Destination Wedding – Natalie & Mark, Praiano Italy
We were simply blown away by the sheer beauty of Natalie and Mark’s wedding, celebrated on the stunning coast of Italy in front of their adored family and friends.
This perfect pair put their hearts and souls into creating an affair that will always be remembered. From the moment their guests received their invitations, to witnessing their sweet ceremony and then dancing into the night, every detail was thoughtful, personal and more importantly, embodied Natalie and Mark.
This breathtaking wedding has left us lost for words, so we will let bride, Natalie, and the incredible imagery of Bek Smith do the talking.
In Natalie’s words…
Mark and I lived so close to each other our entire lives but never actually met. In fact, we had near-identical upbringings. We were delivered by the same doctor, at the same hospital. Our fathers worked together at the same company. People say our mothers are strikingly similar, not to mention they both let us repeatedly watch the same inappropriate movies as little children (Flowers in the Attic, Stephen King’s IT – so much scarier than the remake). Mark and my brother played soccer for the same team. As teenagers we hung out at the same spots and had many of the same friends. We must have crossed paths over a thousand times. We finally made eye contact 11 years ago at a local nightclub. We friended each other on Facebook (as was the style as the time) and the infatuation for each other grew quickly. We spent many hours and late nights into early mornings on Facebook chat as we learned about each other and just how ridiculously compatible we were. Mark asked me to be his girlfriend some months later. Mark was heading on a long stint overseas to represent Australia at the World Boxing Championships and I had a one-way ticket to Europe where my dad lives. It was my 21st birthday, he made it official with a silver Tiffany and Co ‘commitment’ ring- it was the sweetest thing.
We did the long-distance thing while Mark trained on the Australian Boxing team in Assisi, Italy and competed in Milan. Afterwards he came to Malta to meet the most treasured person to me, my dad. It was our very last night together. Mark was heading back home to Melbourne and I myself was still unsure whether I would return. I will never forget our last night together in that quiet stony village, on my dad’s doorstep when Mark told me he loved me for the first time. I was on a plane back to Australia a few days after him.
27th January 2017 – we had a big trip planned to Borneo. Me, being an animal lover, Mark planned a trip for us to see the Orangutans in the Sepilok jungle and hike up Mt Kinabalu. We were all very suspicious that he would propose over there, Mark knew about our suspicions so didn’t. The morning of our flight I woke sad (crying), to be leaving my pets behind. Mark insisted that we go have one last Aussie breakfast by the beach before leaving- I was not so keen. It was a nice day so we went for a walk afterwards, Mark grabbed my hand and without realising lead me to the bench where we shared our very first kiss, I spoke about how exciting life was right now and how happy I was- I couldn’t have lined it up for him any better. He dropped to one knee pulled out the ring, I swore loudly, laughed hysterically, froze in shock then cried my eyes out.
The planning process.
Being from Maltese and Italian backgrounds there was no escaping a big European wedding here in Australia. Mark and I share a bond that is very much just the two of us. Originally, we thought about eloping but decided it would break a few hearts, so an intimate destination wedding was the next best thing. As soon as we got the okay from our parents we began planning.
We have amazing young memories made together in Italy. Mark’s family are from a town outside Naples, a short drive from the Amalfi Coast, so we decided it would be the perfect destination.
Being a very intimate affair with only 40 of our most treasured people we didn’t feel the need to have bridal party. We aimed to make all our guests feel relaxed and part of the day much as we possibly could.
We chose Casa Angelina in Praiano for its very modern, contemporary style- There is nothing quite like it on the Amalfi Coast. We wanted our wedding to feel very intimate and romantic which Casa Angelina certainly delivered. We exchanged vows cliffside, in a lush green and stony garden followed by a candle lit dinner on a terrace which felt as though it was floating in the sky. We watched the sunset over the ocean with the dreamiest view of Positano in the distance- every time I think back to this day I still feel as though I am floating.
Out style was modern contemporary with an Italiano twist. We were very conscious to not lose ourselves in the styling of the wedding and to keep it as minimal and elegant as possible- at the same time have that destination feel about it. It is so easy to get lost in the world of bright patterned tiles and all things traditional and luxurious over there- which is so beautifully Italian but not true to our personal aesthetic.
We had two long tables each seating 20 guests and we sat amongst them. The tables and chairs were draped in crisp white cotton linen. Sketch and Etch created custom clear Perspex menus and place cards with our guest’s names written in Italian, the cards sat amongst the lush greenery and lemons. Mark surprised me with 2 small Polaroids of our pets which were placed by our names, Sposa and Sposo (bride and groom in Italian).
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, even before I got engaged. Not only was my vision not practical for the 40-degree Italian summer, but when I finally tried it on the style simply did not suit me. I knew as soon as I met the girls at One Day Bridal, they “got me”. I let go of the vision that was in my head and I opened up to the magnificent world of One Day gowns. We played with different styles, shapes and fabrics and just had fun with it. I soon came to know what shape and cut flattered my body the most and felt at ease having these girls (absolute experts and angels from heaven) understand me and my style better than myself. I went home and let it all sink it then booked another fitting. The following week I returned on my own to have a one-on-one with Steph- she walked into the room with a grin from ear to ear holding this glorious pearl fabric and the rest was history.
I wore a bespoke fitted gown with a plunging back covered in pearls. Instead of a head veil I wore two veils extending from the shoulders which created a soft romantic look for the ceremony.
The ‘Natalie’ gown is now available to all brides at One Day Bridal. It is so, so, surreal to have a gown inspired by mine and named after me! CRAZY!
The morning of the wedding I woke to a romantic letter and gift from Mark. I spent the morning with my two best friends who had slept over the night before, it was an emotional morning of tears hugs and laughter, not to mention espressos and a photoshoot on the balcony in our matching Positano themed pajamas. The girls then surprised me with a spa session at Le Sirenuse followed by breakfast by my dream pool overlooking their iconic view of Positano. Later that afternoon I checked into Casa Angelina with my sister, we drank Champagne, cried some more and enjoyed a fruit platter while we got our hair and make-up done, it was surprisingly such a relaxing day. Something I was very adamant on having thanks to the beautiful women in my life.
We struggled to leave each other the night before, we took turns talking each other into it. Mark ended up leaving my room at 11:59pm. I was so eager and antsy to see him on the wedding day especially once I had my gown on. It was worth it though, the first glance of my Mark, as I turned the corner onto the aisle, his big grin and bright eyes, I will never forget it
Sitting on that terrace at sunset with all of my loves. I felt like I was floating. The closest thing to magic I’ve ever felt.
Meaning of marriage.
Sharing a life together…and Mark is legally mine.
I walked down the aisle to Vance Joy ‘Lay it on me’, we wanted something Australian and a song that was very much relatable to us and our love story.
The Neapolitan quintet band played traditional Italian music for our reception entrance.
Our first dance was to Ben E. King ‘Stand By Me’ which has special meaning to both of us.
Funny stories (or near disasters).
Not many people know this as we don’t have any proof, but it rained on our wedding night. Right after the Primo course we all looked up at the night sky holding our hands out as we felt drops of rain fall. Suddenly a sea of Casa Angelina staff each holding big white umbrellas swooped in and just like that it was raining and pouring! We all sat under the umbrellas laughing at how crazy it was. Like magic the rain stopped, the area was mopped, the candles were re-lit, and we carried about the night turning something that could have easily been a disaster into a memorable moment.
The fact that I absolutely loved planning a wedding is a surprise in itself. We had a very clear vision and kept a relaxed attitude from the beginning which helped a lot. It was hard for me to accept that it was all being done over there, on the other side of the world, all we had to do was turn up. We arrived in Positano four days before the wedding and straight to a meeting with our wedding planner and the hotel manager. Lo and behold, SURPRISE, all of my emails were right there with them, printed out and put nicely into a folder with all the important details highlighted. The wedding was planned- it can be that easy.
The morning after.
We woke up still floating in disbelief that it was all over, we lay in bed for hours and recounted the day. We felt happily content in saying it was the best day of our lives- we tried to name a better day, we couldn’t. We spent our first day as husband and wife at One Fire Beach below our hotel where we ate watermelon and sipped on cocktails under big bright orange umbrellas.
Pre or post wedding events.
It wasn’t all about the wedding day but the wedding week. Guests arrived on Thursday as we welcomed them at the famous Franco’s Bar for cocktails with a stunning view of Positano. We then all took a private bus up to the mountains where we had a lively traditional Neapolitan dinner at a family run farm to table restaurant called La Tagliata- we enjoyed course after course of pasta, pizza and all the wine in the world. A live band sang loudly, handed out instruments for us to play and made us dance ourselves into complete exhaustion. We spent our days in groups bonding and really enjoying our families and friendships.
The morning before the wedding Mark and I took a beautiful wooden boat out together and spent our last quiet moments out at sea, we looked back at the misty mountains and took in all of its magic, we knew then that this was forever going to our special place.
After the wedding day we all set forth by bus to Mark’s family town just outside of Naples where we had a surprise wedding number two, organised by Marks father Pete. The whole town was there to celebrate in the most adorably traditional way. It was so special to have all of Mark’s family from Australia and Italy come together under one roof.
Words of wisdom.
Be a team! During the planning process remind each other often what this day is all about- the two of you and nothing else, trust me it is going to be the best day of your life no matter what.
Planning your wedding should never feel like a chore, have fun with it, it’s your wedding! Let the buildup be one of your favorite parts. You’ll miss it when it’s over.
We had a pact- make eye-contact and ground each other when you step onto that aisle. In that moment it’s just the two of you, nothing else matters.
Be in the moment, close your eyes take a deep breath and feel those butterflies fly- it is the most magical day. Take it all in.
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NATALIE AND MARK’S TRIBE
Ceremony venue / location: Casa Angelina Lifestyle
Reception venue / location: Casa Angelina Lifestyle
Celebrant/Officiant: The Amalfi Coast Wedding Planner (Mr Raf)
Photography: Bek Smith has a way of capturing natural light and softness in the most breathtaking way. She produces sheer elegance through her photographs which immediately drew me to her. To us and our guests thinking back to the day, we could only describe it as a floating dream. We were just ecstatic to receive our album and see that Bek was able to capture just that. Bek became part of our journey at the early stages of planning and was a tremendous part of our wedding day. We cannot stress enough the importance of gelling well with your photographer. We are still in contact with Bek to this day and she will forever be our friend.
Videography: Moon and Back created such a joyous and magical film for us. Leo our videographer was with us every step of the way. He captured our romantic boat ride the morning before the wedding, welcoming our guests when they arrived for drinks, the rehearsal dinner and the wedding day. Their choice of song for our film was perfection.
Styling: The Amalfi Coast Wedding Planner
Florist: Amalfi Coast Francesco Di Bianco. We kept it minimal using only white. I simply chose my very favorite florals that were in season- Hydrangeas, peonies, roses, and orchids. For the ceremony arbor we used the same florals and added beautifully draped white chiffon to tie in with the crisp white aisle, which was also scattered with white rose petals.
Lemons and greenery were used for the reception styling, piles of lemons sat on the bar an around the lower terrace. On the upper terrace where we sat for dinner, we had luscious green foliage and lemons run along the middle of the tables and draped down to the floor.
Hair: Tahlia Jayde styled my hair on the day. I wanted to look like me so chose a style I usually wear that is most flattering to my face. I wore it all down with effortless relaxed waves- one of Tahlia’s specialities.
Make Up: Tahlia knows my face well as she is my go-to make-up artist in Melbourne. I was very lucky to have her in Italy for the wedding. We didn’t need to trial my hair and make-up and just decided to stick to natural, bronzed and dewy for the day.
The Dress(es): One Day Bridal ‘Natalie Gown’
Halo crown and veils – One Day Bridal
Shoes: Christian Louboutin’s- crafted in Italy from ivory floral lace, trimmed with satin, featuring the signature red leather sole
Brides: My engagement ring is custom designed from Charles Rose Jewelers which features and emerald cut diamond with a perfectly matched halo of calibrated cut baguettes and brilliants, held up by two trapezoid diamonds on a platinum band.
My wedding band is from Canturi. It features delicate baguette diamonds set on a platinum band.
Groom: Marks ring is from Lord Coconut in Melbourne. Mark chose a custom handmade wide rounded band, in gold which features my fingerprints carefully moulded onto each side of the ring. Marks ring was made by an independent artist from Anglesea Vic
Groomsmen’s suits: Carl Navè. Mark wore a beautiful Italian bespoke three-piece tuxedo, made by the talented Melbourne designer Carl Navè.
Grooms shoes and accessories: Classic Gucci penny loafers. Tom Ford bow tie. A black leather and gold watch from Frederique Constant, a gift from me
Catering: Casa Angelina – A seven-course feast of traditional Neapolitan delights with a refined fine dining flare, courses included: aperitivo and antipasto- small Italian selections, freshly made pasta, locally sourced meat and fish, and a cheese and gelato course- naturally. We ended with the wedding cake caffè for the dolce course
Bar: We served a selection of cocktails including Aperol Spritzers, Gin and Tonics and local Italian wines- carefully selected for us by our brother in law- the wine connoisseur
Favors: We had custom gift tote bags made to hand out to our guests when they arrived at the welcome dinner. The tote bags had an Italian saying printed on them which translated to “there’s no turning back now”
Inside the tote bags were gifts which included a map of Positano, Italian phrase book, locally made limoncello, and hand painted ceramics.
Cake / Cake topper: Casa Angelia created a traditional giant Italian Millefoglie cake. It certainly was a show stopper. The very proud pastry chef presented and served it up to us outside on the terrace under the moonlight.
Stationery / Signage: Sketch and Etch created custom clear Perspex menu’s signage and place cards
Invitations and stationery: Emily Lauren designed the special custom Positano themed invitations for us. We decided to do something a little different as we were only inviting few guests. Most of our guests had no idea about our plans so it was super exciting to send out something so personal to surprise them.
We sent an electronic itinerary to the guests attending. Emily created the most exciting little e-book containing stunning pictures of the Amalfi coast, personal messages to guests, and information about the events leading up to the wedding, information on hair, make-up, accommodation, transport and of course everything they needed to know about the wedding. Emily really set the tone and filled everyone’s hearts with such excitement, she did the most amazing job.
Entertainment: A Neapolitan Italian quintet band. We wanted to treat our guests with something traditional and fun that would also create that authentic Italiano atmosphere. As the sun set over dinner they wandered around the tables and serenaded our guests, after the sun went down (and a few Aperol Spritzers) we all sang along to ‘That’s Amore’ and other classics whilst swaying in our chairs… so much fun!
Marks Cousin Lauren sang a breathtaking rendition of ‘I have nothing’ by Whitney Houston as the sun set over the ocean, safe to say there was not a dry eye on that terrace. A beautiful gift we will hold in our hearts forever.
Transport: A blue Piaggio Ape Calessino drove us to the town centre for a photoshoot after the ceremony.
After the reception private buses escorted our guests back to their accommodation or onto the afterparty held at a cave nightclub
Décor: Casa Angelina
Honeymoon: We were very fortunate to get travel around Europe for 2 months after the wedding. We visited Rome, Tuscany, South of France, Monaco, Spain, Portugal, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Sicily and Malta.
Wedding Planner: The Amalfi Coast wedding planner– Mr. Raf! I am often asked how on earth I managed to plan a wedding from the other side of the world. Mr. Raf he is the answer. Mr. Raf is no doubt the most passionate, eccentric, enthusiastic and fabulously efficient wedding planner on the Amalfi Coast. He made the entire experience so much more fun and will forever be a fond memory of wedding day.
Jewelry and accessories: I wore natural baroque pearl earrings from Sarah Sebastian on the day. Each baroque pearl is unique and hand-selected by an artisan jeweler- so special
Fragrance: Diptyqe Philosvkos- the scent of fresh figs, a smell of euro summer. Mark wore Tom Ford private blend Tobacco Vanille