Kelly Rosen and Christophe Lagrange started out as high school classmates in Chicago, but immediately became fast friends. In fact, they kept up that friendship while attending different colleges and after graduation, when Christophe moved to London and Kelly stayed in New York City. "Though we lived in separate cities, we stayed the closest of friends," she says. Fast forward to 2015, when Kelly and Christophe were finally both in the Big Apple and started to develop an unshakable case of feelings for one another. In fact, Kelly (very directly, mind you) demanded that her future spouse, "Hurry up and do this already!" Christophe reciprocated her forwardness, though, explaining that if he ever ended up with someone else, "he would always regret not having [Kelly] being the woman he would see at the end of the aisle on his wedding day."
Christophe's vision eventually came to fruition, but not without the couple's first date—which ran more like a business meeting than a romantic one-on-one. "It was essentially a negotiation," Kelly recalls of the five-hour dinner, during which the pair weighed the pros and cons of taking their friendship to the next level. When no qualms actually came to mind and Christophe and Kelly realized they had the same long-term goals, the couple decided not only to date, but also to get engaged within the next year! An impatient Christophe shortened the proposal deadline even further, prematurely popping the question in August 2016 while on vacation in Ravello, Italy. "He told me he was too excited to wait the full year we discussed during our first date negotiation, and I saw no reason to wait," Kelly adds.
The Italian proposal paved the way for the couple's August nuptials at Villa d’Este in Lake Como. "We decided we wanted to have a destination wedding in a more exotic location to make our wedding much smaller, and to create shared memories with our friends and family over several days," Kelly says of the venue choice. The duo also leaned toward the locale for its deep-rooted history and picturesque, wedding-worthy backdrops. The celebration was hardly confined to the breathtaking property, however—after encountering so many equally striking nearby venues while planning, Christophe and Kelly strove to squeeze as many as they could into the itinerary. "We wanted our guests to see and experience as many beautiful places as possible," the bride adds.
The couple and their 150 guests called Villa d’Este their home base for the weekend, but briefly ventured away for a welcome dinner at Villa Erba. Kelly and Christophe served cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the lakeside terrace, then later invited friends and family indoors for a buffet dinner and dancing. Given the 19th-century space's dark and arguably mysterious interior, the couple used oversized centerpieces with bold, cascading blooms as a contrast. (They also reflected the tropical garden within the premises).
Calligrapher Bernard Maisner created a custom crest for the bride and groom, which even made an appearance on Christophe's velvet footwear!
"Lucky for me, we had so many events that I didn’t have to just pick one dress!" exclaims the bride. During her shopping appointment at the Bergdorf Goodman bridal salon, Naeem Khan actually held a trunk show, after which Kelly chose to three pieces from the bridal designer's collection for her wedding looks (including her welcome dinner minidress, shown here). Christophe sported a Suit Supply navy blazer with gray pants and a bespoke Ascot Chang shirt.
The bride debuted her second Naeem Khan number—a sleeveless column gown with embroidery and pearls—during the ceremony. Kelly's bridal consultants gifted her a coordinating Tia Mazza veil, which she paired with diamond studs from her mother as her "something borrowed."
It's worth noting that the groom saw the wedding dresses before the big day. Breaking traditional protocol, Kelly actually showed her gowns to Christophe prior to placing the final order. "He’s my best friend and I wanted his opinion," she explains. "I figured that I got to opine on his attire so why shouldn’t he tell me what he thought of mine!?"
Speaking of nontraditional, the bride also knew she wanted unique bridesmaid dresses and selected a series of bespoke frocks by Barbara T’Fank. "Her deigns look like they were ripped out of a page of a Slim Aarons book, which felt incredibly appropriate for our Lake Como wedding," Kelly says. She originally planned for her girls to pick different fabrics, but each ultimately gravitated toward the same vintage-inspired material.
The chic bridesmaid gowns inspired the ceremony colors as the couple pulled the pink-and-purple combo from the garments to accent their heavily white-and-green palette. The event took place in the venue's Mosaic Garden, which set the tone for a secret garden vibe during the vow exchange.
Working with their officiant, the couple designed the wedding with "a little religion and a lot of personality." Family and friends read meaningful passages, and the pair wrote their own marriage promises. "He vowed to eat Chinese food in bed with me for the rest of our lives, and I vowed to continue to try to learn the art of patience," says the bride.
After the ceremony, guests celebrated the newlyweds with a light lunch, complete with an assortment of 16 passed finger foods and the two wedding cakes (one for him, one for her).
A black-tie reception followed that evening at Villa del Balbianello. For this occasion, the bride wore her third and final Naeem Khan look: a French blue tulle gown with a plunging V-neck.
Wedding attendees were transported to the venue in style—via boat! The bride and groom enjoyed a quick snippet of alone time in their own wooden Riva boat, speeding by their nearest and dearest in smaller vessels.
Following in his wife's footsteps, Christophe traded his navy Tom Ford ceremony suit for a white dinner jacket and tuxedo paints.
The space's whimsical gardens and buttery-yellow buildings largely informed the evening reception decor. Kelly and Christophe incorporated gold and brass vintage vases, candelabras, and small dishes to complement the colors.
Matching Kelly's dress, the floral centerpieces relied on pops of blue to balance the chalky white and yellow tones. Linens and flatware stayed on the neutral side, and the couple turned to wooden Thonet chairs to seat guests at one of four long, rectangular tables.
The four-course menu also mirrored the reception's formality, with shrimp carpaccio to start, followed by basil risotto with dehydrated olive, baked sea bass or lamb chops, and an olive oil cake with raspberry sauce for dessert.
The evening had no shortage of sentimental speeches, starting with a customized blessing (in fluent Latin!) by family friend Dr. Christopher Kelly, the Master at Corpus Christi in Cambridge. Christophe's brother and best man also moved him to tears after singing his own ode to the duo.
Migrating to another property for the afterparty, friends and family hit the dance floor, which was surrounded by tea lights and greenery to give off the illusion of a "greenhouse invasion." The bride and groom flew DJ Kalkutta in from L.A. to spin tunes for the evening, and he was also on hand to end the celebrations with a bang for the final farewell dinner the following night. "We had an al fresco farewell dinner at the Grille at Villa d’Este, which couldn’t have been a more perfect end to such an amazing weekend," Kelly adds of the closing ceremony.
All in all, the bride largely owes the success of their four-part celebration (and marriage!) to dividing and conquering the wedding tasks. "I can’t even begin to stress how important it is for the bride and groom to both be involved in the planning process," she says. She adds that delegating jobs and tackling major financial decisions together laid an important groundwork: "While I did more of the work than he did, I felt like he and I worked really well together as a team, set a great foundation for our marriage, and the wedding was ultimately better because of how much input he had in the decision making process."
Venue & Accommodations: Villa D’Este
Wedding Planner: The Lake Como Wedding Planner
Bride's Veil: Tia Mazza
Bride's Jewelry: Van Cleef
Bride's Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Hair & Makeup: Jennifer Bradburn
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Barbara T’Fank
Groom's Attire: Tom Ford
Groomsmen's Attire: J.Crew
Floral Design & Rentals: Tearose
Invitations & Paper Products: Bernard Maisner
Catering: Class Eventi
Photographer: Ross Harvey