Christine and Christian in Isola Bella, Italy

Lush castle gardens set the scene for this romantic Italian idyll

The extraordinary beauty of Isola Bella was so indelibly etched in Christian's memory that it was the first place he thought of when he proposed to Christine. Danish-born Christian had visited the island's castle and gardens in Lago Maggiore in the Italian Alps during a medical conference in 1991 and when he suggested it as the site of their wedding, "Christine said, 'Yes, yes, yes.' "

Although there were only eight guests at their July 4 ceremony, they were from such disparate places as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Arizona and Massachusetts, so it also seemed "an ideal way to sort of meet in the middle," recalls Christine. But it did take some doing. Embassies in Europe and the United States had to be called and "everything had to be translated into Italian," she says.

They had chosen a special outdoor location on Isola Bella for a ring exchange ceremony. After their civil ceremony, nearby church bells began to ring. During a seven-course meal on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Majestic, a heavy rain broke out, but cleared almost as quickly. And as the couple strolled over to lean against the balustrade, a rainbow appeared. "Actually," Christian recalls, "it was a double rainbow." —Gerit Quealy

Learn from Christine and Christian

Arrive Early: Some patience is required for all the paperwork needed to get married in a foreign country. "Get it out of the way," says Christine, "and you can just enjoy your day."

Go with the Flow: Christine realized Italians have a different take on time, when her bouquet didn't show up until moments before the ceremony. "Relax," she says. "Everything will come together in the end."

Keep the Crowds at Bay: The European high season is late July and August, so in early July the wedding party had almost the entire place to themselves.

Let the Honeymoon Begin: When you've chosen a beautiful place, "stay and enjoy it," says Christian, who with his bride spent seven more days in Italy.

In early July, Isola Bella’s gardens were in full bloom, providing a gorgeous backdrop for photographs of the couple, who were happy to keep their wedding day intimate.