At a hidden gem on the rugged Sicilian coast, Sophie and Michael were married by the Mediterranean sea. Above a breathtaking, ancient open-air fishing museum, the couple exchanged vows amongst olive groves. Behind them, a surreal backdrop of crumbling watchtower remains scaled limestone cliffs and dramatic stacks emerged from a jewelled cove, once only accessible by boat.
A striking red palazzo and beautifully worn buildings circled the central courtyard below where the sun-drenched reception took place. Styling cues were taken from the Italian seaside setting with oyster shells, fruit and flowers accenting the table.
The remote Spring wedding was captured by photographer Giuseppe Marano.
Names / Sophie Daniel & Michael Nelson
Wedding Date / May 14th, 2022
Guest Numbers / 94
How We Met
On the slopes! We were both in Val Thorens on a work trip in our early 20’s and got chatting before any skiing had happened. Mike told me he’d done a ski season, “so yeah I’m pretty good.” I think I was attracted to this confidence as I fancied him there and then. Unfortunately on that first morning whilst showing off, Mike tore his ACL and was out of the action, he likes to say this meant he couldn’t run away from me but the reality is we just got on really well on that trip, I kept him company when I was too hungover to ski. We started dating when we got back to London and have been together ever since.
Our Engagement Story
We managed to escape to Rome in September 2020. We spent our first day there being tourists, walking all over the city. Little did I know, Mike had an engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket all day, and was waiting to stumble on the perfect quiet spot to pop the question. Mike knew the hotel room was already filled with roses and fizz so he had to do it before we got back, but was running out of time. He convinced me to go up the Vittoriano building to get a good view of the city we’d just been exploring and luckily for him we were pretty much the only people up there. Whilst I was taking in the panoramic views he got down on one knee.
Marriage to us means
Being a team and having a best friend to share life’s adventures with!
“It’s hard to put into words the beauty of Tonnara di Scopello. We knew it was the one for us when we saw it on our venue shortlist, before we’d even seen it in person.”
It’s hard to put into words the beauty of Tonnara di Scopello. We knew it was the one for us when we saw it on our venue shortlist, before we’d even seen it in person. The red palazzo contrasted against the bright blue water with jagged stacks shooting out made for an awesome setting like nothing we’d seen before. We knew that it would be the location for a once in a lifetime experience for us and our friends and family.
It was colourful, playful and a little bit fishy! We don’t take life too seriously and we didn’t want our wedding to feel overly formal or a carbon copy of others. Our inspiration came from the wedding venue itself which gave us the perfect starting point and provided a natural backdrop to our decor. One of the first things you notice arriving at the venue is the iconic red palazzo against the blue backdrop of the sea and sky. We therefore went for red and pink flowers as a nod to the building, and touches of blue for contrast. We really played on the fact that it used to be a tuna fishery by having lots of little oceanic touches throughout. We were really happy with how fun, relaxed and full of joy the wedding felt.
Our wedding photographer was the talented Giuseppe Marano. We were drawn to his documentary style and how he’d captured the macro and the micro moments in the previous weddings he’d shot. Plus, he’d already shot at our venue before so we knew he’d know how to get the best pictures. We both agreed we didn’t want to spend a lot of time taking couples and formal pictures on the day, and loved how Giuseppe captured the natural and spontaneous moments of our wedding, resulting in a beautiful and authentic documentation of our wedding day.
If you are reading this and considering whether to have a wedding video or not, do it. If you can book Ana for your wedding, DO IT!!! As soon as I saw Ana’s videos I had to have her as our videographer. Her style is fast paced, modern and fun, whilst still capturing the romance of it all. I may be very biased but I genuinely think our wedding video is the best one I’ve ever seen. Ana managed to be everywhere all at once and get all the key moments of the weekend into 8 minutes of viewing heaven. We will treasure it forever and genuinely watch it at least monthly.
Our ceremony was in an olive grove higher up in the venue which was a viewpoint over the venue and the ocean. It was so beautiful that we didn’t want to detract much attention from it. We kept things simple with wicker brown chairs large terracotta cases full of red gladiolus which contrasted beautifully against.
Our reception dinner took place in the central courtyard, just in front of the old timeworn chapel; it’s such an iconic setting with its own unique charm and we wanted that to shine through. Our florists, Frascati Fiori, did a fabulous job and got the balance just right. They created small clusters of flowers and styled mono-vases, candles, fruit and petals all along the tables; it was minimal in style but enhanced the space and still felt very ‘full’. To heighten the tablescape, we added little oceanic details as a nod to the location. My commitment to this came into its own when Chiara and I decided that Gluggle jugs would be perfect on the dinner table. I couldn’t let the idea go, bought a load from ebay and ended up getting people to put a jug or two in their suitcase in order to get them all to Sicily. We also added salt and pepper oyster shell pinch pots, scalloped-shaped candles, and red-striped napkins – which were actually tea towels from Ikea of all places! The final visual detail which brought everything together were our beautiful scalloped shaped menus by artist Lucy Sherston.
Our seating plan was another favourite detail. We brainstormed a few ideas using oyster shells, then Chiara then came up with the idea of a ‘Pearl and Oyster’ seating plan; each oyster shell had a little pearl inside, marked with a table number, and underneath a place name card. It was much loved! The oyster shells doubled up as takeaway trinkets for guests, and those left over were ceremoniously dropped back into the sea the morning after.
Wedding Planner & Stylist
I couldn’t have dreamed of a better person to plan our wedding with than Chiara. We were a great team from the get go and really enjoyed bouncing ideas off each other throughout the whole process. Her attention to detail was phenomenal, with everything little thing thought through; not only when it came to planning the wedding but also the styling of it as well. She provided really well thought through sources of suppliers which made it difficult to pick, but meant we ended up with the best. We both got a lot of joy out of creating little moments for guests that would surprise them from putting welcome totes of goodies (made by my amazing sister) in everyone’s room, to having a saxophonist jump out on a balcony during the party. Anyone hoping to get married in Italy should give her a call.
My main requirements for the bouquet was the palette and size; I was less fussed about specific flowers and trusted our florists with their selection. The bouquets Katia created were incredible! They were such a beautiful surprise, full of big blooms and unusual flowers, which stood out against my dress and my bridesmaids in blue. Mike and his groomsmen had little buttonholes with red ranunculus, which looked so great against their suits. Everything came together so well!
We worked with Caroline Istas for the invitations, someone who Chiara found through Instagram. We wanted something that would get our guests excited for the big weekend. We ended up going for a red and white striped invite which represented the drapes in the windows of the venue. It had a fish logo on the front along with our initials, which we used again for our tote gift bags.
For the event day stationery we worked with artist Lucy Sherston. During a video call, Chiara noticed one of her art prints in the background on my living room wall and asked who it was; a few weeks later when we were discussing event day stationery, she told me she’d contacted Lucy to see if she would create some bespoke menus, and Lucy said yes! It was such an amazing surprise as I just love her aesthetic. Lucy created a double-sided scalloped menu which is a real work of art, and brought the tablescape and palette together so well. She also designed a cocktail menu for us for the party. We chose 3 cocktails and named them as a fun detail – The Gin & Tonn (a gin and tonic), a Palermo (twist on a Paloma) and a Nelgroni (a negroni play on words with our surname). Both the dinner menu and the cocktail menu are now in our house framed on the wall and bring me so much joy when I walk past them.
Our cake was part of the dessert buffet and was a traditional Italian millefeuille. It was so tasty it left a mark on people. Only last week I had a text from one of our guests telling me she was still dreaming about the wedding cake – almost a year on.
Fashion & Beauty Notes
Bride’s Dress & Shoes
I chose a Halfpenny London dress because I loved the whole shopping experience there and the fact that you can pair different tops and skirts together to create your perfect look. In the end I went for the Okotan corset top with the Ellie skirt which went beautifully together and allowed me to have a Cinderella moment but with a modern twist. It felt like it complemented the venue well, as well as my shape. I had a long veil (also Halfpenny) which was plain with a satin trim that framed my face and looked so beautiful for the aisle moment. In the evening, during the dancing I changed into a sequin mini dress which was a very last minute purchase that turned out to be a great idea so I could last until the early hours.
To keep to the Italian theme I chose Gucci shoes, I went for a closed toe with the horsebit buckle on the front. The venue had a lot of cobbles so I went for a pair with a blockheel that I would be able to keep going in for the whole day. My talented friend Charlotte is a shoe buyer and had a pair of fuschia platforms made for me for the party we had the night before. I loved them so much and ended up changing into them quite early on on the wedding day as they made for perfect dancing shoes.
Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories
I still look down at my engagement ring nearly 3 years on with heart eyes. It’s an oval diamond in a halo setting on a diamond band. I chose a diamond wedding band that fits perfectly with it. Mike went for a plain platinum wedding band.
I kept my jewellery quite simple. I had drop pearl earrings from Missoma and diamond studs in my second holes which were my “something borrowed” from my Mum. I wore a tiny gold necklace which had Mike’s initials MN on which I got from Etsy. I then wore a ring on my right hand that I got for my 21st birthday as my “something old”.
Hair & Makeup
Consuelo Cardella and her team were so brilliant and made me, my bridesmaids and our mums feel really beautiful. I wore my hair up to really show off my dress, and to stop becoming a sweaty mess if it was too hot on the day. It was wavy and I had little pearls in the back which my veil pinned into. The brief I gave for my makeup was golden goddess and I think they nailed it. I wanted it to be quite natural looking so I looked like myself but obviously an enhanced version. My dress had secret pockets so I managed to keep my lippy topped up all day.
We wanted to go on a big adventure for our honeymoon and were lucky enough to have 3 weeks off to travel to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mauritius. The whole trip was amazing, but our highlight was 3 days in Kruger National Park where we did a safari.
We asked for a contribution to our honeymoon for our wedding guest list and used Prezola so guests could choose experiences for us to do on our trip.
Ceremony Song: “Can’t Help Falling in Love” By Hailey Reinhart
After Ceremony Song: “Kiss me” By Sixpence None the Richer
First Dance: XO By John Mayer
For our wedding entertainment had a post-modern style Jazz Band, Swing Boop, during the aperitivo who were a jazz band that played covers of popular songs. We then had a DJ for the party who played from the balcony above the dance floor (a great suggestion from our planner, Chiara) which created an epic party vibe! He was accompanied by a sax player that came out as a surprise to the guests in one of the windows of the house playing Jubel and we felt like we were at a music festival. It was so cool!
Back in 2018 whilst hiking up Machu Picchu, we agreed with one of our closest friends Lucy that if we were ever to get married, she’d be the celebrant. What started as a bit of a joke to make the uphill walking go faster, turned into reality. Luce wrote the most beautiful ceremony which had our friends and family laughing and crying and it made it so special and felt like us.
We had two readings during our ceremony. The first was written by one of our good friends Andy, who is a writer. When we asked him if he could write a reading for us, we didn’t expect it to be as amazing as it was. He came to London to interview us about all sorts of things to do with our relationship and our views on love and marriage. The result was a deeply personal, sweet & funny reading that made our ceremony so special. Our second reading was the lyrics to the Ellie Goulding song “How long will I love you”. We had the idea to use lyrics from a song rather than a traditional wedding reading and this one spoke to us the most.
A memorable moment…
During the party, the sax was about to come out which we knew but no one else did. We stood on a wall at the back of the dancefloor together and watched everyone else go crazy when the saxophonist appeared in a window and started playing Jubel. We were holding hands and laughing about how lucky we were watching everyone we loved most in the world have a brilliant time. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s easier said than done, especially coming from a meticulous planner like myself. I remember Mike and I agonising over what ties the groomsmen would wear, spending hours in Westfield Stratford (aka hell on earth) going from shop to shop comparing ties with minimal difference to each other, feeling stressed as the wedding was only days away. In the end, it really didn’t matter of course and any navy tie would have been fine.
Sources of inspiration…
My main source of inspiration was from the conversations I had with Chiara. She suggested not to spend too much time on Pinterest at the start, and let the aesthetic evolve naturally, focusing on the venue, the setting, and even influences from our home. Chiara’s input and suggestions guided us in our choices and enabled us to host a celebration that felt truly ours.
Wedding Venue / Tonnara di Scopello
Wedding Stylist & Planner / Avenue Cipresso
Photography / Giuseppe Marano
Videography / Ana Marina Sanz
Bride’s Dress / Halfpenny London
Bride’s Shoes / Gucci
Wedding Rings / Missoma London
Hair & Makeup / Consuelo Cardella
Stationery / Lucy Sherston
Florist / Frascati Fiori
Catering / Natale Giunta
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