This Couple Invited Guests to the French Riviera for Their Chic Destination Wedding
Jiannina had moved to New York City to start a new job—in the same building where Enzo happened to work at a sister brand. They caught one another's eyes but kept things strictly professional. Until one day, when Enzo gave Jiannina a ride to work at the suggestion of his boss, and they became inseparable. Soon after, they grab a drink and had dinner at a great Italian restaurant. They've been together ever since.
After about five years together, Enzo popped the question on Valentine's Day with a romantic proposal inside St. Patrick's Cathedral—a church the bride had dreamt of getting married in her entire life. But eight months later, they decided to go abroad for a wedding that was just as dreamy. On Saturday, October 14, 2017, accompanied by 100 guests, they became husband and wife in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France.
As Jiannina hails from Miami, Enzo's roots are in Italy, and they live in the Big Apple, the destinations they considered were vast. A wedding in Frence allowed them to mix their cultures (Jiannina is of Cuban-Lebanese descent), highlight the beautiful location, and share an amazing weekend with their loved ones who traveled from near and far.
"It was the most perfect and surreal day and night," the bride recalls. "If I had to close my eyes and dream of what heaven would feel like, this was it." Adds Enzo, "I really think the people make the party. When you brought all of these spectacular people together in one room, it was nothing short of fireworks. They are all asking for us to do a wedding reunion again this year!"
Many of Enzo's friends and family live in northern Italy, and he and Jiannina have several loved ones in Dubai, Brazil, London, and Australia. That's why they sought out a destination that everyone would be equally excited to go to. They considered Italy, but the weather there in October can be fickle. Jiannina pinpointed the South of France as one of her favorite spots in the world, and when they booked their stay in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, they knew it would be the place for their wedding abroad. It was a scenic four-hour drive for the Italians and all the other world travelers quickly jumped on the opportunity to join them in the picturesque locale. "It was a perfect mix of casual, chic, elegant, timeless, private, and magnificent," Jiannina says of the iconic Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat.
The invitations were designed using an Art Deco-style font and then letterpress printed on thick paper stock. The non-traditional horizontal orientation and Roman numerals (the wedding was in Italy after all) made it all the more special. The text was offered in both English and Italian. Marble-patterned backers reminiscent of the rocks and surfaces found on the property, plus a vintage image of Monte Carlo as part of the invitation to the cocktail party, balanced the simple layouts.
Enzo sported a deep blue velvet jacket from Sartoria Rossi in Italy. "Jiannina helped me design the whole tuxedo from head to toe," he explains. "Expanding on that retro Monte Carlo glamour feel, we thought it was perfect. Also, I wanted to be different from all of the other dapper guests in black-tie attire." Enzo wore Hugo Boss patent leather shoes that he could comfortably dance the night away in.
Jiannina wanted to wear lace but preferred a modern style over something more traditional, and nothing too revealing. On one of her business trips to Italy she popped in to Le Mariage where she discovered an Alessandra Rinaudo wedding dress. She added sleeves to the lace bodice, which matched the lace-trimmed slit on the satin skirt, and topped off her look with a hair comb with netting from the boutique paired with a Vera Wang veil.
She checked off all the traditional accessories, too. Her something old was a vintage watch, her something new was a rose gold cross from Enzo, she borrowed earrings from her mother, and went blue with a vintage ring she treated herself to when she had moved to New York.
In Her Shoes
The Ceremony Setting
The ceremony took place in the Jardins de la Volupté at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat. "We found the garden extremely private and romantic," Enzo recalls of their first time seeing it. "We sat on a bench taking in the views and realized we stayed for over 30 minutes. We can picture our life there. Growing old together, returning and just taking in the fresh air from the Mediterranean. It's our heaven on earth."
Chris Hessney of Hessney & Co. took a cue from the grounds and created an extension of the plants there to frame the ceremony. Local plants dotted the aisle next to ivory bistro chairs, and two large floral arrangements anchored the space.
The wedding began with Enzo escorted down the aisle by his sons as Buena Vista Social Club's "Chan Chan" played. Jiannina and her father entered to "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles. "The day was filled with love and the song was perfectly uplifting for the outpouring of love that day," she explains.
The bride's brother officiated the personalized ceremony, talking through the couple's pasts all the way to what brought them together. "Most of our guests said he was the highlight of the wedding," Jiannina says of the service that was meaningful but equally witty and entertaining.
Guests showered the newlyweds with flower petals as they exited to "I Just Want to Make Love to You" by Etta James.
The Maid of Honor
Jiannina's maid of honor, Gina, chose an elegant dress with velvet accents. Enzo's brother served as the best man, and the duo walked down the aisle together during the ceremony. The wedding party was kept small as the bride and groom felt that everyone in attendance was important.
Jiannina's parents had been married for 41 years at the time of the wedding and gave the advice that "transparency and inclusion breeds trust, which is the bedrock of a long and successful marriage and life partnership."
As a surprise for her new husband, Jiannina, Enzo's sons, and Enzo's brother pulled together photos of Enzo's late parents' wedding day and made a book about their early life together. "It was incredible," Enzo says of the gift she gave him the night before the wedding. "This gave us a very sincere moment together before the wedding which I will never forget. I felt as though my parents were with us the whole time."
Rosé Champagne flowed, hors d'oeuvres were passed, and an ice sculpture with the couple's initials carved into it was used to prepare fresh martinis. Guests could also sip on his and hers cocktails—the "Enzo" was a negroni and the "Jia" was an Aperol spritz.
Like Father, Like Sons
Enzo's sons were by his side for the occasion and gave a very touching speech. They all fit the dress code of "Monte Carlo Glamour" with the recommended palette of black, white, gold, and silver.
Up Up and Away
As the sun was setting, the group boarded gondolas down to Club Dauphin for the reception overlooking the water. "We thought it was a great way to transfer guests," Jiannina says of the gondola ride. "The views are spectacular. It's always fun to incorporate surprises for the guests, especially for their arrival to the event space."
Find Your Seat
Instead of cards, guests' names and table assignments were penned on slices of agate as a way of adding a little glam to the reception.
The seaside Club Dauphin restaurant was the setting for the reception—which lasted until the wee hours of the morning when everyone jumped in to the pool in their finery. Hessney & Co. arranged long tables on each side of the dance floor and covered them with black linens topped with tulle runners. Chandeliers were hung overhead to create a more intimate and warm atmosphere, further helped by the hundreds of hurricane candles, lanterns, and candles used throughout the space.
Clear ghost chairs were a stark contrast to the tables, and allowed the embroidered napkins to show through. Centerpieces alternated between low arrangements of hyacinths, garden roses, tulips, ranunculus, local anemones and greenery, and snow berries, and tall clusters of tropical Alocasia leaves to add a nod to Miami, where Jiannina is from.
The Place Settings
Tropical leaves and agate place cards sat atop each plate, which rested on the embroidered napkins showcasing the couple's Art Deco-inspired monogram.
Dinner began with a white asparagus velouté with truffles, and a lobster salad with black garlic followed. Entrées included potato gnocchi with summer truffles and roasted chicken with artichokes and olives from Nice, France.
When it came time for dessert, there was something special in store—a vanilla rum cake inspired by a Cuban baker in Jiannina's childhood hometown of Miami. The hotel's pastry chef recreated the confection and topped it with vanilla bean ice cream and a touch of rum.
Works of Art
The couple hired a caricature artist to draw the guests as a retro take on the photo booth, which made for a fun memento from the event.
The region in Italy where Enzo was born is known for its balsamic vinegar, so petite bottles of the condiment were packaged with customized labels and given to guests as a usable keepsake from the event.
The First Dance
The newlyweds chose Etta James's "At Last" for their first dance song shortly after arriving at the reception to the sounds of Nat King Cole's "L-O-V-E" in French. Jiannina danced with her father to "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole, and Enzo brought her mother to the dance floor to share the moment.
DJ Lora played a fun version of "Mambo Italiano" as a tribute to the Italians present and definitely got the crowd going. They also had the Javier Garcia Band, who traveled from Miami Beach to play their Cuban and Colombian-tinged tunes. "My family is big on dancing, so we wanted to get the crowd dancing on tables and letting loose," Jiannina says. As the venue was transformed to feel like Cuba in the 1950s, the music brought it all together.
Photography, Sandra Åberg Photography
Location, Catering, and Cake, Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat
Event planning, Production, and Flowers, Hessney & Co.
Videography, Scene 7
Calligraphy, Nikki Pettus
Hair, Monica Coiffure
Makeup, Maxence Alvarez
Groom's tuxedo and shirt, Sartoria Rossi
Groom's shoes, Hugo Boss