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A Glamorous Destination Wedding in Lake Como, Italy

“Seeing the love they have for us, the love we had for one another was more than we could ask for in this life. ”

The couple: Sarah-Maud St-Onge and Daniel Zacarelli
Length of engagement: 11 months | Wedding date: June 14th 2017
Wedding location: Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy | Photographer: Cristiano Ostinelli
Wedding planner: Federica Nascimben –The Italian Wedding Event

We met… One day, Sarah shows up to Daniel’s office to kick off a new project conjointly with Dan’s team. On the third visit, Dan offered Sarah whom didn’t know many people in Toronto yet, to join him and his friends on their next outing. This led to more and more hanging out and one day Dan swooped Sarah off her feet and both decided to take it to the next level: Let’s move in together! This was less than two months since they met at work.

Our proposal… happened on Canada Day Long weekend, July 2016. Dan surprised Sarah when he got home from work with a surprise trip. Their private driver took them to the airport and Sarah still didn’t know where they were heading. What a surprise when she read the letters ‘CDG’ on the check in screen. They flew to Paris and Dan kept telling Sarah it was to celebrate their newly built house. There was a Rolls Royce and chauffeur waiting for them at the airport and took them to a cute boutique hotel – the penthouse suite with a view of the Eiffel Tower! The rest of the day was spent touring and was topped off with a sumptuous dinner at the Chef’s Table at Le Meurice and a Burlesque show at The Crazy Horse. Walking back to their room after drinks, Sarah told Dan he was surprised he hadn’t proposed today. As Sarah opened the door to their room, a wonderful surprise was waiting for her on the other side – candles everywhere, a fire in the fireplace, rose petals lead the path to the bed where an empty box was lying open under a sign reading: Will you marry me?’ There were tears, shivers, laughter and of course a yes!! It was like something straight out of a fairy tale.

My look… Queen of dresses: Pnina Tornai! From Kleinfeld Canada. I knew I wanted a body-con classic. At first, lace was what I wanted… however, after trying on a few gowns, it totally swallowed me up. A voluptuous satin, dramatic train and low-cut back were just perfect for me. I bought the dress before we chose the venue, and it couldn’t have been more perfect for the location… Old Hollywood glam feel, rich looking, for this great bourgeois Italian villa. I also opted for Sophia Webster shoes, light pink with butterfly wings and a touch of sparkles.

I was lucky enough to have a great friends’ that looked after my hair and make-up. I wanted a bit of drama on the eyes with a soft smokey eye, and decided to continue the Old Hollywood feel with with the hair… It had to be up to showcase the back of the dress.

Our ceremony… The ceremony took place outside of the villa, by the beautiful Lake Como. We had a custom Coupa made, with beautiful flowers and a chandelier. We tried to bring as many elements that represented us into the ceremony. Some Jatholic and jewish traditions, as well as non-religious readings that symbolised us. All readings were taken from classic books: Khalil Gibran, St-Exupery, Paolo Cohelo and Louis de Berniere. We didn’t want it to go on any longer than 30 minutes. The walk to the altar was to the theme song from The Gofather for the groom and bridal party. The bride, accompanied by her father, walked to Mariage d’Amour.

The end of the ceremony was disturbed by light rain… which delayed the surprise entrance of the 3 tenors that came from Milano’s Scala to sing as we walked down the aisle as a married couple. However, their surprised entrance at the beginning of the cocktail hour did take all our guests by shock and it truly was a once in a life time experience. I still have shivers thinking back at that moment.

We chose our venue because… We wanted Italy and water. The other options were either too far, hard to excess, too expensive or too small. Lake Como was perfect: water, mountains, serenity. We wanted something regal. Something we can’t have in North America. Something with a history. When our planner Fede from The Italian Wedding Event proposed Villa Erba as a venue, we knew she was right. We do not regret at all our choice. It was perfect and the owners of the villa were open to our few requests.

Our wedding theme/colours… Neutrals. All about blush, beiges, sage and gold. While this wasn’t our first choice of palette, our venue with its sumptuous frescos and décor forced us that route. Considering the beauty of the venue, it was all worth it!

We chose our wedding coordinator because… We interviewed many coordinators/planners. This was critical for us as we were planning a wedding in another country, half way across the world, and wouldn’t be able to travel to the location before the day of the wedding. Integrity, creativity, price and trust were key. When we met Federica from The Italian Wedding Event through a Skype meeting, we knew right away she was the right one. She had wonderful ideas, understood what we were looking for, and had done amazing work prior to our wedding.

His suit… The groom opted for two suits: one for the ceremony and one for the reception. The ceremony suit was black and grey 3 pieces redingote, all tailored made on measure for him. Fabric by Loro Piana. The reception suit was a 2 piece, all tailored made on measure as well. The top was a deep blue with Etro patterns that screamed abundance and royalty. This was my personal favourite. He wore Christian Louboutin studded ink blue shoes.

We chose our photographer because… Not only was he highly recommended by our wedding planner and won a multitude of awards, but we loved his work. We had been following him for a while on Instagram. All the shots were so artistic, genuine and different than the typical “posed” wedding pictures. We never met him before our wedding, but his professionalism, and joy just bright up the day. I totally loved every moment of having him and his team around us on our wedding day, and I am beyond speechless with the results of his work.

My favourite part of the wedding day… Was having our most favourite people, travel from over 6 different countries to spend our special day with us. Seeing the love they have for us, the love we had for one another was more than we could ask for in this life. We will also always have a special place for the 3 tenors that sealed our Italian experience by incredible music and driving down the quaint tiny streets of Cernobbio in our Ferrari.

My piece of advice for other couples… Find a wedding planner you can trust and that will have your best interests at heart. We trusted Fede and her team, and we got a wedding that surpassed all our craziest expectations and wildest dreams. They understood our vision and our budget, and made miracles with them. Finally and most importantly, do what you want: this is your day. Not your parents. Not your friends. Do what is right for you because this is a once in a lifetime experience that you will never get back…

Oh – and one more thing… don’t sweat what doesn’t go according to plan… they are the little things you will always remember and smile at in the future!

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Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.

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