Aquapetra Resort and Spa Wedding
Laid back and unique, with touches of subtle quality. A boho vibe, but also very Italian chic. Our aim was for our guests to come and relax at their leisure without feeling they were on a schedule and for everyone enjoy some of the finest quality food and wine on offer in Italy!
Graeme and Tori
Hands up who has watched the First Dates Hotel and thought, well that looks like a rather fabulous destination? I certainly have. Well today we have a real treat as we are at the very same resort for WWW readers Graeme and Tori’s utterly beautiful Aquapetra Resort and Spa wedding in Italy, which was held on the 11th September 2019. They opted for a destination wedding with a really unique and boho vibe, the result was just incredible. A weekend of fun, love and festivities, which included music, amazing florals, delicious food, serious style and gorgeous weather.
I love that they drove to Italy for their wedding, which meant that they could bring along the wonderfully personal touches they included. It also meant that they could have their honeymoon in Italy too, with what sounds like a spectacular road trip. It sounded like a dream experience.
I have to also say just how much I love Tori’s Rue De Seine gown and veil, which featured tassels, lace, dreamcatchers and mirrors. Oh my. She looked amazing, as did Graeme in his ivory blazer, black trousers and bow tie. The black and white theme continued into the wedding party outfits and their guests even joined in too. So stylish.
Graeme proposed in Rome in October 2017 – I had no idea at all. We had been on a few big holidays that year and I thought if he was going to do it, he may have done it already.
He booked the trip for my birthday a month or so earlier as it was a city we had been dying to visit. The flight out to Rome was really bumpy with turbulence, and then when we arrived at the hotel it was double booked, and to top it all off it was raining…! Not the best start. And as a result the original plan of proposing in the romantic Aventine and Orange Garden overlooking Rome didn’t go ahead.
Luckily he had booked a gorgeous restaurant for the evening to celebrate. It was called Mirabelle Splendid, which looked out over the city and the Vatican Dome. We had stunning food and wine – and then he proposed at the side of the table just before desert!
He did it by asking me if I knew what ‘I love you’ was in Italian – so I said yes ‘Ti Amo’. Then he asked if knew what ‘Voi Sposarmi’ meant, which I didn’t. He told me it means ‘Will You Marry Me’, then he reached into his pocket and took out the ring with ‘Ti Amo Tori, Voi Sposarmi’ engraved on the box! I cried for about twenty minutes, asked him if he was sure about 100 times, then he finally heard me say yes. It was perfect!
We always said when planning that we wanted the wedding to feel very ‘Italian’ and didn’t want a traditional English-style wedding abroad.
We wanted everyone to feel the chilled out and laid-back Italian vibe that we love so much. Good food, wine, music and of course a good party! It had to represent us as a couple and feel personal and unique – not ‘out of the box’.
We like everything to be super simplistic with minimal ‘classy’ decoration. The venue and surroundings are gorgeous enough as they are – we didn’t want to add to it too much. As soon as we decided on the venue, everything else just fell into place naturally.
The Planning Process
I have to give almost all credit to my husband Graeme here – the ‘wed-min’ was all down to him! He had spreadsheets for everything which really helped us to keep on top of what needed to be done, costs etc. Graeme is a project manager by trade – so this was his bread and butter. From planning the transport for guests from the airports to fireworks, flowers and music – he did it all.
My role was to sort all the decorative detail and the personal little bits that helped to bring everything together. Though only small, these touches made such a big difference to the wedding. I took inspiration from various wedding blogs, Etsy and Pinterest, and then tailored them to our style and taste.
Our evenings and weekends were spent wedding planning, which now it’s all over I think we both actually really miss.
We didn’t really set a fixed budget but did have a top end figure we wanted to stay within – which did NOT happen of course!
People assume getting married abroad is much pricier than in the UK, however we don’t think this was necessarily the case.
We hired the hotel for 3 days exclusively and filled every room. This basically meant we had a 3-day celebration, not something easily available in the UK hotels.
The wedding venue was Aquapetra Resort and Spa, found in a little town in Campania called Telese. You may recognise it from the First Dates Hotel on Channel 4! It is nestled amongst olive groves and boasts a chapel, two gorgeous pools, a spa, two restaurants and rooms for all 86 of our guests.
As mentioned earlier we had exclusive use of the hotel for 3 nights, so the grounds, pools and its spa facilities were at our disposal!
We worked with our contact at the hotel and planned a Pizza and Prosecco evening the night before the wedding and to celebrate everyone’s arrival. Then also a pool party (including a 10-person floating unicorn) the day after!
It ticked every single one of our boxes and was perfect for the laid back vibe we had in mind. Accommodation for all guests, privacy, the ceremony on site… from the moment we first visited we both knew we had found the place!
The Readings & Music
We chose not to have readings, but the celebrant we chose offered a few different ceremony ideas that would represent us as a couple. We decided on a wine ceremony, which involved mixing a red and white wine together and us both drinking from the cup.
This was something we hadn’t seen before – and loved the idea of the different wines representing each of us, and then merging them together.
Aisle: Christina Perri – A Thousand Years
Leaving ceremony: Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me
First dance: Donna Lewis – I Love You, Always, Forever
Band: The Waistcoats
The Waistcoats are an Irish/Italian wedding band who played us down the aisle, in the piazza outside the chapel for aperitifs & canapés, and also provided the music for after dinner dancing by the pool!
Guido is the in-house piano player who works closely with the resort. He is fantastic and played a variety of beautiful well known songs throughout the wedding banquet.
We chose not to hire a DJ for the end of the night as is normal with some weddings. We actually let our guests pick the music! We had Spotify setup on an iPad and a PA system by the pool. This worked perfectly everyone LOVED this little personal touch. No ‘YMCA’ or ‘Oops Upside Your head’, but plenty of 90s R&B and house music until 4am!
Your Outfits & Accessories
My fabulous dress was the ‘Medina’ gown, and my veil was also called ‘Medina’ both made by Rue De Seine.
I purchased them from the lovely Jean Jackson Couture in Manchester.
I chose this dress because I am not the most ‘girly’ girl. Therefore, wedding dress shopping was very daunting for me. I must have tried on around 20 other dresses previously and although some were really nice, none were quite ‘me’.
I initially thought I’d found another dress by a different brand online. Then after lots of calls and emails I found it had been discontinued. This is when one of the sales assistants suggested I look at Rue De Seine – and thank god she did! I did some research and fell in love with everything about the brand. All of the dresses are the right level of boho/glam and chic, designed for destination weddings, therefore I felt it would fit our wedding perfectly. I found out where I could get my hands on one and luckily Jean Jackson had a trunk show that weekend – it was meant to be!
After visiting their beautiful studio, and meeting Felicity and Beck, who were so kind and helpful in introducing me to the dresses, I knew immediately Medina was ‘the one’. The fringes, the mirrors and the lace were all a bit of me! And the veil just sold it.
I have had SO many compliments on the dress and veil – the veil actually made a lot of people cry (even the men at the wedding!) I felt the look was actually quite Italian – without actually trying to be. It really was my dream dress and I couldn’t have found a dress that suited me more.
I couldn’t have been happier with my dress buying experience – I highly recommend people go and visit Felicty and Beck at Jean Jackson. They made everything so relaxed, chilled, fun and exciting throughout. From buying my dress to the fittings – everything was perfect because of them.
For the evening time – I removed my veil and added some gorgeous Ranjana Khan earrings from Ranjana Khan’s website. I chose these because they matched the dreamcatchers on the back of the dress perfectly, and they were really light and lovely to wear. I actually wore my usual necklaces and rings, that I wear day to day. Although it was my wedding, and I wanted to look ‘bridal’ – I still wanted to look like me.
My shoes were actually from ASOS and were only £13! I originally bought white Gucci shoes to wear, however when I tried them with my dress the ASOS shoes just looked much better.
For the ceremony Graeme had a double-breasted ivory blazer from Moss Bros, paired with black skinny fit suit trousers from Next. The shirt was from Charles Tyrwhitt and the oversized black dickie bow was from Mrs Bow Tie.
He was originally unsure on whether he wanted an ivory or black blazer, so he got the matching black Next suit jacket too and that became the evening blazer!
Beauty & Grooming
Make up – Danielle Quinn
Hair – Jennifer Forsyth and Jasmin Green
Nails – Lauren @ NailedIt and BySarah_
Groom hair & beard – Pete Cranfield
I wanted to go with a boho/laid back but glam theme with the hair and makeup. For my hair I wanted a loose laid back beachy wave as I wanted it to be ALL about the dress and of course the veil.
All of my bridesmaids had gorgeous long hair. I wanted them to look and feel comfortable and like themselves on the day, so we decided on a relaxed curl with flowers that matched the bouquets.
For make-up I wanted a glowy natural glam look. With hints of copper to fit the theme. Danielle got my vision perfectly and she did my make up as well as the bridesmaids and my mums.
My nails were done by Sarah. I went for a nude with white stars as I wanted to keep it classic colours, but modern. The bridesmaids nails were done by Lauren at NailedIt – they all went for the nude shade that suited them most.
All of the ladies who did our hair, nails and make-up are our friends/ family so the morning of the wedding was so chilled and fun, and I think everyone really enjoyed getting ready.
The Details & Décor
All of the little details on our day represented a little bit of us with a hint of Italy. We went with mostly black and white, copper features and lots of the natural greenery.
The black leather handmade Polaroid guestbook, our neon G&T (Graeme & Tori) sign, a charm with a picture of our two Chihuahuas Dixie and Dexter, and my parents/grandparents on my bouquet – everything meant something to us and made the day that little bit more magical.
Our personalised menus were designed and created by Jinny at Vine In The Wild. She totally understood our ‘simplistic and modern’ black and white theme. With it being an Italian meal, it was actually 4 courses – including a sharing board, pasta (of course) and the dessert buffet by the pool.
We went with an unconventional, but very Italian, U-Shaped table for the wedding banquet as we wanted guests to mingle together throughout. This worked so well, and special thanks to Julie at Elite Invite who made our table plan. She got the design spot on! Altogether we had three signs from Elite Invite – the table plan, a welcome sign for the chapel and a Mr & Mrs Mock sign – which now hangs proudly at home.
We had marble tiles personalised with a copper foil for every guest to show their seat at the table, also a little memory of the wedding for people to take home with them.
For the favours we filled mini cork topped bottles with the hotel’s homemade Limoncello. It’s fair to say they all got drunk! Everyone sampled some of the Italian delights for the first time and it went down really well.
We did a lot of the detail ourselves – either getting bits and bobs from Etsy to add effect, or actually making them ourselves. We transported everything over in our car to the wedding – but it was so worth it to get the personalised and unique details we wanted.
Our venue already had so much beautiful greenery and flowers everywhere, so we didn’t want to go over the top. Our florist was an Italian couple from the local town. They only spoke Italian so we communicated through our hotel translator, and my Pinterest board!
Again, keeping to the simplistic Italian theme, we went with a lot of olive branch, eucalyptus, lisianthus etc and kept it all green with white accents.
The main flower feature was the archway above the chapel doors. It made for some really special photos.
The bouquets and the flower pins were all made of the same flowers we had on the arch and the chairs in the chapel.
For the wedding banquet table, we had one huge 30m runner centre piece that ran the whole of the U-shaped table! This was my favourite piece – it looked (and smelled!) incredible.
We actually decided against a cake and, keeping with the Italians, we went with a tower of cannolis and a huge dessert buffet out by the pool – it went down a treat!!
The groomsmen’s suits and shirts were all the same but tailored based on preference of fit, so regular, slim and skinny fit.
Suits – Next
Shirts – Charles Tyrwhitt
Bow Ties – Mrs Bow Tie
Shoes – various classic black derby shoes, some vegan and some wide fit.
My bridesmaid’s dresses were from ASOS.
I knew when I bought my dress that for the girls I wanted something boho with fringes. I went with black which weirdly is my favourite colour. It also suited the black and white theme that we had for the wedding. I wanted them to be light, flowy and strappy so that they were comfortable all day without being too hot, and also so they could dance the night away! The dresses were perfect and suited all my girls perfectly without any being altered – and they all said they felt really confident in them!
The bridesmaids’ shoes were from Very. I went for strappy black, with an on trend wooden/Perspex block heel as there were A LOT of cobbles to walk on. Their gorgeous flower hair clips were hand made by a lovely lady on Etsy. She picked the flowers and greenery precisely how I wanted to match the flower bouquets, and the finished result was perfect.
My mini maid Summer wore a handmade dress, again from Etsy, with the same flowers in her hair as the bridesmaids. She also had a flower wand made just for her with the same flowers as the clips (which she loved!).
The ladies in both of our families also chose to wear black on the day to fit the theme – we think it looked really good on the photos and on the day.
Peter Hughes Photography
Peter is actually a really good, long term friend of ours and after seeing some of his recent work and knew we had to have him as our wedding photographer. We did an engagement shoot with him the year before on Formby beach and he also shot the pictures for our legal home wedding in Liverpool. He knew exactly what we wanted.
I feel like he captured ours wedding perfectly, every picture of us and the guests shows emotion and fun which is exactly what we wanted. Everything from the ceremony, the group shots, the speeches, and of course the ‘bombing’ in the pool at the end of the night… he captured it all!
Like the photographer, we are lucky to also have talented friends Paul and Tony. Busy Bird specialise in cinematic wedding films and they really did create an amazing story of our day. They also made short teaser clips of the days leading up to the wedding. So professional throughout the day and privileged to have them as guests at our wedding too!
We actually drove over to Italy in our own car, so after our week at Aquapetra, we headed to Sorrento to carry on the celebrations with family and friends for 5 days. We then moved on to travel Italy for three weeks – visiting Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Rome, Tuscany, Florence and Lake Como. We have fallen in love with Italy all over again.
The whole wedding was memorable for us, but I’d say the most memorable moments have to be :
- All of our guests arriving on the coaches – Graeme and I have been to the venue several times alone – so to see our friends and family arriving there was just incredible.
- Graeme and I walking into the wedding banquet room to all of our guests with one of our favourite songs playing – everyone danced us into married life. Then sitting at the top table and looking out at all of our guests who had travelled from far and wide to be with us – it was amazing!
- Jumping in the pool at the end of the night – the groomsmen and bridesmaids decided we should all jump in – fully dressed. The bride was the first in – followed by bridesmaids, the groom, groomsmen (in their full suits and shoes!) and then all of the guests – some in VERY expensive outfits! I will never forget that feeling!!
- And finally spending 3/4 days with ALL of our closest friends and family in one place, all together celebrating with lots of pizza, pasta and wine – we will be forever grateful for that.
Advice for Other Couples
DO YOU – Make it unique and special to you – there are enough out of the box/samey weddings and you don’t want to look back and think we should have done it our way. Wear your every day jewellery, wear whatever shoes you want, have your hair and make up the way you like it, have the band you love – even if they aren’t ‘wedding enough’ – do it your way!
DO NOT STRESS – I know its difficult but it will all fall into place eventually. Things will/ wont happen on the day – but as long as you make sure you keep in mind that the wedding is about you and your partner – you wont even notice or care. You don’t get the day back so relax and take everything in. Take some time for you and your new husband/wife to look around at everything you have done together.
ENJOY IT – it goes SO quickly so enjoy every single second!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Peter Hughes Photography
Aquapetra Resort and Spa
Busy Bird Wedding Films (Paul and Tony)
Pianist – Guido
How stunning? Well that’s now totally cemented my dream of exploring Italy.
Thanks so very much to Graeme and Tori for sharing their incredible destination wedding with us xo Lou