Alyssa Mancini and James Ramirez first met in 2013 at the bar where they were both working. “We’d caught each another’s eye, but were on-and-off with other people so not much had come of it,” she recalls. In fact, not too long after they met, Alyssa was out with her brother and sister and ran into James while he was on a date with someone else! “When she got up to use the restroom, he came over and gave me his number,” Alyssa says with a laugh. It may not have been the most romantic moment, but it worked, and in May of 2016, James proposed to Alyssa outside of the Philadelphia airport, just before she got on a plane for a girls’ weekend. “Boarding my flight was the hardest thing I ever did,” Alyssa recalls.
The couple never wanted a big wedding, just an incredible dinner party and getaway with a few of their closest friends. “I found a beautiful villa in the hills of Florence, surrounded by gorgeous natural land,” says the bride. They booked the 3-bedroom home sight unseen, and had 12 guests fly to Italy with them for their wedding on April 19, 2018. “We wanted color, intimacy, and romance overlooking Florence, and that’s exactly what we got!” Alyssa describes. They hired a local florist, as well as a local chef they’d found through a friend who used to live in Florence, and it all came together from there. They also decided to keep things simple (no invitations, no wedding party, no first dance!) with just an emotional ceremony, an indulgent meal, and lots of belly laughs. So, if you've ever dreamed of an elopement in Italy (with your best friends by your side!), go ahead and check out these photos by Pat Furey Photography for all the inspo you could ever need .
“I always knew I wanted a statement dress, and when I saw this Rue De Seine design online, I immediately made an appointment to try it on,” says the bride. “This is the only dress I tried, and my friends and I were immediately in tears!”
James and Alyssa got ready together, sharing in the excitement as their moment at the altar approached.
The bride’s engagement ring is a 1920s Art Deco European cut solitaire, which she paired with the "Marquise Tiara Butterfly Band" from Anna Sheffield.
Though James originally wanted to wear a charcoal suit, Alyssa talked him into a tailored navy blue suit from Suit Supply. The bride’s sculptural bouquet featured king proteas, peonies, scabiosa, spray roses, and eucalyptus in shades of soft cream, punchy fuchsia, and burgundy hues.
Since the couple decided to elope in Italy, it was only fitting that they exchange vows on a hill (surrounded by olive groves!) overlooking Florence. They decorated the space with a simple wooden arch draped in eucalyptus, pampas grass, and king proteas. They also lined the aisle with Persian rugs in various shapes and sizes.
Alyssa walked herself down the aisle–and even stopped halfway to fix a rug that had been flipped up by the breeze. “We all started to laugh–it was such an ‘us’ moment,” says the bride. The couple’s best friend officiated, filling the ceremony with sweet personal stories. Alyssa’s favorite line? “He began the ceremony with ‘Together we’re a group of the most important people in their lives, and they’ve brought us here to eat pasta and publicly recognize that we’ve all played some special part in the love they share today,’” she remembers.
Any Italian wedding needs Negronis, and thankfully James and Alyssa are bartenders! “We went to a massive supermarket the day before and got 400€ of Campari, prosecco, gin, and Barolo,” says the bride. They batched dispensers of strawberry Negronis, Boulevardiers, and Americanos so guests could help themselves.
Dinner was served at a long table set on the villa’s patio. A blue runner and dark blue taper candles were layered with brass vases and candlesticks and amber glassware.
Dinner was full of Italian classics. The antipasto spread featured burrata, eggplant parmigiana, and puff pastries stuffed with wild mushrooms. The pasta course was a pairing of cacio e pepe and ravioli with beef ragu. And for the final course, guests were offered potato-encrusted Chilean sea bass, as well as filet mignon. “We didn’t have any dancing after dinner, but we had a soulful, funky, hip hop playlist in the background,” says Alyssa. “It was the perfect soundtrack to share such an intimate experience together.”
For dessert, the couple served tiramisu and a lemon cake that read “Married AF.” “The first thing I told our chef was that I wanted tiramisu instead of lemon cake,” says the bride.
The next day, the couple and all of their friends headed into Florence to explore the streets, see David, and eat gelato. “It was seriously so much fun,” says Alyssa. As the getaway came to an end, the couple realized that those moments were so much more important than anything they’d stressed over. “We couldn’t have planned it any better," she says. "But I do miss the excitement of planning, so try to enjoy that as much as you enjoy your wedding day!"
Bride's Dress: Rue De Seine || Bride's Shoes: Free People || Groom's Attire: Suit Supply || Engagement Ring: Verma Estate Jewelry || Wedding Bands: Anna Sheffield, Studebaker Metals || Floral Design: Il Profumo Dei Fiori || Menus: Sandy Plum Design Co. || Catering: Chef Edo Fonti of La Corte di via Verdi || Rentals: Tableset Luxury Rentals || Photography: Pat Furey Photography