Imagine long alleyways framed by tall cypress, vast sunflowers fields, vineyards and stone 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, I was lucky enough to have all this as my wedding venue.
Since the first time we saw it, Paul and I had no doubt this was where we wanted to say “I do”.
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. Helpful, quick in responding to our emails (which for Italians is a rare find!) and working hard to satisfy all of our requests, they truly contributed to make our day special.
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.
After dinner former Strictly Come Dancing UK choreographer Richard Marcel, one of our guest and dearest friend of mine, took everyone through a super fun salsa class.
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 I decided to go for a run. I headed then to the Eremo of Montesiepi, a little old chapel on top of the hill built in honour of San Galgano. 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 I feel that from that moment onwards the day truly began.
Once back at the Agriturismo I had breakfast surrounded by friends, family and my bridal party. It was so fun having everyone I love around me, I wished that moment never ended.
In a blink of an eye it was time to get ready. The preparations involved lots of prosecco laughters and funny moments – like the face groomsmen trying to make each others bow ties.
I kept calm up until one hour before the wedding, from then it is all a confused vortex of emotions.
I’ve never totally understood why people cry at weddings until the moment my mum helped me in my wedding dress or when I read the letter Paul wrote for me, or again when my dad saw me and we started to walk to the abbey.
After months of expectations trying to imagine how would that walk might have been, there I was. And when I cross Paul’s eyes filled up with tears I knew I couldn’t stop myself from holding back.
All of the sudden a space that looked huge, felt very little and I felt everyone connected in this highly emotional moment.
The flower decorations were minimal and beautiful: you can’t compete with the beauty which surrounded us. So we kept it super simple: branches of olive and eucalyptus were connecting the chairs like a 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 were much appreciated by some…(see my nephew’s expression down below).
The ceremony lasted about 40 minutes.
More emotions came out during the ring exchange/vows moment: we chose to prepare our own personalised vows and 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 probably got scared, started barking and everyone thought we trained her to da that – Funny.
My godparents were in charge of the readings: one in English, the Key of Love, and one in Italian, L’inno all’Amore.
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 gave 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. So I will.
Three of my cousins who are siblings were our official orchestra. Each of them plays a different instrument: cello, violin and piano and they did a great job at beautifully accompany the whole ceremony.
We then made our way back at the Agriturismo and we’ve been welcomed by a delicious reception (which Paul and I didin’t really have the chance to taste) and live music in boho style – the dj was singing and playing guitar on a ball of hay…Brilliant!
After the majestic feel of the abbey we wanted a cosy, rustic feel for our reception. We had lots of wooden details, barrels, hay bales 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.
All of our stationery and wooden signs were DIY: we had a great fun making them, spending time together and involving friends and family as well.
The food cooked by the Chef of the in-house restaurant L’Antico Tempio was sensational. Our guests still speak about it!
The best man – Scott, gave a very touching speech and my dad had all (especially the ones who understood Italian) in tears after dedicating us a poem, written by himself.
It got a little chilly by 11pm but luckily we planned ahead…I had a leather jacket skilfully painted by my mum. The crazy thing: completely coincidentally she choose to paint a peacock on the back of the jacked which perfectly matched the back of Paul’s waistcoat. What can I say: 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, which is in both English and Italian.
The choreography, that has been patiently curated by Richard Marcel, had to change slightly due to the fact that I didn’t consider I would be holding my dress.
We literally danced the night away and went to bed as the sun came up.
The launch of the bouquet happened at 5am and got caught by a very drunk – already – husband guest. For someone that didn’t want a traditional wedding day, I couldn’t declare myself more satisfied.
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
Video: Nozze da Film
Wooden Details: Etsy
Other: Ginger Ray