Though most couples spend months planning every detail of their wedding, it’s often the serendipitous moments that turn out to be the most memorable. That was certainly the case for Evelyna Leferink and Nicola Protasoni, whose June nuptials featured a wedding dress purchased on a whim, hastily scribbled vows that brought down the house, and a surprise fireworks show above Florence, Italy. Granted, not all aspects were left to chance. In fact, the fashion production manager (Evelyna) and finance manager for a cruise line (Nicola) were quite deliberate in many of their choices. After marrying in a civil ceremony, the Londoners wanted to celebrate—this time, with friends!—and traveled to Tuscany with 100 guests. “The idea was to do something more spiritual,” the bride says. “We wanted it to be really participative so everyone would feel involved.”
Keep reading to see more of their special day, as planned by Savvy Event Studio and captured by Cinzia Bruschini. And be warned: You're going to envy their stunning villa location as much as the bride's (colorful!) Dolce & Gabbana gown. But don't worry if that's not in your budget or travel plans—we have everything you need to host a beautiful, Italian-inspired dinner party (anywhere in the world!), here.
After researching villas for months, the couple visited five prospects, ultimately selecting Villa Le Fontanelle. "Just when we were getting desperate, the last one was the one," she says. "We were there for five minutes when Nicola told me: I don’t know for you but for me, this is it!"
The bride had handkerchiefs embroidered with their wedding date, location, and the phrase, "No ugly crying." The couple handed them out to guests before the ceremony—but that didn't stop the crying during their emotional vows!
The bride initially planned to wear a Grecian-style white dress but ended up falling for a colorful Dolce & Gabbana gown she saw online. "I loved this dress because it was surprising for everyone, starting by me," she says. "It was the opposite of what I imagined myself getting married in!"
Evelyna borrowed earrings from her sister and wore gold platform heels by Marc Jacobs. "My dress was long, therefore, I needed high and chunky heels as the whole day would be spent on gravel," she says.
She paired her colorful gown with a custom tiara inspired by the Italian designers’ 2016 runway collection.
Evelyna’s nieces, Kaliroe (left) and Yelena, wore lace dresses from Etsy and seemed like old pros with their flower girl duties. “They were proud to walk down the aisle and smiled at everyone,” the bride says.
The couple kept the decor simple in an effort to showcase the villa's already beautiful grounds. Arrangements of baby's breath were added to wooden bistro chairs, while a ceremony program was placed in each seat.
The groom wore a yellow boutonniere to match his bride's gorgeous gown. It also blended well with the villa's natural setting, as well as their "magic hour" start time.
A close friend officiated the special ceremony. There was a tarot card reading during the ring exchange, and the couple wrote their own vows. “I worked on mine for months, and Nico did his the day before,” Evelyna says, laughing. “And, of course, nobody commented on mine but everybody congratulated him. Our photographer said his were the best vows she’d ever heard!”
Loved ones offered tributes during the ceremony in lieu of toasts at dinner.
The ceremony concluded with everyone joining in a sing-along of Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer”—a nod to the brunch scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding.
The celebration continued in the garden with champagne and live jazz. There, the couple served their signature cocktail, an Aperol spritz, and meats from the surrounding region.
Guests found their seat assignments on panes of glass, which was calligraphed and decorated with pressed flowers.
Tables were set under a canopy of bistro lights. Each was decorated with a long strand of eucalyptus accented with baby's breath.
The menu was printed on a piece of acrylic, which added to the table's neutral decor and told everyone what they were eating!
The dinner of local cuisine took place in a courtyard, where guests took in the views of Florence and those bonus fireworks, part of the city’s big San Giovanni festival.“Dinner was my favorite moment of the night,” Evelyna says. “I really loved being at one big table with everyone around me.”
As a nod to their wedding location, the couple served a traditional wedding cake from Florence. It was made in front of the guests by the evening's chef.
Afterward, Evelyna changed out of her diaphanous Dolce & Gabbana gown and into a silk slip-dress for partying. And in keeping with the evening’s vibe, her first dance was another happy accident: “When I came down from changing, everyone had started dancing and Nico was nowhere to be seen,” she remembers. (He’d gone outside to cool down.) “So my friends made a circle around me and we all danced. Like everything about this wedding, it was random, but it really became my moment!”