Wed within the tranquil Italian gardens of a Venetian palace near Verona, art historian, Jillian, and her partner, Grant, held their ceremony at Villa Arvedi. Owned by the same family since 1824, the colossal Italian villa is rich with history. Set beneath the crumbling facade, the couple planned their romantic al fresco ceremony with the hillside as backdrop surrounded by olive groves, grape vines, and geometric hedges.
The dramatic reception dinner was a symphony of patterns, textures, and 17th century frescoes inside the palace’s grand hall, below soaring 12-meter-high ceilings.
The Italian destination wedding was poetically captured by photographer Chloe David.
Names / Jillian & Grant
Location / Verona, Italy
Wedding Date / June 3rd, 2023
Guest Numbers / 160
How We Met
We first met in preschool back in 1997, when, at four years old, Grant announced to the class that he had a crush on me during “circle time.” Finally, in our last year of high school, we began officially dating, and we quickly fell in love. We dated for several years and then broke up amicably while attending different universities. Years later, after discovering we worked in the same building in New York City, we reconnected. Once Grant finally summoned the courage to ask me out, we went on a date, and we immediately fell back in love. Within weeks we were talking about marriage!
Our Engagement Story
While living in Minneapolis during the pandemic, Grant and I had a favourite walking route that took us across the Mississippi River and onto the historic promenade where we picked up coffee and croissants. This is how we spent most Saturday mornings, so when Grant asked me to meet him at our favourite café the morning he proposed, I thought nothing of it. Little did I know, he had gone ahead to hide the ring inside a pastry box. We sat down at our go-to picnic table to have our breakfast, I opened it up to dig into my pastry, and by the time I looked up, he was down on one knee. I was totally surprised. We were both in our sweatpants, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. That night got dressed up for an engagement party with friends and family.
What we love most about each other…
We both always say that at the foundation of our relationship is trust in one another, and that trust allows us to both completely be ourselves. I love how reliable Grant is, I love how hard working he is, and I love his goofiness and optimism. Grant loves my intelligence and my sense of humour.
We chose Verona because I knew I was going to spend the months leading up to the wedding living nearby in Venice for my doctoral research and because Grant and I wanted to choose a location that could easily accommodate all our guests and was relatively easy to get to by plane. As an art historian, Villa Arvedi was a dream come true. The Sala dei Titani, where we had dinner, which is covered in seventeenth century frescoes, completely charmed us, but we also loved the fact that Villa Arvedi is still inhabited by the family who owns it, so it all felt very intimate. We loved that Villa Arvedi has so many unique rooms and outdoor spaces, so each part of the wedding – from the pre-ceremony cocktails to the afterparty – could take place on the same property and yet have a different feel.
The first image I sent to my wedding planners when we met was the Renaissance painting called the Madonna della Vittoria by Andrea Mantegna. The fruit-laden garlands, rich textures, celebratory pergola, and closely arranged figures all captured the aesthetic I wanted to achieve. I never found a pithy term to describe this aesthetic, rather I just said I wanted the wedding to feel like a chic and maximalist backyard dinner, in your grandma’s garden, which also happens to be attached to a historic home. This worked well with Grant’s style, too, because he loves anything colorful and unique.
I got ready with my bridesmaids and mom at the house my family had rented for the week. We got our hair and makeup done, listened to music, and drank champagne. There were some moments of stress because of rainy weather, and my bridesmaids kept me sane and laughing! Grant was in the city at the hotel with his groomsmen, where they had drinks on the rooftop and enjoyed each other’s company.
Chloe was the first vendor I hired for our wedding, and it was one of the best choices we made throughout the whole planning process. I was drawn to her photography for the way that it seemed to capture the intimate, hidden moments of weddings. Her photos seem to honour the dramatic and exceptional nature of the wedding day while not seeming pretentious or posed. Chloe’s warmth and friendliness made her a dream to work with on the wedding day, and we also really relied on her organizational and directional skills to make sure we got all of the shots we wanted. Even the guests sent me compliments afterward about how lovely she was!
I let the planners, Daniela and Paola, take the lead on the flowers for the ceremony, and they did an amazing job. The space where the ceremony took place was already so beautiful, that they decided to keep it simple with clear, acrylic chairs and a gorgeous flower arrangement at the foot of the stairway.
The reception décor was provided entirely by Daniela and Paola and our fabulous caterers. I am not a minimalist, so we immediately looked at pairing different patterns and textures in complementary tones and colors. I wanted each detail to speak as loudly as the florals, and I was so happy with the result.
“With our decorative florals, we were going for an organic, uncultivated, and sweet look.”
Wedding Planner & Stylist
We hired the two-person team, Centorose Un Tulipano, to help us plan the wedding. Daniela and Paola helped us from the start (showing us possible venues) to the finish (making sure we got home safe after the after-party finished). We immediately bonded over our love of architecture and history, and their expertise was invaluable. I felt that they really understood my vision for the wedding, so I did not need to agonize over all of the individual details because I knew they would take care of it. We truly could not have done any of it without them.
With our decorative florals, we were going for an organic, uncultivated, and sweet look. This is evident in the ceremony décor, aperitivo flowers, and the dinner centrepieces, which had different color palettes to complement the space.
My bouquet was inspired by Meghan Markle and Chiara Ferragni. My bridesmaids wore white, so I wanted their florals to complement their dresses, so they received smaller versions of my bouquet.
For our save the dates, I purchased a vintage postcard of Verona on Ebay and I had it adapted by a local stationer to function as a save the date.
Our wedding invitations were done by Stefania Perrone, who really captured the whimsical look I was going for and incorporated aspects of my original inspiration, Andrea Mantegna’s Madonna della Vittoria, into the invitation suite.
For the day-of stationery, we worked with Romeo + Jules Studio, based out of London. The team at R+J was a dream to work with. They completely understood my vision, and they constructed gorgeous black and white pin-stripe cards for the order of service and for the dinner they created a custom marbleized paper that complemented the tablecloth.
We gave our guests cookies called “Juliet’s Kisses” from a local Verona bakery, honouring the city’s connection to Shakespeare’s tragedy.
We went with a classic Millefoglie cake covered in berries. It was incredibly delicious.
Food & Beverages
We had a long aperitivo, so we wanted to make sure the guests were well fed. During this time, our guests had several different grazing tables to pick from as well as passed ouer d’oeuvres (hot and cold) and some live cooking stations. We had open bar service, too.
For dinner, we served a three course, sit-down meal with a fixed menu with wine pairings.
Fashion & Beauty Notes
Bride’s Dress & Shoes
Dress: custom made Amir Taghi dress. My dress had a square cut neckline with puff sleeves and a column fit through the legs with a detachable train in duchess satin.
Each bridesmaid wore a white dress of their choosing.
The flowergirl wore a white dress with a pink satin sash from a local Verona store.
Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories
My engagement ring was designed by Jessica McCormack. My wedding band and Grant’s wedding band were from the jeweller Greenwich St in NYC. I had custom gloves made from an NYC glove-maker called Wing and Weft using the antique French lace from my grandma’s wedding gown. For earrings I had my custom-made paste earrings by Shan Adams jewellery, who I found on Etsy.
Hair & Makeup
My hair and makeup were done by Anna Kalytyak and her fabulous team at BLBS management. I wanted a sleek bun, inspired by Josephine Skriver’s wedding hair. For my makeup I just wanted to look natural and glowing.
Grant wore a custom Isaia suit in a blue striped fabric, which he paired with suede Gucci loafers. His groomsmen wore whatever they wanted!
We arrived by van.
We had a brief minimoon right after the wedding in the Dolomites, at the gorgeous hotel Forestis in Bressanone. This was the perfect place to unwind after the festivities.
Our real honeymoon is this winter in Costa Rica!
Instead of gifts, we collected donations for our favourite charities through the website The Good Beginning.
After ceremony: Somebody Loves Me
We had a 20s style jazz band called the Chicago Stompers for the ceremony and aperitivo.
For the party we had a sax +DJ duo called Tasten’ Sax, and they really made the night special.
My brother in law, my sister’s husband Jake, was our celebrant. We are both close with him, and he is also a very thoughtful and spiritual person, so he was the perfect fit. The ceremony was my favorite part of the whole weekend.
‘We Remember Them’ by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer
1 Corinthians 13
“I am not a minimalist, so we immediately looked at pairing different patterns and textures in complementary tones and colors.”
A memorable moment…
Working together to plan the wedding brought us a lot closer. We especially loved sitting down together to plan the ceremony and write our vows together.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
Try not to second guess yourself! You can waste a lot of energy wondering if something was the right choice, so just trust your gut.
Sources of inspiration…
Restaurant décor, hotel décor, pinterest, La Lista (for Italian destination weddings), the You&Me podcast.
Wedding Venue / Villa Arvedi
Wedding Stylist & Planner / Centorose Un Tulipano
Photography / Chloe David
Bride’s Dress / Amir Taghi
Bride’s Shoes / Aquazzura
Stationery / Romeo + Jules Studio
Catering / Caffè Scala
Entertainment / Chicago Stompers and Tasten’ Sax
Lighting / 128 BPM Eventi
Find our handpicked edit of Fine Jewelry brands from around the world on the Directory.