Bright and Beautiful Rome Destination Wedding

Lea and Nicholas married at this colourful and romantic Rome destination wedding last May. The actor couple exchanged vows at the Vignola Mattei complex at Caracalla, followed by a photo session around Rome and an intimate rooftop dinner reception at the top of the La Griffe MGallery Sofitel Hotel with closest friends and family. Their beautiful day was captured by Rochelle Cheever, and we have lots more below from the couple on their story and wedding details.


“Nick and I are both actors, and we were working in the service industry. We both worked at a kitschy 50s-themed restaurant in Chicago, where we had to wear costumes and be mean to the customers. I thought he was a jerk because he was so good at his job. One day, he brought me vegetarian chili when I was working behind the bar, because he knew I was hungry. Clearly, the way to my heart is through food. It was all flirtation from then on.


We did a lot thinking, and ultimately what mattered most to us was having a new experience in a new place together to start our marriage. We also love to travel, and this felt like the best excuse to have a trip with everyone we loved. Neither of us had been to Rome, and we’d wanted to go for some time. When we realized it was relatively easy to pull the paperwork together and make this thing legal on an international level, it felt like the perfect way to get married.


We did what we wanted, how we wanted. We woke up together, had breakfast with our families, and Nick went to get a haircut with his best friend while I got ready. We wrote each other letters, which we read while getting ready, and we both tried to spend as much time with our loved ones on the day as possible. Keeping our family and friends as involved with the getting-ready and ceremony parts of the day, made us feel like we were taking a step with our community around us and kept the event from feeling presentational. I also chose to read one of my most cherished books while I got my hair done, which turned out to be one of my favorite memories from the day; it kept me feeling like myself throughout all the flutter and excitement. Nick spent most of the day with his best friend, which made him feel grounded. It is so hard to say what was our favourite aspect because everything was perfect! I am so happy that I made my own bouquet, and that all the guests worked with the color scheme. I wanted bright colors, and colors that felt warm and passionate, and looking out at our guests during the ceremony against the red chairs at Vignola Mattei felt like a giant heart beating back at us. I was adamant about doing my own bouquet and boutonnieres because I used to be a florist, so I went to the Campo di Fiori the day before the wedding with my girlfriends and made the bouquet. One of my friends pulled together the boutonnieres in the morning and brought everything over to our hotel room, where I was getting ready. I had brought my own ribbon, floral tape, scissors and pins in my suitcase. We had printed agenda cards ahead of time, and made welcome bags for our guests so that had snacks, pain-killers, wipes for wine-stained teeth and ribbon-wrapped baggies of confetti for the ceremony.


I was heavily influenced by Rochelle Cheever’s style, and I knew if I could have her as our photographer the whole feel of the day would be warm and happy, but also classic with a rustic edge. She had done a photo-shoot of an elopement in Rome, and I remember thinking, “that’s how I want to feel on our wedding day.” Since Rome has so many earthy colors, I wanted the colors of the day to really pop against the stoniness of Rome.  So I guess Rome and Rochelle were the biggest inspirations! There was also a nod to “bears”. Nick is from from Missoula, MT (home of the Grizzlies), loves the football team The Bears, and the animal has become a mascot of our relationship over the years, so we knew they had to be worked into the day. Our invitation ended up having one brown bear and one grizzly on it, and our hashtag was #bearsroamitaly.

Vignola Mattei is rustic and charming, and it also felt easy and the most “us” of all the civil halls in Rome. Once I knew we’d booked it, the dress was next. When I walked into Mignonette Bridal in Chicago, I immediately knew that K’poene Kofi-Bruce (the owner of Mignonette) was the woman I wanted to work with. She looked at my body, and put me in something structured and sexy, but romantic and easy to move in. K’poene (pronounced “pin-nay”) also understood that the dress needed to be easy to travel with. The dress is a two-piece; she custom-built the corset top from scratch for me, and the skirt is a chiffon A-line, both slightly different colors. When she placed a massive ghostly veil on my head it was clear that the dress fit the venue, and the whole day started to come into focus.  

Since the day was originally going to be an elopement (which transformed into a small destination-wedding) I was looking for elopement announcements rather than invitations. I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I started thinking outside the box. I found Jessica Roux’s gorgeous work on a wedding website, and immediately contacted her.  She was incredibly easy to communicate with, and offered us lots of options. We were very into the idea of paying an artist to create something we could later frame. Jessica created a postcard-style marriage announcement with the invitation for our celebration party (in Chicago) on the back. She also sent us a large version for our home to match all our bear art!


Get a wedding planner. It’s just not practical to try to do everything on your own, across an ocean, with a different time zone, and cultural differences and possibly a foreign language to boot. Daniela of Dolce Vita Weddings was amazing at helping us navigating what needed to be done, and when. I planned 75% of the wedding with her from my work desk, and handled the little bits on my own. The hardest part is the paperwork, so if you can get through that, you’re going to be in good shape! Also, make it easy on the guests; choose a place that is easy to get to and has relatively reliable weather. Have fun and enjoy your day. We extended our whole wedding into a week-long adventure in a city we’d never been to, and it still flew by! Breathe during the ceremony. Eat at the dinner. Drink a cocktail. Save room for cake. Don’t feel bad saying “no”; just say it, and move on. You’ll save time on the day feeling guilty! As much as we all want an amazing Pinterest and wedding website-worthy wedding, if you focus on how you want to remember the day and the feeling you want to hold on to, how it looked becomes secondary. Nick said it best, ‘Just marry a badass person.’”

Photographer: Rochelle Cheever | Wedding Planner: Daniela De Luca of Dolce Vita Weddings | Gown Designer: Mignonette Bridal | Groom’s Clothing Designer: Nicholas Joseph Custom Suits | Catering/Restaurant: La Griffe Ristorante | Jewelry/Rings Designer: Rahmanim’s Imports | Hair and Makeup: Mauro Lulli Salon | Stationery: Jessica Roux | Shoe Designer: Vince Camuto
Florist: Bride

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