Me & My Wedding: An Unforgettable Day In Sicily
The Love Story
I'm originally from Toronto, but I moved to New York after university and lived there for 14 years before I randomly decided to take a 48-hour trip to London for a friend's party in January 2020. That’s where I met Matteo and, when I went back home, we stayed in touch. Then the pandemic hit and since we were all working from home anyway, I decided to move and work from London. Once I got there, we rekindled things and then before I knew it, I’d quit my job and chosen to forgo my US green card. I lived out of a bag I’d packed for two weeks for the next two years as we locked down together. In June 2021, Matteo got a job offer to move to Paris, and we decided it could be a fun adventure for us. We’re still living in Paris today.
When I met Matteo, I knew he was the guy I was going to marry. I've had a lot of long-term relationships, but the minute I met him, I just knew he was the one. When we got engaged, we’d only been together about a year and a half – we were living together, but we hadn't really talked about marriage. In the summer of 2021 we were living in this amazing apartment in Paris with a beautiful terrace where we spent many nights watching the sunset together. One night after dinner, we went home and I went to take my make-up off in the bathroom. When I came out, Matteo was gone – but I saw a note asking me to come out onto the terrace because he had a small present for me. When I went out, he got down on one knee and proposed. It was very sweet, very simple – and a complete surprise.
Matteo proposed with a thin diamond band (which I still wear on my ring finger) but we chose my eventual engagement ring together. We worked with Moonstoned, a vintage jeweller from New York. Matteo chose the stone, I designed the setting, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The diamond is from the 1800s and the setting has lots of intricate detail to it.
At the end of August 2021, we went back to Canada and had a quick civil wedding with my Canadian family which was easy and intimate. Then we set a date for our wedding celebration in Italy for autumn 2022 to give us enough time to plan. I remember I Googled ‘Sicily wedding’ and the first thing that came up was an article with a headline along the lines of, ‘A Beach Cave Turned Into An All-Night Dance Party’. I knew instantly that that was where I needed my wedding to be.
I knew planning a destination wedding would be trickier logistically, but trying to get in touch with Tonnara di Scopello was especially challenging. It took a week of us chasing them to finally lock down a date. The only thing was, we knew it was a dry hire venue – so we’d have to bring in all of our own suppliers – which could pose a challenge as Matteo isn’t from the area, he’s from Rome. We were able to work with a couple of planners who pointed us in a few directions, but we ended up doing a lot of the work ourselves.
The Flowers & Décor
Our planners helped us find our florist – Frascati Fiori – which actually does a lot of the weddings at our venue. I sent them and our planners a lot of inspiration – probably an eight-slide PowerPoint presentation – and they did an incredible job. The tables were stunning.
I knew I was going to have a main dress and a party dress. I considered having a dinner dress too, but it didn’t feel worth it for such a short window of time and I wanted my dress to have its full moment. At a certain time in my life I’d thought I’d never get married, so I’d never envisioned a traditional dress. If anything, I thought I might end up with quite a small, civil wedding, and I think a lot of my friends also expected me to do something quite Carolyn Bessette Kennedy.
I left it quite late to start the search, so I went on a binge in Paris where I went to probably eight boutiques. Then I spent a week in London browsing the boutiques there. The last place I went was The Fall Bride and the girl there was incredible. She had such a good sense for my style, and while I wasn’t sure when she first brought my Newhite dress in to try, she was absolutely right. The veil came as part of the look, and my girlfriend then gave me these Sophie Bille Brahe pearl earrings to wear with it. For the party afterwards, I wore a dress from Annie’s Ibiza. Matteo and his groomsmen wore outfits from Caruso.
Hair & Make-Up
I was pretty stressed about hair and make-up – mainly because I couldn't find anybody who could do it. At one point, I was going to bring somebody from Paris, even though it was going to be expensive to bring them and a team down to Sicily for three days. Funnily enough, my friend in London said it was too bad I couldn’t have Victoria Radford, who lives in Toronto come do it as she had been great at her wedding, and a few days later, I was in Paris with Matteo telling him about the hair and make-up issue, and it turned out Victoria was standing nearby – a very serendipitous situation! She told me we could work something out and ended up bringing her entire team – they were incredible.
I had a hard time finding photographers in Sicily, but I figured having an Italian photographer made sense. So I went on Instagram to do some research and found Lato – or Laura & Tommy. I loved their style, which included a lot of candid, non-traditional photography. They photographed the Friday daytime event, the evening and all of Saturday.
The Days Before & After
Even though it’s less traditional for Italians to do three-day weddings, I knew my friends were not going to fly all that way for a single day. We thought we’d keep the Thursday night casual, so we rented out this restaurant in a little town nearby, but we ended up having to make it a lot bigger and a proper sit-down dinner after so many people RSVP’d to that part of the event. It turned into a raging party. Our DJ – Matteo's best friend – got everyone up dancing. Then on Friday we hosted a beach day which was supposed to end at 4pm, but the DJ was so good we ended up partying right through to dinner. We then had a proper rehearsal dinner at another restaurant overlooking the water, with lots of speeches.
We'd already had our legal ceremony in Canada, but we decided to have one of my best friends officiate in Italy. It was great because we wanted it to be more informal, but it still felt ceremonial. We wrote our own vows – which I’m not sure Italians are all that used to – but it gave us a chance to tell our own story. I should mention as well, the morning I spent getting ready with my girlfriends was one of the highlights of the wedding for me. In the weeks and days before the wedding it’s easy to feel stressed out, but this was really relaxed and fun. After the ceremony, we went straight into cocktails with a jazz band playing near the water.
The Food & Drink
Our caterer Giuseppe is known for his live appetiser and cocktail sessions – so we included him in the drinks reception immediately after the ceremony. Then we guided people over to the dinner where we had a two-course meal of swordfish and pasta. We didn’t want it to be a long, drawn-out dinner – and after we cut the cake, we got straight to dancing. At a certain point, you have to surrender to the flow of the day, and let people do what they want to do. We partied on the front terrace until 1am, then went into the beach cave until 6am. We didn’t do anything the day after – we debated doing a brunch or another form of goodbye, but frankly, I’ve never enjoyed having to go to people’s day-after events. Plus, a lot of our guests had RSVP’d to our wedding as part of a longer trip in Europe, so they were moving on to continue their travels.
Advice For Other Couples
I found talking to other brides really insightful. We were able to get so much helpful insight from the people who had been married at our venue before. It was the only way I found out about all the little details that I wouldn't have known unless I’d spent a lot of time there. That said, you quickly realise people don't notice half the things you’re stressed about – so long as there’s a good flow to the day, it’ll all work out. So maybe that’s my final piece of advice: put yourself in your guests shoes as you think about the flow, think about the logistics and enjoy it – it goes by so fast.
All images courtesy of Caroline Jenkins
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