Organic beauty was the name of the game at this fairytale welcome dinner and destination wedding in Italy.
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Jenna and Shane
Jenna and Shane might have gone to the same high school in Westport, Connecticut, but it wasn't until about a decade later that they reached sweetheart status. After eight years apart post-graduation, Jenna received a last-minute invite to a Fourth of July party that Shane also happened to be at. "We ended up spending the night talking overlooking the water and watching the fireworks," says Jenna. "He bought me a grilled cheese at the diner afterwards and the rest was history."
Two years of dating later, Shane had a beach proposal planned but Jenna quickly uncovered his scheme. "There was no way he'd just randomly bring me to the beach at night on a Wednesday in November when it was thirty degrees," she says of figuring it out. So to keep it a surprise, Shane changed the plan. The very next night, he filled the downstairs of their house with hundreds of white roses and created a slideshow of their story set to one of Jenna's favorite songs, "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri.
The now Middlebury, Connecticut-based couple knew they wanted a destination wedding that incorporated water, an important element in how they met. They chose Ravello, Italy, for its "magical, raw beauty" and views of the Amalfi Coast. As the founder of event styling company Ebb & Flow, Jenna was excited to personalize the destination celebration. She and Shane, who runs his family's moving company, arrived a few days before their guests and spent time traveling through Italy before settling in at the Belmond Hotel Caruso—the rehearsal dinner venue and home base for the weekend. The pair wed on October 20, 2016, at Villa Cimbrone in front of 24 of their nearest and dearest. The family-focused welcome dinner and wedding, set against a stunning Italian backdrop, was a memorable celebration, just like when the pair's romance began.
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Written Word Calligraphy created the invitations, which featured the poem "Remember Tonight" by Dante Alighieri. "I'm very into literature and feel like it can really transport you to another place emotionally," says Jenna. Upon arriving at the Belmond Hotel Caruso, each guest received a welcome package featuring a program of the week's activities in a vellum envelope along with fresh lemons and limoncello. All of the stationery was adorned with a wax seal boasting a rose impression, a nod to the couple's then 18-month-old daughter, Camilla Rose. Providing an adventurous feel for the week, the welcome itinerary included the quote "Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures" from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
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Guests spent the day before the wedding exploring the pedestrian-only medieval town of Ravello and hanging by the pool at the Belmond Hotel Caruso. Prior to the welcome dinner that night, guests attended a cocktail hour under the olive groves on the hotel's property, and enjoyed champagne and sangria while the guitarist from April Kry played. Throughout their time abroad, the intimate guest list took in the picturesque scenery.
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Set up on the hotel's great lawn, the dinner tables incorporated autumnal florals and bottles of various flavors of limoncello, a local specialty that doubled as the night's favors. Keeping with the neutral palette, a gray silk runner ran the length of the table. The white textured linen napkins were brought over from Jenna and Shane's home and are often used when they host holidays. "We played with texture rather than color," says Jenna of the ghost chairs coupled with silk and linen fabrics.
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Dinner al Fresco
The meal itself spanned nearly three hours, with toasts, chatting, and Italian cuisine throughout.
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The First Look
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The Big Day Attire
Shane wore a Hugo Boss tuxedo, white Tom Ford bow tie, and Salvatore Ferragamo loafers. Jenna chose a silk Elizabeth Fillmore gown with leaf embroidery on the bodice. Their outfits incorporated touches of black velvet, the bride's "favorite fabric in the world," in their shoes and small accents on his jacket.
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The Bride's Accessories
Jenna wore black velvet Manolo Blahnik heels and diamond stud earrings along with her custom diamond-and-sapphire engagement ring. The blue of the sapphire represents water, a significant symbol and element in the pair's history.
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The Ceremony Setup
Jenna and Shane wed in the crypt of Villa Cimbrone, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and has origins dating back to the 11th century. "I just wanted it to feel really emotional, raw, and organic," says Jenna. Black taper candles in clear hurricanes, and wrought-iron candelabras wrapped in greenery lined the aisle. The ceremony seating, black velvet sofas and benches, was the second wedding element decided on after the venue.
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Jenna's dad walked her down the aisle to the sounds of April Kry singing Lana del Ray's "Young and Beautiful." During the ceremony, April, a family friend, sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler as the couple lit a candle in memory of their loved ones, who were also honored by placing their photographs on a seat in the front row. "It represented the both of us coming together and becoming one but then our individual candles remained lit to represent not losing the things that make us special individually," says Jenna of the candle lighting. Family members and friends recited readings from Dante Alighieri, Harper Lee, and George Eliot, and the exchanged their vows.
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"Watching her walk down the aisle with her dad was very emotional for me," says Shane of his favorite wedding moment. For the recessional, April Kry sang Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" accompanied by the pianist, who was surrounded with eucalyptus and olive branches.
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The Cocktail Hour
Guests enjoyed the views from the villa's terrace while a string quartet from Weddingmusic played both classical and modern hits. Refreshments included champagne and local appetizers such as mini jars of fresh octopus.
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The First Dance
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The Reception Setup
The tables were styled with cut-crystal bud vases and tea light candleholders scattered between oversized crystal candelabras and large marble vases overflowing with eucalyptus. Another black velvet accent at the fête? The sleek table runner.
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Instead of escort cards, Written Word Calligraphy created black envelopes with each guest's name penned in white, and the menu tucked inside. The wedding date, written as 20 October MMXVI, was printed at the top. Prepared by the Michelin-star chef at Villa Cimbrone, the meal's four courses, such as tortelli pasta and beef filet in puff pastry crust, were outlined in both Italian and English. White rose wax seals completed the envelopes, which sat atop gray silk napkins.
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The Newlyweds' Seats
Prior to dinner, five speeches were given by friends and family. The happy couple sat in the middle of the table and enjoyed an unobstructed view of the Amalfi cliffs through it all.
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After dinner, it was time for dancing and dessert. Villa Cimbrone whipped up this chocolate sponge confection with a Chantilly cream frosting and fresh foliage running up the sides. Black and gray candles in crystal candleholders surrounded the sweet treat.
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Photography, Rebecca Yale Photography
Officiant, Rosa Pauli
Stationery and calligraphy, Karla Lim of Written Word Calligraphy
Rentals, R&nt Venice
Hair and makeup, Manola Spaziani
Bridesmaids' dresses, Neiman Marcus
Groom's suits, Hugo Boss
Menswear, The Black Tux
Bouquet ribbon and gray silk napkins, Seidenband
Rehearsal dinner paper goods, The Wells Makery
Rehearsal dinner rentals, Wedding Solution
Rehearsal dinner table runner, Silk & Willow
Vow books, Velvet Raptor