The stars aligned when Allison Merrett ran into Prashant Hedge in early 2014. "We'd actually already met a year and a half earlier at a bar in Seattle, but lost touch until Prashant's roommate's friend reintroduced us," says Allison. Five years later, on a black sand beach on Vieques Island, Prashant proposed.
For their wedding, the couple wanted an "intimate and uncomplicated" event and decided to hop on a plane to Italy to celebrate. "We loved the region of Umbria because it wasn't too far from Rome, which made it accessible for our guests, but it still felt remote," says Allison. They hired Cristina Ditta of The Wedding Care to handle the long-distance planning, choosing Abbazia San Pietro in Valle, located in Ferentillo, for their wedding on September 3, 2018. "We only had 76 guests, and Abbazia San Pietro was the perfect size to accommodate just about everyone on-site," Allison adds.
Though Allison and Prashant didn't set foot in their wedding venue until the weekend of their wedding, the results were exactly what they'd envisioned: a soft palette of white, ivory, and antique rose surrounded by lush greenery (including lots of olive branches, of course!), lit with candlelight that filled their courtyard reception with warmth. "I think having a destination wedding made a lot of things easier," says Allison. "I couldn't go see the venue or do trials, so it left less to control—and therefore less to worry about!"
Photographed by Paola Colleoni, this destination wedding in Italy was just as stunning as it was carefree. Keep reading to see more!
The couple set the scene for their lush and dramatic setting with a floral wedding invitation.
Allison's blush-hued bouquet paired blushing bride proteas, cappuccino roses, pale peach garden roses, white symphoricarpos, white astrantia, mimosa, and olive branches, all tied with a pink silk ribbon.
Though Allison says was sure she didn't want a ball gown, she spotted this Carolina Herrera dress in the window of a bridal boutique on her way to an appointment and knew she had to try it on. "It was actually the only dress I really liked in the entire store," she says. And it was meant to be: The store had one sample left—in Allison's size and on sale!
Prashant wore a single-button dark blue tuxedo with a black shawl collar and a diamond-point bow tie.
The ceremony took place overlooking the nearby mountains, with a circular altar of oak branches, olive branches, eucalyptus, roses, white lisianthus, and white larkspur framing the bride and groom.
“Prashant and I wrote our vows together on the plane to Italy, and they were identical except for one line that we each personalized,” says the bride. “Our friend who re-introduced us was our officiant. We loved the symbolism of him uniting us in matrimony after bringing us back together years ago!”
Following the ceremony, the newlyweds wandered the grounds as guests enjoyed Aperol spritzes and Negronis before dinner. “Those are our favorite Italian cocktails!” says Allison.
Tables were arranged in a U-shape in the courtyard, with the couple and their families sitting at the head table. Hand-calligraphed signs decorated with greenery showed guests exactly where to sit.
The tables were topped with white linens and surrounded by simple bistro chairs. A garland of olive and oak branches wove amongst white taper candles, accented with slim vases that held olive branches, eucalyptus, and white delphinium.
“We relied on our wedding planner a lot,” says Allison. “We moved, started new jobs, and began a home renovation project all while planning a destination wedding… I wouldn’t recommend it, but our planner used her incredible vision to make sure our wedding was everything we dreamed of!”
As candlelight glowed throughout the courtyard, guests enjoyed porcini mushroom risotto, gnocchi with zucchini cream, and leg of lamb stuffed with artichokes and local sheep’s cheese. “The food was delicious and authentic,” the bride raves.
Prashant and Allison’s wedding was full of exciting memories, including a dance floor that stayed packed until 5 a.m. and a few eye-catching moves from Prashant’s mother. “She’d never danced a day in her life, but on our wedding day that all changed!” says Allison with a laugh.
The meal wrapped up with an Italian sponge cake filled with custard cream and fresh strawberries—and, of course, more dancing. “We had our guests send us their favorite songs, and the DJ included them all into his set,” says Allison. “It made dancing even more fun!”
Looking back, the bride admits that while planning a wedding can definitely be stressful, she also encourages couples to remember what it’s all about. “I’ve stressed about a number of things in my life, but none have had such a genuinely enjoyable outcome as our wedding," she says. "As long as you’re sharing the day with your partner and the people you love, no level of details will ever change how special and meaningful the day will be!”
Wedding Planner: The Wedding Care || Venue: Abbazia San Pietro in Valle || Bride's Dress: Carolina Herrera || Alterations: The Dress Theory || Hair & Makeup: Muccino Amatulli || Engagement Ring: James Allen || Wedding Bands: Derco Fine Jewelers || Floral Design: Nina E I Fiori || Paper Products: Minted || Calligraphy: Cecilia Boschi Calligraphy || Catering & Cake: Lincei Catering || Music & Lighting: Wedding Music and Lights || Candle Holders: Malden Ceramics || Photography: Paola Colleoni