Escapism in the form of the stunning Villa Gamberaia wedding of WWW followers Steph and Justin today, wow. A wedding celebration which was magical and elegant, but also really very romantic. Steph and Justin decided on a destination wedding, in Tuscany, Italy on the 10th May 2019. The setting was spectacular and there were the most amazing views, it’s no wonder that they held their entire day al fresco. They were married in the grotto in front of a gorgeous flower arrangement, before dining outside and dancing beneath a canopy of festoon lights come evening. It all looked incredible and touches such as the fireworks ensured that their day was unforgettable.
Their wedding planners Rossini Weddings created a sophisticated style, with tables adorned with classic flowers and gold touches. Then there were the stylish outfits. Steph chose to wear a detailed fit and flare gown by Pallas Couture, Justin and the groomsmen wore dashing tuxedos and the bridesmaids wore lovely champagne frocks. Oh the glamour!
Ed Peers Photography captured their wedding day so perfectly and I am so thankful to be sharing these utterly beautiful images with you today.
Here is the wedding website we created for the wedding: http://justchasingsteph.com/
The proposal will forever be known as the biggest surprise of Steph’s life and the best kept secret of Justin’s. As Justin stated, this is the one thing he could orchestrate in their relationship! The trip to Peru was marking Steph’s UCLA graduation and would be the adventure of a lifetime for both of them. Experiencing the Sacred Valley and its historical ruins via hiking and biking was just the beginning. The superb dining, fine wine and hospitality were abundant throughout the entire journey including the phenomenal train ride to Machu Picchu. After an early wakeup call and a downpour of freezing rain (Steph’s description), Steph, Justin and Joseph (their memorable tour guide) began their trek through the cloud forest. The fog engulfed the mountain for the first few hours and Justin patiently waited for the opportunity to present itself. As they wandered through the neatly stacked stones, they came upon a terrace overlooking the symbolic tree and ‘happy’ mountain. With the clouds now scattered, the scenery was more beautiful than ever and Justin knew this would be a perfect location. Justin handed Joseph his camera (which was not unusual), asked him to film this one with a wink and concealed the ring. With Steph posed for the photo, Justin knelt down on one knee and brandished the ring.
To say Steph was shocked is an understatement as Justin had made numerous hints in previous months that he didn’t have the ring. As she caught her breath and held herself up, she realized what was happening and said “YES!” Her amazement continued throughout the unbelievable trip of a lifetime. It may have been atop one of the New Seven Wonders of the World but it will always be the first wonder of their lives together.
From the moment we became engaged, we knew we wanted a destination wedding with our closest family and friends. We imagined all our loved ones residing together at the wedding location to allow everyone to have fun and make memories with one another. With Justin’s career in architecture, we envisioned a venue with beautiful architecture and gardens. Steph, who desired to incorporate her Italian heritage and return to the location where she studied in college knew Italy was the destination to host this magical celebration. We imagined an elegant affair with beautiful lighting, greenery, gold accents and most importantly tons of dancing.
The Planning Process
We realized planning a wedding from across the world would take a lot of help and a great team! We scoured wedding websites and Instagram looking for the right planners to bring our vision to life. Following our first call with Rossini Weddings, we knew instantly they were the right fit. Weekly video calls began immediately as there was so much to do in a short time period – our wedding was in less than seven months! We relied on our planners to get to know our unique style and personalities since we would need to select our wedding villa without leaving California! It goes without saying, we feel we became husband and wife in one of the most magical locations in the world!
Villa Gamberaia is an historic villa of the 17th century, set on the hillside of Settignano, on the outskirts of Florence. Renowned for its gardens and superb panoramic views of Florence and the Arno Valley. The enchanting grotto was a truly unbelievable spot to exchange vows – we were living in a dream. We also returned for the cake cutting in this location and surprised our guests with a sparkling fireworks show.
The villa even includes a century’s old cellar in which we held our late night festivities.
Your Outfits & Accessories
The couple always knew they wanted a formal wedding and their outfit selections reflected their exquisite celebration.
Steph envisioned an elegant, exquisite and sophisticated dress with intricate details – and sexy at the same time. She selected Pallas Couture known for their luxurious and feminine designs. Those who know Steph, know how much she loves high heels. Her dream was to walk down the aisle in Christian Louboutin.
Justin wore a custom-tailored black tuxedo from Suit Basics by Michael Lew.
Steph’s hair was gracefully styled by the ever-talented Michael Grey Hair and her makeup perfected by Ruth Reynolds. Steph’s look featured a gorgeous half up do. Makeup accentuated Steph’s blue eyes. The groom was cleanly shaven and ready for the big day!
The Readings & Music
Readings included one of the couple’s most treasured poems, “Coming Home” by Mary Oliver recited by the groom’s brother. A bible verse from Colossians 3:12-17 was also read by Steph’s aunt. The couple wrote their own vows and added a special detail by reading a touching card they had received from one another during their time together.
Justin and Steph loved the idea of including a classical harp and violin within the music for their special day. As the guests mingled and took their seats, “La Vita È Bella” played. This phrase is engraved on a necklace the bride treasures and etched on their wishing well box.
Justin and Steph walked down the aisle while the timeless song, “Canon in D” played. After dinner, Gravity Band from London provided the lively tunes for guests to get up and dance! Justin and Steph danced to two songs while guests huddled around the intimate dance floor, a longer one with “Vivo Per Lei” and a segment of “Sweet Caroline” in which they brought up wedding party. The dancing didn’t stop in the garden, guests celebrated in the cellar while a DJ played everything from 80’s favourites to the latest hits.
The couple felt the beauty of the villa spoke of itself and wanted the flowers to be thoughtful and elegant. Il Profumo de Fiori created one central arrangement with majestic greenery and touches of flowers for the fountain in the grotto which was the backdrop of the ceremony.
The florist designed a stunning scene for the tablescape centerpiece with white and green florals entwined on golden flower stands. The table was adorned with golden candles, candelabras and smaller table arrangements featuring Garden Roses, Hydrangea, Peonies, Ranunculus, Spray Roses, and seasonal greenery.
Classically sleek black suits also from Suit Basics by Michael Lew. Beautiful boutonnières adorned each tuxedo jacket.
Bridesmaids wore stunning, champagne coloured full length gowns by Dessy. The high, modifier halter neckline contrasted a sexy low scoop back.
The Details & Décor
A special detail the couple incorporated was Justin’s hand-made puzzle in the shape of Italy. A piece was placed on each guest’s plate so they could write a small message of love and encouragement to the couple. The framed puzzle is now an art piece the couple will forever cherish.
Following the ceremony and multiday celebration at Villa Gamberaia, the couple travelled for the first leg of their honeymoon in Croatia to enjoy spectacular beaches, Croatian cuisine and distinctive old towns. They then went on to explore the stunning coastline of Malta, located south of Sicily.
Traditional Italian Millefeuille.
One of the most memorable moments was after the cake cutting when we surprised our guests with a spectacular, unforgettable fireworks show. In the grotto, where our ceremony had taken place, with awe-inspiring music playing we cut into our cake just as explosions began overhead from an array of red, gold, and white fireworks. A moment we remember vividly, holding each other with our guests gasping, crying, and laughing behind us.
Advice For Other Couples
It sounds cliché but try to stay in the moment. It really does go by so fast! Take time to have special moments together throughout the wedding celebrations even with all the events happening. Invest in a videographer, you’ll have the opportunity to see wonderful moments you missed and relive the day together again and again!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Ed Peers Photography
Michael Gray Hair
Il Profumo de Fiori
Steph and Justin, thank you both so so much for sharing your wonderful wedding story with us xo Lou