Jacqueline Hallgarth, a wedding planner by profession, happened to hit it off with her now-husband, John, at a California restaurant lounge in October 2008. “We met as strangers and talked for hours in a little booth until we exchanged numbers,” she recalls of their meet-cute. Fast forward eight years, when John (much to Jacqueline's surprise!) crashed her mother-daughter trip to Korea to pop the question. While sightseeing with her mother at one of Seoul’s palaces, Jacqueline turned the corner to see her future spouse on one knee!
When it came time to say “I do,” the couple’s hearts were instantly set on La Badia di Orvieto—a historic 12th-century abbey-turned-boutique-hotel in Orvieto, Italy—for their wedding on October 11, 2018. “We fell in love with the rich history that La Badia and Orvieto encompass," Jacqueline says. "Every corner tells a story!”
Unsurprisingly, Jacqueline, the wedding planner behind Jacqueline Hallgarth Events, designed and planned the entire celebration, then had a colleague step in to help in the final month leading up to the big day. Together, they seamlessly pulled off a timeless, floral-infused destination wedding that effortlessly played off the iconic venue. (Every design decision was meant to feel completely natural and organic within the space!)
Keep reading to see what this wedding planner dreamt up for her big day—and prepare for major ceremony envy with this stunning Italian fête, as captured by Kurt Boomer Photography.
While piecing her wedding together, Jacqueline enacted the same protocol she uses for her clients’ destination celebrations. "When planning an event in a new or foreign destination, I try to immerse myself in the culture and learn what the locals do, "she explains. "We truly enjoyed the planning process. It made us fall in love with Orvieto and Italy more every day."
The pair opted for a neutral color palette—infused with lemon, taupe, and soft white tones—which married perfectly with the signature Italian architecture. Once in Italy, they welcomed their 64 guests with personalized leather luggage tags (handmade by John!), homemade Limoncello from the mother of the groom, local Moretti beer and Chianti, and a few of the to-be-weds' favorite snacks.
Naturally, the Italian destination wedding kicked off with a pizza welcome party in town. Jacqueline wore a printed black-and-white jumpsuit, while John opted for a blazer and khaki pants.
A strapless dress initially hadn’t been on Jacqueline’s radar—that is, until she tried on her silk Carolina Herrera gown. “Because La Badia had so many rich and textured tones, I knew the classic and clean silhouette would accentuate in the space,” she says.
Honoring her Korean family and heritage was a must-have for Jacqueline so she asked her mother and grandmother to wear traditional Hanbok gowns. "Seeing my grandmother and mother wearing a Hanbok, traditional Korean gown, in a historic Abbey in Italy, was so remarkable," she recalls.
Soft floral accents made up a beautiful bulk of the delicate décor, and Jacqueline’s bouquet by Janna Brown Design Co. proved no exception. The bride carried a lush arrangement of muted blooms that felt cohesive with the timeless environment.
As a nod to the wedding destination, John wore an Italian tuxedo by Canali, paired with Ferragamo loafers. The bride and groom also accessorized with a few new wedding gifts: Jacqueline donned emerald drop earrings from her mother, and, per Korean custom, John topped off his look with a watch from his in-laws.
Jacqueline and John favored a creatively nontraditional approach to their vows. Instead of a guest book, the couple instead asked their nearest and dearest to sign a vow scroll, which was inscribed with their favorite bible verse, before the ceremony.
Originally, the outdoor ceremony had been slated for a garden within the property, but a rain contingency plan moved the ceremony in front of the property’s famed arch and dinner inside. Which, to Jacqueline’s surprise, couldn’t have been more ideal. "At the time, I was stressed with the new rain contingency plan and moving the dinner inside. I had always pictured dining under that arch," she admits. "Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way and nothing would have made it more special. Having the ceremony under the arch with a view of Old Town Orvieto, made the most magical setting we will truly never forget!
To complement the picturesque space, voluminous floral treatments lined the aisle. A half-moon flower arch surrounding the altar also effortlessly mirrored the venue’s structural focal point.
The wedding’s intimate guest count meant that John and Jacqueline opted out of a standard bridal party. They did, however, recruit John’s nieces as flower girls—both sporting matching ivory dresses and flower-adorned updos.
Jacqueline’s stepfather walked her down the aisle, and she and John recessed to a classic rendition of “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles after saying “I do.”
After the ceremony, the newlyweds enjoyed some alone, wandering around the property and posing for some portraits. Meanwhile, their friends and family enjoyed live music, old fashioned cocktails, and Aperol spritzes during cocktail hour.
Despite the weather forcing the reception indoors, it still lived up to the bride and groom’s dreams of an elegant dinner party. “Eating with our guests was very important to us,” adds Jacqueline.
To bring this vision to life, the couple gave the cozy indoor space a romantic touch with velvet linens, floral centerpieces, and tapered candles. "Janna Brown Design absolutely nailed our vision for the floral and overall look," adds the bride. "She used organic rustic loose floral elements while incorporating soft feminine blooms that complimented the stunning La Badia."
The couple served a curated menu from local Michelin-rated caterer Trip & Co., paired with wines (naturally!) from Cantine Neri Winery. The dinner courses included beef carpaccio with aromatic mint oil, homemade ravioli, sea bass and lamb, and an assortment of traditional Italian desserts. “As we were dining and saw our closest people amongst a gorgeous tablescape, we had a moment of pure joy and gratitude,” says Jacqueline of the special meal.
Dinner gave way to dessert and dancing—and the latter was largely instigated by John and Jacqueline’s LA-based DJ, Rob Corral. “It was important to us to have an amazing dance party to cap an amazing wedding weekend,” explains the bride.
At the end of the night, the couple played homage to the ongoing rustic Italian theme with one final design element: a wedding cake topped with sugar dried florals and branches!
Venue & Accommodations: La Badia di Orvieto || Wedding Planner: Jacqueline Hallgarth Events || Brides’ Dress: Carolina Herrera || Bride’s Shoes: Rene Caovilla || Hair: Frank Giacone || Groom’s Attire: Canali || Groom’s Shoes: Ferragamo || Floral Design: Janna Brown Design Co. || Invitations, Paper Products, & Vow Scroll: Victoria Krav || Music: Italian Wedding Musicians || Catering & Cake: Trip & Co. || Rentals: Preludio Noleggi || Linens: La Tavola || Videography: Petro Motion Films || Photography: Kurt Boomer Photography