Paola Colleoni and Luca Lepore were not high school sweethearts. “When we met in 2000, we couldn’t stand one another,” Paola says, laughing. Thankfully, a dear friend reconnected the two eight years later, and they gave it another shot. The couple dated for eight years after that, celebrating birthdays, holidays, and everything in between. On Paola’s 29th birthday in March of 2016, Luca brought her breakfast in bed. “I didn’t suspect anything, as it’s one of my favorite birthday rituals,” she says. But when she leaned her head into Luca’s chest, she noticed his heart was racing. “I commented on it, and out of the blue, he asked me to marry him!” she recalls. “It was the sweetest proposal I could have asked for.”
The pair knew they wanted to marry in a meaningful location, and immediately thought of Tuscany. “Florence in particular is close to my heart, as I have really beautiful memories of visiting the city with my mother, who passed away in 2009,” says Paola. So they set their hearts on marrying at a Florentine estate, scouring the internet for the perfect place. They found Villa Medicea and were blown away when they went to visit in person. “I could immediately picture our loved ones in the garden, sharing our first meal as husband and wife," she says. And as a wedding photographer herself, Paola chose M.K. Sadler to capture her own wedding day. Keep reading to see how this couple brought a touch of modernity to their historic villa. You’ll love the contrast against the historic setting!
“It took quite some time to find the perfect venue, as we wanted a place that was posh but not too showy,” explains the bride. “We sent a request the moment we found the Villa Medicea website!”
Paola wasn’t quite sure what she wanted in a wedding dress, but she knew what she didn’t want: a bridal gown! “Telling bridal boutiques that I didn’t want to look like a bride didn’t get me very far," she says, with a laugh. After many unsuccessful appointments, the bride decided to let go and trust the process, which is when she found this silk A-line gown from Alessandra Rinaudo for Nicole Spose. The spaghetti-strap bodice featured sheer cut-outs on either side and a flowing skirt. She paired it with a romantic bouquet of peonies, roses, and trailing greenery (to soften the modern design).
Guests sat in garden chairs, with featured place cards tied to each seat. A dramatic fountain served as the backdrop for the ceremony. “It was so rich and ornate on its own that we decided against additional décor,” says the bride.
“We wrote our own vows the night before the wedding,” Paola says. “Reading them out loud was such an intense moment!” Luca, a psychologist, spoke about the strength of their communication, while Paola spoke of the challenges they’d faced together, concluding that the view from the top of a mountain is worth all the struggle of the climb.
The exit—which, of course, was a picture-perfect moment for the wedding photographer!
The couple served a variety of drinks at cocktail hour, including refreshing cucumber water and beer hanging from a swing.
The couple hung love letters in the trees around their reception site.
"The dinner table was the center of our efforts in terms of decor," says the bride. "As we decided to have it in the very center of the garden, before everyone's attention, we had to carefully plan all the details."
The couple topped their carefully curated tables with candlesticks of various heights, wine bottles featuring custom labels, and white floral arrangements. A white flower was also placed atop each dinner menu.
The vegetarian menu of risotto with Sagrantino red wine, tortellini with pomodoro, and vegetable crumble was paired with Italian wines chosen by Luca’s father. “We knew we didn’t want a tiered wedding cake or an Italian-style flat one, so instead opted for three chocolate cakes, paired with homemade gelato,” says Paola. “It was so good, my uncle said it was like the one my Nonna used to make!”
Paola is a wedding photographer by trade, so how did she keep herself on track? “Try to keep your focus on what matters most: your partner,” she says. “Enjoy all of the moments you’ll share together through the process. Be mindful and be thankful for all the love that surrounds you!”
Wedding Planner: Princess Wedding || Venue: Villa Medicea di Lilliano || Officiant: Tuscan Pledges || Bride's Dress: Alessandra Rinaudo for Nicole Spose || Bride's Shoes: Valentino || Hair & Makeup: Costanza Scornaienchi || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Tamago Craft || Groom's Attire: Lanieri || Groom’s Shoes: Velasca || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Paolo Valgrande || Floral Design: Nina e I Fiori || Lighting Design: Contatto Sonoro || Paper: Silk & Willow || Catering & Cake: Apollinare || Ceremony Music: Alma Project || Reception Music: Steve Helstrip, The Thrillseekers || Videography: Francesco Zanet || Photography: Meghan Kay Sadler