A Perfect Wedding in Venice

Giulia and Carlo in the gardens of the legendary Cipriani Hotel, Venice - June 2019. Photo: Mirco Toffato
Giulia and Carlo, Cipriani Gardens, Venice – June 2019

In the words of Giulia Andreola, a young bride in Venice in June 2019:

Where can I begin talking about my wedding day? That is actually a tough question! I never was that kind of girl who dreamed her wedding day for all her life. I knew I would get married sooner or late but I was never obsessive about it. Then, my Prince Charming arrived and the day of our life entered in the picture consequently. We decided to get married in December 2018 with the actual wedding to take place in June 2019. We did not want to wait any longer as we waited already a bit after our daughter was born. 

The only three certain things at the beginning were:  

  1. Having both lived abroad for years, we really wanted our wedding to be extremely Venetian. It had to represent the sense of life that Venice, our city, constantly transmits to us: beauty, light, history, art and nature all together in a perfect equilibrium.
  2. I also knew I wanted to be 100% stress-free on that day and enjoy it fully. That is why I contacted Jayne Seddon from Casa Collina and asked her to be our planner. She agreed. Therefore, the adventure started smoothly. 
  3. We wanted the wedding to be an occasion for every single guest to enjoy and have a blast. So we did not want to have any long timing for the ceremony and the dining. 

VENICE – As I said, Venice was the main theme and character of this event, so finding a location that had it all, the history of the city, unquestionable elegance but also breath-taking views and a delicate touch of nature, was not that easy. Generally, the majority of locations for events in Venice are hotels or Palazzi (or both) which are superb, but they lack the natural part as they usually have small and shadowed gardens, all the others instead were already booked. Therefore, we did not have many options there to choose from – until I decided to book a visit at the Hotel Belmond Cipriani, on the Giudecca island. It was love at first sight. It had it all: two beautiful huge rooms that were the granaries of the Serenissima Republic back in the old times illuminated by these splendid chandeliers in Murano glass that make the atmosphere extremely refined without losing its simplicity. Outside these rooms there is this wide fondamenta with an astonishing view over the Bacino San Marco, San Giorgio Island, the Salute Basilica and, of course, Palazzo Ducale. Then, hidden in the back of the hotel, there is a secret garden facing the lagoon. An explosion of luxurious green everywhere, decorated with an ancient vineyard, a nice little pond and an incredibly colourful orchard filled with tiny purple, yellow and orange edible flowers. The scents of the garden and the reflections of the light over the water and the salty smell enchanted me. 

WE SET THE DATE – So we booked the location immediately, and the 15th of June, 2019 was the only date that was still luckily available. 

As the location was so rich and atmospheric already, our second step was to focus on details that could just add a personal touch to it without spoiling or making it overly pompous. We wanted lighting for the interiors, which could recall the seasonal lights of Venice, fitting in with the light outside as it changed from afternoon to evening. We wanted music throughout the whole event with different paces and instruments according to the moment and a little injection of seasonal flowers during the ceremony and decorating the tables. 

THE DRESS – What about the dress? Well, I had not a clear idea in mind. I went to Mestre to a very special shop, Marialuisa Benetti Spose Boutique. The owner, Marialuisa, is a family friend and a great professional in her field. My dress was there, in the window. I did not even enter the shop, I choose it before entering. It had just been put on display (really, just a couple of hours before!). A glorious cloud of cream and mint tulle with a transparent bustier enhanced by lace flowers and Swarovski crystals of the same colour of the dress. Overall, it reminded me of a pre-Raphaelite design. My mum was with me that day, and when she saw me admiring it from the window she just said: ‘oh Good Lord, at least try a couple of other dresses before choosing this one… it is green!’. We entered and I listened to her so I tried more than a couple of other dresses. But this one stole my heart from the beginning, just as the magical Cipriani Hotel had done. It was love at first sight. 

Giulia and Carlo - wedding day, 15th June, 2019 - photos:
Giulia and Carlo – wedding day, 15th June, 2019 – photos: Mirco Toffolo

THE DAY – Finally, the day arrived! And it was a fairy tale. Having civilly wedded the week before in the Venice Town Hall (and yes, on that occasion I wore a yellow dress… no white in my fairy-tale ☺), we went this day for a symbolic ceremony. The secret garden at Cipriani had been decorated with a carpet of rose petals, and a magnificent arch with seasonal roses and peonies in so many shades of pink and white, the whole thing was breath-taking. There were small bouquets of flowers for the chairs, tiny versions of the flowers in the arch. As I stepped onto the rose petals the harp started to play ‘She’ by Elvis Castello as me and my father entered and walked down the “aisle”. It was so emotional. Carlo, my almost husband, was waiting impatiently for me and all I could think was to join him for the ceremony. 

The celebrant made a touching speech about us and how we were perfect for each other. After it, we exchanged our promises. The moment was really unbelievable; everybody was so touched by its truthfulness and tenderness that even the religious guests were really moved and enjoyed it sincerely. We lived it fully. Every single moment. 

At the end of the ceremony, the party for our guests began with a little refreshment and then the aperitivo. Carlo and I instead left for one hour to go and get some pictures with the photographer at San Giorgio Island and then back in the secret garden of the hotel. When we got back it was an explosion of joy and music, we had a talented vocalist who discretely animated the evening and it was really really fun. We had a great DJ set, and the view: a fantastic sunset over the Bacino San Marco. Taking advantage of the light and the unique view, we decided that the wedding favours for our guests would be a professional picture made in that moment and developed during dinner so that at the end of the evening they could take it at home with them as a souvenir of the day, plus some confetti of course. A magical reminder of our special day.

Dinner went smoothly and the quiet eating moments where alternated with upbeat music and Italian party style: my cousin decided also at some point to start a Fazzolettata, a typical Neapolitan custom to wave your napkin over your head while singing ‘Oi vita, Oi vita mia’. Everybody laughed their heart at this point, it was really amazing.  

And then, we had a surprise by the vocalist who, before the cake cut, gifted us with a show of our best men and maids of honour. They were holding some coloured smoke bombs while running around us at the rhythm of ‘Viva la Vida’ from Coldplay. It came out really incredible: the pictures that came out from this moment are insane, a combination of bright colours, shadows and evening summer shades with the water on the back. And, of course, so much dynamism and fun. 

After the cake cutting on the fondamenta (we chose to cut a symbolic cake to take the pictures, then hundreds of mono-portions of delicious Saint Honorée came out of the kitchen for our guests) we went inside again for our first dance. One of my favourite moments of this day. We danced a lento on the notes of ‘Poetica’ from Cesare Cremonini, one of the sweeter and talented Italian artists of the moment. At the end of the song, my parents and sister got close to us and we hugged and start to dance together. 

Suddenly, the music changed again and the DJ put ‘All the single ladies’ … it was time to throw the bouquet. And on the rhythm of this song I threw it. My sister caught it and another crazy thing happened: the two of us started to dance, but then my husband came along and took me. We danced the song with such a contagious funky style that all the guests joined us no matter the age. And that was when the real party started. 

The room became a real disco, with stroboscopic and fluorescent lights, an open bar (oh oh that helped a lot to ease the spirits!) and a great DJ set accompanied by a super talented live saxophonist.

I do not want to sound immodest, but really, it was great. All the people that were there they keep telling us how much fun they had and what a great day it was. And I couldn’t agree more: I married the man of my life, had a fantastic day and all this, in the most beautiful backdrop one could possibly imagine: Venice. 

Giulia and Carlo - 15th June, 2019 - Venice
Giulia and Carlo – 15th June, 2019 – Venice
Giulia and Carlo - 15th June, 2019 - Venice
Giulia and Carlo – 15th June, 2019 – Venice
Guests singing and waving their napkins, Napoli style at Giulia and Carlo's wedding. Photo: Mirco Toffolo.
Guests singing and waving their napkins, Napoli style at Giulia and Carlo’s wedding. Photo: Mirco Toffolo.

Special thanks go to: 

  • Jayne Seddon, our incredible wedding planner
  • Janet Simmonds, who helped me and Jayne to make this day the most perfect of our life
  • Marialuisa Benetti, for the most incredible and beautiful dress I’ve ever had
  • Lampo Service, for the lighting and music and DJ services
  • Munaretto Flowers, for the beautiful and artistic floral art 
  • Mirco Toffolo, for the astonishing pictures. 
Giulia and Carlo's Wedding - 15th June, 2019 - Venice. Photos: Mirco Toffolo
Giulia and Carlo’s Wedding – 15th June, 2019 – Venice. Photos: Mirco Toffolo

A note from Janet:

Giulia writes from the heart, she has reminded me and Jayne of the most wonderful day at Cipriani last June. Thank you Giulia for your frank and honest words. If you’d like to read more of Giulia’s words I’d suggest reading her article about ‘Quarantine in Venice’ you can find the article here at this link: https://wp.me/p5eFNn-54v

Wedding planner Jayne, DJ & Lighting wizard Marco and Janet (myself) the wedding planner's assistant. Cipriani Hotel, Venice - June 2019
Wedding planner Jayne, DJ & Lighting wizard Marco and Janet (myself) the wedding planner’s assistant. Cipriani Hotel, Venice – June 2019
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