Italy was the "most romantic place we could think of," says Bridgett Csapo, explaining why she and her fiancé, Peter di Bonaventura, decided to get married in San Felice, a medieval Tuscan village surrounded by the gently rolling Chianti Mountains. Peter's Italian heritage and passion for collecting wine influenced them, but mostly they were in love with the land of amore. To help plan this destination wedding, the Fairfield, CT, couple called upon Luciana Morgera, founder of the Wedding Planner in Tuscany, which specializes in local celebrations. In fact, it was Morgera who suggested the Relais & Chateaux Borgo San Felice as the ideal site. With its picturesque stone walls and terra-cotta roofs, breathtaking vistas and lush vineyard, Borgo San Felice was "just perfect," says Bridgett. Their 40 guests loved traveling to nearby hill towns in the days before and after the wedding, then returning to relax at the resort's pool and spa.
Bridgett and Peter wanted their wedding to be "elegant and intimate with excellent food, wine, and company," the bride explains. Their early evening ceremony at the historic Church of San Felice on June 24, 2005, set the stage. With candles burning and the late-day sun streaming in, Bridgett's brother escorted her down the white rose petal–covered aisle to a string duet's rendition of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Peter's children, Elizabeth and Henry, stood at the couple's side.
For the reception in a wine cellar, the bride and groom wanted the natural beauty of their site to be the focus of the occasion. Instead of decorating the two 20-person tables with brightly colored flowers and linens, they selected simple white tablecloths, votive candles and centerpieces of small olive trees, which are native to the Tuscan landscape and signify "peace and love," says the bride. The menu featured robust Italian dishes like homemade lasagna with pesto, ricotta and spinach pasta, and fillet of Chianina beef with potatoes and summer squash in Vin Santo sauce, accompanied by the vineyard's own Chianti Classico, Pinot Grigio and Vigorello. Bridgett and Peter's day captured the spirit and sensibility they envisioned for their overseas Italian fete. "Everything exceeded my expectations," Bridgett says. Her favorite part? "Walking out of the church as husband and wife."
Learn From Bridgett and Peter
Do comparison shopping: Bridgett and Peter's Italian wine-cork favors were cheaper to buy online than in Tuscany.
Don't be afraid to use the same flower in several different ways: White hydrangeas appeared in the bride's and maid of honor's matching bouquets, Elizabeth's updo and along the church pews.
Personalize your list of events: Bridgett and Peter affixed a photo of each wedding guest on his or her individual, laminated agenda.
Seek a planner in another country: Ask local businesses for references. A Chianti vineyard suggested that Bridgett call Luciana Morgera. "I couldn't have planned a wedding in Italy without her," she says.