Back in 2011, Joyce Ha and JT Akers III were both working for Levi's, though he was in the San Francisco office and she was in Hong Kong. "Joyce and her team would come to San Francisco for meetings, then we'd all go out for drinks after," JT recalls. "My colleagues definitely knew I was trying to chat her up!" His persistence paid off, and four years later, JT proposed to Joyce en route to a vacation in Florence, Italy. "We loved everything from the food and wine to the culture during that trip to Tuscany, and wanted to share it with our friends and family," Joyce says. "We also loved that a destination wedding would give us more quality time with our friends and family." They set the date for September 9, 2017, and invited just 55 guests to join them at Borgo Corsignano, a village-style resort in the Tuscan countryside. "It gave us the rustic feel we were looking for, in a beautiful and secluded setting," Joyce describes.
The couple worked with the Tuscan Wedding to plan their Italian destination wedding, with their team covering everything from basic to-do lists and budgeting to producing a Korean ceremony (with help from the mother of the bride). In the end, Joyce says the day came together to reflect both their natural and historic setting—as well as her and JT as a couple—thanks to the Korean ceremony and hints of color, such as bright orange shoes for the bride and Aperol spritzes as the signature cocktail.
Take a peek at this intimate destination wedding in Italy, photographed by Roberta Facchini, below!
"My mom sourced our attire and all of the necessary table decorations for the Korean ceremony and brought them on the plane in her carry-on," Joyce reveals.
While the entire day was incredible, the couple admits that they are most proud of their Korean ceremony— and, more specifically, the fact that they were able to make it happen in the Tuscan countryside.
"One of my favorite memories is of JT giving my mother, and his new mother-in-law, a piggy-back ride as part of the Korean ceremony," Joyce says with a laugh.
For the Western ceremony, Joyce changed into an intricate lace mermaid dress from Berta, finished with pearl accents at the bodice and lace panels on the skirt. Her Jimmy Choo sandals added a vibrant pop of color to the ensemble.
The couple's flower girl wore a white dress with ruffled sleeves and lace-up flats.
The al fresco altar was set with two vintage doors decorated with arrangements of eucalyptus, olive branches, and white David Austin roses.
Joyce's parents walked her down the aisle to the altar, where JT was waiting in a navy Prada suit. "A close friend served as officiant, retracing our story and celebrating our love," says the bride.
After they were pronounced husband and wife, JT and Joyce made their way back up the aisle as guests showered them with olive leaves.
During the ceremony, the weather was gorgeous and sunny for the newlyweds, but that hadn't been the case that morning! "It rained for the first time in five months, then miraculously stopped just five minutes before I walked down the aisle," the bride recalls.
The couple's big DIY project was their seating chart: They found childhood photos of each guest, printed them in a Polaroid style, then wrote their table assignment across the bottom of each print.
As favors, JT and Joyce gave each guest an espresso cup tied with a tag that read, "Words cannot expresso how much you mean to us!"
Dinner was served inside a stunning stone hall, where guests were seated at two long, bare tables. On each table, runners of olive branches, rosemary, and eucalyptus wove between candles in silver mercury votives. A plethora of wine glasses were at the ready to accompany a traditional Italian feast that included eggplant ravioli with mozzarella di bufala, risotto with zucchini flowers and taleggio, and Cinta pork loin with balsamic vinegar from Modena.
Choosing just the right music was a priority for JT and Joyce, who hand-selected songs for the ceremony and then requested a unique mix of 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s tunes for the dance party that followed. For their first dance, the couple chose "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" by Elvin Bishop. But that wasn't the night's only entertainment! "Our wedding cake could really count as entertainment," says Joyce. "The chef assembled the millefeuille with chantilly cream and mixed berries right in front of everyone!"
With demanding jobs (and a far-off wedding venue), Joyce and JT can't emphasize enough how important it was for them to hire a wedding planner. Says the bride, "If you're both working professionals with busy schedules, a full-service planner is invaluable!"
Wedding Planner: The Tuscan Wedding
Venue: Borgo Corsignano
Bride's Dress: Berta
Bride's Veil: Audella Bridal
Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Hair & Makeup: Lara Navarrini, Ilaria Lanini
Bridesmaids' & Flower Girl's Dresses: David's Bridal
Groom's Attire: Prada
Floral Design: Flowers Living
Paper Products: Pratesi Designer
Catering & Cake: Galateo Ricevimenti
Music: Matthew DJ
Accommodations: Borgo Corsignano
Photography: Roberta Facchini