Mia + Paolo: Featured on The LANE
Tucked between ancient walls, vineyards and refined Tuscan landscapes, the ceremony of Mia & Paolo unfolded on the stairs of a small hillside chapel, using the height and architecture as a dramatic feature with crimson blooms cascading from the palisades.
Offering contrast to traditional Italian details, ghost chairs refined reception detailing with lustrous silver plates and layered linens. Mia, drawing on her endless love of heirloom jewels and skills as a fine-jewelry luminary herself, created bespoke seraphic pieces, while her gown (a matte sequin Suzanne Harward creation) hinted gently at vintage Italian glamour.
NAMES: Mia Chicco & Paolo Modolo
WEDDING DATE: 05/09/2015
GUEST NUMBERS: 79
HOW WE MET: Our best friends were dating 14 years ago and introduced us, there was instant chemistry but the timing wasn’t right. We each went our separate ways, travelled and lived overseas but something kept drawing us back together in Sydney – we randomly bumped into each other at the same set of traffic lights on two separate occasions. Eight years ago we fell in love and since then have been through so much together and are inseperable. We moved to London at the start of 2012 where we spent three and a half years making the most of every opportunity. We moved home three months before the wedding to re-start our lives in Sydney.
OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Paolo proposed on our 5-year anniversary whilst we were living in London. He told me he had planned a surprise getaway, gave me instructions on what to pack and that was all I knew. He is quite the old school romantic so I was none the wiser to question the surprise would be anything else than an anniversary celebration. The destination was Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons – a manor house in Oxfordshire run by the legendary chef, Raymond Blanc. After a very special day to ourselves and just after I had gotten ready for dinner, in the privacy of our suite, he made me close my eyes to give me a present and when I opened them he was on one knee holding a diamond in a box (choosing a ring for a jeweler was far too much pressure and he knew I always wanted to make my own ring!). We celebrated that night with the most amazing dinner and spent the next couple of days in our own little bubble in the beautiful surroundings before we returned home and shared the news with family and friends.
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Equality, Adventure, Love, Friendship, Family and a lifetime of smiles
WEDDING LOCATION: Both of us are half Italian and feel a very stong cultural connection to Italy. I studied jewellery in Florence and Paolo’s half sister also lives there so Tuscany holds a very special place in our hearts. We heard about Villa Catureglio through friends of friends, which is in a little town called Borgo A Mozzano about 25 minutes from Lucca. We booked a weekend trip to go and stay there and instantly fell in love with the estate. Although I had been searching for a while online it was the only property we looked at and the search stopped there. It was everything we were hoping for and more, built in the 12th century up on a hill with the most spectacular views. It was private and intimate yet slept 42 people onsite. It’s rustic unterstated elegance and Tuscan charm meant it needed little decoration or styling.
THEME / STYLE: Due to the natural beauty of the property we didn’t over complicate styling. Our wedding reflected us as a couple and our personal style. It was elegant and refined but still rustic. We drew inspiration from the property and the landscape around us which we wanted to be the main focus and added a touch of old Italian vintage glamour.
BRIDE’S DRESS: After many appointments trying dresses in London and Australia I decided on a couture Suzanne Harward dress and custom designed veil. I loved that the brand has so much history (a pioneer in the Australian bridal industry for 40 years) and the fact that every gown is entirely handmade in Melbourne with the finest construction and the most exquisite fabrics. The dress was tailor made to suit my figure and fit me perfectly. The silhoutte was very important to me and also the texture and detailing. I went for a full matt sequin embellished silk gorgette gown with a low drape back. The epitome of old school Hollywood glamour it felt effortless and easy to wear – being able to dance in it was a must.
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PHOTOGRAPHY: We chose Stefano Santucci Studio to capture our special day. Stefano and Lucrezia’s philosophy aligns perfectly with everything that we believe in, authentic, natural and beautiful moments. We really wanted someone who would capture the true ‘us’, not staged and posed but the real emotions and moments of the day. We cannot recommend them highly enough.
BRIDE’S SHOES: My shoes were from Scanlan Theodore which I fell in love with the moment I tried on. With blush natural Italian leather and a solid wooden heel with long wrap around laces they added the perfect rustic contrast to my feminine gown.
BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: I wanted my bridesmaid dresses to be unique and individual but to compliment each other. It was all about the drape, texture, luxe fabrics and soft blush/gold and natural tones that worked back in with the with the colours of the villa and tuscan surrounds. My Maid of Honour wears a Bespoke Bridesmaid dress (her own label launching soon), second bridesmaid wears Amsale from BHLDN, and third wears Zimmermann.
BRIDESMAIDS SHOES: They each wore their own shoes, all were neutral colours and open toe.
WEDDING RINGS: As a jeweller/ jewellery designer the rings were one of the most important things for me. I hand made my own engagement ring which has an emerald cut diamond in a unique deco style platinum setting. For our wedding bands we went for 18ct yellow gold which I also handmade, Paolo wanted a traditional soft curve style which I engraved on the inside and mine is a refined but organic full circle of individual settings with different cut diamonds in shades of white, champagne and blush. My aesthetic is quite Italian, having studied jewellery in Florence, and I sourced the diamonds in London but made the ring in Sydney, so it is a unique blend of the three special places in my heart.
JEWELRY: I wore a mixture of my own label jewellery and some special vintage and antique pieces that are very meaningful to me. My Dad’s signet ring which is the initials for both my parents, my great Grandmother’s diamond eternity ring and my 30th birthday present from Paolo which is a Polly Wales ring. My something borrowed was my mum’s antique garnet pinky ring which her best friend gave to her on her wedding day. I gifted each of my bridesmaids different drop earrings that I made for them which looked amazing with their dresses. Paolo wore a pair of gold and mother of pearl cuff links which I made for him on our 7th anniversary and also a very special watch he inherited from his dad.
GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: Paolo wore a midnight blue Tom Ford tuxedo with black lapels, a matching black bow tie and Tom Ford dress shirt, an investment piece he totally deserved and will wear again. His groomsmen wore navy Calibre suits with navy knitted ties from Herringbone.
HAIR: I kept my hair very simple, it was supposed to be a little messy with a romantic feel. I’m not into typical bridal ‘do’s and also didn’t want too much going on as my dress was so embellished. It turned out to be a simple soft low bun.
MAKEUP: My makeup was very natural with a romantic feel. It was important to me that I looked like myself and the woman that Paolo fell in love with just a glow. We accentuated my eyes with with a earthy palette and highlighted my cheekbones along with a nude lip. I then applied a deep red lipstick for the dinner which worked with the roses in my flower crown.
STATIONARY / INVITATIONS: Again we kept this simple and rustic with kraft and cream paper with accents of gold and navy. The invitations and menu’s featured a seal with our initials in an olive branch wreath, and were made by Upon A Time Designs who I found on Etsy.
FAVOURS / BONBONNIERE: As we hosted a lot of activities for our guests throughout the four days we opted for simple traditional Italian bonbonniere for the place settings. I also personally hand wrote and made the name cards which each had a different Italian or special proverb for our guests to keep as a momento.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: Sabrina, whose family has owned the local florist in Borgo A Mozzano for decades, is a true creative and we were completely blown away with the arrangements. I wanted the flowers to be rustic and a little wild but still refined. My bouquet was quite large with a loose organic arrangement using lots of green foliage including olive branches, deep red, apricot and soft mauve roses, hydrangers, and draping red Amaranthus. I worked very closely with Sabrina in the days leading up to the wedding choosing the flowers she sourced from the local market. The bridesmaids bouquets were a smaller version of mine and not as cascading. The arrangements for the tables were placed in gold vessels and had the same aesthetic. Sabrina also made me the most elaborate flower crown to wear for the reception, I almost felt like the statue of liberty but it worked perfecty with the setting.
PREPARATION: We had a lot going on from the day everyone arrived on the 3rd and we really wanted all our guests to get to know each other and have some quality time together. The evening before the wedding day we hosted a dinner under the stars on the estate with traditional pizza’s from the outdoor oven and lots of wine. This was such special evening for us and everyone as we were all so excited for the following day. Paolo and I decided to keep the tradition and spend the night apart so I stayed with my Mum. We had breakfast in the main villa with everyone whilst managing to avoid each other then took different levels in the villa to get ready. As we had two photographers, we were able to capture the preparation in immense detail.
CEREMONY DÉCOR / RECEPTION DÉCOR: The property has the most beautiful little chapel with original fresco ceilings in the front garden which we really wanted to have the ceremony in however we couldn’t fit all our guests. Instead we decided to have the ceremony on the front stairs of the chapel using the height and architecture as a feature. The reception was in the back garden amongst the fairy lit olive trees. At the enterance we had a large vintage map of Tuscany on display for guests to write a message or memory on from the day, something we will cherish forever. We set the tables in a ‘U’ shape which were raw wood with just a linen table runner. We chose ghost chairs to add a modern contrast to the antique silver cutlery and chargers. Linen napkins sat ontop with the gold name cards all tied together with a sprig of olive branch which was sourced from the garden. Candles were spotted throughout the flower lined tables.
WEDDING PLANNER/STYLIST: We used the services of Kate and Rose Hobbs who were absolutely fantastic. They have wonderful relationships with all of the suppliers and helped make our special day so incredibly memorable. All the styling for the wedding we did on our own.
CAKE: One of the finest Pasticceria’s in Lucca created the most delicious naked cake for us. It was three tiers of lemon cake with rasberries and cream icing, and chocolate cake with cherries and vanilla icing. The smeared icing also had a soft gold colour.
WEDDING SONGS: For the ceremony I walked down the aisle to J.S. Bach, Suite for Solo Cello No.1. Our first dance was to Frank Sinatra, “I get a kick out of you”
ENTERTAINMENT: Before, during and after the ceremony we organised for a beautiful string quartet to play (Alma Project). The music perfectly matched the occasion and was serene while still keeping an air of enegry about it. During dinner we had a Jazz quartet play (Max Soggio) with a repetoire that included all the great jazz classics, from Miles Davis to Duke Ellington. After dinner, we moved to “the barn” which became the dancefloor.
FOOD & BEVERAGES: Immediately after the ceremony, our guests enjoyed Aperitivo in the gardens between the main villa and the chapel. Aperol Spritzes were the drink of choice to wash down the fresh antipasti.
Dinner was a sit down affair, four courses with matching local wines (prosecco, white, red and dessert).
– Figs served with fresh buffallo mozzarella
– Porcini risotto with pancetta and a parmesan sable
– Tagliata (beef) cooked on the grill, served with vegetables
– Degustation dessert table
Outside of the barn, we had a bar set up for guests to enjoy Aperol Spritzes, Negronis and other drinks of their choice.
TRANSPORT: The wedding was on-site at the estate. We arranged for a shuttle to collect all our guests who were not staying at the villa and then drop then back at the end of the evening.
HONEYMOON: For our honeymoon we stayed at the Eight Hotel Paraggi in Portofino. Every morning it was spectacular to wake up to the crystal clear waters lapping up on the private beach. Portofino is a truly magical place.
GIFT REGISTRY: We had two gift registries; one at David Jones and the other at our favourite boutique in Potts Point, Macleay on Manning. We are so fortunate to have received some beautiful gifts from our friends and family.
CELEBRANT: Don Luigi from the local parish in the village of Cune presided over our ceremony. While traditional in many ways, we also ensured that it had a touch of modern about it.
READINGS: We had three readings throughout the ceremony including poems by Frederick Buechner and Pablo Neruda .We decided to write our own vows which were meaningful and important to us and our commitment as a couple. We included the ancient Sanskirt Namaste greeting which we felt was a special symbolism of our respect and love for oneanother.
‘I honour the place in you which is the same as the place in me
I honour the place in you in which the entire universe dwells
My soul recognises your soul, I honour the light, love, beauty, truth and kindness within you because it is also within me.
In sharing these things there is no distance and no difference between us, we are the same, we are one.
I will always adore, honour and encourage you
you are my best friend and I will always love you’
ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: Given that we had so many guests travelling from all over the world, we wanted to ensure that everyone had a magical time in Tuscany. We organised and hosted a number of events during our time in Tuscany;
– Welcome Dinner on the first evening at a quaint local trattoria in the village
– Wine tasting and lunch at an award-winning vineyard near Lucca
– The night before the wedding, we hosted a dinner on the estate, with long tables set up in the courtyard overlooking the valley. The estate has a wood-fired pizza oven on-site with delicious pizzas, salads and local wines being served all night. The gelato cart was a hit amongst our guests!
– On the final day we hosted a recovery BBQ in the back gardens where our guests could reminisce about the night before and relax by the pools in the late afternoon sun.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: A little bit of pinterest and searching through Real Weddings on The LANE, but a lot of our ideas and inspiration came from attending our friends amazing weddings which we then addapted to our own style.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT: Walking from the main villa to the gardens and seeing all of our friends and family who had travelled so far to help us celebrate was incredibly moving. The fact that the backdrop was the hills of Tuscany, with fairy lights strewn throughout the olive trees made it even more magical than we could have wished for.
IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE: Be organised! I was still writing place setting cards on the morning whilst getting ready and wrote my speech ten minutes before walking out to the reception, I really should have been enjoying every moment with our bridal party. Also don’t stress over the little things that go worng, no-one else will notice except for you. The day passes so quickly so be sure to step back and have a few minutes of alone time with your loved one to really appreciate the day and take it all in.