This couple celebrated their love for travel, family, and friends during their stay at a picturesque villa.
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Jessica and Dmitry met nine years ago while they were still students. "We got part time jobs at the same retail store and have been together ever since," they say. Now they live in Toronto, where Jessica works for a private equity firm and Dmitry works for a global investment bank. As for the couple's proposal story? It was a long time in the making. Dmitry spent months designing a custom engagement ring and made plans to take Jessica on a trip to the Thousand Islands, a locale straddling the United States-Canada border at the Saint Lawrence River. There, he was going to propose in the Boldt Castle on Heart Island. But his original plan turned into a celebration trip: Once he picked up the ring, Dmitry says, he was astounded by how beautiful it turned out and couldn't wait to give it to her.
They were married on June 30, 2018, after a four-year-long engagement. Their decision to travel to Italy for their big day was born out of another trip. After attending university, Jessica and Dmitry spent six months traveling Europe, visiting more than 100 cities and towns across 20 different countries in the process. "We fell in love with the feeling of discovering new places, and Tuscany was our favorite destination," they say. "We wanted to share our love for travel with family and friends and let them experience our favorite part of the world."
They married at Borgo Pignano, a picturesque villa, on a clear, sunny summer evening; 80 guests attended the black-tie celebration. "Our wedding was a grand culmination of everything that brings us happiness: family, friends, food, travel and love," the couple says of the memorable event.
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Cindy Chi from Owl Post Calligraphy designed and created Jessica and Dmitry's invitations, which were made with handmade paper and foil printed text and illustrations. "We asked Cindy to create a custom illustration of the 12th-century church still standing in Borgo Pignano's grounds and incorporate it in the invitation suite," Jessica says.
The addressing was hand-scripted, and the invitations were sealed with wax before being mailed to guests from 11 different countries. "Between the two of us, we've grown up and lived in seven different countries, so we had family and friends coming from Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States," Jessica says.
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Their venue, Borgo Pignano, stood out to the duo for its character and elegance—plus, they liked the management's hospitality and chef's cuisine. "We've traveled quite a bit and had the chance to stay at a number of beautiful accommodations, but somehow Pignano was able to get things just right in every respect where others fell short," they say. "Even before we had our wedding there, Pignano became our favorite destination in the world to come back to."
The reserved the venue for three full days, and most of the guests were able to stay the entire time. It still wasn't enough time, but was better than just one day. "It gave us a chance to better catch up with our family and friends, many of whom we haven't seen in years," Jessica says.
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The Church and Color Palette
The bulk of the wedding weekend and reception took place at Borgo Pignano, but the couple was married in Abbazia dei Santi Salvatore e Cirino, an old church about 45 minutes away.
Both venues laid the foundation for the day's aesthetic. "The overall theme was subtle opulence," Jessica says. They incorporated a few dramatic elements for flair, adds the bride, but avoided over-the-top décor. The soft, subtle color palette, for example, featured a mixture of warm whites, neutrals, blush tones, and powder blues.
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Instead of sending the guests home with favors, Jessica and Dmitry greeted their loved ones with gifts, instead; they gave them all a bottle of Prosecco in their rooms, along with fresh strawberries from the venue's farm. "During our visit to the farm the year before our wedding, we were blown away by how flavorful their strawberries are," they say.
The rehearsal dinner took place on June 29, 2018, the day before the wedding, at the Al Fresco restaurant at Borgo Pignano. Almost all of the wedding guests attended the event, which included a cocktail reception, dinner around a wood-burning pizza oven, mini golf, and a photo booth, which was set up to take the place of a written guestbook. Potted Italian herbs wrapped in burlap served as centerpieces for the tables and were surrounded by fresh lemons and tomatoes from the venue's garden.
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For dinner, pizza was made in the wood-burning oven and served with fresh salads with local cheeses. There was local Tuscan wine to drink. "This was the first time we've seen many of our family members in 10 to 15 years, so was wonderful to see everyone and be surrounded by so much love and joy," Jessica and Dmitry say.
"Our younger brothers gave toasts, and they were heartfelt and beyond hilarious!" the couple says. Jessica's two younger brothers sang (and played ukulele!) a special song dedicated to the couple. "Jessica still gets emotional when she remembers it," Dmitry says.
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After countless hours of searching for her wedding dress online, Jessica and her mom went to several bridal appointments in New York City. She tried to go in with an idea but not be too inflexible, she says. "I think it's important for brides to have this mindset when going into the fittings otherwise they might feel like they're trying to find a needle in a haystack!" The bride found just what she was looking for at Vera Wang. "I had a number of their iconic dresses to try on when my mom spotted a show-stopping ball gown she demanded I try too. It turns out, as with everything in life, mothers know best."
Jessica's dress was part of Vera Wang's Fall 2017 collection, which was inspired by 17th century Verona, Italy. It seemed meant to be, considering her destination venue. "It was made with intricate light ivory Italian macramé lace with the most gorgeous hand draped ball gown skirt and cathedral train." She altered the dress to add volume to the skirt and length the sleeves; pieces of lace were used as cuffs. "I fell in love with the dress because it was equal parts dramatic and delicate," Jessica says. "To be honest, I've never seen a dress like it before."
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The flowers for the day included English and Mediterranean roses, peonies, delphinium, hydrangea, ranunculus, Queen Anne's Lace, jasmine, and ivy, Jessica says. Her bouquet was made of pink and white roses and peonies with some greenery.
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The Groom's Tuxedo
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Jessica asked her closest friends from various stages of life to be her bridesmaids. She suggested a color palette for their dresses so they'd look cohesive, "but I let them choose their own dresses because I value their individuality and wanted to showcase that," she says. To her pleasant surprise, the designs came together seamlessly.
"I chose my brother and my best friend from university as my groomsmen," Dmitry says. The guys wore suits by Indochino.
Following the Filipino tradition of Ninong and Ninang, Jessica and Dmitry had three pairs of marital godparents, they say, who walked down the aisle. "These are trusted elders who can share wisdom and marital advice to the couple," Jessica and Dmitry say.
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The Flower Girls
The flower girls all arrived from three separate countries to celebrate the wedding, "so we decided it was easier to have them choose their dresses," Jessica says. They gave them pointers to find something tea-length with cap sleeves in a white or ivory color. "The overall look turned out perfectly," Jessica says.
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"Dmitry worked with Vahe Garabetian, a Toronto-based jeweler, to create a ring that is both "vintage-inspired and timeless," Jessica says. The center stone is oval with a single halo; the yellow band has filigree and milgrain details, as well as pavé diamonds.
The wedding rings are from earlier in their relationship. "We bought very simple gold bands from a store across the street from Eaton Center, and exchanged them as promise rings after freshman year in university," Jessica says. "We've been wearing these bands until we took them off on the wedding day to exchange them one more time at our ceremony."
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The church ceremony, which began at 4:30 p.m., featured an aisle lined with delphinium, ascending in height as it approached the altar. An organic flower arrangement defined the altar itself, complete with vines draping down the steps toward the other floral décor.
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John Legend's "All of Me" was played by a string quartet during the processional. Jessica entered under a floral arch; her father walked her down the aisle to "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley.
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A local priest officiated the Catholic ceremony, for which Jessica and Dmitry wrote their own vows.
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The bride and groom lit a unity candle during the last part of the ceremony, which involved using two individual candles to light one big one as a symbol of uniting their two families, they say. They also included the arras ritual: The couple exchange thirteen silver coins to pledge their for welfare for one another and their future family. The veil ritual, the draping of a veil over the bride and groom, symbolizes God's presence and protection for the couple. This pairs with the lazzo ritual, where the Yugal, or wedding cord, is wrapped over the veil to symbolize the unification of the could through prayer.
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Cocktail hour began at 6:30 p.m. on one of the terraces of Borgo Pignano. "It was done in Italian Aperitivo style with Bellini cocktails, canapes, and Tuscan refreshments," Jessica says. She and Dmitry took portraits at the old gates of Borgo Pignano at 7 p.m.
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The reception took place at the Belvedere, along the main façade of the Pignano villa. Dinner was served at 7:30 p.m., timed with the sunset. The setting sun lit up the Tuscan hills and silhouetted the nearby town, Volterra.
Guests dined family-style. "Instead of having multiple tables, we wanted all of our guests to sit at one long table like one big family," the couple says. Eight chandeliers hung over the table, which also had antique gold candelabras for lighting. Guests received seat numbers in their personalized welcome letters they received after arriving to the wedding venue.
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The Table Settings and Menu
White flowers and jasmine vines wove in and out of vases and around candles down the table. Jessica and Dmitry also added grapes, pears, and peaches to the décor, along with antique white chargers.
Dinner incorporated the bride's and groom's favorite dishes. "To accommodate these options, we shared the menu with our guests ahead of time for them to make the selection," the couple says. "So, guests knew the menu before they arrived, and we didn't print a separate card."
Burrata cheese with smoked eggplant and roasted tomato was one of three appetizers. Pasta dishes included homemade tortellone pasta stuffed with potatoes and thyme with a cheese sauce and truffles, risotto "carnaroli" with mushrooms and blueberries, and homemade cannoli stuffed with zucchini, mint, tomatoes, and Mediterranean fragrance. For the meat dishes, guests had the option of slices of wild branzino with white clam sauce and soft parsley potatoes, steak and seasonal vegetables, parmesan cheese soufflé served with carrot cream, pear and licorice powder, and vegetables tarte tatin.
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The first dance began at 11:30 p.m. to "Perfect Symphony" by Ed Sheeran with Andrea Bocelli. "The song really spoke to us as it reminded us of our own story and how we've met and grown up together," Jessica says. "Having Italian verses in the song also tied nicely with the theme of the wedding, and Ed's and Andrea's voices are simply magical."
A celebration on the dance floor followed and included several other Italian songs. Jessica changed into a simple white dress and sneakers, with the goal of dancing all night. "Celebrating on the dance floor with my husband, parents, brothers, family, and friends was the absolute highlight of the day for me," she says. "It was one of the happiest moments of my life and I will never forget the feeling of being surrounded by so much love."
As for Dmitry's favorite part? "Since celebrating on the dance floor is already taken, I am going to go with looking back and actually reminiscing about the whole day," he says. "We spent so much effort putting the whole day together, and it's gratifying to think back and appreciate that we managed to pull it off. Looking at pictures and the video of the wedding day brings me a lot of joy because I can honestly say the day went exactly as I dreamed it would."
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"Chef Vincenzo Martella created our dream wedding cake which literally started as a figment of our imagination," Jessica says. The four-tiered Italian mille-feuille (or "a thousand layers") cake had blackberries within a lavender-infused mascarpone cheese filling. Lilac flowers flown in from Holland adorned each tier. "It was the most delicious cake we have ever tasted!" the couple says.
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For their honeymoon, Jessica and Dmitry went back to Greece, where they revisted Santorini and explored Milos for the first time.
As for their best advice for couples currently planning a destination wedding? Count on one another and pay attention to the most important details. "Pick the wedding details which you'd consider the most important to you as a couple and focus your efforts on those," Jessica says. "We thought of things that our guests would really care about and tried to make sure those are absolutely flawless. Things like venue, the overall theme for the décor and a seamless and authentic experience."
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Photography, Laura Gordon
Location, Abbazia dei Santi Salvatore e Cirino (ceremony); Borgo Pignano (reception and wedding weekend)
Event planning, Mascia Scardigli and Cassandra Galletti at Happening
Catering and Cake, Chef Vincenzo Martella of Borgo Pignano
Flowers, Tuscany Flowers
Videography, Jana Bušková
Stationery and Calligraphy, Cindy Chi of Owl Post Calligraphy
Music, Chiara Trallori (string quartet); DJ Fabio Dex (DJ)
Rentals, Preludio Noleggio
Bride's dresses, Vera Wang (ceremony); Mestiza New York (dinner)
Bride's ceremony accessories, Tania Maras (bridal crown); Monvieve (veil); Miriam Haskell (earrings); Emmy London (shoes)
Bride's rehearsal dinner accessories, Lily (earrings); Valentino (shoes)
Hair, Ashley Peters of Jewel Hair Design
Makeup, Brittany Mason
Groom's tuxedo and shirt, Garrison Bespoke
Groom's accessories, Charvet (bow tie); Brooks Brothers (cufflinks and studs); Christian Louboutin (shoes)
Groom's rehearsal dinner wear, Boggi Milano (jacket); Eton (shirt); Christian Louboutin (shoes); PT Pantaloni Torino (pants)
Lighting, Francesco Bianchi
Photo booth, OverTheBox
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