SWOON! That’s us right now, at STG HQ, swooning away at this jaw-dropping Jew-ish Italian destination wedding.
Now that we’ve picked ourselves up off the floor, let’s get into the reasons Maggie and Ben’s super luxe celebration in stunning Cinque Terre is just SO sublime!
Let’s start with the fabulous destination. Maggie and Ben love to travel, and together they’ve seen the world. In keeping with their globetrotting history, they felt a divine destination was the way to go, so just think of the competition Cinque Terre had to beat to be selected for such an honor.
Cinque Terre, of course, is that gorgeous, colorful Italian coastal town you see every time you open a travel guide on the world’s most beautiful places.
Just when you think a place like that couldn’t get any more beautiful, enter Maggie and Ben, with their incredible, chic and fashion-forward wedding décor, bright and bold color scheme and sensational floral arrangements. The result? A total feast for the eyes.
Beautiful bride, Maggie, is in architecture and design, so of course every last detail was perfect, especially with the help and keen eye of Cinque Terre Wedding.
A wedding that was just as lovely on the inside as it was to look at, both the bride and groom’s respective fathers officiated their Jew-ish ceremony, and every choice was filled with heart and personal meaning for the couple.
Photographer, Facibeni Fotografia, and videographer, S-Bros, each did an amazing job of capturing the day- it almost feels like we were there! We’ll hand you over to Maggie now for the full writeup of her magical destination wedding.
How we met
Maggie, the bride: We met on match.com in 2007, and quickly learned that our paths should have crossed more than once over the course of our lives; we were both born and raised in Massachusetts, both had some history in Scottsdale, Arizona, and both finally settled in Los Angeles.
Ben finally proposed after almost nine years of dating, on a trip we had been planning to Bali and Vietnam over the holidays in 2015. Our family and friends were already expecting a destination wedding, and after a proposal in Bali and engagement celebration “tour” through Vietnam, we knew we had to follow it with an equally amazing wedding!
A fitting venue for a globetrotting couple
During my 2003 study abroad in Florence, I discovered and fell in love with Cinque Terre. The beauty of the Cinque Terre’s colorful coastal villages held a special place in my heart, and I always knew that I would someday return.
Years later, I met Ben. As we fell in love, I knew I wanted to share with him this special place of mine. Ben and I share a deep passion for travel; over the 10 years we dated, we have shared incredible journeys all over the world. Our love of travel and adventure made it clear that an exotic destination wedding best suited us and told our story.
Over years of our travels, we considered everything from cherry blossom season in Kyoto, to taking over a cruise ship in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, for our wedding. We wanted to create a special experience that was truly “us”. In the end, it was the same beauty that I originally found in Cinque Terre that captured our focus and became our special wedding destination.
With family from all over the US, we knew we were asking a lot of them to travel so far for the wedding. We also made them wait out 10 years of our relationship for this moment in marriage. We couldn’t let them down; we wanted an epic wedding adventure, and that is what we set out to create. Since we live in Venice Beach, California we couldn’t possibly manage an exceptional destination wedding without an exceptional wedding planner.
Thankfully, we found Melina Nicholson of Cinque Terre Wedding. From our first introduction emails to the final dance at our wedding, Melina worked tirelessly to be sure every detail of our vision was brought to life.
We considered a number of locations in Cinque Terre, but it was the raw natural beauty of Buranco Vineyard in Monterosso that made our venue decision ultimately an easy choice. Between dancing alongside 1,000 year-old original city walls, walking through the beautiful olive trees, looking out to ocean views, and enjoying the wine from the vines running up and down the picturesque elevations of the estate, we knew that it would not only check off every wish list item we had for our family and friends to enjoy, but that it would also provide some amazing photos to look back on.
A coral and gold color palette and a peony wedding
Our color palette was coral and gold. I have loved peonies since I was a child, when my mom grew them in her garden, so I’ve always dreamed of a peony wedding. Our wedding was on May 20th, by design… smack in the middle of peony season!
Melina added in accents of peach and yellow garden roses to the bouquets and table arrangements, as well as baskets of lemons and bunches of olive leaves scattered around, which gave the décor a perfect local touch.
As a nod to our love for Japanese culture (and several trips there together, in addition to many years of business trips there for Ben), I also spent the weeks leading up to the wedding hand making small origami cranes, which we attached tags to with people’s names and table numbers.
Christian Louboutin flats
I’ve never liked wearing heels, and being 5’8″, I’ve never felt I needed to wear them for the height factor. I knew I wanted to be as comfortable as possible on my wedding day, so I began the search for flat shoes.
The moment the crystal-studded Christian Louboutin “Follies” entered my radar, no other shoe I found could come close!
Sapphires to honor a lost loved one
We lost my aunt Sue two years ago to cancer. A couple months after her memorial service, my uncle graciously offered some of her jewelry to my mom, my sister, and me.
I selected a pair of sapphire earrings my uncle had bought for Sue years ago on one of many trips to Japan. I knew at some point they would need to be reset, and I decided, as our wedding day approached, that I wanted to wear them as my “something blue”.
For his wedding gift to me, Ben had the sapphires beautifully reset, and I wore them that day, knowing aunt Sue was there with us in spirit.
Personal chuppah design
The main goal for our chuppah was classic and portable. Ben’s mom took on the task of designing the chuppah and having it made by someone she found on Etsy. It was perfect, and we found some retractable camera monopods, which worked great for our bridal party to hold up the four corners.
As a personal touch, my mother-in-law had the names and wedding dates of Ben’s grandparents embroidered on handkerchiefs, which hung from two of the corners of the chuppah. One was there with us in spirit, but the other three were back home in the States, unable to make the trip, so it was our way of making sure they were still included in the ceremony.
A Jew-ish ceremony officiated by both dads
One of our favorite parts of our wedding day was our ceremony, which our dads officiated. Ben is Jewish, and I was raised Episcopalian, so we knew we wanted to honor both of our backgrounds in our ceremony.
It was such an intimate and special ceremony, which we worked with our dads to create for months leading up to the wedding. This ended up having the added bonus of some really special bonding time not only with our own fathers, but with our future fathers-in-law.
Meaningful musical choices
On the morning after our engagement in Bali, we woke up, still giddy to be engaged, and Ben played me a song by an artist he had recently discovered; To My Future Wife, by Jon Bellion. In that second, I knew it would be the perfect song for me to walk down the aisle to! I never wavered on this decision, and I was thrilled that my parents were on board with the plan from the moment I played it for them!
For our first dance, we were back and forth between a few songs for months leading up to the wedding. We finally settled on our decision about four weeks before the wedding: You Send Me, the original version by Sam Cooke.
We love pavlova, and really wanted to have that be our wedding cake. When we brought the idea to Melina (who is Aussie, so very familiar with pavlova!), she said Italians have their own version of pavlova: meringata.
It has a frozen component that pavlova doesn’t typically have, but the bakery did an amazing job – not only was it gorgeous and photo-worthy, but it was also delicious!
An extended trip
As you can perhaps tell, we put every last drop of energy and planning we had into this wedding. We love travel and adventures, and the wedding itself was an adventure of a lifetime. We wanted to extend the moment and enjoy Italy after the wedding, so rather than plan another big trip right away for a honeymoon, we decided to simply enjoy the fruits of Italy.
We rented a car and traveled over 2000 km across the country. We loved the beautiful countryside and the picturesque small towns of Italy, so we traveled freely and explored. We had a few locations in mind that we chose to spend a couple of nights in. Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Venice, and Milan were especially memorable. We enjoyed the local food, the beautiful sights, and the fun of calling each other husband and wife during that precious first week of newlywed life.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
I am a self-admitted control freak, so planning a wedding 6,000 miles away mostly via email, with a few Skype calls (without ever seeing the venue in person!), was challenging for me.
At the same time, I knew I had no choice but to let go a little and just trust that Melina would pull it all together. By the time our wedding day arrived, I was fully on board with letting go, and I was able to relax and really enjoy the day.
My advice to other couples, no matter how involved you are with the planning and details, once the day arrives, it’s all going to be what it will be, so try to let go and enjoy the day… which will fly by!
Maggie & Ben’s white little book
Photographer – Facibeni Fotografia
Videographer – S-Bros
Event and Floral Design – Cinque Terre Wedding
Venue – Buranco
Bride’s dress – Allure Bridals
Bride’s shoes – Christian Louboutin
Groom’s attire – Calvin Klein
Bridesmaids – Nicole Miller
Stationery – Copper Willow Paper Studio and Pretty Creative by AES