Real wedding: Italian dream

Real wedding: Italian dream
Arianna and Nicolò’s wedding was rooted in local traditions and the flavours of their region

Arianna and Nicolò’s classic Italian wedding at Villa Torlonia in San Mauro Pascoli was a day of joy, and the bride wore a unique pair of bridal shoes made by her family firm Casadei


Photographs: Marco Onofri

When your Italian family firm is known around the world for its luxury occasion shoes, then any wedding celebration just has to include a very special pair of bridal heels. Arianna Casadei, who has followed in her father and grandfather’s footsteps by working for the firm, was destined to be a VIP customer on her wedding day to Nicolò Zaghini.

“The wedding took place close to home, so many elements were rooted in family and local traditions”

Real wedding: Italian dream
Arianna and Nicolò’s wedding service took place surrounded by family in the beautiful traditional church adjoining the Villa Torlonia

The wedding took place close to home, and in Italy’s shoemaking heartland, so it followed that many elements of the day would be rooted in family and local traditions. The couple – who met when they were still teenagers – had the rare opportunity to celebrate in Villa Torlonia, a beautiful historical monument that was once home of the famous poet Giovanni Pascoli. This precious survivor of traditional local architectural styles has very special family associations. As a child, her father Cesare had played in its then abandoned house and grounds. When the family discovered that it had been restored to its full glory by the local municipality, it seemed the perfect fit for their special celebration.

Real wedding: Italian dream
This was a rare opportunity to celebrate in Villa Torlonia, once home of poet Giovanni Pascoli

Arianna’s next big decision was the dress. She always known she wanted to wear Elie Saab on her wedding day. The big problem was, which gown? A trip to Paris with her family and bridesmaids provided the answer. Initially, she didn’t want to try on the beautiful strapless gown she eventually picked. Although it looked perfect, and exactly matched her personal style, Arianna felt she should wear something completely different to mark such an important day in her life. Eventually she was persuaded to try on the gown and as soon as she had there was no need to look any further.

Real wedding: Italian dream
Arianna's lovely strapless dress was by Elie Saab, a designer she has always loved

With a dress secured, an even bigger decision was to follow – her bridal shoes. Here, Arianna had no say whatsoever since it had been agreed that the shoes would be a very special surprise from her father, grandfather and all of the team at Casadei and would be presented to her on her wedding day. In the months leading up to the wedding day there was much secrecy – Arianna recalls finding things being hastily covered up every time she visited a different department of the factory. There was one try-on session to ensure the perfect fit, but Arianna’s father insisted she wear a blindfold for this.

Real wedding: Italian dream
Arianna's custom-created shoes were top secret, only revealed by her father on the morning of the wedding

As it turned out, everyone had gone above and beyond in order to ensure the perfect heels, with Oriana Merisi – Casadei’s expert embroiderer since the 1960s – taking on the task of creating the unique decoration for the shoes. It took two painstaking weeks just to hand stitch the individual decorative elements. On the morning of the wedding, they were finally presented to Arianna – perfect white lace heels with delicate crystal flower decorations and a personal message of love from her father imprinted on the leather soles.

“It took two painstaking weeks just to hand stitch decorative elements onto the shoes presented to Arianna on her wedding day”

Real wedding: Italian dream
With ornate dress and shoes, the bride kept jewellery and flowers simple

With dream dress and mystery shoes, Arianna had decided to keep jewellery to a minimum to ensure it didn’t detract from the beautiful lines and textures of her gown, but a few weeks before the wedding her aunt brought her a selection of precious family earrings to choose from (her ‘something borrowed’). The final selection of her borrowed earrings was made after her last wedding-dress fitting in Paris.

To stick with tradition, the guest list of 220 friends and family were all tasked to wear a ‘something blue’ at the celebration, not only for its symbolism at weddings but also because it’s Nicolò and Arianna’s favourite colour. Discreet blue elements were also incorporated into the floral arrangements and bouquets.

Real wedding: Italian dream
The wedding feast was held in the courtyard, and with guests tasked to wear something blue

Arianna and Nicolò’s wedding service took place surrounded by family in the beautiful traditional church adjoining the Villa Torlonia, and then guests were invited into its classical courtyard for the celebration proper. The menu of regional specialities included local piadina (delicious filled flatbreads that are ubiquitous in the Emilia-Romagna region), hams and bread plus a raw seafood bar. Here was a feast that was resolutely Italian, except for the champagne for the toast. The incredible sculptural cake tower arrangement was created for the celebration by noted Paduan pastry chef Lucca Cantarin.

Real wedding: Italian dream
The stunning multi-level cake was by a famous Paduan baker

The couple and their guests celebrated under the stars long into the night, serenaded by swing and jazz music from brilliant Italian band Four On Six, and with a special set by Milanese DJ Valentina Sartorio. To round off the formalities, there was a spectacular pyrotechnics celebration in the grounds of Villa Torlonia.

Real wedding: Italian dream
The couple and their guests celebrated under the stars long into the night, serenaded by live music and a DJ

While Arianna and Nicolò are left with beautiful memories, the couple do also have a unique memento to remind them of one special day. Arianna has always had a tradition of keeping a special pair of shoes to mark important moments of her life – her 18th birthday, her degree and now her marriage. And, says Arianna, these perfect fairytale slippers are the most precious and symbolic keepsakes, because so many people in her family and throughout Casadei were involved in their creation.

Real wedding: Italian dream
Fireworks rounded off a very special celebration among friends and family

Arianna and Nicolò’s Italian wedding sourcebook

Photography: Marco Onofri;

Venue: Villa Torlonia;

Food: Solegiallo;

Cake: Lucca Cantarin at Pasticceria Marisa;

Bridal gown: Elie Saab;

Bridal shoes: Casadei;

Groom’s suit: Tom Ford;

Band: Four On Six;

DJ: Valentina Sartorio;


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