Weddings

Rustic Simplicity in Puglia

Photography by Raquel Benito for Danielle & Matthew

Drawn to the rugged landscape and laid-back atmosphere of the Apulian coastline, Danielle & Matthew were romanced by the poetry of Masseria Potenti, a venue steeped in earthy, soft textures, white washed walls and open spaces.

Tables overflowed with local delicacies and authentic Italian rustic styling of billowing white drapes and dried blooms suspended and scattered across long communal dining tables. Guests were serenaded by candlelight into the night and celebrated underneath the enchanting, moonlit sky.

Captured by Raquel Benito.

 

Our Story

Names /  Danielle & Matthew

Wedding Date / 25th August 2018

Guest Numbers / 68

How We Met

We met in our second year of college at 17. Matthew had dressed up as Batman for a charity event and he looked a little bit too good in tights! After a couple of days of texting back and forth, we finally plucked up the courage to chat face to face, while walking to get our buses home one day. We instantly felt so relaxed in each other’s company, there was an undeniable excitement deep down in both of us, feeling like we’d known each other for years. Another terribly themed dress-up college party with some questionable dancing (from him) and the rest is history. Both growing up in the countryside, we moved to London together 12 years ago for work.

 

Our Engagement Story

Wanting to catch me fully off guard, Matthew got down on one knee in the lounge of our first home. He thought I’d guess and ruin the whole surprise if he did it on a holiday away, as my intuition is a bit too good at times. He’d written in my diary a few months before to keep this particular date free. This was something we did quite a lot for each other during our early days of going out, so I didn’t think anything of it, only – yeah, we were due for a nice romantic night out together.

It was a Saturday, I’d come home from work, the flat was spotless (which I then realised a lot later was a nervous deep clean) with candles lit, he said to go and have a shower and that he’d bring me up a glass of Prosecco to enjoy while I was getting ready. I had an inkling while in the shower but thought, no, he wouldn’t do it at home or in a restaurant. I didn’t realise at the time, but I came downstairs several times to get a second opinion on my choice of outfit, he was being so polite but must have wanted to just scream at me to hurry up as he was psyching himself up to pour his heart out moments later!

Standing together in our lounge he said some beautiful words then got down on one knee, smoothly producing a box from under the sofa. I was in shock and all I could do was swear in his face maybe a few too many times. After the big YES, lots of tears and more downing of Prosecco to calm nerves (it was surreal how nervous he felt even doing it in the comfort of our own home) we attempted some dodgy selfies surrounded by a half renovated flat. For the perfect ending, Matthew had a car waiting outside to take us to dinner at our favorite restaurant in London. I was well and truly stunned. Luckily my nails were painted that day too!

Marriage To Us Means…

A team, grown stronger by two equals. A strong sense of raising one another up, carrying the other with the utmost respect and consistent communication. Feeling like you’re being hugged by the other even when they are not present. It’s that relaxed yet electric excitement for a lifetime ahead of us together.

Marriage to us means never going at it alone, from the small things like holding the others hand when one of us creeps into bed (having gotten in late) to endlessly supporting one another through the dark and light in huge life-changing decisions.

The Details

 

Wedding Location

Masseria Potenti, Puglia, Italy. We always loved the idea of sitting outside at candlelight for our wedding breakfast and dancing the night away under the stars. Once we followed our hearts and looked into the possibility, our first choice was Italy. Although neither of us had any deep roots with the country, we just had an innate pull to be married there. During the run-up, people would say, “why Italy?”, and we’d say, “why not?!”. It’s one of the classiest and romantic countries in the world, with faultless food and wine and a laid-back nature.

Finding where in Italy started off difficult as the choices were endless, but none ticked all the boxes and they were all missing something. I then turned to Instagram, where searching a few key hashtags I came across one photo of the courtyard at Masseria Potenti and my heart rate quickened. I was so excited to share it with Matthew once he was home and knew he’d love it as much as me. Two weeks later we’d booked flights to visit the venue, staying there for one night so we got the full experience of every service available to us. The transition from seeing it online to physically stepping foot inside the Masseria was a pure moment in time we’ll never forget. There is an undeniable magic that flows within its walls and it hit us smack bang between the eyes.

 

Event Aesthetic & Inspiration

Classy, minimal decor, natural colors and style. We wanted to leave the Masseria as untouched as possible. In spring and summer, it sells itself aesthetically, it doesn’t need a lot of added decoration for it to look beautiful especially with the flowers and fruit trees already there. To appreciate this venue in its authentic style was very important to us. With its white-washed walls, the overhead material drapes blowing in the breeze in the ceremonial area, the huge cactus plants and blue skies were enough for us. Anywhere you looked, every small corner was pleasing on the eye, from the tiled floors in the reception area and bedrooms to the endless rows of olive and fig trees, it couldn’t have been more perfect. We wanted to work with keeping the aesthetic true to the nature of the area and that time of year.

 

Photography

Raquel Benito. We were actually recommended Raquel from a photographer that wasn’t available. We wouldn’t have known she even existed if it wasn’t for that, so always check out those recommendations! This is one aspect we felt quite overwhelmed by, there is so much talent out there. I had a fleeting thought to check my email recommendation from a few weeks before and BAM I watched Raquel’s compilation video and was instantly sold. I even remember punching the air with elation and cheered with joy alone, that’s how much I loved her work! She was the first and only person I looked at that evening.

Her photography was real, capturing those little un-posed moments in people that get forgotten in a heartbeat. We wanted to remember our wedding through such photography. The communication was brilliant, the connection was made. We felt so comfortable with Raquel and Leti. We loved their company and felt like they were additional guests at our wedding. We felt no pressure from them as they worked with an effortless manner, giving us great direction, and being open to any suggestions (and after all the decision making over the past year, we loved being told what to do for a change) we laughed a lot!

Fashion Notes

 

Bride’s Dress

The designer of my dress was Flora. I kept picking the same style of dress on Pinterest – classic, elegant but not “bridally” with a deep V neck. Funnily enough, everything I was drawn to was from Australia, Israel and Madrid. The sad thing was everything I loved was way way out of my price range, I have expensive taste, what’s a girl gotta do?!

Flora saved the day. The designer is only stocked in one place in the UK and it happened to be a 15-minute walk from my flat – I took it as a sign. I was drawn to the dress’s unique lace pattern and its airiness. I thought the style of the dress went hand in hand with the location and feel of our wedding. Although a new dress, I almost felt like I was wearing a vintage Italian number. I also went with this style because I was petrified I’d be boiling hot and it was so light and comfortable.

 

Bride’s Shoes

Gianvito Rossi. I chose the iconic pump being their ultimate signature style, which reflects elegance and femininity. A stiletto heel and timeless pointy toe. I didn’t purposely choose these because they were Italian, that was more of an afterthought! Shoes are my absolute happy place, especially high heels. I wanted to make sure I bought some that I would wear again after my wedding day.

 

Bridesmaid’s Dresses

After not finding exactly what I was picturing, I decided to get my bridesmaid dresses made.

 

Bridesmaid’s Shoes

This was a little challenging finding the right shade of nude and something stylish but extremely comfortable for my six-month pregnant maid of honor. In the end, I kept it safe and went with gold. My MOH recycled and wore a pair of my mules with a chunky low heel, my other bridesmaids wore a delicate open-toed, strappy high heel. The high heels were from NEXT and my mules were from M&S (both UK high street shops).

Wedding Rings

My wedding and engagement ring were from Anna Sheffield, New York. I first saw my engagement ring in a little display box in Liberty, London. When trying it on I felt like my truest self. When home I Googled the designer and couldn’t believe the sheer amount of stunning creations on her website, such beautiful designs and not the obvious choice, something a little bit more unique.

Matthew’s ring was a platinum thick band from a jeweler in London.

 

Jewelry / Accessories

I wanted my other jewelry to be simple, especially as I felt there was a lot going on in the detailing of my dress. I wore a small diamond hoop from Missoma. I was then supposed to change into a bigger chunkier more dangly earring for after dinner, but I forgot to change, clearly having too much fun! I wore two very skinny rings on my right hand that are wedding and engagement bands passed down through family.

Matthew wore a bracelet from Philippe Audibert along with two of his vintage rings and Daniel Wellington watch.

 

Groomsmen Attire

Matthew’s suit was from Reiss. Navy and double-breasted. Reiss has always been his go-to for suits, they just fit his figure so well and the tailoring is usually very quick and efficient. His pocket square and tie were also Reiss. He then took his tie off after dinner and added a loose, light scarf to still look dressed up. His shoes were a burgundy color from Santoni – another Italian brand, they do make the best shoes! During the day he wore Illesteva sunglasses.

Our Groomsmen were also in classic navy suits, but they were single-breasted.

All of the men had their trousers tailored to show slight ankle with loafers and no socks. Their ties were also Reiss.

Style Notes

 

Stationery

Our save the dates and invitations were designed by us and created by some of our extremely talented best friends who are architects/designers. We used a photo of the venues’ sunset we had taken on our first visit there as the background, we then layered over the top using thick tracing paper. We got the majority of our designs printed at Moo. We then made our thank you cards using Papier. Our menus, place settings and table numbers were made by a lady on Etsy.

 

Flowers, Bouquets & Styling

Our flower inspiration authentically grew from our shared style of wanting things to look natural and to have a minimal color palette. We wanted it to look timeless and very simple. We love dried flowers, we feel like they symbolise a story – they’ve lived to tell the tale and still look just as beautiful not in their freshest state.

For our bouquets, we had different types of green eucalyptus and olive leaves. In mine, I added some wild garlic flowers which were a very pale pink color and dried wheat corn which had a golden/beige color. This decision wasn’t made until the late morning of the wedding day – I came into the storage room where different dried flower options were standing and I was obsessing over the structure and color of the wild garlic. Chiara said they weren’t for the weekend’s décor, just something they had laying around in the dining room, but I was adamant to put some into my bouquet. She laughed and said, “you are the first person I know to want garlic!”.

Where the ceremony took place, there are huge cacti lining one side of it and a beautifully tall and skinny tree, so all we wanted was some huge pots of pampas grass either side at the top where we stood. However, we had to settle for more green foliage, mainly olive leaf but this looked stunning against the pure white background.

For the Reception, we just had eucalyptus running down the middle of the tables and visualised all-white dried flowers hung upside down from the top of the table structure. This decision again was slightly altered after I had come to inspect what dried flowers were on offer that morning and decided to add in a few different ones, keeping to our neutral palette.

Rustic Simplicity in Puglia

Ceremony Décor / Reception Décor

Being a stylist, I had so many visions of what I wanted to create – mainly referring to the table dressing, picking the perfect shade of napkin, how they would hang half over the edge of the table, the layered placing and type of crockery to the design of the drinking glasses. Most of my inspiration came from Pinterest and Instagram. The Lane was actually my favorite wedding account on Instagram. As probably most brides do – I just kept building my Pinterest folder and screenshots on my phone of any styling ideas that I loved.

However, part of the venue’s package is they take care of all the food for the three days and serve it on the one type of plate, crockery, cutlery and napkins already available at the venue. After everything else we had to plan, we saw this as a blessing in disguise as it was to the point, no decisions to be made and one less job to do. For the stylist in me, it was almost a compromise.

 

Wedding Planner

We didn’t have a wedding planner. We just went off our own styling ideas, put it together into Pinterest boards and sent it to Chiara who is the daughter of the Masseria owners. She would be in charge on the day. After the first meeting with Chiara we came to realise that this is what they do, they run and decorate the Masseria throughout most of the year.

We also had a lot of help from friends and family on the day to oversee certain parts. I got my interior designer friend to go outside and just check the tables for me once they were laid. My brother, sister-in-law and two best friends sat for a good few hours and had a little system going in our room hole punching, cutting and threading material (which I’d bought from the John Lewis haberdashery) into name tags for our table plan. They were all incredible and got completely stuck in. Matthew’s Dad then made and hung our table plan, using olive branches from the olive groves. It was little things like this table plan where I had my inspiration photo but left my father-in-law to create his own take on it. He is extremely talented when making things, so we wanted him to get involved somehow.

 

Cake

We didn’t have a cake as our set menu included up to six small dessert options for people to pick at.

 

Wedding Songs

Our ceremony song was James Blake – ‘A Case of You’

We walked back down the aisle together to Disclosure – ‘Boiling’

Our first dance song was Tom Odell – ‘Grow Old with Me’

Videography

Ben Walton – simply amazing. We couldn’t believe our luck when we found out he was free on our date. Without even doing research we knew that our definite big spend would be on a decent videographer, photographer and DJ. To us, you can’t put a price on having these memories on camera forever. When we’re old and grey(er) and have forgotten, we can hopefully sit in our armchairs with a glass of champagne and look back on our incredible day. We were adamant we wanted to have real sound on our video, so this was a big factor that pulled us to Ben.

Again, Ben and his brother Sam were just like having two more guests with us. Such brilliant company. They just did their thing and we couldn’t be happier with the result. Here is our six-minute video. We have a 23-minute version too and we paid extra to get all the raw uncut footage. It was worth every penny.

 

Preparation

Untraditionally we slept in the same bed the night before, in the morning we walked our bridal party, photographer and videographer through the order of the day. We were still overseeing last-minute jobs up until about three hours before we got married. We gave our parents their presents and both went off separately to write out our vows. I then stayed in our room and my girls and mum came to join me to get ready together; Matthew then joined his guys in one of our friends’ rooms. There were a few moments when the forecast looked like it was supposed to rain during our reception and the team needed to know whether to continue decorating or to take the chairs inside. We decided to take the risk and tried to keep a strong head, but luckily for us, no rain came down that day, just absolute blue skies and sunshine.

Looking back, I loved how chaotic it all felt, it was real life, it was exciting, but on paper, I’d love to not have felt that little gap of rushing just before we were ready. I wish I could have had more time to relax with my girls and mum to give them their presents and cards and have a moment to take it all in!

Entertainment

Throughout the weekend we had compiled our own playlists. One for the Friday evening welcome dinner, the Saturday pre and post-ceremony aperitivo, the wedding dinner, and for the Sunday pool party, which we loved doing. Curating the lists was one of the most enjoyable parts of the planning, we’d do a little bit on an evening during the weekends while cooking and eating dinner. We then created a large playlist with our favorite tunes for the Saturday evening and booked a DJ Max from Wedding Smashers, who did an insane job. We had incredible feedback for him, so far as some of our friends booking from the same company for their wedding the year after.

 

Food & Beverages

The Italians really do go big when it comes to wedding food. We couldn’t believe what was included in their offer.

For our Friday evening welcome dinner, we served an Ottolenghi style buffet. This was completely relaxed where we were all sat down at their huge long table with no place settings.

Saturday: Pre-ceremony we had alcoholic ‘pops’ ice lollies and Potenti’s homemade soft drinks on arrival, then after the ceremony, an aperitivo of traditional Apuglian finger foods and drinks in the square – Apérol spritz, prosecco, Italian beers and the Masseria’s wine was served. Our guests then gathered around the pool area and had a second aperitivo of salads and cold meats. For our reception we had a sit-down meal of tuna carpaccio and/or stuffed aubergine to start, linguine pesto e Pomodoro pasta and a rocket-style salad with figs, Parmigianino, basil and seeds to accompany. We had a choice of six desserts that were all presented on a table, so guests could help themselves to as many as they wanted. This is why we didn’t have a cake! About half-past midnight they brought out a cheese table and more of the ‘pops’ ice lollies in case anyone needed a cooldown.

Sunday: By the pool, we had homemade wood-fired pizzas, pasta, salads and Italian meats, foods perfect for soaking up alcohol a blasting away any hangovers. The Masseria make their own wine, one white, rosé and red which we served all weekend. An easy decision made for us. After dinner, we served a choice of two main cocktails that we chose as Margaritas and a Dark and Stormy. But the biggest consumer was the standard tequila shots, it just seemed to happen organically, even Matthew’s mum was on them!

 

Honeymoon

We stayed on in Italy for a week and had a mini-moon, we didn’t want the bubble to burst the very next day and wanted to ease ourselves out of it. It was the best time reminiscing about our weekend and digesting everything fully. We stayed in two places – Ostuni and Lecce. In Ostuni we stayed at Masseria Moroseta which we also looked at as a choice of wedding venue, then we stayed in an Airbnb in the city of Lecce. We still haven’t had our official honeymoon, so plan to go away early 2020.

Celebrant

We got legally married in the UK a month before our Italian wedding with a close group of friends and family. We chose to not exchange rings or say our own vows at this time, which we went on to do in Italy in front of all our guests. To us, this meant more than the signing of documents. We always found at other weddings we’d been to over the years, not having much say in who married you was something we’d like to do differently and to make it more personal. As the legal part was out of the way, we had free rein as to what words were said and who said it. As a result, we asked one of our best friends to marry us and there was no one better than our friend Paul, the husband of my maid of honor Sarah, who have known us since a young age.

We wrote our own ceremony and wrote our own vows separately, which we read out to each other on the day in front of all our guests. This was without a doubt our most memorable moment of the whole weekend. Having one of your best friends say “you may kiss your bride” was just the icing on the cake.

 

Readings

We had four readings read out by our bridesmaids and sister-in-law. Each one had a personal meaning between us and the friend/family member reading it out. “Nature Boy”,inspiration from the film Moulin Rouge, but originally written by Eden Ahbez “Love Never Dies”, by Andrew Lloyd Webber,  “The Alchemist”, by Paulo Coelho, and “Union”, by Robert Fulghum.

 

Any Other Special Details…

Because of where the Masseria is located, we could party outside until the wee hours without upsetting anyone. Our DJ finished at 3 am and then we had an after-party in my parent’s room, then up to our room. We were in bed by 6 am but regretted none of it!

Special Details

 

Sources of Inspiration

I’m sure, like most brides – just the plain old internet search, mainly Pinterest and Instagram. Don’t think you aren’t doing things properly if you don’t go to a wedding show/fair. I didn’t go to any after my best friend and I went to one in London for her wedding some years before, we had more fun leaving early and going for cocktails. We felt it was a waste of time and money. If you already have some concrete ideas, it’s so quick to run with it once you open your laptop. I’m not just saying this as I’m being interviewed by them, but The Lane was by far my favorite source of inspiration. If I was having a block and needed to boost my wedding energy, they were my first point of call.

 

A Memorable Moment

Gosh, there are too many…

On the Friday afternoon, the heavens just opened up and I’m not sure I’d ever seen rain like it. Any immediate family already there, were helping us distribute welcome bags to guest’s rooms. We then got stuck huddled under the entrance courtyard which was flooding so quickly underneath our feet, it came up to our ankles! The palm trees in the carpark were being blown to a 45-degree angle, just as the first airport transfer of guests arrived. The driver took his shoes and socks off and jumped up on a bench saying he’d never seen rain like it. A welcome I think our guests will never forget. A lot of them have said since – that it was one of their favorite moments of the whole weekend as it made it all the more exciting and such an adventure.

I woke on the morning of our wedding having lost my phone. Now this is not like me, my phone is usually glued to my hand. I mean, talk about relaxed bride, this was clearly all the tequila. I had a slight panic as my vows were written in my note app, which I needed to write up that morning. Luckily after some searching and getting a few family members involved – the owner let us know she had found it the night before and kept it safe in reception. It was like when you put your phone down at home and don’t worry about it, all my people were with me and I felt so relaxed!

Lastly, we’d agreed not to book external transport as the Masseria said they could drive my Dad, girls and I round to the entrance of the aisle, not being seen by guests. When we came to get in said car, I couldn’t believe what a mess it was in. Granted this was not a car to be seen, just a means to an end BUT as well as me, my girls were in ivory too. There was no way they were going to sit on the seats in the back. So collectively they decided to pull their dresses up and sit down, holding onto the material of the dresses. One of them had to sit on my dad’s lap as there weren’t enough seats. The driver suggested to maybe do a few runs but we were late as it was. Then when we eventually got to the entrance, the driver got out of the car to open our doors. Not realising he hadn’t put the hand brake on, the car started to roll into the wall of the olive groves. With the driver’s door wide open – he ran back and stuck his leg inside the car and onto the break. This, ladies and gentlemen, was when I had my second bridezilla moment

One Thing I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Wedding Plans

Again, there are too many. How much the costs can spiral and spiral. But if we’d of known this then maybe we wouldn’t have done it, so it is maybe better not knowing lol!

To not underestimate what people say about the last few weeks just flying by. We were trying to do as much as we physically and mentally could at weekends but I was still running around London doing things at the last minute, up all hours. We felt like we were the most organised people and this still happened to us. Matthew even had several spreadsheets which he said to not be scared of! As much as there is so much preparation to think about for your guests, really try and put yourselves first, I left quite a few things for myself to the very end, like choosing my jewelry and buying my makeup and ended up having to settle in places.

 

If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice

Go with your gut feeling on everything, this wedding is for yourselves not your long lost Aunt. For the British brides, don’t be too British and put your foot down if you’re not happy with anything. Don’t make the mistake as we did of not giving ourselves enough time to write and wrap our thank you cards and gifts prior. We were writing out our cards while our guests were swimming in the pool and we were like, what are we doing, we should be out there. The morning should be as relaxed as it possibly can be. DELEGATE – I heard this myself so much before we got married and we still made the mistake of doing too much on our own. It meant that we were late getting ready and not having as much relaxed time as we would have liked, with our bridesmaids and ushers to just stop for ten minutes and take it all in.

All the little details that you see that might not look exactly as you’d asked for or imagined, nobody sees them but you. At the time this advice was just annoying as it was just as much for us as our guests, I didn’t want to notice it. So you have to be prepared to just let the small stuff go. It really is irrelevant when you look at the bigger picture as to why you are actually there. A year on and I still annoy Matthew when I bring up tiny things that weren’t quite perfect but this is purely just the perfectionist in me, I’m working on it!

Our Contacts

Photography / Raquel Benito

Bride’s Dress / Flora

Bride’s Shoes / Gianvito Rossi

Groom’s Formal Wear / Reiss

Wedding Rings / Anna Sheffield

Jewelry & Accessories / Daniel Wellington, Missoma, Phillipe Audibert

Florist / Masseria Potenti

Stationery / Papier, Moo

Wedding Venue / Masseria Potenti

Catering / Masseria Potenti

Wedding Stylist / Masseria Potenti

Honeymoon / Otsuni, Lecce and Masseria Moroseta

Entertainment / Wedding Smashers

Videographer / Ben Walton

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