Love is in the air at a destination wedding on the shore of Italy's magical Lake Como

It’s fair to say that chelsey Stranik and Alvin Loshak’s September 2008 wedding was a global affair. The NYC couple’s 110 guests traveled from all corners of the world—France, Israel, England, Spain and Turkey among them—to witness their I Dos at Villa d’Este, a grand 16th-century residence-turned–hotel on Italy’s Lake Como. “It’s a powerfully romantic, dreamy place,” says Chelsey. The resort offered Chelsey and Alvin the formal waterfront setting they’d imagined, in a country they adore: “We love Italian food, wine and culture,” says the bride. The couple infused the beautiful backdrop with vibrant red and fuchsia, two passionate colors that represent love. From the flowers to the welcome gifts (which included fuchsia organza pouches filled with almonds covered in strawberry-flavored chocolate), every detail reflected this theme.

Chelsey and Alvin had their local wedding planner, Patrizia Saraga, help organize their rehearsal dinner, a rustic celebratory feast that’s traditional to the Lake Como region. The night began with champagne and dancing aboard a steamboat that brought the group to La Locanda restaurant on Isola Comacina. After the meal, the owner shared the history of the area and performed a mesmerizing ceremony of lighting brandy on fire, a ritual believed to break a curse once cast on the island. Guests enjoyed the liquor in their coffee before voyaging back.

After the ceremony, guests gathered on a terrace overlooking the lake for cocktails—Bellinis and fragolinis (prosecco with strawberry purée) were served—and then moved to the ballroom for dinner. When the newlyweds entered, everyone stood. “We walked into this magical room with lavender and amber lights, and all these flowers. It was very emotional,” says Chelsey. Villa d’Este catered a four-course meal of greens with shellfish and citrus fruit, tortellini, sea bass with julienne vegetables, and souffle with a decadent chocolate sauce.

Chelsey, in a layered silk organza gown and veil by Pronovias, and Alvin, in a tux by Ermenegildo Zegna, leave their ceremony in the ultragrand gardens at Villa d’Este. Before the start of their early-evening ceremony, Chelsey and Alvin met, explored the grounds of Villa d’Este with their bridal party and posed for photos against the scenic backdrop. Later, guests gathered in the main garden, which had been transformed for the ceremony with a grass-green aisle runner and gold chairs with bright red seat cushions. The couple customized the spiritual service to incorporate her Catholic upbringing and his Jewish traditions, including the breaking of the glass. They also asked one of Alvin’s college friends to officiate, and wrote their own vows: “They were so beautiful, heartwarming and personal,” says Chelsey. The newlyweds left through an elegant sprinkling of red and fuchsia flower petals.

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