In college Kara had studied abroad in Florence, Italy and always dreamed that she would one day get married there. When she and Andrew first set eyes upon photos of Villa Gamberaia, they booked the venue sight unseen, but then ventured to Florence to meet with their planner, VB Events. The venue is full of rich history, from its world famous gardens to the sweeping views of the Tuscan countryside, so the couple chose natural colors and decor to highlight the villa’s natural beauty. Olive branches and natural wildflowers decorated the tables for the the indoor reception, and each couple was gifted a bottle of local olive oil to take home as favors, and each place setting included the traditional five Jordan almonds to signify five wishes for the couple: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. Prepare to be transported to Tuscany and enjoy the absolutely breathtaking images from Stefano Santucci!
In their own words
How did you meet?
It was a sunny fourth of July at Emerald Bay, California when Andrew first met Kara. It might have been her American flag bikini, her Ray Bans, red lips, or her lack of skills playing cornhole on the beach, but right away Andrew knew he needed to see her again. A few weeks passed before Andrew took Kara out for their first date in Venice, but after a four hour dinner they knew they had met their soulmates. While they came from very different backgrounds– Kara, was a California gone Texas sorority girl at SMU in Dallas, while Andrew spent his college years in Colorado at the Air Force Academy playing Division 1 Lacrosse and training to fly, and launch rockets — they had more in common than they could have imagined.
What is your proposal story?
After two years of dating Andrew’s job took him to New York City, which led to long distance relationship for almost another year. When the time was right Andrew picked out the perfect ring, and coordinated, what Kara believed was a dinner date at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. The hotel was one of their favorite places in Los Angeles. When they arrived at the hotel, the restaurant hostess escorted them to their “table” curiously on the third floor of the hotel. Two large french doors opened opened onto a private terrace overlooking Beverly Hills and revealed a path of long stemmed roses that led to a grand flower display in a heart formation scattered on the ground with the words “Will You Marry Me?” Kara was truly surprised and speechless then Andrew dropped down to his knee and asked her to be his wife. Kara’s response was “YES OF COURSE!” The entire courtyard erupted in applause as Kara and Andrew turned around to find the hotel balconies full of on-lookers who included Kara’s mom, brother (who acted as photographer of the proposal) and close friend Erika, who had helped Andrew execute this surprise proposal! Full of pure joy, the couple spent a special evening at the hotel and waited until the following day to share the exciting news with the world.
What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?
We both felt that our venue, photographs, videography, and food were the most important elements of our day! Those were items that we focused on budget on the most and felt that finding the best quality and the best vendors that matched our taste was extremely important. Because we got married at a villa with beautiful gardens, we felt like our florals were an area we didn’t need to go crazy – instead we choose for gorgeous smaller arrangements and bouquets that complimented the garden around us.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
Since we didn’t do a “first look,” our favorite moment was, without a doubt, the door opening for Kara to walk out of the villa with her dad and Andrew smiling beaming at the Alter surrounded by our closest family and friends. We will never forget the overwhelming amount of love we felt in the air around us. We also loved watching one of the most beautiful sunsets over Florence with all of our guests during our cocktail hour, while drinking our favorite drink – aperol spritz. Also, Kara’s best friend and maid of honor could not attend our wedding because she was almost 9 months pregnant, so a very special moment was when audio was played of her reading her speech during the reception. We also had the best time of our lives dancing the night away! Our DJ (DJ Remo) was incredible, truly the best I’ve ever heard, and got every single guest on their feet dancing their hearts away! We never wanted the night to end!
Describe any DIY, handmade, or personal details.
One of our close friends created our custom Florence gold foil map insert for our wedding invitation suite, which was such a special touch and a memento we will have forever! We also had custom cigar wrappers and matchboxes made with our monogram and placed them in vintage cigar box by the dance floor for some late night celebrations as well! I had an 8 foot tall cutout of the statue of Michelangelo’s David and photobooth props made, which turned out to be a fun props on the dancefloor. We also passed out Italian masquerade masks for our guests on the dancefloor.
Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?
There is a tradition at Italian weddings to provide guests with five almonds to signify five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. We placed 5 white Jordan almonds in gold sachets for our guests to enjoy.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?
Before you start your planning figure out what are the top most important things to you both (for us it was venue, food, photos, video). It is easy to get caught up in the millions of things you have to reserve, plan, buy, etc. so make these most important things a priority. Don’t forget your personal touches too! Get all your big vendors locked down early and then have fun being creative with details in the months leading up to your big day! And as cliche as it sounds, BE PRESENT on your wedding day. Yes, things will go wrong, but do your best to let them go and enjoy your day with your loved ones. It truly was the most special day of our lives.