After meeting in Hong Kong, moving to New York, and getting engaged in Paris, Paulina Yeh and Peter Corvi searched the globe for a destination wedding venue. The result? An intimate, four-day celebration in Florence featuring the couple’s favorite restaurants, an opera singer, fireworks, and nods to their respective Chinese and Italian heritages. “I wanted to make magic,” Paulina, a wedding planner, says. “I wanted to create a fairytale experience in real life for us and for our friends and families.”
The couple made Villa Cora, a 16th-century residence-turned-hotel overlooking the Boboli Gardens in Florence, their home base. It set the tone: tradition, culture, and hints of opulence. Pre-celebration events included a pasta-filled welcome dinner and a day trip to Tuscany, complete with wine tasting, saffron-flavored gelato from Gelateria Dondoli, and a climb up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Before saying “I do,” the couple also held a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. “It was important to me that our wedding festivities had elements of Chinese culture,” Paulina says. “A wedding is about the union of two people and two families, and I wanted everyone to see how beautiful my cultural roots are.” From there, it was all about exchanging handwritten vows, toasting with Prosecco, and confetti cannons on the dance floor. “We wanted to make our wedding into a trip for our guests,” Paulina says of throwing a destination wedding. “People were coming all the way to Italy, why not make the best out of it?”
Paulina and Peter got engaged with Old World style too. Peter proposed on a trip to Paris, with the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop. But it was his prior conversation with Paulina’s father that really impressed Paulina. “He asked my dad for permission to marry me,” Paulina says, noting it was a challenging undertaking with her family in Taiwan. “My father doesn’t speak English and Peter doesn’t speak Mandarin! My brother translated the entire conversation. It meant a lot to me that Peter honored that old tradition.”
The couple embraced their destination wedding locale by taking portraits around the city prior to guests arriving.
Paulina and Peter paid respect to their parents with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony the night before their nuptials. The couple served their parents with tea to symbolize purity, stability, and fertility in marriage.
Paulina wore a Longfenggua, a two-piece dress that is common for brides in southern China. It featured elaborate embroidery that Paulina paired with gold jewelry, a customary gift from family members to the bride.
“It was the most emotional part of the entire wedding weekend,” Paulina says of partaking in the honor. “I cried like a baby. Actually, everyone did. At the end of the day, who are we if we don’t celebrate and carry on our traditions?”
Paulina also donned a phoenix crown, historically adorned with gold and gemstones. The phoenix and the dragon represent the bride and the groom, and the pairing of the creatures symbolizes marital bliss. Paulina’s Longfenggua featured both in the embroidery and her gold jewelry included a phoenix bangle and a dragon bangle.
Following the tea ceremony, Paulina changed into a red strapless gown—red being a lucky color in Chinese culture—to attend their rehearsal dinner on a rooftop overlooking the Duomo.
On the big day, Paulina and her bridesmaids got ready together. In fact, her squad surprised her with a bridal shower luncheon the day before that included an impromptu leap into the pool. “So many of us are spread all over the world for work and family, it was rare that we were all together in one place,” Paulina adds.
Paulina’s embroidered organza Pronovias gown featured lots of volume, a long train, sparkling details, and one modern twist: pockets! "It had all the classic and grand elements I was looking for," she says.
The couple exchanged vows in Villa Cora’s garden in front of a white floral arch of garden roses, hydrangea, and lisianthus.
As self-proclaimed traditionalists at heart, the couple stuck to plenty of classic wedding moments. Paulina’s father escorted her down the aisle to Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” as she carried a bouquet of white peonies. The couple also chose to not see each other before the ceremony and even avoided a first look. “I wanted Peter to see me in my wedding dress only as I walked down the aisle to say ‘I do’ to him,” the bride says.
Paulina and Peter kept the guest list close-knit, hosting just 45 close friends and family.
During cocktail hour, guests sipped Prosecco and Aperol spritz cocktails while munching on prosciutto and local cheeses. An Italian tenor performed to the delight of the couple and their friends and family. A string quartet played acoustic covers from Beauty and the Beast for Paulina and the Game of Thrones theme song for Peter.
Peter swapped his white dinner jacket for a black tuxedo and Paulina slipped into a light pink chiffon gown for the reception inside the villa’s ballroom.
To accent the opulent room, the couple stuck to an all-white color palette. Long tables were topped with white linens, crystal candelabras, and more white blooms.
Just after a dinner of cannelloni, suckling pig, and sea bass, guests stepped outside for an extravagant (and surprise!) pyromusical fireworks show set to Kanye West songs like “All of The Lights.”
After the wedding, the newlyweds honeymooned in Positano, taking in the best of the Amalfi Coast by wandering Capri, boating around the caves, and, of course, dining on seafood. Peter even surprised his new wife with a bouquet of long stem roses in their hotel room, like he had when he proposed in Paris. “It was a dream,” Paulina says. “My husband is determined to go every year now!”
Wedding Planner: Events by Paulina
Ceremony & Reception Site: Villa Cora
Wedding Coordinator: Getting Married in Italy
Officiant: David Fink
Bridal Gown & Veil: Pronovias
Reception & Afterparty Gowns: Berta
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin
Makeup: Armill Beauty
Groom’s Attire: Musika Frere
Engagement Ring: Graff
Flowers & Favors: Giardino delle Fate
Invitations & Paper Goods: Minted
Escort Cards & Guest Book: Etsy
Music: Alma Project
Catering & Cake: Villa Cora
Accommodations: Villa Cora
Fireworks: Pirotecnica Soldi
Videographer: DolceVita Wedding Cinema
Photographer: David Bastianoni