A Sophisticated, Modern Wedding in Historic Venice

Planned by Venice First

Updated 10/11/19

Photo by Bottega 53 

It’s safe to say that Skye Chao closed out 2011 with a bang—meeting her future husband, David, during a New Year’s Eve party on December 31. At the time, the bride had been vacationing in Taipei, Taiwan, where David had conveniently been visiting his grandmother. “We got introduced from a mutual friend, and he shook my hand and awkwardly didn’t let go!” Skye recalls of their initial interaction. The pair kept in touch after parting ways…although, admittedly, it took Skye a while for her to pick up on her spouse’s interest. “He used to visit me in Melbourne and Hong Kong and we stayed friends for four years before I finally got the hint and we started dating,” she adds.

Almost five years to the day after first crossing paths, David pulled out all the stops for his December 2016 proposal. For starters, he planned a trip with Skye’s Bucket List in mind—visiting Norway to see the Northern Lights. And, it doesn’t get much more romantic than popping the question with such a spectacular backdrop, which is exactly when David got down on one knee on night two of the getaway. 

Growing up on opposite sides of the globe (she’s from Australia, he’s from Houston), a destination wedding felt like a must for the couple’s May 26, 2018 nuptials. The travel aficionados ultimately (and understandably) landed on Venice, Italy, with a garden wedding in mind. However, after coming up short venue-wise, Skye and David finally struck gold with Palazzo Venart, a 15th century Venetian palace along the Grand Canal that took two years to restore. “We rented out Palazzo Venart for four days so it could just be our ‘home’ during our special weekend with our nearest and dearest,” adds the bride of the intimate locale, where they married in the property's first-ever wedding. And, to play off the city’s vibrant architecture, the pair brought their own modern charm for an elegant, old-meets-new feel—which coincidentally also mirrored their contrasting signature styles.

Keep reading to see this stunning contemporary Italian celebration, as planned by Venice First and captured by Bottega 53.

modern venice wedding, contemporary white and gray invitations
Photo by Bottega 53 

Drawing inspiration from the ceremony and reception color schemes, Skye and David opted for muted, classic tones in their invitation suite. “Generally, the design was intended to bring in a bit of a modern edge to it whilst being respectful of the Venetian space and elements,” adds the bride.

modern venice wedding, bride red dress rehearsal dinner
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, bride red rehearsal dinner dress
Photo by Bottega 53 

It wouldn’t be a destination wedding without an amazing kickoff, and the pair set the tone accordingly with their Friday rehearsal dinner at Enrico Bartolini’s Michelin-star restaurant, GLAM. Skye rocked a red dress from local designer Bianca Spender, along with pearl earrings from her mother-in-law, for the occasion.

modern venice wedding, white rehearsal dinner flowers
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, rehearsal dinner decor
Photo by Bottega 53 

The couple put their own touch on the evening décor, adding white blooms, candles, and modern signage around the space.

modern venice wedding, rehearsal dinner table
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, rehearsal dinner
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, rehearsal dinner menu
Photo by Bottega 53 

Friends and family enjoyed festive fare like wafer shrimps from what “may be well be Venice’s best restaurant,” according to the bride. The venue was also able to bring out a 300-year-old piano for the couple’s Italian performer to play on all night. 

modern venice wedding, bride getting hair done
 Photo by Bottega 53

On the big day itself, Makeup by Jane stepped in as the hair and makeup glam squad. 

modern venice wedding, bride's dress hanging
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, back of bride's wedding dress
 Photo by Bottega 53

After striking out in Singapore, L.A., and New York, Skye decided to go the custom route for her wedding gown and tapped the the talents of Venice-bred, Australia-based designer Sonia Cappellazzo from Cappellazzo Couture. The result? A crepe, one-shoulder gown that lived up to her modern dress dreams. “I’m just not a super girly type of girl, so I knew I wanted something not super traditional but more modern and chic,” she says. 

modern venice wedding, bride drinking wine with bridesmaid
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, bride with bridesmaids gold dresses
 Photo by Bottega 53

Speaking of modern and chic, Skye’s bridesmaids stunned in gold silk slips from another Australian label, Bec + Bridge.

modern venice wedding, bride white rose bouquet
Photo by Bottaga 53 
modern venice wedding, bride holding bouquet
 Photo by Bottega 53

A bouquet of long-stemmed white roses from Centrofiori Venezia topped off the bride’s look. 

modern venice wedding, mirrored ceremony signs
 Photo by Bottega 53
modern venice wedding, garden ceremony grand canal
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, garden ceremony grand canal
Photo by Bottega 53 

“We really wanted to highlight the fact that the ceremony location was a garden on the Grand Canal,” says Skye of the ceremony spot, which was customized with a heart-shaped display of freshly-planted blooms. To do so, she and David infused sleek, personalized mirror decor into the floral displays, which reflected all aspects of the greenery while adding a modern twist. Ghost chairs allowed the natural scenery to take center stage, as well.

modern venice wedding, groom lifting brides veil
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, bride and groom kissing ceremony
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modern venice wedding, bride and groom ceremony exit
 Photo by Bottega 53

David, who donned a custom suit by Kiton (an Italian designer, no less!), asked his sister, Catherine, to officiate the wedding. “It really made all the difference for us—seeing her face and hearing her voice made both of a lot less nervous!” admits Skye. The groom’s youngest sister, Elizabeth—a poet by profession— also read her own special piece of prose in the couple’s honor.

modern venice wedding, groom kissing bride gondola
Photo by Bottega 53 

Because the newlyweds opted to do a magical sunrise Venice photo shoot, they were able to enjoy some downtime on the canal after saying “I do.”

modern venice wedding, mirror seating chart flowers
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, white reception tables chandelier
 Photo by Bottega 53
modern venice wedding, soft reception place settings
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, white reception seating
Photo by Bottega 53 

The mirrored motif made a reappearance at the reception at Belmond Hotel Cipriani. For the couple, it was crucial that the styling felt unexpected and paid proper homage to the beautiful exposed brick within the 19th century space. A pair of long tables with soft linens and chandeliers all served as focal points, as well as the bold, white Panton chairs—selected for their beautiful contrast and clean, curved lines. Each place setting also featured plant-dyed napkins, custom-made frosted acrylic chargers, and tonal menu cards that added a subtle depth to the overall color palette. 

modern venice wedding, band singer reception
Photo by Bottega 53 

Per their planner’s recommendation, David and Skye hired “the most amazing band in the world,” Inspiration Music. “David had initially said no to the band but I was super persistent, so my advice is never cheap out on the entertainment!” says the bride with a laugh. Rather than splitting up for their respective mother-son and father-daughter dances, both pairs took the dance floor at the same time for an even more special moment. 

modern venice wedding, reception lanterns
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, reception decor candlesticks
 Photo by Bottega 53
modern venice wedding, bride and groom reception
Photo by Bottega 53 

The curated dinner menu stove to satisfy every palate, from meat- and fish-lovers to vegetarians. Selections included tuna tartare, spinach ravioli, and fillet of beef with vegetable salmoriglio, and Raboso essence.

modern venice wedding, bride dancing reception
Photo by Bottega 53 
modern venice wedding, bride dancing reception
 Photo by Bottega 53
modern venice wedding, bride and groom kissing reception
 Photo by Bottega 53

Capping off the evening, the bride swapped her custom gown for a simple A La Robe dress and Jennifer Behr statesmen earrings. 

After planning their own destination wedding, Skye advises that all to-be-weds “don’t sweat the small things and remember what the big day is all about!”

Ceremony Venue & Accommodations: Palazzo Venart | Reception Venue, Catering, & Cake: Belmond Hotel Cipriani | Wedding Planner: Venice First | Styling: Nomad Styling | Bride's Dresses: Bianca Spender, Cappellazzo Couture, A La Robe | Bride's Jewelry: Jennifer Behr | Bride's Shoes: Sophia Webster | Hair & Makeup: Makeup by Jane | Groom's Attire: Kiton | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bec + Bridge | Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Wempe Germany | Floral Design: Centrofiori Venezia | Invitations: Studio Silva | Acrylic Signs: Sketch & Etch Creative | Rentals: Design 4 Rent | Light & Sound: Tecnoluci | Entertainment: Inspiration Live Music | Videography: A&M Caputo Films | Photography: Bottega 53

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