Kelly Emerson and Jared Prince's wedding day surprisingly wasn't the first time the couple walked down the aisle together. The two first met at their best friend's nuptials in 2014, when Jared was randomly paired to escort Kelly at the ceremony. With an adorable meet-cute foreshadowing their own love story, Jared made theirs just as official by proposing with Kelly's dream ring (which her father helped design as a surprise!) in May 2016 at Korakia Pensione, a hotel in Palm Springs.
The couple dreamed of an intimate, multiple-day bash in Italy (where Kelly studied abroad in college), surrounded by close friends and family, for their wedding on October 6, 2017. After searching high and low for venues across the country, they fell in love with the historic and beautiful Villa Cetinale in the hills of Tuscany. "It was the perfect place to create our utopia," says the bride of the locale, which was built by Pope Alexander VII. "The intimacy of having the incredible property to ourselves, the exquisite grounds, the incredible staff, was heaven on earth." Kelly and Jared kicked off their four-day celebration with welcome cocktails, followed by a rehearsal dinner in Siena, the wedding itself, and a farewell brunch to wrap up the festivities. Keep reading to see how the pair—along with coordinator SposiamoVi and photographer Jennifer Young Studio—transformed their romantic Italian venue for an unforgettable destination wedding.
Working with London-based artist Naomi Howarth, Kelly and Jared designed their own wedding invitation suite. The hand-drawn floral wreath printed on the stationery matched the flowers from the wedding tablescape and included two bluebirds to "symbolize happiness and a new chapter of their lives."
The bride also put her own personal touch on her wedding dress from Tulle New York, adding custom appliqué along the bodice and waist. "The dress was stunningly simple and classic as a standalone dress, but it was ‘The One’ when it was completed with the beautiful intricate beaded appliqué," she says.
Kelly, a jewelry designer, used inspiration from vintage Cartier earrings to create a custom pair for her own wedding. As her "something borrowed," she sported the same yellow gold Masriera ring (featuring soft pink enamel flowers) that her sister wore at her own wedding. A handmade veil, which Kelly describes as one of her "best wedding fashion decisions," added the finishing touch. "It made my wedding ceremony moment feel like it was out of a storybook," she explains.
Kelly and Jared were inspired by paintings in the Dutch Maters style and designed their day to look like a still-life portrait from that era. They did so by incorporating shades of blue, red, blush, and golden yellow into their floral color palette.
Jared checked Kelly's "something blue" off the list with his suit! A San Fransisco-based friend, Ezra Miranda, created the groom's custom midnight blue tuxedo with a black satin lapel. "The suit is gorgeous, and I cried when I saw him in it," says the bride. Kelly's parents also gave Jared faceted onyx cufflinks, purchased from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, to wear.
Kelly's nieces, Olivia and Ainsley, were the flower girls, donning white dresses, light blue velvet belts, white Mary Janes, and rose-infused flower headbands.
Jared and Kelly wed in front of a picture-perfect, tree-lined backdrop in the presence of 75 guests. "I wanted the wedding day to feel like a grandiose backyard wedding in the most beautiful place we could imagine," Kelly says. The couple's florist planted a dreamy, half-moon-shaped arrangement of white flowers behind the altar, which added an extra design element without detracting from the natural scenery.
Bridesmaids wore satin gowns by Ghost London in assorted styles, which they paired with red velvet shoes and pearl drop earrings. "The light blue dresses popped perfectly against the lush gardens and the autumnal fallen leaves during our ceremony," Kelly says.
"My favorite memory was exchanging vows in the gardens at Villa Cetinale and saying ‘I do’ surrounded on the ancient grounds by so many people who had been a part of our love story," says the bride. The pair wrote their own vows, which they transcribed in a blue marble journal they had bought in Florence just a few days before the wedding. Jared's vows were so memorable that guests approached him all night to offer their praises! One of Kelly's favorite songs, "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys, played during the newlyweds' recession while guests tossed rose petals.
After the ceremony, the party migrated over to the Villa Cetinale's cypress alley, where the couple set up a white sailcloth tent for the reception. During cocktail hour, guests sipped on classic Aperol spritz, Tuscan wine, and Prosecco. Unfortunately, a 15-minute thunderstorm interrupted the festivities, but Kelly describes the unforeseen weather as one of the most magical moments of the wedding. "Dinner service stopped due to the rain, so everyone walked around the tent and it felt so familial," she says. "Guests joked that we had planned the wedding so well, we scheduled the rain during the perfect time for the dramatic theatrics and intimacy it provided."
Continuing the maximalist Dutch Masters vibe, the reception tablescape featured dripping tapered candles, flowers, and an abundance of fruit. Custom floral menus (matching the invitation suite and centerpieces) topped the gold-rimmed white china, and the couple's florist added a small piece of fruit to each place setting as a finishing touch. String lights hanging from the tent's ceiling illuminated the cozy space.
Dinner included an assortment of Italian dishes, like ravioli with ricotta cheese, asparagus, and candied lemon zest; risotto with porcini mushrooms, zucchini flowers, and fresh sheep’s cheese; and sea bass with capers from Pantelleria, olive taggiasche, and pachino tomatoes. The menu also included gluten-free pasta to accommodate the bride and some guests.
The local cuisine extended onto the couple's wedding cake—a traditional, heart-shaped Italian confection with layered Mille-feuille, chantilly cream, wild berries, and almond brittle. "Several chefs prepared it in front of us!" Kelly says of the dessert. "Guests still tell us it was the best dessert they have ever had."
When it comes to the big day, Kelly advises brides to savor every moment. "Do not take things too seriously, because the weekend will be over before you know it," she says. "Hug your bridesmaids tight, and be deeply thankful to the vendors and guests that showed up to make your wedding so memorable. Don’t forget that weddings tend to take a life of their own, so let the ups and down become a part of your story—everything is happening just as it’s meant to be, and your guests will be as relaxed or unhappy as you are."
Wedding Coordinator: SposiamoVi || Venue: Villa Cetinale || Bride's Dress: Tulle New York || Alterations & Custom Appliqué: Isa Kriegeskotte || Brides's Veil: The Mantilla Company || Bride's Jewelry, Engagement Ring, & Wedding Bands: Emerson & Farrar || Bride's Shoes: Shoes of Prey || Hair & Makeup: Lara Navarrini Makeup || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Ghost London || Flower Girl's Attire: Maisonette || Groom's Attire: Ezra Miranda || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Floral Design: Nicolette Camille Floral || Invitations, Itinerary, & Menu: Naomi Howarth, Embellishing the Ordinary || Ceremony Music: Florence Art Ensemble || Reception Music: Justin Milla || Catering & Cake: Galateo Ricevimenti || Rentals: Preludio Noleggi || Tent: Organic Concept || Transportation: Tuscany Experts || Videographer: Affect Visual || Photographer: Jennifer Young Studio || Lighting: Wedding Music and Lights