How beautiful is today’s bride, Jane? I think she has something of the Cheryl Cole about her but she’s actually a far more elegant and ethereal version! I absolutely adore Jane’s entire look — from her delightfully floaty Pronovias wedding dress to her custom-made high heels and her exquisite long veil.
But of course there’s lots more to love about Jane and David’s wedding captured so wonderfully by the talented STG favourite, David Bastianoni.
There’s a dance group performing to a medley from Grease(!); there’s a pomegranate theme running through everything from the invitations to the monogram to the ring pillow, to the wedding cake, to the favours and menus; there’s a wonderfully personalised table plan incorporating different images of the couple; and there’s a cigar, whiskey and chocolate corner at the after party (that idea I’m particularly coveting).
But most of all there is so much love…
AN OLD ITALIAN VILLA FOR OUR VENUE
We got married in a villa from the 1300’s — Villa Scorzi — in Pisa that was fully restored by the new owners to its original ‘look’
Jane, the Bride: David and I have been living in Prague since 2010, having lived for 4 years together in Milan previously. David is originally from Livorno (Leghorn) and we wanted to stay as close to there as possible because his mother is ill and would not be able too travel far. Being a ‘winter’ wedding, we also had to find a Villa that was big enough to hold all our guests indoors. We saw a few that would have been available during that time, and Villa Scorzi was the most beautiful and romantic, had plenty of rooms to use for different parts of the wedding including the chuppah, and had the plan B option in case of rain (which unfortunately happened, but what can you do!)
A BURGUNDY AND METALLIC COLOUR SCHEME
Our theme was around the pomegranate and our travels and the colour tied in with the dark burgundy of the pomegranate — so all our colours were shades close to the burgundy (up to dark purples) with also splashes of gold. From that we also had a logo designed with the pomegranate and our initials.
We used this colour scheme with everything from our kippot to our cake to our menus.
AN INVITATION WITH PERSONAL TOUCHES
We didn’t give too much importance to the invitation (as with the modern era also had our website), but in Italy sending physical invites is still a must. So we kept it quite simple, but still added some personal touches like our logo and a phrase from the book of Ruth in Hebrew ‘dedicated’ to us by one of my husband’s closest uncles.
A BOHEMIAN BUT INTRICATE PRONOVIAS DRESS
I have to be clear; that unlike many other brides, I had no idea what I really wanted – I figured I would know when I would put it on… and that was just the case!
It was a Pronovias dress, found in one of the better stores in Livorno. In the years before getting married, when I’d be in Livorno I always walked by this store and always saw something particular or beautiful, so I knew I had to try it out when the day finally came. A few months before, we were in Livorno to see the rabbi, and as usual we were walking by the store and I noticed this different dress and was quite drawn to it, but of course just walked on, also because I wanted my mother and sister to be with me.
I had appointments set in other stores in Rome (where my parents live). But before leaving Livorno, and despite being on my own, I decided to walk into this store, just to browse and perhaps get an idea of what I could like. The first thing the store assistant told me was that being end of December and the wedding mid-March, I could not just pick any dress as a minimum of three full months were needed to have one made. So she was only going to show me things that were already in my size that could simply be retouched.
Luckily I’m a small (size 40 Italian) so she had quite a few options on hand. None of them looked bad, actually many looked nice, but none of them were IT. I then asked the assistant if I could try on the one I saw in the window, she said hmm only if it’s a 40, but I’m not sure”…luckily it was a 40 and it almost fit like a glove. I loved it… and that was it! What’s more, it was soo me. I love to wear very light, loose, flowing shirts.
The dress being a little bohemian, a little loose, simple but quite intricate at the same time — it was almost made for me.
It is made up of a very simple, straight white silk dress, with a cover on top made entirely of lace with small stones and petals of silk flowing down like some sort of vines going from the top to the bottom of the dress. I had the silk dress altered so that it come up higher (up to my shoulders and not from lower on my chest) and added a little burgundy silk belt at my waist.
A couple of the invites then came to me and told me that the dress was perfect and they could not have imagined me with anything else. And some of our younger cousins (the 8 to 10 year olds!) told me that they want my dress when they get married.
Can you tell I really loved it?!
Ps — I even wore it in Prague for our friends that didn’t make it… tee hee hee!
PURPLE SHADES OF DRESSES FOR MY FAMILY
I didn’t have bridesmaids but I did help choose what my mother, my sister, and my mother-in-law wore. I wanted them to ‘fit’ with the theme. So my mother had a nice bright fuschia dress, my sister had a delicate violet shade dress, and my mother in law had a purple dress
A LONG VEIL
I had a very long veil, it was also Pronovias, but nothing else in my hair. I chose something simple as I wanted the focus to stay on the dress.
With my jewellery I also went very simple. My parents bought me a very simple, delicate white gold, diamond bracelet and for earrings I actually used a pair that my husband had bought 6 years before for an anniversary. They tied in quite nicely being white gold with a few diamonds in a sort of dropping/flowing shape.
CUSTOM MADE SHOES
I had a pair of custom-made Gino Cori shoes. I had 10 centimetre heels with a hidden plateau, made entirely of silk and suede. I decided to go with white as I already had a splash of color with the belt and I realized it worked better that way.
Considering that Jewish weddings are all about dancing, they needed to be comfortable. I didn’t want to change into flat shoes or take them off, I wanted the shoe to last the whole wedding — they are just as important as the dress! And they were great!
BOHEMIAN FREE-FLOWING HAIR
For the hair, to fit in with the bohemian and the flowing/relaxed look of the dress, I had grown my hair quite long and so I wanted to use the length. I did not have an up-do, so it was mostly down with a little pulled away from the face — obviously the hair was given some waves. I tried out three hairdressers in Livorno (as they could come to Pisa on the day) and but Leonardo was the only one who got it. He has been a staple in Livorno for years. He is an older man, but with years of experience working on movie sets and ad campaigns and despite his age, he is quite modern and understood what I wanted in 5 mins. The others did not, trying to overcomplicate the hairdo.
I trusted a cousin (who was also the wedding planner helping us) with the Maria Cristina whom she used for her wedding three years prior always in Livorno. And I’m glad I did. The good thing is that at the time she was working together with Leonardo, so they were coordinated in prepping me (as well as my mum and sister). I wanted simple and a focus on my eyes – I don’t like a lot of makeup, of course, there still was a lot on my face in order to stay fresh throughout all the dancing and eating and with the right shades in the right places for pictures — things she took into consideration!
THE HANDSOME GROOM
David had a custom made silk half tight suit from Rocky Moles. It was dark gray, had a white shirt, a very light pearl gray vest, and a gray plastron with a ‘jewel’ at the neck part. He then added rose gold plated cufflinks, his belt buckle was rose gold, and the watch I gave him for our engagement also had rose gold (our wedding bands are rose gold too!).
He looked really elegant and special — he was as important as I was and this is what we wanted. But most of all, the smile he wore when I approached was the best!
We decided to do everything at the chuppah — including the signing of the ketubah (which most of the time is done before and just read) and for our non-Jewish friends and family, we had the rabbi accompany most parts with a small explanation of what was going on and also saying a few words what a wedding day means for a bride and groom in Judaism (he was very good, leaving people in awe and emotional)
We had each one of the Sheva Brachot read by an uncle on my husband’s side.
MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY
I walked in with the traditional Wagner’s Bridal Chorus (Here comes the bride) as this was my husband’s desire, so I made him happy
My husband also had his own song — Intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana — which was written by Mascagni who was from Livorno and one of my husband’s favourite operas.
EXCHANGING OF THE RINGS
After the religious part of the ceremony (after the breaking of the glass and some dancing) we had a ‘ring exchange’ as I wanted to take him as mine as well . Something you do not usually see at a Jewish wedding.
We had our cousin Shury come out during the playing of our song (The Reason, Hoobastank) with a silk pillow made into a shape of a pomegranate with my engagement ring and my husband’s wedding band. And we exchanged rings with all our guests around us, making wild noises and cheering and then we danced to our song.
THE CHUPPAH DESIGN
This one is tough, it just sort of slowly came together — of course in the months of organising I looked at a lot of pictures online, what others had done etc. and working with the florist whom we met personally, we put together something that just came out perfect (for us at least! ) we worked off the basis that the poles of the chuppah structure that our synagogue lent us, were golden — which tied in well. So our chuppah’s poles were fully covered in flowers from our theme including my favourite (tiger lilies) that were nice and big, twisting around the poles with golden branches coming out and on top was a simple white silk cover. We wanted this blast of colour in a room full of white chairs.
Mariella Carola from Lost in Flowers in Cassino, Italy did all our flowers. For my bouquet recalled all the flowers of the day (throughout the location) — Cymbidium, purple calla lilies, peach and fuschia rose buds.
For the button holes we had small rose buds, their colour was between peach and white with a silk burgundy knot/bow and David’s also had white little flowers.
I never liked those exaggerated centre pieces, so we went for something delicate and simple. We had fish bowls (my husband’s idea!), inside there were burgundy stones, the bottom was covered with a few Cymbidium heads (nice burgundy versions), some golden branches twisting around inside and coming out from the top together with dark purple calla lilies to give it some height — as if crawling/growing out and up. To bring the bowl together with the table, around the bowl on the table itself, towards the guest places, there were the same stones and Cymbidium heads.
Getting these to happen was not easy, it was hard to convey this height I was looking for, and I was doubtful for a moment, but when I showed up at the location, I saw what they did and it was absolutely what I was looking for.
We had two huge white balloons filled with smaller heart shaped burgundy balloons that we popped and they all flew up (since we could not have the fireworks, we opted for this to add some popping ‘love’
SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE KIDS
We had 19 children at our wedding and we created a separate room with entertainers and balloons. This kept them ‘busy’ until the cake when they they returned to the main party and this allowed the kids not to be bored and they came back excited, with faces painted and with goodies that they made!
Our table plan was hanging from the ceiling with a card for each table. As each table was named for a location we have travelled to, on one side there was a picture of us at the location and on the other side the guests’ names. This was also a sort of ‘entertainment’ for the guests — they kept going to it, curiously!
PERSONALISED BOWLS AS FAVOURS
Yes we did. We wanted our guests to have something to remember our wedding, but we wanted something useful and personalised, not just another salt shaker. So we had ceramic little bowls with a pomegranate design inside, including our initials within the bowl
We were initially looking for a container for besamim (Jewish spices) in a pomegranate shape, but couldn’t find exactly what we wanted, then our wedding planner thought about talking to this artisan ceramic shop in rome and asked them some ideas and they came up with this design and it was perfect.
It’s great to see our families using it — some used them for charoset for Pesach, others keep it for Rosh Hashanah for the pomegranate seeds, and others use it as an object, jewellery, keys, coin holder.
OUR INCREDIBLE PHOTOGRAPHER
As we live in Prague, we had neither the time nor a physical way to check photographers. So we did an online research to find photographers in the Tuscany area. And both my husband and I came up with what we found — checked all the websites and narrowed down to about six photographers.
Although David Bastianoni off the bat was our fist choice, we needed to have different ones in order to have comparison on prices and Jewish wedding experience — so we sent a series of questions; and David had really the checks for the most important things for us: experience, amazing pictures, knew our villa already, – so we negotiated with him a bit and even though he was more expensive, we picked him and his team (there were two of them at the wedding). Just check out his website and you would want him too! He really stands out and we do have some amazing pictures.
A RED VELVET WEDDING CAKE WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS ON TOP
This was quite a feat! Firstly, being American, for me the cake was super important, for Italians it’s not. They make a fake tiered cake and then just have a large dessert buffet. I hate that, the buffet is always a waste and I really, really love cake!!
Our caterer was from Livorno and they agreed to get everything koshered (with a mashgiach from the community plus our rabbi) and worked on the menu together to keep it all kosher (using only suppliers given to them by our community). But in Tuscany, there is no kosher baker that we could have used and the baker the caterer knew, did not want to commit the two days of closure in order to kosher her place (and only mentioned this to us two weeks before the wedding!).
Our cake was red velvet with a vanilla buttercream filling with pieces of pecans and covered in a cream cheese frosting with pomegranate seeds on top. It was square, 3 tiered, and the only decoration on top (with the pomegranate seeds) were some real white roses
I knew I wanted red velvet (my favourite!) — but wasn’t thinking of the cake at all at the beginning. When we were searching around for inspiration for our pomegranate theme, I ran into a picture of this square tiered cake that had pomegranates on them and I immediately loved it, different from the usual, and by chance it was red velvet — it had to be ours!
So the wedding planner called again the kosher caterer from Rome — Le Bon Ton Catering – (which we did not use because too complicated to have them in Pisa) that also has a separate bakery and negotiated with them and they agreed to doing it for us – despite having no idea what it was.
But the bakers never made a red velvet cake before, so I had to tell them a basic recipe and but they were hesitant about not using fondant (I don’t like it) because of the trip — they were really scared, but they did it…and it was amazing! The whole family still talks about it — they are not used to having a good cake at a wedding. And I converted them all to red velvet!
We used the Mazal Tov band from Rome, and for the chuppah and during the meal we had the band with singers. During the aperitif we had a harpist and violinist as we wanted to add romanticism to the cocktail hour(!) and after lunch and dinner we had a DJ together with the two singers.
During lunch we also had a dance group perform to a medley from Grease. This came about because both David and I loved the movie and we had bobbleheads of us made dressed up as Grease, and so we decided to tie that in. At the end of the performance they pulled out the dolls which were then used together with a convertible on the cake table
Then we had an unexpected entertainer, during the lunch… a Chabad rabbi that was also one of our witnesses and he sang O Sole Mio!
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES
Don’t over-complicate things as anyway things will always go a little differently to what you plan. If you can, have a wedding planner to help out, especially on the day of, since you don’t want to think about anything. Also make sure it’s absolutely clear with the photographer and videographer what you’re after so that you don’t end up a little disappointed.
JANE + DAVID’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — David Bastianoni
Wedding Planner — Giulia Sonnino from Abracadabra Eventi
Venue — Villa Scorz
Bride’s dress and veil — Pronovias
Bride’s shoes — Gino Cori
Groom’s attire — Rocky Moles
Entertainment — Mazal Tov band
Flowers — Mariella Carola from Lost in Flowers in Cassino
Additional images by Wedding & Event Studio