.

We really hit it off that night. Unfortunately I had to fly home the following day, and then the pandemic hit, so our in-person time together was short-lived. We managed to stay in touch afterward, and it was clear there was a connection, but given the circumstances I never assumed it would amount to anything serious. Then in June 2020, I made an impulsive decision to take the last flight to London before quarantine measures kicked in to work remotely for a few weeks. We ended up reconnecting, and long story short I never left.

 

Our Engagement Story

By June 2021 we had moved to Paris for Matteo’s job and had been set up for six months in an apartment in Saint Germain. It was a blissful period for us with most nights spent eating, drinking, and chatting on our beautiful terrace. Given it was the spot where we’d really come to fall in love with the city and our new life together, when Matteo decided to propose, he knew it’d be the perfect place to do it.

The intention was to propose over sunset drinks, however we had a bit too much fun in Montmartre that day and didn’t get home until late that evening. I went to the washroom to get ready for bed and when I came out Matteo was nowhere to be found. I then saw a note on the couch that told me to come out to the terrace where he was on one knee with a ring. It was perfect – simple, intimate, and meaningful.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

The Setting

 

Wedding Location

Matteo is Italian and I am Canadian, and while I love Canada dearly, Italy felt like the more exciting option for all involved. Tonnara di Scopello is stunning and unique, but it is also rugged and unfussy. It feels like a postcard come to life — nestled in a cove overlooking the most crystal blue waters with striking rock formations jutting from the sea… and the dance cave nightclub we envisioned did not disappoint. No curfew, no problem. We had guests dancing until 6 am and we were right there with them!

Overall there were some logistical headaches and locking in our date was tough, but the venue was critical to the success of the wedding.

 

Preparation

I got ready with my bridesmaids in a bridal suite at Tonnara. We all wore our husbands’ white dress shirts, which felt in line with the relaxed energy I wanted to carry into the wedding. We spent the morning listening to tunes, eating, drinking, and dancing until the ceremony began. It was a great way to ease the nerves and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Photography

I found our wedding photographers Laura and Tommy from LATO Photography on Instagram and loved their candid, informal style. They captured so many genuine, beautiful moments without being intrusive or forcing us to pose for hours. They also worked really well with our videographers so we never felt like we were constantly being followed. It was amazing to see what they were able to capture without us having any idea.

 

Videography

We used videographers based out of Palermo called Infamous Wedding. They captured the overall vibe of the wedding perfectly and didn’t miss a beat while also being discreet.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Style Notes

 

Ceremony Décor

The ceremony was held overlooking the sea with these incredible faraglioni rock formations in the background. The view was incredible and deserved center stage, so décor for the ceremony itself was minimal. We used white benches for seating and a few terracotta vases with neutral flowers at the end of the aisle.

 

Reception Décor

For me, the reception décor and aesthetic were the most exciting part of the planning process. It was a chance for me to flex my creative passion as it’s something I care a lot about in my everyday life. I put together an overly detailed Powerpoint deck with my inspiration organized into categories. Excessive, maybe, but it cut out a lot of back and forth and prevented us all from getting decision fatigue which is very real when planning a wedding!

The sun sets early in October so we knew our guests would be seeing the tables in the evening. Playing with light form was a guiding theme. We used a variety of different candles to create ambiance and complemented it with contrasting light and dark florals. I saw pictures of a previous wedding at Tonnara that used seasonal fruits and vegetables in their tablescape and loved the idea, so we did the same with plums, pears, and nuts, etc.

To keep the décor subtle and romantic, we opted for bare wooden tables with a sheer gauzy runner down the middle. Clear glass plates and glassware kept the focus on our beautiful centrepiece. Our planners nailed the vision, and we couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. It was so fun watching our friends and family walk into the courtyard and see the space transformed.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Wedding Planner & Stylist

It was surprisingly hard to find the right wedding planners for our needs and didn’t find ours until mid-way through the planning process. We were looking for planners who were familiar with Tonnara, fluent in English and Italian, and had the right aesthetic and taste level.

Daniela and Paola from Centorose e un Tulipano helped us carry out the remainder of the planning, introducing us to our amazing caterer Peppe Giuffrè, and executing our decorative vision beyond expectations.

 

Flowers

Daniela and Paola teamed up with Palermo-based florists Frascati Fiori to create organic-style arrangements made up of locally foraged fruits, vegetables and flowers. Daniela mentioned that “the Tonnara courtyard is so beautiful that you have to work by subtraction”. Their vision was to achieve “a simple style that matched the colors and maintained the elegant, understated style of the bride and groom”. The tableau was made up of earthenware vases of various sizes, which they found on the road as they travelled to Sicily and worked perfectly with the color pallete of the Tonnara.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

“The Tonnara courtyard is so beautiful that you have to work by subtraction.”

Stationery

We both felt strongly that formal invitations weren’t important to us. Instead of printed, custom save-the-dates we sent hand-written postcards from the Tonnara and used Paperless Post for the actual invitations. Our priority was properly thanking our guests after the wedding, so we invested more time into writing the personalized thank you cards created by MILK Books.

 

Favors/Bonbonniere

We hosted a beach day at Tonnara on the Friday before the wedding and provided beach towels as our wedding favors. This worked well since a lot of our guests were extending their stay in Sicily and could use the towels afterward.

For my bridesmaids, I collected an array of different gifts over the course of my travels that summer; sandals and earrings from Greece, embroidered bags from Portugal, small vases from Sicily, and a pearl bracelet from the brand Éliou.

Cake

We weren’t too fussed about the cake given neither of us are big sweets people. Luckily our caterer is famous for his desserts, so we let him work his magic. He created an oversized single-layered cake covered in berries. It was a major crowd pleaser and made the cutting moment very major — the sea wall behind us, all our friends already in their after-party clothes and this incredibly beautiful, dramatic cake.

 

Food & Beverages

We used a local, well-renowned Sicilian caterer named Peppe Giuffrè. After the ceremony we hosted aperitivos on the terrace and Peppe put together an incredible ensemble of food stands that included a fresh ricotta station that Matteo’s Italian friends still rave about, and a real-time tuna seared-by-blowtorch moment. We didn’t want people to lose steam with an overly long, heavy meal so we opted for a two-course dinner of pasta and fish.

In addition to an endless flow of wine and cocktails, we knew we needed to source some good tequila for our North American guests who seem to drink it exclusively. Tequila is not as popular in Europe so we had some trouble finding something good until one of our guests was kind enough to bring along a supply of his award-winning tequila brand Cincoro. Not only was it a highlight for the American tequila snobs, but it even converted the reluctant Europeans.

Wedding in Sicily

“The tableau was made up of earthenware vases of various sizes, which they found on the road as they travelled to Sicily and worked perfectly with the color pallet of the Tonnara.”

Wedding in Sicily

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Fashion & Beauty Notes

 

Bride’s Dress & Shoes

I prefer the term unbothered, you may call it unorganized, but in keeping with the general theme of our wedding planning I started the dress hunt late, which I do not recommend. I also didn’t have a clear vision of what I was looking for. Starting my search alone in Paris where we live, I then continued it with one of my bridesmaids in London. I was able to narrow down my preferences on my own and by the time I was with my girlfriend, we had fun and I was able to enjoy the process because I knew I was on the right track.

Again, on theme, it was in our very last appointment that I found the perfect dress from Newhite Bridal at Fall Bride. It was a perfect mix of modern and traditional. I loved the gauze overlay on the bust and skirt, which added romance to the more tailored silhouette underneath. It truly was love at first sight.

In terms of shoes, the only thing I cared about was comfort. I figured you weren’t going to see them with my long dress, so chose a simple pair of Sam Edelman white block-heeled sandals. They were perfect for the terrain and not too precious — I’ve worn them several times since.

 

Bridesmaids’ Dresses & Shoes

All my bridesmaids are quite fashionable, so I didn’t want to impose anything uniform on them. My only direction was a general color palette with the idea that we’d naturally end up with a nice ensemble. Once the first person solidified their dress we built from there and they turned out fabulous. In retrospect however, a few more guidelines would have made their lives easier.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories

When Matteo first proposed he gave me a beautiful eternity ring from Messika as a placeholder and then we designed the engagement ring together. Once he saw some of the settings I submitted during the engagement ring design process, I think he was thrilled he’d decided not to go at it alone.

Matteo surprised me with a stunning 19th century, old European-cut diamond he sourced with Moonstoned, a vintage jeweler from New York, while I worked with them to design an antique-inspired setting. Our wedding bands were simple thin and gold – Matteo’s yellow gold from Chopard, and mine rose gold from Chaumet. I’m in love with the combination of all three rings together, and given it’s an item you wear every day, I highly recommend creating something you love together.

Initially I worried that all my jewelry had to be special and hold meaning. Eventually I realized it’s really hard to exclusively wear meaningful things, even on your wedding day. It adds weight and pressure that wasn’t serving me. I ended up just borrowing a pair of beautiful Sophie Bille Brahe pearl earrings from my bridesmaid, buying $7 pearl hair clips from Amazon, and foregoing a bag altogether. Honestly it was perfect. For the other weekend events I used what I already owned and loved and bought dresses I knew I would re-wear.

Hair & Makeup

Initially I was searching for hair and makeup teams based in Paris or Italy.  One of my bridesmaids mentioned offhand that it was too bad I couldn’t fly in Victoria Radford and her team from Toronto as they had done a great job at her wedding. A few days later, I was sitting in the Soho House in Paris, and Victoria walked in. The situation was so serendipitous we knew we had to make it work and she agreed to fly to Sicily with her team for the occasion. They did my hair and makeup for all three days along with all my bridesmaids and family and did a phenomenal job.

For the ceremony I took inspiration from Hailey Beiber’s wedding hairdo and did a slicked-back low bun with a few pearl pins. I wanted to be hassle-free and anything else would have fallen flat with my fine hair. Given the wedding was over several days I spent a lot of time with the hair and makeup team. The makeup chair doubled as a therapist’s chair by the end, and I was happy to have consummate professionals who made me look good and also eased my nerves.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

The Details

 

Honeymoon

We couldn’t bear the thought of any additional planning, so we simply extended our stay in Sicily for our honeymoon. We were so drained from the wedding that it was great to just relax and unwind rather than embarking on a big trip.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Wedding Songs

We had a pianist play “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen for the ceremony. My parents often played Leonard Cohen at our home when I was a child, and this song in particular is one Matteo and I both love. Walking down the aisle, my dad recognized the song and it had us both on the brink of tears.

We chose “Don’t Give Up” by Groove Armada for our first dance. We had it playing on repeat on a memorable trip to Greece when Matteo first met my close friends, and it was the song we both thought of when we started brainstorming. Our first dance turned into a huge group sing-along and became the anthem of our wedding. It couldn’t have been a better choice.

 

Entertainment

We visited Scopello a few months before our wedding during their jazz festival and fell in love with a group from Palermo. They are a collection of wildly talented and fun musicians led by a man named Mimmo Cafiero. After several late night cocktails we managed to convince them to play at our wedding. They performed during our rehearsal dinner, our ceremony, and our cocktail hour.

Music was a top priority for both of us. Matteo’s good friend Lorenzo Laganà (Laga Khan) is the most incredible DJ who plays a mix of Italo-disco, funk, house, etc., so it was without question he’d play at our wedding. He really DJ’d the entire weekend. He handled Thursday welcome drinks, Friday beach day, the late-night rehearsal party, made a playlist for our reception dinner, and DJ’d the wedding night until 6am. His energy and music were among the key ingredients that made the wedding a success.

 

Celebrant

Neither of us are religious, and we’d already gotten officially married in a civil service in Canada, so we could be flexible with the ceremony. We asked my bridesmaid Kaelen to officiate as she is someone who we both respect and admire, and who we knew would carry it out in an authentic way. Her perfect balance of light-heartedness and ceremoniousness made it one the most memorable moments of our lives. Her opening comment before the ceremony was “we’re doing it live!” because our rehearsal was breezy, to say the least.

 

Readings

We wrote our own vows, which I highly recommend. They gave our guests a chance to get a more intimate view into our relationship, and I think it made celebrating us all the more meaningful. Matteo’s groomswoman read a beautiful poem in Italian during the ceremony. Given most of the wedding was in English it was a great moment to represent his side.

Wedding in Sicily

“The sun sets early in October so we knew our guests would be seeing the tables in the evening. Playing with light form was a guiding theme. We used a variety of different candles to create ambiance and complemented it with contrasting light and dark florals.”

Our Advice

 

A memorable moment…

We had several unforgettable moments throughout the weekend – oscar-worthy speeches delivered by friends and family and a ceremony that neither of us expected to be so moving. The moment that stands out to us as particularly memorable was the impromptu dance party at the end of our Friday beach day (in hindsight, hardly a surprise knowing our friends on both sides!).

 

We invited everyone to the Tonnara for a casual day at the beach which was scheduled to run from 12-4pm to allow the wedding party time to do a ceremony run-through. It was lovely – civilized with some low-key beach-club style music playing in the background. Around 4pm as we were set to wrap up, our DJ suddenly cranked up the tunes and a full dance-party/mosh pit ensued. We ended up foregoing our ceremony run-through (not at all stressful for our officiant) and partying straight into the rehearsal dinner. This was the moment that set the tone for the rest of the weekend and leads me to my biggest piece of advice to couples: there are times when you just need to screw the schedule and let things flow – often they’ll end up being the moments that stand out most.

 

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

There is a lot of pressure on brides when it comes to wedding outfits. The marketing machine behind bridal-specific attire and accessories that are expensive and impractical is strong and you really don’t need any of it. If your wedding is several days long, finding outfits that make you stand out at every moment is expensive and exhausting. I fell victim to this during planning and still have PTSD whenever I see my shopping apps.

Now that I’ve made it out the other side, I realize that people really aren’t scrutinizing your outfits like you may think. My advice would be to invest in a few items that you care about (and that ideally you can wear again) and forget about the rest. It’s okay to buy vintage, borrow from friends, or re-use what you already have.

All that really matters at a wedding is that you and your guests are having a blast. From our experience, the key elements to ensure this happens are: 1) a seamless guest experience – putting yourself in their shoes from the moment they arrive until they leave is hugely important, 2) music – nothing kills a wedding like bad tunes, 3) booze – if there’s enough of it most other things won’t matter, and 4) your energy – it’s really the source of everyone’s happiness.

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Caroline & Matteo Wedding

Our Contacts

 

Wedding Venue / Tonnara di Scopello

Wedding Stylist & Planner / Centorose e un Tulipano

Photography / Lato Photography

Videography / Infamous Photography

Bride’s Dress / Newhite Bridal, The Fall Bride & Annie’s Ibiza

Bride’s Shoes / Sam Edelman

Wedding Rings / Messika, The Moonstoned, Chaumet & Chopard

Hair & Makeup / Victoria Radford Beauty

Stationery / MILK Books

Florist / Frascati Fiori

Cake & Catering / Peppe Giuffrè

Celebrant / Kaelen Haworth

Entertainment / Laga Khan & Mimmo Cafiero

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