Kayla and Dan, from the US, got engaged in Iceland before getting married a mere two months later in Italy- a country neither of them had even been to. Kayla has some great advice below on planing an international destination wedding so be sure not to miss that. After you take a look at these beautiful images by Matteo Crescentini, you might just consider planning an international destination wedding yourself! We are in awe of Kayla and Daniel who pulled this beautiful wedding off with just two months of planning. Wow.
“Prior to planning our wedding, I envisioned a two year engagement leading up to a two hundred and fifty person wedding in Hudson Valley, NY, near where I grew up. Our wedding ended up being a far departure from that… in fact it was about a 4,400-mile departure from that, and we couldn’t be happier with the way things panned out. Dan and I got engaged on July 26th, 2016 in Iceland, while on vacation with my family, and when we got back from our trip, we immediately started the wedding planning process. However, it took only two weeks for us to realize that a long engagement and a big wedding was not for us. Dan’s Father has cancer, but was (and thankfully still is), doing very well, and it was for this reason, that we decided to get married only two months later, on October 31st, 2016, in Positano, Italy. (Ironically, a country neither of us had ever been!) Ultimately, we decided that going with on a vacation with family and friends was more important to us, and with Dan’s Dad doing so well, we wanted our wedding to be a celebration of our families uniting. Once we picked our wedding venue, Villa San Giacomo, in Positano, Italy, we had only a short amount of time to get to work… but what started as a small wedding with just our immediate family and a bohemian style, turned into a fifty person five-day Mediterranean affair. We took a lot of risk getting married at the end of October, and the very last week of tourist season on the Amalfi Coast, but ended up having 75° weather- not a cloud in the sky- every single day of our trip!
Since we were getting married in Southern Italy, we went for a color palette that reflected the destination; with white, olive green (an ode to the endless olive tree groves), with a hint of apricot to add a softer color accent. For the greenery, the florist used silver dollar eucalyptus, then roses and orchids for the white flowers, and apricot-colored roses for the accents. The flowers were more challenging than I expected to coordinate from afar, it was important for us to find a delicate balance between bringing in florals arrangements, and letting the beauty of Villa San Giacomo and the Positano backdrop stand alone. Considering I had only two months to get a dress, finding my dress was the easiest part of the process- in one day I went to three bridal boutiques and bought the sample right from the shop! Luckily, the store had only been open for a month or so, so there was barely any wear and tear on the sample. I chose white for my bridesmaids’ dresses because with only 50 people coming to the wedding, and only 2 bridesmaids – my sister & Dan’s sister – I wanted them to stand out as part of the bridal party. Plus, Dan had already selected navy for himself, his brother and my brother, and I thought that going back to the white/olive theme, that these Reformation dresses would be perfect. They were slip dresses and so perfectly simple, that even though they were in white as well, there wasn’t any confusion as to who was the bride and who were the bridesmaids. For wedding favours, I absolutely love Gray Malin’s La Dolce Vita collection of aerial photography from the Amalfi Coast. So it was really special that I gave my guests in their welcome bags signed Gray Malin prints of one of his photographs of Positano, which I had framed for everyone. My husband is the one who found the stationery shop that did our welcome notes, itineraries, programs and menus. For our wedding invitations we opted for evites – as a result of timing, physical invites were not feasible.
In terms of unique elements, we had our best friend, also the one who introduced us, marry us, and wrote the entire ceremony ourselves. Since Dan is Jewish and I grew up Christian, we incorporated traditions from each of our religions (plus a whole bunch of personal, non-denominational elements) in our ceremony. We definitely did not realize how time consuming writing our whole ceremony would be, but it was truly so special to us in the end. My sister and brother-in-law sang a piano duet of the Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding song, “I Need Your Love,” and instead of the traditional 7 blessings in a Jewish wedding, we had 4 blessings; each one read by our parents and all 4 selected by us – (including a verse from Game of Thrones!) Another unique element was part of the décor. Since we couldn’t have all of our closest friends and family in Italy with us, my Mom came up with a very sweet way to ensure they still had a presence at our wedding. At my bridal shower, all of our guests were asked to decorate 1 paper lantern, which we then packed and took with us to Italy. The actual lanterns were assembled at the Villa, and then used to light up the pool area, where we cut the cake and served dessert, while the catering team was resetting the hall for the non-seated/dancing portion of the reception.
I had three favorite moments! [Symbol] My first favorite moment was the morning of our wedding, Dan still hadn’t written his vows. He was feeling really nervous about it and wanted me to help him. While initially, I felt like it defeated the “romantic surprise” of saying our own vows, I ended up loving the moment. So on our wedding day, first thing in the morning, as the sun was rising over the Mediterranean, Dan and I sat on our balcony, cuddled up under a blanket, (October mornings in Positano can be brisk), and wrote our vows together. It was so romantic and such a moment of connection for us, it still makes me smile just thinking about it. While the actual day flew by, that was a part of our wedding day that felt like forever. There was a line in the reading Dan’s Mom did during our ceremony – from American astronomer, Carl Sagan – that says, “Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with the person you love for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” And that’s what that moment felt like to me.
My second favorite moment was after our first look, when we walked down into the town of Positano with our videographers and photographers to take photos together. As we were walking down the beautiful windy little cobblestone streets, all of the Italians kept calling to us “Auguri! Auguri!” which our photographer told us meant “best wishes and to many more!” It was such a sweet and special moment.
Finally, my third favorite moment was during the reception, when we surprised our guests during our first dance song with a performance by an electronic violinist. When we decided on Italy, we started thinking about music and looked into a few Italian bands that played top 40 music. However, the sound of an Italian man singing Justin Bieber just wasn’t for us. So we opted for a DJ, although we were a little bummed not to have any live music element. So for our ceremony and cocktail hour we decided on a 5 piece string quartet and pianist, and for our reception, we had an electronic violinist play along with our DJ. Dan and I selected Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey for our first dance – we both loved The Great Gatsby movie, and there were elements of the movie incorporated in few “hidden” details of our wedding.” When the chorus first picked up during our wedding dance, the electronic violinist walked out to accompany the song that was playing. Then, she played along to the DJ’s playlist for the first 1 – 1.5 hours of our reception. It was such a unique element to the music for our guests, and added a “live music” component to having a DJ. As a side note, Dan would definitely say his favorite moment that was captured on camera was the photo of his niece (one of our flower girls) looking up and watching the drone after our ceremony. Making sure our videographer brought a drone was very important to Dan, so he thought that was a particularly fun photo and moment!
Create a physical wedding binder. It’s a great way to organize yourself to ensure stress-free planning! If you are having an international destination wedding, rather than buying everything when you arrive or paying for international shipping, use the local country’s amazon site. i.e.; we went to amazon.it to order all of the snacks and waters for our gift bags, and signed up for an Italian amazon prime account, which got us free two day shipping! I spent A LOT of time on freetranslation.com to translate literally the entire website, but it was well worth the amount of money we saved in shipping costs and extra baggage fees. Remember to take a moment by yourself to relax. Do some meditation and sink into your engagement, planning process, and wedding. Most importantly, prioritize private moments with you and your groom. Your wedding day will fly by, don’t forget to enjoy it privately with your husband to be!”
Photographer: Matteo Crescentini | Videographer: Emotions Films by Sergio Minnici | Wedding Planner: Weddings in Italy | Venue, Catering & Floral Design: Villa San Giacomo | Gown: Pronovias | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: The Reformation | Bridesmaids Gifts: Earrings from Baublebar | Flower Girls’ Dresses: Monsoon Children | Groom’s Tux: Boyds Philadelphia | Groom’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Favors: Gray Malin | Stationery: A La Carte Paperie | Table Décor: Gold Chargers (Underplates) Tiger Chef | Wood Place Card Name Cutouts: ZCreateDesign (Etsy)