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That’s Amore! A Destination Wedding at an Italian Villa

With a love for food, wine, and travel, what better location than Verona, Italy for this local couple to tie the knot?

Shakespeare’s fair Verona is now the scene of two great love stories. But unlike Romeo and Juliet, this romance has a very happy ending. This is the tale of Salt Lake City couple Alfreda Tsai, a partner at Mood Events, and Blake Ferguson, owner of Svelte UX, who met at a supper club hosted by mutual friends. He asked her out, and they were smitten from the first date. When they decided to say “I do,” they chose to hop the pond and wed in Europe. They happened upon Villa Ca’ Vendri in Verona, Italy, on Airbnb.com and knew it was where they would write the next chapter of their love story together.

For their intimate and effortlessly elegant July 3, 2016, Italian nuptials—planned and designed by Tsai’s partners at Mood Events, Garrett Soong and Matt Keo—the bride wore a gown from Salt Lake City’s Alta Moda Bridal Boutique and jewelry by Katie Waltman. The groom’s daughter, Reese, walked him to the altar and then escorted the bride to the aisle before preceding her as flower girl. “Reese escorted Alf to the aisle, and they gave each other a hug before Reese began down the aisle as flower girl,” recalls Ferguson. “Right at this moment, the clouds literally parted and the sun shone brightly down on them. The moment overwhelmed me with emotion, and I couldn’t help but burst into tears.”

Reese was lucky to attend the festivities: on the couple’s second day in Italy preparing for their wedding weekend and awaiting the little girl’s arrival from the states, they discovered Reese’s passport was expired. After an entire day at the US Embassy, they concluded the only way to ensure she made it to the celebration was for Ferguson to fly back to the US, solve the passport issue, and bring Reese back with him. They arrived just in time—at noon on the day of the wedding. The couple wrote their own vows to each other and to Reese, and Tsai gifted the girl a ring to symbolize her commitment.

After the ceremony, their 33 guests drank Aperol and Hugo Spritz cocktails and enjoyed a gelato cart in the courtyard (the gelato cart was originally intended for the welcome dinner, but the couple moved it to the wedding day so Reese could enjoy it). A family-style dinner of Italian food and wine from the Veneto region were served beneath the portico at a single, long table decorated with classic florals from Betty Fiori, one of the first flower shops in Verona. In the grand foyer, the couple assisted their caterer, Food and Sweet, in assembling a traditional Millefoglie cake. The party then moved to the Grand Hall for the couple’s first dance to “All of Me” by John Legend, followed by a long night of dancing and a late-night pool party. After the festivities, the couple honeymooned in Italy, traveling to Venice, Milan, Capri, and more.

WORLD WIDE WED
Tsai and Ferguson share their tips for planning a destination wedding.

1) Triple check everything, especially passports and required documentation. “We recommend getting your passport renewed if it expires within a year of your trip,” says Tsai. “We had some guests get stuck in NYC when TSA wouldn’t let them leave the country, even though their passports were months from expiring. Luckily there was a passport agency nearby and they were able to turn the passport around in one day.”

2) International weddings can require a lot of red tape to be officially married in that country. Give yourself a few months to gather all of the required documentation, and be sure you know all of the requirements. “We decided to legally elope in Las Vegas a few weeks prior to the Italy date just in case we had delays with the paperwork, but we kept it a secret until after the wedding,” says Tsai. “We view July 3rd as our true wedding date.”

3) Be flexible and broad in your details. “We looked for a venue that had a lot of character and didn’t need a lot of decoration to make it special,” explains Tsai. “We planned as much as we could before heading overseas and let the remaining details organically tie up once we got to Italy. Things like the dinner table runners and décor were found in the days prior to our guests arriving. During the planning process, if anything caused us too much grief or stress, we decided it wasn’t worth it.”