An Intimate, Serene Destination Wedding at the Hotel Excelsior in Venice, Italy

Real Weddings

Constanza and her family have been visiting Venice's breathtaking Hotel Excelsior for twenty years, spending time each summer surrounded by the island city's history, culture, and magic. Says Constanza, "Nicolai was the first boyfriend of mine to ever accompany us on our family trip. And he loves the time we've spent there as much as my family and I do." It was only fitting, then, that the Miami native and her Colombian now-husband return to the place that has been so dear to her for so long to celebrate their wedding.

Just after arriving for a long weekend trip to Paris (Constanza's second favorite city after Venice), she and Nicolai took a stroll through the Tuileries. As they wandered the garden in the springtime sun, Nicolai got down on one knee and asked Constanza to be his wife. After spending a few months enjoying their engagement, the bride used her creative expertise as an interior designer to plan their timeless Venetian wedding, on June 16th, 2012, in a mere six months. "We felt it was very important to let both the city and the hotel set the pace, so we worked on enhancing it without overpowering the inherent beauty," Constanza says.

Constanza whore a gorgeous Jenny Packham gown for the outdoor wedding. The simple silhouette, overlaid with beaded lotus flowers and a flattering natural waist, "felt right for the setting," she says. "I loved the craftsmanship, how it caught the light, and how comfortable it felt. I'm not one for a lot of fabric."

She paired her gown with sparkling peep-toe Jimmy Choo pumps. Her gorgeous chandelier earrings were a gift from her husband, who'd purchased them for her as a surprise during a trip to Jaipur, India, the winter before the wedding.

Constanza's tulle veil was hand-made by the bride and her stepmother. "We cut the fabric together, and she hand-sewed individual beads along the edge," Constanza says.

The bride's younger sister, Serena, served as the flower girl. She wore a simple empire-waist dress and a crown of pink and yellow roses.

Constanza's bouquet was inspired by nosegays carried by brides at the turn of the century. Pink and peach garden roses were cuffed with white bouvardia and lisianthus.

Nicolai and Constanza exchanged vows beneath an altar of peach and cream roses, eucalyptus, and silk ribbons. The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple.

The hotel's soft pink interior courtyard, featuring architecture inspired by Cordova and Granada, provided a quiet place for the bride and groom to bask in the joy of their wedding day.

Peach, coral and white paper lanterns hung from the poolside gazebo, adding a pop of color to the ornate white structure.

During cocktails, Constanza and Nicolai surprised their guests with an unexpected performance: synchronized swimmers! "I'd seen a similar performance at an event a few years earlier, and was so excited to have them at our wedding," she says.

The reception décor highlighted the hotel's peach, white, and soft green color palette. "The room was already so stunning, so we kept the decorations simple," says the bride. "We dimmed the chandeliers and lit tons of candles."

The flower arrangements were soft, simple and elegant. Peach, pink, and white roses overflowed from urns and low vases.

Nicolai and Constanza kept their destination more intimate, with only 120 guests joining them in Venice. To give their reception an incredibly personal touch, guests were assigned to tables, where they each found place cards featuring photos of themselves with the bride and groom.

Constanza used ornate Florentine stationery for the escort cards and table numbers. At each guest's place was a printed menu, as well as a card upon which they could write wishes for the bride and groom. The wishes were later tied to wish lanterns and released into the sky.

"Crazy hour is so popular across Latin America—the time during a wedding when you pump up the volume and everyone dresses up in hats and costumes," says Constanza. "We put a Venetian spin on ours by providing gorgeous masks for our guests to wear."

The couple's wedding cake was served on the hotel's antique silver cake stand.

The bride, groom and their friends danced all night. "We started the party off with salsa, then changed to pop and Motown," Constanza says. "Once the grown-ups had gone to bed, we had a karaoke after-party that raged until 7 a.m.!"

After a day to rest up in Venice, Constanza and Nicolai were off on an Asian adventure for their honeymoon, traveling to Bangkok, an elephant camp in Chiang Rai, and a luxurious beach in the Maldives.

Constanza's advice for couples is to be true to who they are. "The best weddings aren't just beautiful. They're the ones where the real essence of the couple shines through."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hotel Excelsior || Bride's Wedding Dress: Jenny Packham || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair: Rossano Ferretti || Bridesmaid's Dress: Luca Luca || Groom's Suit: Ermenegildo Zegna || Wedding Bands: Chisholm Collection || Florist: Munaretto || Catering & Cake: Hotel Excelsior || Photography: Shannen Natasha Weddings

—Jaimie Schoen

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