A Carolina Herrera bride for a destination Jewish Wedding in a castle at Castello di Vincigliata, Florence, Italy.

Today’s gorgeous bride first made contact with me back in 2014, when she was looking for supplier recommendations for her destination wedding in Florence. I immediately noticed that her email signature read ‘Head Scientist at playdohlab.tumblr.com‘ and I thought, WOW, I really do have the coolest readers in the universe!

And her wedding does not disappoint. Whilst it isn’t play doh-themed (which I was secretly hoping for!) it’s a delicious destination set in an astonishing castle in Florence, and the crazy thing is, I attended a wedding in the very same venue last summer!

Anna and Chaim enlisted the help of SposiamoVi (one of my much-loved Smashing Suppliers) to plan their big day, and what a great choice they made. Their fabulous wedding included two bridal gowns (a Carolina Herrera andMaxMara Bridal), lace-adorned Jimmy Choo’s, exquisite Louis Purple tailoring (with some wonderful embroidered personalisation), Chaim’s father officiating the wedding, a brilliant band that included the bride’s uncle, as well as some glorious Tuscan candle favours (Anna says she wanted to create a memory of the wedding through smell), and an unplugged chuppah ceremony – something that I’m a really big fan of. Anna said:

We requested no cameras, smartphones, or iPad use by any of the guest during the chuppah – we wanted everyone to be in the moment. The only people taking pictures and videos were our photographer and videographer.

And what a fabulous pair they were: Edoardo Agresti captured all the stills, and Marco Caputo‘s film is simply a must-see at the end of the post.

A gorgeous couple in fabulous attire having their day their way. Perfect.

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An orthodox Jewish wedding in Florence

Anna, the Bride: My parents actually met in Florence and live there part of the year. I also have a large extended family that lives in Europe, so Florence was convenient destination for many guests. For those that would have to travel, I knew that a long weekend in Florence would be the most irresistible magical getaway.

Originally, I wanted to get married in the Great Synagogue of Florence, as it just takes your breath away, but then we saw Castello di Vincigliata, a castle in the Tuscan hills- how could we not pick it? We contemplated having the chuppah in the synagogue and then transporting guests to the castle, but ultimately we thought the schlep to and from would disrupt the atmosphere. Chaim had his Shabbat Chatan at the synagogue so guests that attended were able to experience the beautiful Sephardi service and architecture.

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A Tuscan theme

We wanted to celebrate and showcase Italy, in particular “Tuscany” as a theme. We tried to use as many local and seasonal products/services possible. We wanted guests to smell Tuscany, so we included potted rosemary and olives trees.

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Our incredible wedding planners

Our wedding planner was Sara Bartolini from SposiamoVi. It’s hard to put into words how grateful we are for Sara. Our wedding was perfect, it was everything we could have dreamed of, and it would not have been possible without Sara’s brilliant mind, creativity, attention to detail, hard, hard work, organisation and incredible patience. Working with Sara over 6 months was a joyous experience and she brought light to my darker days as a stressed kallah (bride).

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invitation design

I’m a graphic designer so you would think that creating our wedding invitation would be a dream project but for me it was too much pressure. I was already working meticulous on wedding planning and did not have the time or attention to design the invitation properly. We chose the Fairy Tale Romance Wedding invitation by Claire Pettibone from Wedding Paper Divas. The design fit our theme perfectly, quality card stock and they were able to add Hebrew text. We added our own touch by including a red wax stamp seal of a heart on the back of the envelope.

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hair + make up

Lara Navarrini did my hair and make up. She does a lot of fashion shoots and shows so I was thrilled to be in her hands. Besides being unbelievably talented, she is such a warm and comforting person to be around, which on the day of your wedding makes all the difference.

For hair I wanted a ponytail, I didn’t want to risk any humidity issues but I still wanted my hair to be visible, so a fierce Naomi Campbell ponytail was perfect. For make up I wanted something fresh and bridal. Lara took it from there!

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a Carolina Herrera wedding dress

My gown for the chuppah was Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2015, which I got at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. I was so fortunate to have Imo from Saks assist me with finding the dress and Marena who tailored the dress to perfection. Ten days before the wedding, she detached the sleeves because she felt it wasn’t sitting right on my shoulders. Thank you Imo and Marena.

In my mind I wanted something bohemian, I adore the way Kate Moss looked on her wedding day. I ended up with a much more traditional gown, it fit and felt like me. I loved the sleeves, the lace and the lightness of it.

I changed into a second dress after the chuppah and pictures, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy myself or dance in a dress with a train (despite being able to pin it up in the back). My second dress was MaxMara Bridal, which I got at their landmark shop in Milan. I had no idea that MaxMara even had a bridal line but my mum and I stumbled across it while looking for her dress.

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A MaxMara Bridal headpiece

I don’t wear a lot of jewellery and really wanted the dress to shine so I opted for an ethereal headpiece from MaxMara Bridal. It added just the right amount of sparkle and made sure that my hair wasn’t going anywhere!

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Jimmy Choo peep toes

I wore Jimmy Choo peep-toe slingback 4 inch heels. The shoes were actually lace which sounds like overkill because I had so much lace going on in my dress but since it was a nude colour it worked.

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The handsome groom

Chaim wore a three-piece custom navy suit with Liberty London lining by Louis Purple in NYC. On the inside of his suit jacket, he had them embroider a line from Tehilim (Psalms) “Deliver me in your steadfast love.” For shoes he wore Cole Haan‘s with Nike soles.

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the ceremony

Our parents both walked us down the aisle. Chaim’s father is a Chabad rabbi and he performed the wedding. Often the mother and mother-in-law walk the kallah (bride) around the chatan (groom)under the chuppah but this is a minghag (custom) and not halacha (law) so I chose to walk around Chaim myself. I wanted to make sure my dress was going to photograph perfectly!

Many couples will use a tallit (men’s prayer shall) for the top of the chuppah, which I think is a beautiful idea but Nadia from Stiatti Fiori (who did our floral decor) suggested we use an Ermanno Scervino shawl as it was translucent, so light would shine into the chuppah.

We requested no cameras, smartphones, iPad use, etc by any of the guest during the chuppah. We wanted everyone to be in the moment. The only people taking pictures and videos were our photographer and videographer.

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music for the ceremony

We had a tenor and string quartet for the ceremony. Guest were invited to take their seats with the tenor singing to O Sole Mio. Chaim walked down the aisle to Torna a Surriento and I walked and circled Chaim to Con Te Patiro.

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Nadia from Stiatti Fiori was the genius behind all the floral decor. I really wanted to have small olive trees on the tables instead of large floral centre pieces. She suggested adding hanging candles, which completely elevated the idea. From there we gave her an idea of things we liked, soft, earthy, pastels and she built the concept. We had white peonies, pale pink garden roses, avalance roses, hydrangea, olive leaves, rosemary.

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Our fabulous photographer…

We fell in love with Edoardo Agresti‘s photography – his photos say it all. His ability to capture perfect moments, moments you don’t even realise are perfect until you see it and the way he uses light in his photography. Edoardo and Lara (the make up artist) have worked together in the business for the past 20 years, so when they both arrived the day of the wedding to the house, they were happy to see each other which just added to atmosphere.

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…and videographer

Before we even decided on where to get married, or a wedding planner, or anything I had watched Marco Caputo‘s films. Marco’s films are so moving and artistic, his cinematography is unparalleled, I felt like we won the lottery when we found out that he was able to film our wedding (See Marco’s film at the end of the post).

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Kosher caterers

Our caterers were Convivium Banqueting who are based in Milan. They created the most delicious authentic Italian menu, all kosher certified.

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I come from a large South American family, we love to dance and party so music is a big deal to us! When guests entered the castle we had a string quartet, called Alma Project, play classical music, during the ceremony we had a tenor and the string quartet play Italian music, for the hora we had a fantastic klezmer band, during dinner the string quartet played modern songs like Coldplay, Avicii, Elton John, which was so fun and whimsical.

For the party my uncle’s incredible band played, they sung their hearts and souls out. Our friends put it best when they said that it was like being at very own private concert. The music, the energy, all the love and dancing were euphoric.

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candle favours

We gave out Acqua dell’Elba candles, which are from the island of Elba in Tuscany. We wanted to create a memory of the wedding through smell.

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Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding

  1. Decide what is worth putting your time and energy into, will the payoff be worth it? Is your time better spent focusing on other areas?
  2. Have a back up plan! The day of our wedding we had biblical thunderstorms! It stopped raining a few hours before but thankfully we had transparent tenting just in case.
  3. Consider mood lighting. It makes all the difference when you’re partying in the evening.


Wedding Planner – Sposiamovi
Photography – Edoardo Agresti
Videography – Marco Caputo
Venue – Castello di Vincigliata
Flowers – Stiatti Fiori
Caterer – Convivium Banqueting
Hair + Make Up – Lara Navarrini
Bride’s Dress – Carolina Herrera from Saks Fifth Avenue
Bride’s 2nd Dress – MaxMara Bridal
Bride’s Headpiece – MaxMara Bridal
Bride’s shoes – Jimmy Choo
Groom’s suit – Louis Purple
Groom’s shoes – Cole Haan
Party band – Muziekformatie Combe
Invitations – Wedding Paper Divas
Favours – Acqua dell’Elba candles
Kletzmer Band, String Quartet & Tenor – Alma Project
Stairs and Dancefloor production – Alma Project