Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
It had to be Italy for Dani and Allison, who met when they were studying in Florence

Americans Allison and Dani met in Italy while they were students, so there was only one wedding location they would consider – and their picture perfect Italian venue in Chianti wine country was the icing on the cake


Photographs: Divine Day Photography

Allison and Dani met as Florida State University students in Italy, both of them having signed up for its study programme in Florence. So when, some time later, they made it official and got engaged, there could be only one location on their wishlist: Italy.

In fact, everything about their story is movie-quality romantic. They had been part of the same social circle for three years before they finally began dating. But by then Dani had finished his Master’s and was on his way to New York City while Allison still had a year of studying to go. She says: “We managed to do long distance until I finished with school and then I moved to NYC to be with him!”

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
It was a travel agent friend of Dani's who suggested Castello Vicchiomaggio in Chianti wine country

With the stars neatly aligned, they were travelling through Europe in early summer 2015; last stop Paris. On their final day there, Dani popped the question in classic style. “Dani had told me that brunch was a ‘dressy’ affair in Paris, thus leaving no questions when he put on a sports coat. After grabbing a cappuccino at The Luxembourg Café, we strolled through the Luxembourg gardens. We were taking pictures when Dani stopped, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
Guests at the wedding had also joined Allison and Dani for a week's worth of adventures across Italy

With a proposal like that, the wedding location had to be somewhere to top it. Knowing that Italy was the place, they asked around and a friend of Dani’s – a luxury travel agent – suggested Castello Vicchiomaggio in beautiful Chianti wine country overlooking the Greve valley as she’d taken groups there in the past.

From there, the planning started and Allison – who in a former life worked in a wedding boutique – masterminded the whole wonderful journey. Their guests came along for the celebration, with Allison and Dani planning a week’s worth of adventures all across Italy. The magical journey built up to a grand finale atop a vineyard in an ancient castle.

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
The backdrop was so beautiful that Allison wanted the wedding to feel simple and natural

“I wanted the entire party to feel like an intimate Italian dinner with close family and friends”

With this backdrop, there was no need to overdo the dressing and Allison wanted to keep things simple. “The theme was neutral and natural, incorporating fall colours and greens everywhere,” says Allison. “I wanted the entire night to feel like an intimate Italian dinner with close family and friends.”

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
After the ceremony in the ancient church, bride, groom and their guests walked back up the hill for the feast

On the day of the wedding, the bride and groom had a leisurely start, with the bride eating breakfast with the wedding guests and then beginning bridal hair and makeup by late morning. The only low point of a joy-filled celebration was that Allison’s mother fell ill that morning and had to take a back seat from a large part of the festivities. “It was hard not sharing the whole day with her,” says Allison. “But she wanted me to enjoy myself and take in every moment.”

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
The bride's elegant gown was by Nicole Miller, with a handmade veil created by Fariba Designs of Richmond, Virginia. The gorgeous autumnal flowers were by local firm Florum

The wedding ceremony took place in a beautiful Italian church and afterwards bride, groom and their guests made their way back up the hill for the feast.

Allison’s simple and elegant gown was by Nicole Miller, and was worn with a veil handmade by a specialist company in Richmond, Virginia. The outfit was complemented perfectly by the beautiful bouquet, featuring glorious shades of rich red alongside more muted greens.

Danni and his groomsmen work sharp tailored suits, while the bevvy of bridesmaids wore gowns by Two Birds. As the sun set, the feast was served alfresco in a courtyard illuminated by twinkling lights. A cool DJ, and even cooler sax player, had the party on the dancefloor into the small hours.

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
The feasting began as the sun set, with an alfresco party illuminated by twinkling lights

Allison’s advice to other couples is to find people you trust and ensure that you convey exactly what you want. “No bride should be stressing about the small, mundane details,” says Allison. “Rather, they should be sipping champagne and enjoying every second of the day.

“A cool DJ, and even cooler sax player, had the party on the dancefloor into the small hours”

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
It was a magical evening with perfect Italian weather and dancing until the small hours

Allison also believes it’s really important to record the moment – especially at such a spectacular celebration. “Divine Day Photography made everything so fun and special. It felt like we had two additional close friends at the wedding – our guests are also madly in love with them! Pictures and videos last forever and it’s so special to capture the entire day.”

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
Recording the moment was vital for Allison and Dani, especially since so many of their friends had travelled to be with them for this moment

While the photos capture everything beautifully, some memories don’t need a photo to record them. High point for Allison was right at the start of the wedding when she and Dani exchanged their first looks. “It was so special having those few moments together before everything began.”

Real wedding: Paradise party in Chianti
Meeting at the church was a special moment in a day full of wonderful memories

Allison and Dani’s real wedding sourcebook

Photographer: Divine Day Photography;

Venue & catering: Castello Vicchiomaggio;

Flowers and tabletop hire: Florum Floral Decorations;

Bride’s gown: Nicole Miller;

Bridal shoes: Gucci;

Bridal veil: Bespoke at Fariba Designs;

Bride’s hair and makeup: Consuelo Cardella;

Bridesmaid gowns: Twobirds;

Wedding rings: Golden Gate Jewelers;

Groom’s suit: Bonbobos;

Groom’s shoes: Ferrini Leather;

Wedding stationery: Rock Paper Scissors Charlottesville;

DJ: Situation Party;

Saxophonist: Gianluca Baroncelli;


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