Destination Weddings/DIY Weddings

Italian Countryside Wedding With Old-World Charm

Planning a destination wedding in a foreign country can be intimidating, but when you have a village of helpful and talented family and friends like Kayla and Max, pulling off an Italian countryside bash is no problema.

Filled with old-world charm, Agriturismo Le Bolli set the stage for an intimate, rustic, labor of love wedding. The ancient space matched the couple’s vintage style, including Kayla’s grandmother’s ring and a bohemian vintage style Rue de Seine gown.

The faraway wedding was filled with so many personal touches, with readings from favorite books, and little purchases tucked away in their suitcases all the way to Italy. Kayla offers sage advice for destination wedding DIYers, about the zen of letting the little details go, and enlisting the help of your talented guests to make a more personal destination wedding.

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Our Love Story

It felt like the stars aligned for us to meet and fall in love, but the real catalyst was my appendix. I was med-evac’d from my Peace Corps post 9 months early. A couple months passed and I saw Max’s handsome bearded face at a mutual friend’s holiday party. By New Years Eve, we were falling in love. We both “knew” we were in the presence of our soulmate.

Three years, two apartments, and one rescue dog later, Max pulled up a random city generator to have an adventure for my birthday. We got Charleston, South Carolina. That’s where he proposed, lying in bed like the first time he told me he loved me.

We wanted our wedding to be a celebration of all the people that helped our love story happen. Sitting at that big table in Tuscany surrounded by family and friends from all parts of our life, we felt we achieved that. It was an adventure, just like everything else had been.

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The Style

Max and I are both old souls and gravitate towards things that have had a previous life. My wedding ring is my grandmother’s diamond in a setting that looks like it is from the turn of the century that Max designed himself. We had an old suitcase I found at an antique shop we schlepped to Italy to fill with vintage-inspired postcards that people could write us messages on.

Both sentimental, we love Max’s parents’ tradition of reading The Gift of the Magi to each other every Christmas Eve and relate to the young couple in the story: Jim and Della. They are so in love but don’t have much money so she sells her hair to buy him a chain for his beloved pocket watch and he sells his pocket watch to buy her combs for her hair. Max bought me vintage hair combs and I bought him a pocket watch from 1910 as an homage to this story which we wore on our wedding day.

My Rue de Seine dress looked like it was from another time, in my opinion, so I tried to embrace that by choosing a mantilla veil. I wanted the whole thing to look like it could have happened 100 years ago. I wore green shoes because green is my favorite color!

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The Venue

We chose Italy because we thought it would be a special experience for those closest to us to celebrate our wedding. We knew it was a lot to ask of people both time-wise and financially to travel to Europe from the U.S so we tried to cut aspects of wedding planning that we did not personally value to help justify the big trip for those who could swing it: no bridal party, no registry or gifts, no shower– just the main event! – which was always what we wanted to focus on.

It was important for the wedding to be intimate. With 46 people sitting at one sprawling table in the garden, we feel we achieved that! We found a little slice of heaven in Agriturismo Le Bolli – their motto is “Le Bolli: Good Vibes Only” and for good reason.

It was a peaceful retreat near a tiny town 45 minutes from Siena. The property dates back centuries and features 12 bedrooms overlooking their olive trees with the medieval town in the distance.

Besides the wedding, my favorite part of the week was just hanging out at the villa with our friends and family, drinking prosecco in the pool, exploring the nearby towns, having meals together, and playing drinking games into the night. It was so magical but went so fast. Even with choosing the summer solstice as our wedding – the longest day of the year – still too fast!

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The Ceremony

We decided to officiate our own ceremony. We honored friends and family whose relationships were inspiring to us and had friends read passages from The Little Prince and The Alchemist.

Our parents read from the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality Obergefell v. Hodges. We wrote our vows.

Max’s dad then toasted our self-uniting ceremony with the toast from It’s a Wonderful Life: “Bread, so that this life shall never know hunger. Salt, so that life may always have flavor. And wine, so that joy and prosperity may reign forever.” It was perfect for us.

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The Planning

Our wedding was very much one that took a village. My mother and sister-in-law helped me answer style and logistics questions every step of the way. My sister-in-law, fiancé and I made invitations out of leather luggage tags.

My sister-in-law (all-star as you can tell) literally learned how to do a bridal up-do so we did not have to rely on a hairdresser in a foreign country I wouldn’t have met and executed it perfectly! Her and I made fans for people to cool off that doubled as wedding programs. She also was hugely responsible for setting up the day and helping me find materials to decorate the wedding with in the days leading up to the ceremony in rural Italy.

My aunt and cousin made all the bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces. My aunt also was basically our day-of coordinator and took the reins on making sure everything went off without a hitch – she is the best. My good friend learned how to do my makeup. My mom made my wedding cake and my friends decorated it – it looked (and tasted) better than professional!

Max created the entire wedding playlist, ordered it and mixed it and there was not a moment that people were sitting down. I was so scared that people wouldn’t dance if we didn’t have a DJ and that was definitely not the case.

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Advice to Other Couples

If I were to give advice to another bride, especially one planning their wedding overseas, I would say that it can be very stressful to manage all the unknowns and navigate across cultures (most countries do not have craft stores and Targets) but you just have to let it happen.

When I would worry that we wouldn’t find candles or vases for centerpieces I just had to remember our original wedding goal of not caring about the things that were not Max and I getting married.

Fortunately, everything went without a hitch and all our vendors were fantastic. It really helps to enlist the help of friends and family, while it is asking a lot to ask other people to work on your wedding with you, I think that is always how weddings were once and I loved that everyone had a stake in making our day beautiful and special.

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