A small, personal wedding in Italy
07 Aug 2020
Hannah Gill and James Cooper travelled to Italy for a small wedding attended by their closest family and friends
Photography: Effe uno quattro
It was on a Saturday at home, I had no idea it would be that year and he had written ‘Will you marry me?’ on a photo box. It was a few days before my birthday so I thought he was surprising me for that. Then he told me we were going to Paris for my birthday. He did it just before so it was a complete surprise as he knows I pack his bag for him and would find the ring.
At first we weren't too sure of the location, until we chatted to our families and my mum asked if we had thought about a destination wedding. We had decided we wanted our close family and friends with us for the day and not a massive wedding, preferably with some sunshine too. From that moment we set our heart on Italy. We had been to a few places there but not to Ravello. So, we booked a few days there with our wedding planner taking us around the coast to view a few venues, but I think we already had our heart set on Villa Eva in Ravello. When we visited we both just looked at each other and knew it was the one. It was like a fairytale venue with a sea view, with space for an outdoor party.
I'd had a good browse online and the first ever dress I pinned on Pinterest I chose! I tried on many, I went to a boutique with my mum and bridesmaids and tried on six there, I had a favourite which was one of the ones I had seen online. I probably tried on about 10 in total, before I said 'I need to try on the one I originally saw'. So I located a shop that stocked it and it was the one. It was a Stella York dress.
The suits were hired from Anthony Formal Wear in Essex. James had his heart set on this tailor before he'd even proposed.
We had beautiful roses and peonies to match our colour scheme at the ceremony, with petals lining the aisle. For the table decorations we had a bouquet of flowers in a tall vase on each round table and a longer flower display on the top table. For the bride and bridesmaids’ bouquets and buttonholes I had artificial silk flowers, as it warm I didn't want them to wilt too quickly.
We named each table endearing words such as Amore, Belissimo, Tesoro and had photos with their name on for their place names and a favour of limoncello, which went down well with the guests.
We had decided on quite a few extra touches for the day; we had a caricaturist who drew every one of our guests and was a little something that would remind them of our wedding day. We also had props, instant camera, an Instagram frame, flip flops, pick and mix and a toiletry basket. We had a table with a photo of both my sister and James’ nan who had both passed away, with candles, which just felt like they could be with us on our special day too.
Walking down the aisle
The ceremony was at the Giardini Principessa di Piemonte in Ravello. I remember taking a deep breath and thinking ‘enjoy and remember every moment’. Somebody told me just to take it all in as it'll pass in a blur. It really was the best advice. I remember my tummy doing a flip and just feeling so excited. I walked down the aisle to Canon in D, which I chose in a music lesson when I was about 12.
We both wrote our own vows to each other and James’ sister did a reading, for us. Personalising our wedding was really important to us, for the ceremony and serenading us we had a guitar and mandolin player to coincide with the Italian feel.
The most memorable moment?
I think saying our vows was really special and we snuck in a little surprise for everyone, James played the guitar while I sang one of our favourite songs 'Is that Alright' by Lady Gaga. No one knew at all so it was lovely to see everyone's reactions.
And the most challenging?
Probably it being Italy the distance made some things a little trickier, I think shipping a lot of the decorations and props over beforehand was a worry, hoping it would get there and in one piece, but it did.
What was the most important investment for you?
Food was really important to us. We both love food and wanted our guests to enjoy it. We had aperitivos, a five-course meal and pic and mix was laid out later in the evening. Although everyone was rather full after the meal.
We had a band called The Somethings who were from Florence and then they DJ’d for the rest of the evening, well until 2am, everyone was up dancing all night which I was so pleased about.
We went for a traditional Italian wedding cake - millefoglie. It was delicious and so light. It was three tiers and decorated to complement our colour scheme with pale pink and cream with piped swirling butter cream and a delicate icing design on the top tier.
Any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Buy a wedding planner book and try and spread the planning out over time so it doesn't get too much. And don't leave too much until close to the day. The last few weeks you want to be focusing on you as much as possible not stressing. Oh, and you will miss the planning once it's over!
Steal Their Style
Photography & videography: Effe uno quattro
Venue: Villa Eva, Ravello
Wedding dress: Stella York from Bicester Bridal
Hair stylist: Piero Mansi
Suits: Anthony Formal Wear
Bouquets: Stylish Stems Silk Floral Design
Catering: Villa Eva, Ravello
Band: The Somethings