A Colorful Wedding at a 6th Century Italian Abbey

Real Weddings

Jillayne and Will's relationship has taken them around the globe. "We met on St. Thomas while I was on vacation in July of 2013. My sister lived and worked there, and introduced me to Will (who also lives there) on the 4th of July," says Jillayne. For Valentine's Day in 2014, the couple, who split their time between D.C. and St. Thomas, headed to the mountains of Aspen where Will proposed.

And the travel doesn't end there. The couple and 70 guests flew to Orvieto, Italy to say "I do" in a historic church, then celebrate in the ruins of a 6th century abbey. "We wanted to have our wedding in a space that would transform us," says Jillayne. "La Badia di Orvieto is a stunning, romantic spot where people have been married for hundreds of years. We became part of the history."

So after a pre-wedding honeymoon through Italy, the couple exchanged vows on October 24th, 2014, in an event planned by Brenda Babcock of Italia Celebrations and photographed by Rochelle Cheever.

Three days of Italian experiences — everything from a pizza party welcome dinner to a tour of a farm in Tuscany that produces award-winning cheese — meant getting lots of information to their guests. Will and Jillayne sent out invitations embellished with a mosaic-style floral motif.

Sparkling Jimmy Choos were the perfect complement to Jillayne's lace Monique Lhuillier gown, which she topped with a detachable tulle train and cathedral-length veil for the ceremony.

The church's stonework, tiled floors, frescoed alcoves, and wooden doors were subtly accented with orange and pink roses and dahlias and lots of greenery.

"I liked the idea of saying the same words that have been said for centuries," says Jillayne of the couple's decision to exchange traditional Catholic vows.

Two long tables were arranged between the abbey's crumbling walls, decorated with the same punchy hues of pink and orange. Candles covered every surface, casting a warm glow over the reception.

Tall arrangements on silver candelabras studded the tables, interspersed with crystal bowls holding floating blooms. Cut crystal, antique books, and silk pillows gave a homey feel to the ancient space. "The goal was to create the type of event we'd host if we owned the Italian villa of our dreams," says Jillayne.

Instead of serving signature cocktails alongside gnocchi with pesto and branzino filet, Will selected local craft beers to be served throughout dinner.

After a DJ took over for the bossa nova band and dinner was finished, the bride and groom cut into a traditional Italian wedding cake — guests enjoyed slices of millefoglie with wild strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and red currants.

Will and Jillayne had a blast, so much so that they had to make themselves go to bed at 2 a.m., or they would never have left the party!

"I'm so glad we took a pre-wedding honeymoon through Ravello, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome to have a little peace before the madness," says Jillayne. "Then we went to Lake Como and Venice after to decompress!" Two honeymoons? Now that's something we can get behind!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: a Badia di Orvieto || Wedding Planner: Italia Celebrations || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Jewelry: Jenny Packham || Hair & Makeup: Orazio Italia Celebrations || Groom's Attire: Burberry || Florist: Noosheen || Invitations: Crane & Co. || Catering & Cake: a Badia di Orvieto || Travel Concierge: Italy by Design || Videography: Cinemate || Photography: Rochelle Cheever

Ready to go inside another Italian wedding? Check out another couple's wedding in Tuscany in the video below!

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