When Charmaine Anderson first met Vaun Cowdrey in December of 2014, she almost fell into his lap. “We were at a Christmas party, and he was talking to a mutual friend of ours,” she recalls. “I went over to say hello and tripped, spilling a glass of red wine all over myself and landing on my hands and knees!” Thankfully no one was hurt, and Vaun helped Charmaine to her feet as she laughed. “We had an instant connection from there—you could say it was love at first sight!” she adds.
The couple dated for two years, and had started discussing an engagement when they went to a local jeweler to have one of Charmaine’s necklaces cleaned. “I had fallen in love with the idea of an engagement band made of baguette diamonds, and after an hour at the jeweler, we had unexpectedly designed my dream engagement ring!” she says. And two months later, while she was having high tea with her closest girlfriends to celebrate her birthday, Vaun arrived at the restaurant with flowers in hand and proposed. “Everyone was crying, but it wasn’t until he put the ring box on the table that I realized what was going on,” Charmaine says.
The couple lives in Perth, Australia, but didn’t shy away from a long flight for their wedding. They invited 51 guests to join them in Tuscany for the weekend of June 7, 2018, spending their days touring nearby vineyards and enjoying the remote and relaxing setting before tying the knot. “We loved the idea of having our wedding in a special part of the world, somewhere peaceful and picturesque where we could have the entire celebration in one place,” says Charmaine. Villa Roncovisi had plenty of space to house the couple and their immediate family, and a sprawling lawn for the ceremony and al fresco reception. “Our priorities were the food and the wine—and to have an amazing time,” says the bride. “Italy did not disappoint!”
Take a peek at this Australian couple’s romantic international wedding, photographed by Giuseppe Marano, below!
Charmaine got ready at the villa, donning a white silk romper and robe before slipping into her wedding gown.
“I was worried that living in Perth I would have a hard time finding a wedding gown,” says Charmaine. “I looked at so many choices online, and even thought about having a dress made, but was so happy when I found Karen Willis Holmes.” She headed to the designer’s Perth showroom with two dresses in mind, but neither was just right. “The shop attendant brought out a simple, modern dress, and I’d seen it online and didn’t love it,” she says. “She insisted I try it on, and lo and behold, it was my dress!” The heavy cotton twill fabric had a slight shine and was perfect for the structured silhouette, which included a plunging neckline, a full skirt, and a front slit. “It really balanced all the tradition and romance of our venue,” says Charmaine. “I’m so glad I kept an open mind!” She paired the gown with a simple veil and white block-heeled pumps by Shoes of Prey.
Charmaine’s father walked her down the aisle to the altar, which was set on the villa’s lawn. “We kept the ceremony setup quite simple to let the beauty of the venue shine through,” says the bride.
Charmaine and Vaun stood in front of a curtain of roses suspended from white ribbons. She wore her late grandmother’s gold cross, which had belonged to her great-grandmother and was also worn down the aisle by her mother. “We wanted our vows to reflect what marriage meant to us and the commitment we were making to one another,” says Charmaine of the words she and Vaun wrote. “We wanted them to be something we can go back to throughout our marriage.”
After the I do’s, the couple and their wedding party gathered by the villa’s pool for a celebratory glass of wine. The bridesmaids all wore black dresses from One Fell Swoop, while the groomsmen wore gray pants to match the groom. “Vaun looked like a dapper gent with a touch of rock star,” says Charmaine.
The ceremony was followed by an indulgent Italian feast served at a single long table. “It was so grand,” says the bride of the dramatic setting. A lush runner of olive branches and eucalyptus was studded with white flowers, surrounded by detailed white chargers and simple flatware. Each plate was topped with an olive branch symbolizing peace, and a wooden place card.
“Our photographer captured the emotions of our wedding day in such a natural, organic way,” says Charmaine. The couple wandered the villa’s grounds as their guests enjoyed local wines, burrata, beef carpaccio, snapper sashimi, and slices of San Daniele prosciutto, cut to order. “We loved the theater of this presentation,” says the bride.
The newlyweds joined their guests for a romantic candlelit dinner, which began with an amuse bouche of fresh black truffle, quail egg, and pecorino cream—selected specifically to pair with the Barolo wine that Vaun and Charmaine had selected from a nearby vineyard. Next came spaghetti pomodoro with tomatoes from Mount Vesuvius, followed by beef eye filet with roast onion and a potato and leek flan. “The DJ played a song that got everyone dancing right as dinner was being served,” says Charmaine. “People were trying to eat their dinner and dance—I’ve never seen anything like it before!”
Dinner was capped off with heartfelt toasts, millefoglie, and cannoli paired with limoncello and grappa. “We were on the dance floor until midnight, when it started to pour. But instead of running inside, everyone kept dancing!” says Charmaine. “The rain cut our night a little short, but the love, freedom, and warmth we felt with everyone dancing in the rain was something we’ll never forget.”
Venue: Villa Roncovisi || Officiant: Francesca of My Wedding in Italy || Bride's Dress: Karen Willis Holmes || Bride's Veil: Karen Willis Holmes || Bride's Shoes: Shoes of Prey || Bride's Jewelry: Kitte || Hair & Makeup: Kiri Clare Makeup Artistry || Bridesmaids' Dresses: One Fell Swoop || Groom's Attire: Khirzad || Groomsmen's Attire: Khirzad, MJ Bale || Engagement Ring: RJ Pearce || Wedding Bands: RJ Pearce || Floral Design: Shining Flowers || Paper Products: Lala Design || Catering: Excibus Catering || Music: DJ Lorenzo of Scarlett Entertainment || Rentals: Excibus Catering || Photography: Giuseppe Marano