Me & My Wedding: A Romantic Italian Celebration

From the proposal to the cake, the flowers to the dress, we love hearing what goes into making someone's big day their own. If you're after some inspiration, look no further – we’re shining a spotlight on some of the most stylish weddings out there. For Gabriella and her husband Dean, their dream day in Italy couldn’t have been any more special…
Photography: PICCOLO-TYMON

The Engagement

Dean and I met at work and had been together for about three years before he took me away to Cuba as a surprise for my 30th in November 2019. He proposed on my birthday night and I had no idea it was coming. We’d spent the day driving around in an old Cadillac and ended it with a lovely meal. He seemed a bit nervous at the restaurant and I kept asking him if he was okay. He insisted he was but he didn’t end up actually getting down on one knee until we went for a walk afterwards through the old town. He asked a passer-by to take our picture and while I really wasn’t in the mood, I went along with it. I didn’t know that this guy was recording the moment that Dean was proposing.

The Ring

Dean chose and proposed with my ring, which I love. It’s a diamond with two smaller diamonds either side on a thin, gold band. It’s perfect for me because I’m quite understated and don’t like blingy jewellery – plus, I like to think the three stones represent our three years together before we were married. It came from Christopher James – no one knew except my dad, whose permission Dean had asked for, which was very important to me.

The Planning

Shortly after the engagement, Covid hit – so we were in no rush. We wanted to take our time to make sure our wedding was perfect. I also knew I wanted to get married in Tropea, Italy – where my family is from – so travel was going to be a non-negotiable part of our day, which meant waiting. We didn’t get married until September this year. It might have been sooner had Covid not happened, but I’m glad we took our time. Italian wedding traditions are very family orientated, and I couldn’t have imagined getting married anywhere else. I’ll admit it – it’s a nightmare getting married abroad, and even more so in somewhere like Tropea where there aren’t that many options. We did a great deal of the planning ourselves, but in the end, I hired a wedding planner to help finalise and bring things together on the day. I’d advise going to your chosen destination at least once before the wedding and do as much as you can face to face.

The Venue

Our ceremony happened at Cattedrale Di Maria Santissima and our reception was hosted at Torre Galli in Drapia, which is about ten minutes from Tropea. In the UK, it’s much more common for venues to offer wedding packages but not in Italy, so we knew we’d have to bring in our own suppliers. Luckily, because my dad knew the area well and we have family connections there, there were a few people and companies who could help us out.

The Food & Drink

My dad and family managed to find Lo Schiavo Catering, who also agreed to provide all the logistics around the food – like the tables, tablecloths, crockery and cutlery. When we met them for our tasting session, I think we were there for about five hours! As you can imagine, Italians tend to have very strong feelings about the food… I’ve known some people leave a wedding in Italy if they think the food isn’t up to par. I loved our wedding menu – we had a long table of antipasti for people to enjoy on arrival. Then for the sit-down meal, we had a pistachio risotto with prawns to start, followed by a pasta dish and a fish dish and then another buffet filled with cakes. We also had a massive canoli wedding cake because we didn't want the traditional kind.

The Flowers

We gave our florist, Alessia at Fiori Chiapparo, who is a good family friend, some pointers. We wanted lots of olive leaves to make it feel very Mediterranean and Italian and then we had white flowers that were very minimal. The bouquets she created were incredible and she totally nailed the vibe we were going for. She also helped us with the venue flowers – in Italy, it's tradition to donate a the floral arrangements used in the church to the church afterwards.

The Photographer & Videographer

Our photographers were Martyn Leather and Ian Wilkinson, and our videographer was Luke Boland. My husband and I work in the creative industry, so we know a lot of photographers and videographers. We used to work with them, so we trusted them with our vision. They've also been friends of ours for a long time, so it was nice that they could share our day.

The Dress

I never thought I’d end up with a big dress – I’d always envisaged something form-fitting. I found my Martina Liana dress at the first shop we went to – Fairytale Brides in Manchester – and it was the second one I tried on. Nothing else compared. It’s definitely a full silhouette, but I loved how much it cinched me in. I also loved how it had a really long train with tiny buttons down the back. When else do you get to wear anything so dramatic? Most of my accessories, including my shoes, were vintage.

Now the veil – that was another story. I wanted a full length lace veil with lace edging in the same colour and width as my dress, but I couldn't find it. In some ways, the veil was more important to me than the dress because I knew how I wanted it to look in the church. My mum and I spent a full day at a lace warehouse looking through thousands of samples before finding a match online, but it wasn’t wide enough or quite the right colour. In the end I had to buy a different lace which was the right colour and style with the matching edging but cut it out by hand – all with tiny scissors while Dean wasn’t in the house – and then buy a plain veil to attach it to. It was a massive job.

The Hair & Make-Up

My hair and make-up were both done by my good friend I know through my styling work, Yasmin Schwitzer. She’s so talented, and also did the bridesmaids' hair and make-up. I always knew I wanted that slicked-back Italian look, which is why we went for a low bun and lots of smokey, brown tones in the make-up. I didn’t want to look like someone else, just an elevated version of who I am day to day. She also did the hair for the flower girls and page boys. Later on, I let my hair down, but it was still partially tied up to make sure it didn’t get too messy.

The Bridal Party

Dean’s suit came from Moss Bros, his shoes from Reiss and he handmade his own lace tie, which was a lovely touch. The bridesmaid dresses came from H&M.

The Ceremony

Italy is a very strict, religious country and you have to be Catholic to get married in a church there. It meant both Dean and I had to convert to Catholicism and do a dedicated marriage course in order to make it legal. The process wasn’t easy but my sister had gone through something similar about ten years before, so we were able to learn a lot from her. Our ceremony was done entirely in Italian (our order of service included an English translation!) and one of my favourite parts was the opera singer we hired. I cried when she started singing, her voice is incredibly beautiful. We also had readings – including one by Dean – and then there was a mass.

The Entertainment

We wanted to have traditional Italian music so we hired Anni 60, a local band, to play on arrival at the second venue and get our guests in a celebratory mood. Later in the evening we hired a local DJ – Tommaso Mauro – but we gave him a playlist of our favourite songs so there was something for our English guests to enjoy – lots of 70s and 80s oldies for the parents!

Advice For Other Couples

In some respects, I could have definitely made life easier for myself, but I’d probably only have regretted it if I’d ended up doing something I didn’t want to do just because it was the simpler choice. At the end of the day, this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, so you should go the extra mile to make sure it’s exactly as you want it. I definitely understand why some couples elope, but no matter how stressful my own experience, I wouldn’t change anything about it. Also, be really present in the moment. You won’t believe how fast it all goes by.

Follow @Ioete.Store, @Noi.Due.Creative, @DeanTymon_ & @Gabriella_Piccolo on Instagram.

All imagery courtesy of the Piccolo-Tymons.

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