How did a pianist from Utah and a flautist from Italy find each another? It all started in October of 2012. “I was in a small town in northern Italy studying piano, and Marco was a student there as well,” says Alison Snow of the first time she met Marco Zafarana. “A mutual friend invited us to lunch together. He told Marco that my name was Ali, and Marco assumed I was a man—until he saw me in person!” They then spent nine months as friends, communicating in broken Italian (Ali) and English (Marco), and even stayed in touch after Ali headed back to the U.S. “The next year, as part of my honors thesis, I invited Marco to come to Utah to perform with me,” she explains.
“Over the course of 12 exhausting and exhilarating days, we realized that we had amazing chemistry, and that maybe our friendship was something more.” So for a year after that, the pair—with Marco still in Italy and Ali in the U.S.—wrote to each another every day and Skyped regularly. Then, in April of 2014, they officially became a long-distance couple.
In December of 2016, Ali was in Italy visiting Marco when he took her on a scenic mountain train called the Bernina Express. “I’d wanted to take the trip for ages, and was so excited by the surprise,” she says. They wound through the snow-capped peaks of Italy and Switzerland and, at the highest point of the journey, Marco proposed over hot cocoa in the snow. The couple chose to marry in Italy as well, inviting 75 guests to their July 27, 2018, wedding at Villa parravicino Sossnovsky in Erba, Italy.
“The villa has rustic charm and rich history—they recently discovered 16th century frescoes beneath the 19th century ones on display,” says Ali. They embraced the property’s natural beauty, infusing the space with understated romance. And true to their relationship, the couple overcame long distance, a time difference, and a language barrier—as Ali was still living in Utah and working with Salt Lake City-based event company Cope & Co. Events while Marco was in Italy. “It actually went quite smoothly, and we were able to enjoy the process,” she says.
Ali is half Spanish, so she says this Tadashi Shoji dress felt perfect the moment she put it on. “My grandmother used to make lace, so it felt like a tribute to her memory,” she describes. She accented the off-the-shoulder neckline and slim silhouette with a braided updo, a flowing veil, and punchy red lips.
The bride’s lush bouquet paired white garden roses, astilbe, lisianthus, and scabiosa with both silver dollar and seeded eucalyptus. The texture of the blooms perfectly complemented the variety of lace patterns that made up her gown.
The bridesmaids all wore dresses by Tulle & Chantilly, with the bridesmaids in sky blue and the maid of honor in a darker, dusty tone. Their nosegays of white roses, lisianthus, and scabiosa popped against the blue dresses.
Marco wore a black suit by Vitale Barberis Canonico for the couple’s garden ceremony.
The musical couple made paper cones out of sheet music of Italian arias, then filled them with leaves and petals for guests to toss after the ceremony. “We hired an amazing string quartet to play,” Ali adds.
The space was decorated with ivory chairs tied with eucalyptus and white blooms. A statement altar was made with willowing white fabric (that hung from two stone pillars) and a lush arrangement of blue and white blooms on one side. “The lemon trees in the garden were in bloom, so it smelled divine,” says the bride.
The couple wrote their own vows, and included readings from Rainer Maria Rilke—one of their favorite poets—in the proceedings. “We chose selections from Letters to a Young Poet and Love Song,” says Ali. “We chose to read our vows in both English and Italian so everyone would understand. We started with our native language first, then read the translation into other’s native language.” (Ali adds that as she was reading her vows, a butterfly landed on her arm and stayed until she was finished.)
The newlyweds snuck away for a few moments as guests enjoyed an indulgent spread of Italian appetizer stations of fritti misti and arancini to rice with squid ink and shrimp. There was even a cheesemaker hand-pulling mozzarella, burrata, and stracciatella to order!
Inside the villa, tables were decorated elegantly with white linens and crystal vases full of white lisianthus, astilbe, ranunculus, and eucalyptus. Italian wines were served alongside ginger risotto with guinea fowl, lobster ravioli, and a filet of veal with a Barolo reduction. At each place setting, a gold-rimmed charger was topped with a napkin tied with blue ribbon and finished with a sprig of eucalyptus.
Dessert was a classic Italian wedding cake, with fresh red currants and strawberries atop layers of white sponge cake, Chantilly cream, and lemon curd. The courtyard was filled with the light of a lunar eclipse as the couple cut the first slice. “We think it was a good omen,” says the bride.
Planning a destination wedding can be a challenge, especially with multiple languages involved, so Marco and Ali definitely recommend a wedding planner. “It made a huge difference, as we didn’t have to worry about any of the practical details once our wedding day arrived,” she says. “We also made a point to hire experienced vendors. You really do get what you pay for!”
Wedding Planner: Cope & Co. Events || Venue: Villa Parravicino Sossnovsky || Bride's Dress: Tadashi Shoji, from BHLDN || Bride's Veil, Shoes & Jewelry: BHLDN || Hair & Makeup: Roberta Demolli || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Tulle & Chantilly || Groom's Attire: Vitale Barberis Canonico, from Tonetti Abbigliamento || Groomsmen's Attire: Tonetti Abbigliamento || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: S. E. Needham Jewelers || Floral Design: A Piedi Nudi nel Prato || Paper Products: Paper Minx Designs || Catering & Cake: Le Gourmet di Tondini || Rentals: Le Gourmet di Tondini || Favors: Cantina del Taburno, Buratti Confetti || Accommodations: Villa Belgiojoso, Castello di Casiglio, Le Due Torrette || Videography: Andrea Vallone || Photography: Kenzie Victory