An 'Italian romance' wedding in Verona

13 Feb 2020

Jamie Malpass and Matthew Wright's three-day wedding celebrations were filled with fun and featured a pizza party the night before and a sand ceremony on the day itself

How did you meet?

I first met Matt in Peru in 2009. He was travelling around South America and I was there as part of my year abroad from university, teaching English at a college in Arequipa. After a few rum and Cokes we spotted each other from across the bar and started chatting, we quickly realised that we were at the same university and had even been to the same party in Bristol, and yet we didn’t meet until we were on the other side of the world.

Matt spent a lot longer than intended in Arequipa, visiting me inbetween sightseeing. He even got on a ten-hour bus journey back to Arequipa from Machu Picchu just to visit me. After that romantic gesture, it didn’t take long for him to convince me to join him on his adventure around Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Miami. This was the first of many travel adventures to come.

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Tell us about the proposal.

Eight years later Matt proposed while we were travelling around Australasia. I found out that he had secretly met up with my dad to ask him if he could ask for my hand in marriage, which I think is really sweet.

What many people don't know is that there were several unsuccessful proposal attempts in the weeks leading up to the proposal (including being interrupted by a bus load of Chinese tourists) but he finally got down on one knee on Gibson Steps beach in Victoria, Australia. He had prepared a picnic breakfast with champagne and strawberries. I wasn’t expecting it at all, I was in shock (happy shock) and of course said yes.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

Our theme was 'Italian romance'. We wanted the look to be elegant and glamorous, while ensuring that we embraced the beautiful, rustic Italian setting we were in.

The grey groomsmen suits blended nicely with the unusual silver sage bridesmaids' dresses. The turquoise ties added a pop of colour to brighten up the grey and the pink, and white flowers softened the look to bring that romantic feeling.

The lighting was also important to set the fairytale atmosphere in the evening, so we had candles everywhere.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

We had our wedding in the most beautiful venue in Verona. Finding the venue was great fun, we went on a road trip and got to visit lots of stunning buildings around northern Italy. Luckily we both fell in love with the same gorgeous antique villa, Villa Ca’ Vendri - it was the first one we had set eyes on.

We were over the moon when we could book the villa for a full three days. We both have a lot of friends and family who live abroad, so our wedding was all about bringing people together from all around the world and having fun together.

The venue had no restrictions regarding suppliers, which meant that we could make our special weekend completely bespoke. We decided to have a pizza party on the first day so people could bond over delicious pizza. The main wedding day was on the Saturday and then on Sunday we had a relaxed lunch and opened up the pool.

It was the most incredible experience. Even though we had three days, it went so fast and we wanted to do it all over again.

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When did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

My wedding dress was by designer Rebecca Ingram. I tried on more than 20 dresses, but when I tried my dress on it instantly felt right. You can’t tell just by looking at a dress on a hanger; knowing it is the right dress is all about how you feel in it.

I always thought I would go for a strapless dress, but mine had delicate ornate straps. I also went for a sparkly headpiece and beautiful veil, which had lace sewn around its borders to match my dress.

I also had a secret second dress, which I put on after the first dance. I’m really into salsa dancing so I wanted to wear something I could easily dance in later in the evening.

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?

My bridesmaids were: Francessca (my cousin and maid of honour), Alice (my best friend), Daniella (my sister) and Jess (Matt’s sister). We also had two flowergirls, Olivia, who was nine-years-old and Sanara, who was three.

The dresses were from Little Mistress London. When I bought them, there were only four dresses left and they just happened to be the correct sizes so it felt like it was meant to be.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

My beautiful mum wore a classic black dress which she had made to fit her perfectly. She paired her dress with nude coloured accessories for a timeless and elegant look.

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Where did you find your suits?

The groomsmen wore silver grey suits, which we rented from Moss Bros. Matt’s suit was slightly different, it was charcoal grey and made bespoke by Norton and Townsend. We also had two little pageboys, three-year-old twins Toby and Max, who whore light grey shorts with braces.

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Did you hire a wedding planner? How did they help?

Yes, we hired a wedding planner who is based in Italy to make the process smoother. When planning a wedding abroad it really helps to have someone on the ground, who speaks the language and has good contacts with suppliers.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

Our florist and her team did a wonderful job. My favourite floral arrangement was our beautiful flower arch which we got married under. The blush pink and white roses on our arch matched my bouquet and Matt’s buttonhole. We had floaty pink fabric draping the arch to finish off the perfect setting for our ceremony.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

  • In-keeping with the Italian theme, we gave everyone Venetian masks as our wedding favours.
  • Our table seating plan was travel themed and each table was named a different country with a photo of Matt and I in that country placed on our boho centrepieces.
  • We bought a Polaroid camera and lots of props for our DIY photobooth, which everyone really enjoyed.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Like the luckiest woman in the world. Seeing Matt’s face and all of our family and friends there for us meant everything. And to have my dad give me away made it even more special.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

Our ceremony was personal to us in every single way. Matt and I planned every detail of the ceremony and also wrote our vows together.

My little sister sang a song with our cellist and violinist playing in the background, which was really special and I had to try really hard not to cry. One of my good friends, Christian, gave a reading and read a poem which we had chosen. My mum’s side of the family are from South America, so the poem was also read in Spanish.

We also included a sand ceremony, which created a visually symbolic element to our day.

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What was your most memorable moment?

The ceremony was my favourite part of the entire day. I felt so much love around me, there is no feeling quite like it.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Finalising the guest list and creating the seating plan. We have a very mixed group of friends and family and we wanted everyone to be happy with where they were sat.

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What was the most important investment for you?

Food and drink.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

Our first dance song was Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls. We chose it because it reminded us of a boat trip we took when we first met. We were sat on the bow looking up at the stars when we first heard the song.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

We had a DJ who got everyone up dancing all night long and really got the party going. We asked everyone to send their favourite songs to us in advance so that we could add it to the playlist for the evening.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

Our cake was made with vanilla sponge cake, white whipped ganache and wild berries. However, I got so caught up in all the excitement that I didn’t get to try our wedding cake, so I wish I could go back in time and try a piece.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

The day before the wedding the weather took a turn for the worse and started to rain heavily. We couldn’t believe it, especially in Italy in September. We had to make some changes to our pizza party set-up which was meant to be outside, however it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it brought everyone together. Luckily on the wedding day it was dry and the sun came out... we were so relieved.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

I wish we had done more research into the transport links in Verona. It was difficult to order taxis and get everyone to and from the venue, which made things a bit stressful.

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Where did you go on honeymoon? Did you go immediately after the wedding of leave it a few days?

We spent one more day in Italy with our families before we packed our bags and went on our honeymoon. After a stressful couple of years, we wanted to make sure we spent quality time together so we decided to extend our honeymoon and go on a 4.5 month adventure in Canada, USA, Mexico and Costa Rica. Our honeymoon was the trip of a lifetime. 

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

Don’t forget that it’s your day and although you want everyone to be happy, the most important thing is that you do what’s right for you as a couple.

Make a list of who you want in your wedding photos; we forgot, but luckily our photographer was fantastic and captured everything perfectly.

And finally, everyone says it, but it is so true... enjoy every single minute because it goes by so quickly. 

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Steal their style:

Photography: Marco Bernardi
Venue: Villa Ca’Vendri
Wedding planning: Noemi Wedding
Wedding dress: Rebecca Ingram from Paverly Bridal
Evening dress: House Of CB
Hair accessory: Jenny Packham 
Hair and make-up: Marta Mizzotti 
Groom’s suit: Norton and Townsend 
Groomsen suits: Moss Bros
Flowers, candles and decorations: Flori Foglie e Follie (Ilaria Dassi and her staff, Valentina and Monica)
Catering: Ristora Eventi 
Bar: Bartenders.It 
Cake: Cake Studio 
Ceremony string duo: 2Strings Music 
Band: Hank & Sammy 

Click here for more >> destination wedding inspiration

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