A real wedding with fairytale romance, Anna and Thom’s celebration made feasting the star, with a relaxed weekend wedding party in the glorious Tuscan countryside, followed by a glamorous minimoon taking in the culinary marvels around Venice
Photography: Sergio Sarnicola
As a food writer and blogger, Anna Barnett was not going to let an opportunity like her own destination wedding pass without making a meal of it. She and Thom decided their location had to be Italy because it’s a subject close to both their hearts. Anna says: “Thom and I both love Italy – mainly for the cuisine and rural landscapes. We liked the idea of being out in the sticks on a farm somewhere.”
Their other priority was a location that friends and family could share: “We wanted to make it all last as long as possible in the most relaxed way possible.” So when they found Villa La Zambonina, a 17th-century manor on a rice-growing estate, they knew they had struck gold. Located just 15-minutes from Verona, it offered authentic hospitality and the opportunity to design a party round its beautiful ancient courtyard.
“The food was incredible – we’re still dreaming about the homemade pasta and risotto”
Anna and Thom envisaged a country-style party. Anna says: “We wanted sharing plates, Nonna style, rustic home cooking and nothing fussy”. The owner of Villa La Zambonina Marina swung into action, putting them in contact with all the right people – from florists to caterers. Marina even found friends who could put up extra guests on a farm a short drive away.
As a cook and culinary explorer, Anna had to get the menu just right and was hugely impressed by the caterers: “Tregnaghi Catering & Banqueting are family-run with a deli just outside Verona. They were amazing – sourcing everything down to the last detail. They even made non-regional dishes for us and the food was incredible, to the point that we’re still dreaming about the homemade pasta and risotto!”
Their venue was the star, set in such stunning natural scenery, so Anna wanted a fairly muted colour palette for flowers – neutral tones with blush and dusty pink touches. Floricultura Bosco supplied incredible flowers, including the eucalyptus, fragrant English roses and hydrangeas Anna had specially requested.
Having planned on a grand scale for the feasting, Anna found her wedding gown three weeks before the wedding at Angelica Bridal in Camden Passage, matching it to fabulous Manolo Blahnik green heels and shades. Thom’s smart suit came from Burberry. Anna also had a cocktail gown in the mix, since the party began the night before the wedding.
The weather produced its best – Italian style – and Anna and Thom’s wedding day was as relaxed as it could be. They used the chapel within the manor house for the ceremony and blessing and then moved on to the feasting in the evening. The next day they had a pool party and wedding ‘debrief’. While it was beautifully warm, a dramatic electric storm in the evening lit up the sky with endless sheet lightning. The rain finally came down at 1am, but didn’t stop the dancing or late night swimming. Guests were fed on through the night with pizzas (a pizza oven was installed specially for the event).
This was a party that Anna and Thom didn’t want to end and there were many high points. Anna says: “For Thom, it was getting to do his vows in Italian – the translator didn’t work out and my husband doesn’t speak Italian! For me it was Thom’s speech, which started with him belting out R. Kelly’s Bump n’ Grind. Then, for both of us, the food – it was a dream feast.”
“Plan your celebrations so they last as long as possible – I can honestly say I loved every second”
Anna and Thom’s advice to other brides and grooms is to keep things simple. Anna says: “Leave as little to do on the day as possible so you don’t have to think about a thing – I can honestly say I loved every second. Also, drag out the celebrations so they last as long as possible.”
While guests did have to depart eventually, Anna and Thom kept their culinary adventure going for just a few days longer, moving on to stay at the iconic Belmond Hotel Cipriani and the Aman in Venice and also spending a few days at Villa Arcadio overlooking Lake Garda. From sublime to divine, this minimoon was, says Anna, the perfect end to their wonderful Italian wedding feast.
Anna and Thom’s real wedding sourcebook
Wedding venue: Villa La Zambonina; lazambonina.com
Catering: Tregnaghi catering & Banqueting; fratellitregnaghi.it
Extra guest accommodation: Agriturismo Cortes Pino; Agriturismocortespino
Photography: Sergio Sarnicola; sergiosarnicolawedding.com
Flowers: Floricoltura Bosco; email@example.com
Wedding gown: Angelica Bridal; angelicabridal.co.uk
Earrings: Miu Miu; miumiu.com
Cocktail party gown: Mother Of Pearl; motherofpearl.co.uk
Cocktail party shoes: Aquazzura; aquazzura.com
Groom’s suit: Burberry; burberry.com
Aman Venice; aman.com
Belmond Hotel Cipriani Venice; belmond.com
Hotel Villa Arcadio; hotelvillaarcadio.it