This Couple Tied the Knot in a Tiny Church in Italy—and Then Celebrated at a Castle
As Paul tells it, when he met Natalie at work, he didn't stand a chance: "Unfortunately for me, Natalie quickly established not only that I was 'definitely gay,' but also that she didn't like me very much," he says. Luckily, about a year later, Natalie and Paul found common ground: "Our shared love for food and travel, irreverent sense of humor, and the importance we both place on things such as family and friendships," Paul explains. And by the time he popped the question, Natalie was smitten.
The couple chose to host their July 7, 2018, wedding at Schloss-Freudenstein, a big castle in South Tyrol, Italy, where Paul is from. There, the gorgeous grounds and historical site could speak for themselves, allowing Natalie to choose a color palette "comprised of colors that I love"—including sage green, antique white, dusty pink, and burgundy—"and felt would complement and enhance, rather than overwhelm, the natural beauty of the castle," she says.
According to Natalie, 120 guests joined them for the wedding; they took center-stage in the couple's wedding plans. "Far more important to us than the venue or aesthetic was how we wanted our family and guests, most of whom had traveled from afar, to feel celebrated, honored, and included," Natalie explains. "We were very clear that the wedding wasn't just about us, but also a big celebration and thank you to everyone we treasured and who had been a part of our lives up to this point." Otherwise, she adds, "we tried to make our wedding feel authentic and personal, and to be a celebration not just of us but the people in our lives."
Wildflowers Calligraphy created the couple's invitation suite, using blush-hued script printed on soft ivory paper.
A Venue with History
Because the couple lives in Hong Kong—this was a destination event for them and their guests—Paul's parents were instrumental in helping them find their location: Schloss-Freudenstein in South Tyrol, where Paul was raised. "I had initially wanted the classic Tuscan destination wedding," Natalie says, "but quickly came around to having the wedding in South Tyrol." The reason? She loved the symbolism behind tying the knot in Paul's home region—"and because it is an unique, undiscovered part of Italy and would make transport easier for his family."
On the couple's first site visit to Schloss-Freudenstein, they fell in love, the bride adds. "From the beautiful little chapel to the gorgeous lawn and grounds overlooking the mountains and valley, to the cobblestoned courtyard, blue dining room, and adjoining terrace—everything was perfect," she says.
A Bespoke Wedding Dress
Natalie tried to find a wedding dress she loved in bridal shops, but was unsuccessful. So, she turned to a trusted tailor in Singapore to design her dream gown—and didn't see it until about a month before the wedding. The dress was just as she had imagined: It had an off-the-shoulder lace top with a deep V-back and an A-line silk chiffon skirt. "It was a little challenging communicating exactly what I envisioned, given that it was an amalgamation of various dresses I had seen," Natalie admits, "but we got there in the end!"
A Meaningful Bouquet
To her organic bouquet—which featured blush roses—Natalie tied a picture of her paternal grandmother, she says, who had passed away many years before.
Paul's three-piece dark-blue suit was also tailor-made. "As a personal touch, he had our wedding date embroidered in the lining of his suit jacket," Natalie adds.
The Dynamic Wedding Party
The groom gifted his groomsmen their ties, which they used to dress up their navy suits; Natalie asked her bridesmaids to select their own sea-green dresses. "I didn't want them to be in identical outfits," Natalie explains.
A Medieval Chapel
The couple held their ceremony at "the beautiful little medieval chapel located on the grounds of the castle," Natalie says. Inside the chapel, florist Nina e i Fiori draped greenery on the Old-World altar and down the aisle.
A Personal Sermon and Vow Exchange
Natalie and Paul's ceremony was extremely personal. Their friend and officiant wove the couple's love story into his sermon; they exchanged vows they had written for one another. "We were clearly on the same wavelength despite not sharing our vows with each other prior to the ceremony," says Natalie. "There were parts of our vows that were so similar I blurted out during the ceremony that he must have sneaked a peak in advance!"
The couple recessed to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder. As they left the chapel, they were showered in ivory rose petals.
Scooter Photo Op
A baby blue scooter decorated in a floral garland doubled as décor during the couple's reception. (Polaroid cameras were placed nearby for guests, who posed on the bike all night long.)
Lounge and Sit
Guests found their escort cards, presented on silver platters, in the lounge area.
It's a Sign
Just outside the reception space, the couple strung a banner with words from John 15:12: "Love one another just as I have loved you." As Natalie explains, "We felt this was fitting, given that it was right by the seating chart for our guests."
The Blue Room
The couple held their reception inside a blue-walled dining room, which they filled with round tables covered in ivory linens and Chiavari chairs. "The blue dining room has full stain-glass French doors that open out onto a terrace with a beautiful view of the valley. Our guests would get up between courses to mingle and take photos," Natalie recalls.
Loose, garden-style floral centerpieces were held in urns. On each table, a table number and taper candles flanked the arrangements.
A Tiny First Course
Smaller centerpieces also dotted the tabletops: Cups filled with beautiful, edible fruit.
"I have a massive sweet tooth," Natalie admits, "so dessert was a highlight." The couple offered guests a candlelit dessert buffet filled with seven types of sweets, including dark chocolate torte and raspberry tiramisu.
Natalie and Paul shared their first dance as husband and wife to a cover of "Higher Love" by Crazy Horses. "We wanted something upbeat and fun instead of anything too sappy," Natalie says. To prepare for their moment in the spotlight, they took a few lessons: "We're both not dancers by any means and [wanted] to avoid the awkward prom shuffle."
Photography and Videography, Melli and Shayne
Flowers, Nina e i Fiori
Stationery and calligraphy, Wildflowers Calligraphy
Cake, Patisserie Bologna
Music, Martin Perkmann and Tracy Merano
Groom's suit, Loro Piana