Destination Wedding – Nathan & Emma, Tuscany ITALY
Oh boy, do we have an incredible elopement for you!
Emma and Nathan said ‘no’ to tradition and instead eloped with only their parents as witnesses in the romantic region of Tuscany, Italy.
It was a big secret to keep, but this perfect pair managed to pull off the surprise of a lifetime and were able to celebrate their love story in the way they always imagined.
Flying in the talented Katie Harmsworth to capture all the beautiful moments, scroll on for this sublime celebration in all its glory.
In Nathan and Emma’s words…
Em – The meeting took place randomly at a pub in Melbourne on a Sunday 7 years ago.
Nathan- It was a Sunday session at the College Lawn Hotel, I was on crutches with a broken ankle and Em’s friend who also had a football injury came up to me and started a conversation which lead to Em being introduced to me. We swapped numbers had a few dates and the rest is history!
Nathan – Well with my situation (having been previously married), it had not really crossed my mind to go back and do it all again but after many of my close friends and family telling me that she is a keeper I started to think about it more and more. Thinking about how Em had helped me through some tough times, her ongoing support, the way we bounce off each other, get along so well, don’t fight or argue, it’s just easy. So, I asked myself why not? Many people find their soulmate the second time around and I certainly have here.
Em – His ability to always make those around him laugh and smile along with having all your friends and family taking an instant liking to him was a reassuring sign that I’d found a keeper. I guess from the moment we saw each other but this probably wasn’t a realisation until early into our relationship with some time apart and long distance due to work commitments that we both really knew.
Em – It took me completely by surprise. I had just come around to the idea after much convincing that marriage probably wasn’t for us but as long as we had each other than that was ok – until one very special Christmas.
Nathan – It was Christmas Day on Emma’s parents farm in New Zealand and everyone was sitting around receiving their presents and I waited until the end to give Em a card that had a little note in there on how awesome and loving she is and at the bottom of it read “PS-you can turn around now, (please say yes)”-and when she turned around I was on one knee in front of everyone.
We often joked about the idea of eloping in Italy especially when we were so frequently asked when we would be getting engaged and or married. It became our instant response. With a focus and priority on building our own home and family planning we decided that celebrating our love did not need the fuss of a traditional wedding. We could have waited until our two priorities had been achieved however that did not give us a clear time frame or guideline. We discussed the options and looked at all the ways we could keep everyone happy as well as ensuring it was different to Nath’s first experience. Bucking the trend and staring away from tradition we decided to turn our Italian Elopement joke into a secret reality but at the same time still involving our parents, particularly being the only daughter, it was important that Em’s dad was still able to walk her down the aisle. Thankfully they had their 40th wedding anniversary the same month which was the perfect excuse/cover up story for their trip to Italy along with very good family friends Jo and Jonny.
Whilst getting very overwhelmed trying to plan a secret wedding overseas in a short space of time a friend who had recently been married gave some good advice. “What are your top 5 priorities for your wedding day-stick to those and everything else will fall into place.” So, once we had that list we knew we had to involve our parents, minimise stress amd cost, have an incredible photographer to capture it all, find a way to announce our secret marriage to our immediate family and closest friends at the same time and celebrate with them. From there it involved a lot of emails back and forth to our amazing wedding planner Roberta, organising an itinerary and timeline around meetings in Rome and Florence before arriving at our venue to ensure the legal side of getting married in Italy was all taken care of. Being on the other side of the world meant we couldn’t do a lot more until we arrived.
Timeless, classic and elegant with a simple Italian theme. Our focus wasn’t to have anything on trend or necessarily in Vogue at the time but more of a simple, classic and timeless Italian setting that wouldn’t ever date, (it’s so easy to get carried away with all the extras that really are not necessary) but simplicity was key along with the perfect venue. A gorgeous historical villa located on a winery/vineyard with gardens and two swimming pools in the heart of Tuscany, with an organic farm, high quality wine and extra virgin olive oil production made for the perfect setting.
I wasn’t into the whole wedding dress/bridal shopping hype so was happy to have a dress straight off the rack as long as it was true to my own style, however with limited time this was a bit tricky, especially as I wasn’t able to share with close friends or have mum there for fittings. I had a few ideas saved so kept going back to those as I was only certain on styles I didn’t want. Once you start trying on you have a better feel for what works and what doesn’t. Apprehensive about using a bridal shop I ended up finding my dress (and matching jumpsuit for the October celebration from the same collection) both at One Day Bridal. The dress remained a surprise for all guests right up until the day.
Nathan – The elopement in Italy was amazing from the venue to the Italian people/locals, it all was an incredible experience and I couldn’t really narrow it down to one but seeing Em in her dress for the first time was certainly a moment I won’t ever forget. The wedding celebration/announcement with all our close friends and family in Melbourne was great and to see everyone’s faces when the slide show of Italy was played is another moment I won’t forget either.
Em- Like Nathan I too can’t pick just one favourite moment but a couple of highlights for me were walking down the aisle with Dad, the speeches and seeing how emotionally happy everyone was on the day. From October the highlight (and relief) was hearing everyone clap and cheer once they had seen the slideshow Katie created for us – the respect and love shared for the way we chose to get married was overwhelming.
Meaning of marriage.
House mates becoming husband and wife-jokes aside marriage to us is about love, laughter and happiness through the good times and the bad.
This was a bit of a laugh as we had spent some time putting together a wedding sound track in the lead up which we didn’t end up using or needing as we were given a list of songs (the day before), that we could pick from which didn’t include much from our own list.
The two musicians (violin & cello) played right up until the dinner. Whilst waiting for the bride to enter they played an acoustic version of “Stand By Me” and Em walked up the aisle to an acoustic version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”.
We didn’t think we were going to have a first dance as it was all very relaxed, the duo had finished by this stage and we had a playlist running through the speakers in the back ground however our awesome photographer and her partner Eric had other plans. During the dinner they secretly organised with Nathan that there would in fact be a first dance. Eric downloaded Nathans chosen song to Spotify and after dinner gave Nathan the nod to play the Elvis Presley version of “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”. It was very thoughtful of them and resulted in everyone joining in for an impromptu dancing session under the fairy lights and Italian night sky.
Funny stories (or near disasters).
Thankfully no near disasters other than a few close encounters of the secret getting out which by a miracle was kept under wraps until our wedding celebration four months later in October. Em did have a couple of friends also being fitted for dresses at One Day Bridal so had to time it well as not to bump into any of them.
How well everything came together and that it all remained a secret.
They say vendors need to be booked well in advance but sometimes if it’s meant to be, it will be. Luckily for us that first email three months out with a subject line “long shot” ended up being fate that we had the talented Katie Harmsworth as our photographer. We both loved her work and felt very lucky that she was available, particularly at such short notice.
Not so much for our elopement in Italy but certainly the celebration in Melbourne-the mention of the word wedding instantly increases the cost of everything. Be aware.
Words of wisdom.
Like any big event it pays to be organised and sticking to what is right for you as a couple, not what your friends and family want or expect from you which can be easier said than done. We were lucky that people close to us understood that it was important we kept our priorities in check and that it was completely different to Nathan’s first wedding. If eloping, be prepared for some people to feel a little hurt or left out as it’s natural and makes it easier if you are prepared and sensitive to their feelings.
It can be difficult to control things when overseas, so you just have to roll with it and enjoy the moment. If there is a language barrier visual references and examples are key to ensure you are on the same page. Make sure you pick vendors who are both excited and comfortable being part of an elopement. Ours all did such a wonderful job of making us feel special and comfortable on our wedding day which is what you want no matter how you are getting married.
Know your budget before you start planning. We made a conscious choice not to spend a lot of money on things that wouldn’t be used again and kept our priorities in check (it’s very easy to get caught up in the wedding spending but at the end of the day no one is going to remember if they whiped their mouths with a personalised napkin or not) and you can still have a really special experience without the stress of spending a lot of money should you wish to.
Once you’ve made decisions (e.g. found your dress or shoes) – stop looking and be happy you can tick that off the list.
Deciding to elope was also a lot less stressful and made for a very intimate, private and personal day. Although we were worried about letting people down, we had to remind ourselves that it was about us and what made us happy. Stay true to yourself and what is important to you as a couple and it will be a day to remember for all the right reasons. No matter how our friends and family reacted we would not regret our decision and, in the end, thank fully it all paid off.
We wanted to say a huge thank you to all those involved-special mention to our parents for believing in us and keeping our secret, our wedding planner Roberta for all her help in both the lead up to and on the day and our wedding photographer Katie for capturing our day.
Feeling the Italian elopement vibes? Take a peek at Laura and Jarrod’s perfect Positano elopement.
EMMA AND NATHAN’S TRIBE
Ceremony and reception location – The top terrace at Vignamaggio, Greve Chianti Tuscany, Italy
Photographer – Katie Harmsworth
Wedding Planner – Roberta Pizzinelli from Alfresco Weddings
Florist – local florist organised through our wedding planner
Hair and Make up- organised through the Villa
Dress – One Day Bridal
Earrings – Miu Miu
Rings – The Diamond Guys
Grooms attire – Soho Workshop
Catering & Bar – Vignamaggio
Stationary – Fleura Studio
Entertainment – Acoustic music duo organised through wedding planner
Hire – Fairy lights organised through wedding planner
Honeymoon – TBC 2020 (we hope)