An intimate, romantic wedding in Varenna, Italy
27 Oct 2021
Amidst spectacular surrounds and an intimate gathering, Lauren ‘Poppy’ Rogers and Scott Powell finally tied the knot
Photography: Loryle Photography
How did you meet?
Scott and I met at my older brother James’ house party in Hove. We both actually lived in London at the time and we decided to meet up as friends there to go for a drink.
Tell us about the proposal
Scott and I took a long weekend trip to Salzburg. It was a beautiful, crisp winter evening and after having a quick glass of champagne in our favourite hotel called The Hotel Bristol, we decided to walk up to the Fortress Hohensalzburg to look down at the sparkling Christmas lights. It’s the highest peak in Salzburg so it took a while for us to get to the top. Once there, Scott got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was very romantic and lovely; he did it just as the sun was going down so the lights started to twinkle.
How was your wedding affected by Covid-19?
We decided to cancel our wedding two months prior to the date as we knew our guests were waiting for an update and we didn’t want to leave it to the last minute to let them know (due to them possibly incurring flight and hotel costs).
The decision to cancel and move the wedding a whole year later was honestly heart-breaking. To know that we were basically all ready to go with everything booked and paid for, then having to cancel, was horrific.
I felt so guilty for letting our guests down and sad that our dream wedding was having to be put on hold. Unfortunately, we lost the original musicians and couldn’t get a date available in the summer months because the venue was already being booked up with other weddings.
Unfortunately for us, the Lombardy region of Italy was one of the most affected areas for Covid-19. There was no other option but to push it a whole year down the line to 18th September 2021.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We didn’t have a theme as such. The venue was so romantic and wonderful the view spoke for itself. As it was an intimate wedding in the end, we just wanted everyone to feel loved so romance was a key aspect of our day.
The flowers included soft cappuccino roses with beautiful pink edging, pampas grass, white freesias, white lisianthus, dahlias and astilbe in the bouquet. We also had lots of traditional Italian greenery such as olive branches and eucalyptus, so the table runner smelled divine. The flowers ended up looking very fluffy and feathery, almost whimsical.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We chose the Hotel Villa Cipressi after hours of looking online. The original location and date of the wedding would have been London in December 2020, but after gaining some quotes, we found that there were more options in Italy. We visited the venue in summer of 2019 and fell in love instantly.
How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?
My original dress was by Yolan Cris and was bought from Mirror Mirror in Islington. When the pandemic hit and I knew we would be changing the date, I decided to change my dress as when I looked at it, it just made me very sad and didn’t fare well in storage. It made me mourn for my original wedding and it didn’t spark joy anymore.
Luckily Mirror Mirror let me choose a whole new dress to match the new wedding date. As the date had moved to later in the year than originally planned, I was worried the weather might be cooling off so I decided on sleeves. I felt like someone had poured thick cream over me, it was that luxurious. The dress just fit like a second skin, I loved the daring plunge neckline and the material was silky smooth. Again, I chose a simple dress as I wanted my accessories to shine.
I knew as soon as I tried on the second dress, it was the one. I didn’t have that feeling in the original dress.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
As it was such a small wedding party in the end, I didn’t feel the need to have bridesmaids. I chose the somewhat modern decision to go without and just have a bride squad where all my girls wore brilliant bright coloured dresses of their choice. I know this made them a lot more comfortable and confident on the day. I loved that my best friends all wore their own beautiful gowns and felt confident and pretty on the day.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
My mother wore a bright red long Ronald Joyce dress for the welcome party and a pink fuchsia dress by the same designer for the ceremony.
Where did you find your suits?
The groomsmen all had tailored, bespoke suits from Bicester Village and Reiss shirts. Most of the men decided to treat themselves to Christian Louboutin shoes as well for the occasion.
Did you hire a wedding planner? How did they help?
We hired Jayne Seddon from Casa Collina. She was able to help me navigate the scary and difficult process of getting legally marrying abroad, and helped us with translations between myself and the suppliers. We were lucky to have her as there were numerous bureaucratic loop holes to jump through. In the end, she helped us get the mayor of Varenna to marry us, which we wouldn’t have been able to organise ourselves and made the day so wonderful.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
My bouquet was an exact replica of my grandmother's bouquet that she wore for her Christmas wedding to my grandad before he left for the war. When I saw that she had a long floor-length bouquet I was in awe as I had never seen anything like it. It was so different to the smaller posies a lot of brides have been choosing recently. I knew that would help me create the wow look I needed and elevate my bridal look.
I knew that I also wanted to incorporate a gold theme throughout the wedding. My engagement ring and our wedding rings are gold so we first chose gold candelabras for the centre pieces. When the florist suggested the pampas grass and soft pinks, neutral and mink colours, I loved it.
As we had a small wedding party, we chose to have one long table to make everybody feel part of the family which is such a special part of Italian culture. We had an 11-meter runner filled with the most gorgeous smelling Italian herbs.
For the favours, we decided to have white fans made which were personalised with our married name for the girls. We also had Polaroid cameras dotted around so that the guests could take home pictures and boxes of mints with ‘mint to be’ on the front. The bride squad also helped me to make and design the table plan and one of my best friends, Jess, helped design most of the wedding stationery that we used on the day.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I didn’t think I would be an emotional bride but I think after two years of planning and replanning the wedding with so much heartbreak in-between, it just felt so amazing to finally walk down to see Scott waiting there. I had my two older brothers, James and Matthew, walk me half way. We went down the long, spiral staircase arm in arm where they then handed me over to my father, Nick, to walk me down the final steps to my future husband.
When we stopped at the bottom of the staircase, two girls from my bride squad took a moment to fix my dress and when I first saw Scott, I got very emotional. Luckily, my dad kept me calm by squeezing my arm and I didn’t actually cry as I was worried about my make up too much. Time seemed to stand still when I saw Scott, he looked so handsome and I just felt very calm walking towards him as the sun shone down on us.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
As well as managing to secure the mayor of the town, the reading of the vows was read completely in Italian with translations in between from our planner, Jayne. We didn’t change any of the official vows as we knew we wanted to adhere to the Italian wedding laws and listen carefully to what they meant to us as two families joining together. We thought that as we had decided to get married in a foreign country, it was important to immerse ourselves in their traditions.
After the first two laws were read to us, we had a break for one poem read by my best friend Olivia and then at the end, another dear friend of ours, Luke, wrote a beautiful poem about Lake Como and our love.
What was your most memorable moment?
The most memorable moment was walking back up the aisle as man and wife and remembering the wedding song that we had chosen to play as we walked together. We had chosen Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen. You can see the delight in our faces to have finally have made it to that point. When I looked at Scott, we just burst out laughing as we had simply forgotten all the little things we had chosen together almost two years prior.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Replanning it after the first date was cancelled. We had to fight for the Saturday 18th date and waited for two other brides to let the date go. It was awful thinking you are competing and scrounging for suitable dates with other brides. Also, the fact that a lot the prices increased after Covid.
What was the most important investment to you?
I think the food was an essential part of our wedding as well as the boat trip we booked for our guests. The Italians certainly know how to put on a feast. We had an aperitif afternoon, which had Hugo cocktails and Franciacorta (a local version of prosecco from the Lombardy area) and little bites consisting of cured meats, cheeses, olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
We followed this with a five course dinner which consisted of local sausage saffron risotto, lamb ragu, fillet of beef and local fish from the lake. The boat trip for the guests was in between the ceremony and the dinner, the guests absolutely loved the opportunity to head out on to the lake and take some pictures of the hotel.
What song did you choose for your first dance?
We chose Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. It was actually better than we could have ever imaged, our musician Alex played a more jazzed up version of the song and it actually ended up being quite a fun dance rather than a slow song which really suited our mood. Scott and I were very nervous about dancing in front of a crowd so it made the moment lighter.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We had a four-piece band with a singer, saxophone player, bass guitar and a drummer.
Tell us about your wedding cake
The wedding cake was a two-tier lemon and elderflower Victoria sponge. We decided against the traditional Italian cake as we already had a trio of puddings which included tiramisu. The cake was huge and adorned with our ‘finally 'cake sign and fresh flowers.
Did anything go wrong on the wedding day?
We had a little panic on the morning of the wedding regarding the legal documents, and a mix up about the witnesses and the translations. We wish we had gone over everything just one more time before leaving for Italy but it was something that just was simply lost in translation and almost equalled us not being able to get legally married. Luckily, our planner ran over to the commune and sorted it for us. Other than that, everything turned out perfectly.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
I wish we had a few more consultations prior to booking with our planner, to really go over all the legal items that you need for the wedding to go ahead in Italy. It is quite a minefield and you have to be really sure you are ready to take on the task. I felt like at times I was working two jobs with the amount of admin that needed to be done to ensure we were legally married out there.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
Originally, we had booked the wonderful island of Mauritius for two weeks but a month before, they went into another local lockdown and they closed the island to tourists. We then decided to keep things simpler and enjoy our month in Italy.
We stayed in Menaggio, just on the other side of Lake Como, for one week after the wedding party left on the Monday 20th. It gave us a chance to wind down and really relax after the wedding party left.
Afterwards, we went onto Verona and Venice, which was a delight as there were very little tourists and still very warm. We just wanted to bask in the sunshine, drink cocktails, eat fantastic food and de-stress.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
I think if you are going to plan a wedding abroad in Covid times, get the best insurance - a lot of things have changed since Covid and the terms and conditions have been rewritten. Make sure you talk to your insurance company and get all the items you need covered.
We also had to get things like new suits made as Scott had secretly embroidered the original 2019 wedding date that was cancelled on the inside of his jacket. It’s little things like that, that if your wedding gets cancelled or moved, you will need cover for as it can be very costly to get things replaced.
Also, speak to lots of planners and figure out which one you get on with the most. Your wedding day is the biggest day of your life and you really need someone on the same wave length as you who you can trust to see out your vision from start to finish.
Steal their Style:
Photography: Loryle Photography
Venues: Hotel Royal Victoria, Hotel Villa Cipressi
Planner: Jayne Seddon
Hair Accessories: Hermione Harbutt
Hair and make-up: The Studio Lake Como
Groom's hair: West and Hunter Gentlemen's Grooming Club
Nails: Maraki Nail and Make-up Studio
Bride's shoes: Gucci
Suit: Bicester Village and Reiss Shirts
Flowers: Il Fiorista
Jewellery: Tiffany & Co
Rings: Diamond Heaven
Band: Alex Gasparotto