A Tuscan-Inspired Affair in St. Louis, Missouri
Monica and Alex
Alex and Monica Villa met as freshman at John Hopkins University, where they lived down the hall from each other. They were both dating other people at the time, but that didn't stop the universe from working its ways: Between athletics (Alex wrestled and Monica danced), physics class (they were lab partners), and Greek life, it seemed like the close friends couldn't get away from each other. By sophomore year, they were an item.
Fast-forward six years, and the couple was living in New York City. Monica was working at the American Museum of Natural History, and, after asking for her father's permission to propose, Alex had formulated a plan. He asked Monica if she was interested in a picnic lunch in Central Park one Friday afternoon. Monica said no—she was too busy at work. Alex was steadfast and persisted with his lunch plans, but so was Monica with her rejections. Finally, she asked, "Why do you want to get lunch so badly?" Alex, not wanting to blow his cover, said, "No reason, just forget it," and quickly figured out a plan B.
Alex emailed Monica's boss and asked if he could propose in the museum during the work day. Now, Alex was going to meet Monica in the Hall of Gems and Minerals, where the museum stores some of the world's most precious rocks and jewelry, and surprise her, photographer in tow. After waiting patiently for Monica—she took a detour to grab a drink and left him pacing for half an hour—Alex tapped her on the shoulder and said, "I believe this belongs in one of the cases," holding a precious stone of his own. Monica, confused, quickly asked, "What are you doing here?" Alex went down on one knee, and the rest is history.
One year later, on October 1, 2016, with 195 of their closest friends and family, Alex and Monica held a Tuscan-inspired Greek Orthodox ceremony at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, located in St. Louis, where the bride's family is from. A sophisticated, berry-colored reception at the World's Fair Pavilion followed.
Cheers to the Weekend
The rehearsal dinner and brunch invites, also by Livia Paul, incorporated Art Deco design details and continued the maroon branding featured on the invites.
Meet Me in St. Louis
Alex donned a black tux from Hickey Freeman, along with a crisp white shirt from David Donahue and burgundy pocket square from Savile Row Custom Clothier & Shirtmaker. Monica wanted a wedding dress with enough presence to hold its own in the grand church space of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, but also needed something lighter for the reception. This lace-and-tulle Monique Lhuillier gown, with a removable overskirt, fit the bill. "The best part was being able to remove it and dance with ease all night," she says of the overskirt. She accessorized her look with drop pearl earrings borrowed from her mother and a Monique Lhuillier veil.
A Blush Bouquet
Monica had never given Alex any indication of what kind of engagement ring she wanted, but he made a great choice when picking this one from Boone & Sons Jewelers with an antique setting from the 1940s. It was nestled in a maroon ring box from The Mrs. Box, a gift from the wedding planner to the bride.
The couple's wedding bands were also from Boone & Sons Jewelers. Monica wanted something that would accentuate the vintage details on her engagement ring, so her band featured a matching beaded texture. Alex's band complemented hers, and featured a mix of different platinums.
The First Look
The couple's favorite moment of the day was their first look, which took place near the outdoor pool area of The Chase Park Plaza. "I was getting nervous about the ceremony and it was certainly out of the ordinary for me to go a day without seeing Alex," the bride says. "It was so wonderful to have that moment to ourselves to be able to see each other before all the festivities began."
"I would absolutely say I was the most nervous then," adds the groom. "Monica looked beautiful and as soon as I saw her, it was much easier to survive the rest of the day."
Ladies and Gents
The bridesmaids wore tulle Cabernet-colored "Annabelle" dresses by Jenny Yoo, which included convertible panels to create different necklines—they chose to style them into one-shoulder gowns.
The groomsmen mirrored Alex's look, wearing black Joseph Abboud suits with maroon pocket squares. Monica has always wanted a dog, so, as a wedding present, he had all the groomsmen wear corgi-patterned socks and told her they were on a waiting list for a corgi puppy.
A Warm Welcome
Livia Paul also created the ceremony programs, which featured a vellum cover with the couple's monogram in gold foil and the floral pattern from the stationery suite. The booklet-style guide outlined the ceremony and explained the history of each section in the Greek Orthodox ceremony.
Monica's dad walked her down the aisle to "Pachelbel's Canon in D" at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, where a traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony took place.
After exchanging rings, Monica and Alex held candles, joining their right hands to represent their coming together as one. Then, crowns were placed on their heads, symbolizing the glory of God and enthroning the couple as king and queen of their own kingdom—their home.
In the Round
Cocktail hour took place on the lower level of the World's Fair Pavilion. The round bar served as the centerpiece for the evening, and was styled with flowers and the couple's monogram.
During this time, guests dined on passed hors d'oeuvres like fresh vegetable spring rolls, crab cakes, and a variety of artisan cheese—a favorite of the bride—as a jazz quartet played.
Design elements from the stationery suite were carried over into cocktail hour with these drink stirrers by Livia Paul. The couple chose acrylic stirrers with "cheers" in gold foil to accompany Monica's lighter signature cocktail while wooden stirrers with a burgundy wreath and a "V" were the match for Alex's heavier libation.
To honor Alex's love of scotch, the couple had a bar dedicated to the drink within the reception venue, serving up five varieties of the spirit. The groom's personal favorite was The Macallan 18.
The scotch bar was complete with custom napkins listing different facts about each of the featured varieties.
Take a Seat
To grab each guest's attention as they entered the reception, Katie Saeger Events came up with this escort card wall, made of a boxwood panel flanked by two walls featuring the floral pattern from the stationery. A wood cutout by Ten23 Designs told guests to take a look and find their seat.
The reception featured long and round tables set with lots of greenery and various combinations of floral arrangements.
Half of the long tables, covered in florals by Flora by Nora, had garlands of mixed greenery, berries, and fruits on top of white table-runners, with votive candles scattered throughout. The other half featured two lush centerpieces with small potted herbs and fruit and votive candles.
Round tables were set with roses, ranunculus, snow berries, exploding grass, celosia, and hydrangea in an aged terracotta vase with smaller floral arrangements, fruit, and potted herbs around the base.
Gold silverware flanked the foil-stamped menus, which were the same color as the invitation envelopes. They outlined the three-course meal that consisted of Cape Cod salad, bistro roasted chicken with whole green beans and roasted acorn squash, and, of course, dessert.
A Slender Sprig
It is a Greek custom for guests to receive small bags with five Jordan almonds—called koufeta—which symbolize health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. Monica and Alex's were tied with silk ribbon and a spring of rosemary to give tables a Mediterranean feel.
The First Dance
The newleyweds made their first moves in marriage to "Green Eyes” by Coldplay. Later in the night, Monica and her father danced to "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra, and Alex and his mother swayed to "What the World Needs Now" by Burt Bacharach.
Their monogram was implemented again, this time in the middle of the dance floor.
The couple cut into a confection from Sarah's Cake Shop, which featured layers of chocolate and raspberry jam-filled cake iced with vanilla buttercream, and a carrot variety with cream cheese filling. The floral-inspired design was based off of the envelope liner from the stationery suite.
Best Day Ever!
The escort card wall made a reappearance at the end of the day, this time as a backdrop to the Greek pastry favors by Pan Hellenic Pastry Shop, which included koulourakia (Greek Easter cookies), melomacarona (honey-dipped cookies), kourabiethes (a wedding cookie), baklava walnut rolls, baklava pistachio pinwheels, and kataife (a pastry made with shredded wheat cereal).
The wooden letters by Ten23 Designs now spelled out "Best Day Ever," a happy farewell for guests as they left the reception.
Photography, Mike Cassimatis
Event Planning, Katie Saeger Events
Catering, Butler's Pantry
Flowers, Flora by Nora
Videography, Sweet Tea Films
Stationery, Livia Paul
Calligraphy, Prairie Letter Shop
Cake, Sarah's Cake Shop
Music, Spectrum Band
Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier
Hair, Kim Khot Styles
Makeup, Phi Trinh
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's suit, Hickey Freeman
Menswear, Joseph Abboud
Groom's accessories, Savile Row Custom Clothier & Shirtmaker pocket square
Lighting, Exclusive Events
Transportation, BEST Transportation