With a vision of honoring the bride’s Italian roots, Maura and Alex chose to marry at the historic home of Abbazia di San Pastore, a breathtaking venue carefully preserved and surrounded by natural beauty, in Lazio, Italy.
Engulfed by ancient walls, the couple exchanged vows in front of a sculptural ceremony arch of climbing blooms, followed by intimate portraits under a backdrop of olive trees.
After the post-ceremony aperitivo hour, guests were moved through to a candlelit dinner, enclosed by the venue’s towering walls. Capturing every poetic detail of this boldly ambient and effortlessly romantic celebration were photographers Dos Mas en La Mesa.
Names / Maura Carmel Gaudio & Alex Brill
Wedding Date / September 24th, 2022
Guest Numbers / 80
Alex and I were looking for a venue that spoke to our architectural dreams, where the physical space could be a stand alone jaw-dropping experience, that spoke to our commitment to each other as a couple, historic, timeless and utterly romantic. The idea of getting married in Italy was an idea that my dad, a very proud Italian-American, suggested somewhat casually, his relatives own a venue in Benevento, Italy. We didn’t choose that location as it was extremely far for our friends and families to get to, so we did a search around the Rome airport.
I am an event producer in New York City and have dreamed of planning my (our) wedding since I was young. Initially my dream was to marry at The Frick Collection, a museum, in New York City, sadly it was closed for renovations. We also had a very specific goal in mind, which was to create a weekend out of our celebration, with all of our closest friends onsite at the venue, so we had to find a space that could accommodate 60+ of our friends and family.
In searching for a venue, a lot of the research came from The Lane, a wedding was posted at our venue and I immediately was astonished by the space, both stark and elegant simultaneously. We had our Italian Wedding Planner, our boots on the ground, Danila Stella, reach out to get more information.
In defining the aesthetic for our wedding, we drew a ton of inspiration from my parents’ wedding photos and my grandmother’s wedding dress that my mother also wore. Candid photos showing raw emotion, minimal floral design with amaranth for a draped effect and most importantly a highly curated selection of our favorite songs.
We met with a number of floral designers in Italy, however I was always in love with Fluida’s work, she is an artist and set designer, a fabulous creative director. She took my ideas, my budget concerns, since I often find florals to be a ridiculous expenditure at weddings, and delivered the most elegant, refined contemporary floral concept that truly blew our minds. The goal was to create magic through shapes and shadows, Fluida came up with the idea of crawling our flowers along the columns in the dining room, at first I was nervous this would be easy to miss, but Fluida delivered above and beyond our expectations.
My dearest friends, my officiant and my mother all got ready with me. Alex and his closest friends had a suite slightly farther away where they hung out and got ready together as well. Everything I did for our wedding was ‘site-unseen’ so I hired the loveliest hair and makeup artist, Cassandra Lusi, who flew in from London. Cass felt like a lifelong friend and made me feel so calm on both nights as I was getting ready. A second, wonderful, hair and makeup artist Erika Fusca, did all my friends, mother, mother in law and officiants hair and makeup. My best friend Lauren Iaconetti, who is my regular colorist and hair stylist galore, did my extensions for the wedding. Prior to walking down the aisle, we listened to a playlist of pop-songs that reminded me of my memories with the women surrounding me. It was a special and hilarious experience listening to Rage Against the Machine before walking down the aisle, it will forever remain one of my favorite moments in life.
“We wanted a simple and elegant ceremony, with architectural florals that felt whimsical yet refined.“
I had admired Dos Mas En La Mesa online for a few years, when it was time to select vendors I reached out to them immediately, before we had even selected a venue. Their photography was a first priority for Alex and I, we wanted to have timeless candid photos that captured the emotion of our ceremony. It was by far the best decision we made. To this day, Alex and I talk about how amazing we felt around Stefania and Maria’s energy, they made both of us feel comfortable in front of the camera, which we are not naturally. The pair shot the most joyful, genuine wedding photos we have ever seen and they seamlessly fit into the wedding without taking away from the experience. Dos Mas En La Mesa’s photos are the most beautiful photos I could’ve ever imagined and they too felt like longtime friends, it was a dream come true.
Lovingly, Alex and I, both have always felt wedding videos can feel very staged and phony, we did not want that experience, but we absolutely wanted to have video of our friends & families speeches. We were inspired by our parents’ wedding videos, old school videos, which led me to searching and finding Andrew Kelly, who shoots on Super 8 and digital film. Andrew was another incredible decision we made, he was above and beyond what we could’ve imagined. Andrew was onsite taking shots of the grounds, the guests and the landscape for many hours to get absolutely stunning video. During the times we worked directly with Andrew, for our portraits and getting ready, he made us both feel so comfortable and his presence is a calming demeanor. A core memory of mine was Andrew chatting with me shortly before I walked down the aisle, he said ‘Maura, Alex is a lucky man,’ it was so sweet and genuine. Andrew’s attention to detail was impeccable.
Initially we had considered having our ceremony under the olive grove on the property, however after our planner did a site inspection she recommended we move the ceremony into the chapel onsite. From photos we weren’t sure if the chapel could accommodate our guests, but after the site inspection it was clear that it was much larger than we anticipated. The small chapel was absolutely stunning with frescoes from the early 15th century. Alex and I are non-religious, but we felt the space spoke to our spirituality and the magnitude of what marriage means to us. We wanted a simple and elegant ceremony, with architectural florals that felt whimsical yet refined.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t think of the dining hall of Hogwarts lined with floating candles when we saw the Abbey, thus, the hope was to create one long king table that felt warm, inviting and lit with hundreds of candles. I have always disliked rounds for weddings, they felt typical and common, so I wanted to create something similar to a dinner at home. The hope for the table setting was to be organic chiffons and natural tones, paired with modern cutlery and plating. Fluida brought the idea of the flowers crawling up the columns and everything else was utter magic from there. I curated the reception music, a dream of mine and a huge element to the ambiance. It was incredible hearing Mazzy Star, Modest Mouse and Jason Isbell throughout the historic abbey.
Wedding Planner & Stylist
Alex and I hired Danila Stella to be our planner, we knew that not speaking fluent Italian and not understanding local permitting etc. would be tricky so we felt she was a great fit. Danila conducted our site visit for us and helped a ton with curating our rehearsal dinner. Our rehearsal dinner was equally as important to us as we had the idea of a family style Italian dinner. Danila really enhanced this experience with her attention to detail, the place cards for our guests were individual cheese graters with their names on it, it was incredibly creative. Our friends remind us of the enormous bowls of pasta every time we see them. The weather also changed the day of and was quite a bit cooler than we anticipated, Danila jumped into the car to pick up pashminas and blankets so we could continue the dinner as planned. We were so grateful for her willingness to help finalize small, but important details, like our delicious party favors. Danila included an international converter for electronics in each of our welcome bags, it was genius, considering all our friends forgot them.
From the beginning, I loved white flowers, wanting to incorporate baby’s breath, orchids and amaranth. The goal was an untidy, minimalist design. I love when florals accentuate the space, as opposed to feeling intrusive and obstructing the view. Once Fluida was on board, it was pretty easy to just let her run with it.
We worked with a designer from the UK, Paige & Co, who has different packages of stationary designs. The moon & stars and the organic paper pulp were a perfect match. We wanted our wedding to be a departure from typical American life, so we didn’t want any photos of ourselves or super thick card stock on any of the stationary, the organic style was very us.
The cake was tiramisu and a simple buttercream, Danila took flowers from our ceremony and put them into the cake, crafty & chic! To be honest, we cut the cake and immediately went to the dance floor. We have heard rumors that the desert bar and cake were ‘out of this world..’ Alex and I were dancing the night away at that point, but our guests raved about the desserts and cake.
Food & Beverages
One of the best parts of getting married in Italy, the food and wine. To start, we had a non-alcoholic welcome drink before the ceremony, followed by an enormous cocktail hour spread, there was fresh mozzarella and mortadella galore. Dinner was a three course meal of organic Italian dishes, local to the region. After dinner we had a delicious buffet of sweets and an open bar. Late night pizza was a classic ending to an amazing food filled night.
Fashion & Beauty Notes
Bride’s Dress & Shoes
For our rehearsal dinner I wore a gorgeous Taller Marmo dress, an Italian designer. It was whimsical and feathery, I loved it and wanted to buy it in every color. My shoes were from Zara.
For our wedding I initially was hoping to have my mother’s dress, which was my grandmother’s wedding dress, redesigned however after speaking with a few custom wedding makers in New York it was going to cost a fortune. I decided upon a dress from a local NYC designer Danielle Frankel, the Noa gown, that closely resembled my mom’s dress and was the same satin-silk fabric. I wore a classic pair of Manolo’s I found on sale for the ceremony, a vintage Whiting & Davis bag, my mother’s vintage hair clips from her prom to attach my veil and baroque pearl hoops from Chann Luu.
For our after party, I wanted to dance & feel sexy, so I wore a mini from the late punk-icon and legend, Vivienne Westwood and my mom’s pearl necklaces to create a layered look. For the after party I wore Giuseppe Zanotti patent white platform heels and then changed into Dr. Marten’s for comfort.
My friends wore whatever they wanted, so I told them to find a pink-ish dress and one they could hopefully wear again. My favorite, not to pick favorites, was my friend Joelle’s dress from Selkie.
Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories
My band was from the diamond district in New York City, we bought it the day before flying to Italy and Alex got his band from a jeweller in New Jersey that my engagement ring is from.
Hair & Makeup
I went with natural makeup with messy waves, for the after party Cass enhanced my look with smokey eyes.
Initially we were hoping to go skiing/snowboarding in Japan, however after paying for the wedding, we decided to stay in Italy to save on costs. We went to Apulia, Amalfi Coast/Sorrento, Capri, Tuscany and Florence before flying home to New York from Rome. Apulia was absolutely enchanting, the food and region was overwhelmingly beautiful, it was a peaceful way to spend the days following our wedding. Florence was a highlight of the trip for both of us, we love the city and the history. We loved all of Italy, we could never have spent enough time there, however we were starting to really miss our dog Olive towards the end of our trip.
Entrance Song – “Hysteric” by The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s
First Dance – “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac
After Ceremony Song – “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell
Father Daughter Song – “You Get What You Give” – New Radicals
Mother Son Song – “Over The Rainbow” – Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole
I curated a playlist for our rehearsal dinner, it was packed with classics from Jewel, The Beach Boys, Frank Ocean etc. It was so much fun putting this together. For the ceremony we had a harpist, violinist and pianist from Tuscany perform, my dad started tearing up when they started playing “Nessun Dorma”, it was a special moment. Our bridal party walked down the aisle to my favorite piece, “Spiegel im spiegel” by Arvo Part and I walked down the aisle to “Hysteric” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. For dinner and our after party I worked closely with our DJ’s from London to mix my playlist into a great set, it was the highlight of the wedding.
Celebrant & Readings
Our best friend, Julia Haley, was our officiant. We legally tied the knot in the City Hall in early September. We knew immediately that we wanted Julia and her husband Michael, our dearest friends, to be a huge part of our wedding, but when thinking about who would prepare the most incredible ceremony, we knew Julia was the absolute best person for this. Her ceremony was otherworldly, everyone was in tears, it was exceptional and the most memorable part of our wedding, next to exchanging our vows.
If I could give other brides to be one piece of advice…
Have a small wedding, you won’t regret remembering every detail and getting the chance to spend time with the most important people in your life.
Wedding Planner and Design Company / Danila Stella
Wedding Styling & Creative Direction / The Ceremony by Happening Projects
Wedding Venue / Abbazia di San Pastore
Photography / Dos Mas En La Mesa
Videographer / Andrew Kelly
Bride’s Dress / Danielle Frankel
Bride’s Shoes / Manolo Blahnik
Groom’s Formal Wear / Alan David
Hair / Lauren Iaconetti
Makeup / Cassandra Lusi
Stationery / Paige & Co
Florist / Fluida Design
Catering & Cake / Enoteca LaTorre
Entertainment / On Repeat Music
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