Imagine long alleyways framed by tall cypress, vast sunflowers fields, vineyards and casali keeping good guard on top of green hills in their light grey stone.
Imagine to be under hundreds of fairy lights, amongst olives and eucalyptus, with the smell of home cooked-food which tickles your nostrils.
Then imagine a majestic abbey, with its imposing gothic arches and roofless ceiling, and the sun rays touching your skin through the glassless windows.
This is not an imaginary place, it was actually our wedding location.
Since the first time we saw it, Paul and I had no doubt this was where we wanted to say “I do”. When we were scouting for places where to get married we were meant to visit nine different locations. This was our first, and we cancelled all the others. The history and the templar myths surrounding the place made this venue even more appealing to us, as good Game of Thrones junkies.
We couldn’t believe it could get any better until we met the people who work at The Agriturismo and Casale San Galgano. This exquisite property amongst Val di Merse hills is run as a family business. Surrounded by fields and vineyards, you could not find it unless you knew what to look for or came as a tourist to visit San Galgano Abbey. Angela the owner, Niko the manager, Andrea the chef and the whole team did a great job in making us feel at home. Always helpful, quick in responding to our emails (planning a wedding abroad is so stressful and this definitely helped!) and working hard to satisfy all of our requests, they truly contributed to make our day special. We are now planning to go and visit them every year.
On a more pragmatical side, another attractive quality that this property offered was that we could sleep, eat, get ready all in one place and the ceremony was less than 5 minutes walk. We had 85 guests at our wedding and 62 were able to stay at the venue.
The majority of the guests arrived on the 15th August, the day before the wedding.
We organised a pizza and salsa night for them to break the ice and kick start the celebrations.
The chef Andrea did a great job with the pizza making sure there was plenty of variety and flavours.
The table setting and the atmosphere would definitely resemble any Italian movie in the blockbusters.
After dinner UK Strictly Come Dancing choreographer Richard Marcel, one of our guest and dearest friend of mine, took everyone through a super fun salsa class. We started with a warm up all together and then we learned a routine with our partners.
His classes at Bar Salsa are the most popular London hang out amongst our English guests now!
The morning of the wedding I woke up just before 6am after 4 hours sleep. After tossing and turning for a good half an hour (and getting stressed about all the little things I still had to sort out) I decided to go for a run. I headed then to the Eremo of Montesiepi, a little chapel on top of the hill built in honour of San Galgano in 1181. After sprinting my way up I was rewarded by one of the most spectacular sunrises. I spent a few minutes contemplating the surroundings, inhaling the greatness of where I was and what I was about to do.
I had breakfast surrounded by friends, family and my bridesmaids. It was so fun I wished that moment never ended.
In a blink of an eye it was time to get ready. The preparations involved lots of prosecco and flashes of stress and hysteria here and there, but lots of laughter and funny moments too.
I kept calm up until one hour before the wedding, from then it is all a confused vortex of emotions.
From the moment my mum helped me in my wedding dress to when I got called out of the room to read the letter Paul wrote for me, to when my dad saw me and we started to walk to the abbey, the next thing I heard were the notes of the Pachelbel Canon that my cousins played beautifully and it was time to walk down the aisle.
After months of expectations and trying to imagine how would that walk might have felt, I could not think about anything else but “Paul, look at Paul”. And when Paul’s eyes became all watery I knew I couldn’t stop myself from holding back the tears.
All of the sudden a space that always looked huge, felt very little and cosy and I felt everyone connected in this highly emotional moment.
The flower decorations were simple, rustic and beautiful: branches of olive and eucalyptus were connecting the chairs like a giant garland and we had the same bundles of branches over on the top table mixed with candles of various height.
We made our own programs/fan, which the guests really appreciated…as you can tell by my nephews expression down below.
The ceremony lasted about 40 minutes.
The exchange of the rings was just the apotheosis of the emotions: we read our own personalised vows and judging from comments and photo there wasn’t one single dry eye in the whole abbey (even my mum who doesn’t understand English cried!)
There was the kiss…everyone applauded, also Coco who didn’t know what was going on, started barking.
We had two readings one in English, the Key of Love, and one in Italian, L’inno all’Amore, read by my godparents.
We could not resist but add our personal touch to the choice of music and we signed the register to the Game of thrones theme.
The major who was officiating the marriage made a lovely final speech and gifted me a bunch of beautiful roses, that she said “those are the ones you dry and keep as a memory”. And so I will.
My cousins trio (Cello, Violin and Piano) accompanied the recession with Viva la Vida, from Coldplay.
The guests were then welcomed back at the agriturismo by a sumptuous and delicious reception and live music, in the meantime we had fun taking photos with the wedding party.
All of our stationery and signs were DIY, we actually had a great time making them involving friends and family as well.
We then joined our guests in the celebrations, while our DJ was beautifully singing and playing guitar.
After the imposing and majestic feel of the abbey we wanted a cosy, boho and rustic feel for our reception. We had lots of wooden details, barrels, hay bales all with a magical touch given by the fairy lights and lots of candles everywhere. We made a Pinterest board for inspiration which we shared both with the florist and the team at the venue.
The food again cooked by the Chef of the in-house restaurant L’Antico Tempio was sensational. The guests are still telling us how good it was one month after.
Our best man Scott, gave a very touching speech and my dad had all (who could understand Italian) in tears after dedicating a poem to me, written by himself.
It got a little chilly by 11pm and luckily I planned ahead…I had a leather jacket skilfully painted by my mum. Completely coincidentally she choose to paint a peacock on the back of the jacked which perfectly matched the back of Paul’s waistcoat. It was truly meant to be…
The cake, a 3-tier 5-layers millefoglie with chantilly cream was beautifully decorated with berries and was just as delicious as the rest of the food, or so we were told. We were too busy figuring out how to dance in my dress…
For the first dance we picked “Perfect Symphony” Ed Sheeran ft Andrea Bocelli.
The choreography, that has been patiently curated by Richard Marcel, had to change slightly due to me having to hold my dress.
We literally danced the night away and finally went to bed as the sun came up.
It was truly the best day ever.
The vendors involved:
Bride Dress: Grace Loves Lace
Groom Suit: Hugo Boss
Bride Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaids Dresses: Shona Joy
Groomsmen Outfit: TM Lewin
Bridal Party Hair and Make Up: Paolo Manciocchi
Photography: Lucia Mondini
Wooden Details: Etsy
Other: Ginger Ray