An engagement gift from elders
Our engagement didn’t quite go to plan …
Kieran had moved from Scotland to Canada and we were moving into our own place when he decided to propose. He phoned his parents in Scotland and asked his Nana (grandmother) to send over her engagement ring which she had promised to him years earlier. They actually MAILED the ring to Canada!
When the ring arrived he took it to Gente Jewellery and had it cleaned up and resized. Then he waited until move-in day…
Move-in day didn’t quite go as planned. I had unpacked the kitchen all day with my mom so by 5pm I was dead tired and in bed. An hour later, Kieran creeps in the room and decides to just go for it. So it’s April 1st and still dark when he takes my hand and whispers to a very sleepy me – will you marry me? And a delirious and tired me whines “that’s not a very nice thing to joke about!” thinking – oh he’s April fools-ing me.
It wasn’t until I felt the ring as he put it on my finger that my eyes popped open wide and I whispered: “are you serious??” We both had a little cry, I said yes and we ran to tell my parents who were still wide awake because it was only 7pm.
The big decision: Where to have our wedding
Picking a destination for our wedding was hard. Alessandra’s family had origins in Italy, but almost all of her family and all of her friends lived in Canada. Kieran’s family and friends were all in Scotland. The thought of having separate parties just didn’t seem right to us as we saw this as the ONE chance for our two families to get to know each other.
This is how we ended on Italy. We wanted it to be a destination for both sides, rather than pick one side or the other. Europe seemed like a good fit, to ensure that Kieran’s grandparents didn’t have too far to fly from Scotland and while Alessandra’s grandmother was too ill to attend the wedding, the rest of her family and friends were on board and excited about traveling to Italy.
Choosing a wedding venue in Italy
We wanted everyone together for the entire weekend and Castello di Gargonza was the perfect venue for our guest list of close to 100 people. The venue staff are so accommodating and wonderful, the hamlet is gorgeous … it was like being in a dream! It was a truly wonderful experience.
The beauty of the surroundings allowed me to keep decorations minimal and let the location speak for itself. Bare wooden tables with a simple runner and scattered mason jars with country bouquets matching the greens and whites in my bouquet and the lavender in bridesmaids’ bouquets. We really recommend the string lights draped over the outdoor area, it really tied in the look giving an extra special effect and lighting for people eating dinner.
The night before the wedding we had a casual, poolside welcome dinner for all our guests to get acquainted, so everyone kind of slept in on the morning of the wedding.
Wedding Day: getting ready
My girls and I had a special room set up for hair and makeup, it was really a special moment. I had an uncle check in on us and do an emergency shoe strap repair for one of my bridesmaids. Even now the image of this big burly guy with a needle and thread going to town on a strappy heel makes me smile and giggle.
My mom was definitely the energy in the room, once we were all dressed she started popping the champagne and getting us riled up.
My dad and I had a first look, it was really sweet and he looked really cute in his blue suit. My brother also popped out to take a peek and he just had the biggest smile on his face 🙂
Kieran and I decided to do a first look before the wedding as well. We knew it would be too overwhelming for both of us to have that moment be in the church and we wanted to capture everything on film. He looked so handsome in his tartan kilt. He was rendered speechless and we just held hands and smiled impishly at each other.
We were married at 4pm with a catholic ceremony in the tiny chapel onsite. My parents knew a priest at the Vatican who came to marry us and brought a special letter from Pope Francis to bless our marriage.
We had a piper who was originally from Scotland play some special songs for us. I didn’t realize how moving the pipes would be and everyone was instantly brought to tears. Kieran walked up with his parents first, followed by all our bridesmaids and groomsmen arm in arm, then our junior bridesmaid and finally myself and my parents.
A violinist play during the ceremony, we had readings from friends and family and had a wonderful speech from Don Andrea Biaggi about how Kieran and I seem just perfect for each other.
To exit the ceremony we had the piper play the song from Outlander!!! I couldn’t resist, such a gorgeous song.
Guests were waiting outside to shower us with lavendar confetti! It made for great pictures!
Shiny Happy People Laughing
So many great parts of the reception, first the cocktail hour was at this gorgeous little hidden garden in the castle, then after taking a group photo (with lots of us yelling “HURRY UP” to guests lol) our Piper, who liked our group so much, stayed a bit longer to pipe us down to the reception (bottom of the hill that the Castello was on). It was so fun, all our guests marched along behind the piper, laughing and enjoying the music.
The menu offered at the Castello was representative of the region of Italy that we were in. A lot of Tuscan delicacies and we wanted our guests to experience that. We asked the staff at the Castello to help with the recommendations and we don’t regret any of our food decisions! The cake was a traditional Italian “Mille fogli” which roughly translates to “a million layers” as it is layers upon layers of flaky pastry with gorgeous delicious light cream and lots of fruit on top. We chose this to represent the region we were in and because we cared more about the taste of our dessert than the way it looked! We knew this one would be a winner with our guests.
I loved our parents’ speeches, mainly our moms, our dad’s were too emotional to speak! (they bonded over that!) I had as many people speak at our wedding as possible – this is my favorite part of weddings and I wasn’t going to let this chance pass me by. I had all our siblings give a speech, my maid of honor got help from two other best friends in her speech, and of course our parents. That, unfortunately, was all I got away with, lol! But worth every minute. We both laughed and cried and hugged.
As our wedding was the same day as my dad’s birthday, we had a special moment for him. I got him an ice cream cake and the musicians played my parents’ wedding song, Futura by Lucio Dalla. My dad was in instant tears as they danced. Another special moment.
I loved our live guitarists! Akira Manera are really talented musicians and singers. They also were great to look at (my bridesmaids told me lol). Honestly, I could have listened and danced to them all night. My dad and I did a mash-up dance, starting with Zucchero and Pino Daniele – some Italian singers my dad likes, and then some disco music! It was such a laugh and the guests loved it. The next song with Kieran and his mom really to me feels like the theme song of the trip. REM – Shiny Happy People. I listened to that song on repeat for weeks after our wedding! Finally, our first dance as husband and wife was to “Honeymoon” by Johnny Stimson – it was an indie beachy vibe that really felt like it fit with Kieran and I.
We also got a DJ for the hits, and we danced until we were kicked out essentially! My favorite part of the dancing was at the very end when the music stopped and the Scottish family and friends starting singing Aulde Lang Syne. They lifted Kieran and I up for it and then everyone held hands and came in and out. They sang the song themselves as the Italian DJ had a different version from ours but honestly, it was even more powerful that way. My Canadian family and friends were blown away by this emotional Scottish wedding tradition and everyone was left on a high.
Here are all our vendors!
Wedding Gown ‘Gabrielle’
bought at Toronto Sash and Bustle
Olivia the Wolf
Steve Madden ‘Divvy White’
John Morrison Kiltmakers
Johnston and Murphy
Piper Nick MacVicar
Bridesmaid Beauty Team
Castello di Gargonza wine