Carly Cardellino and Giovanni Anthony Vaccaro are both well known within the beauty industry as the beauty brand director at Cosmopolitan (Carly) and the artistic director of Glamsquad (Giovanni). But back in 2011 they were not familiar with each other when a friend set them up on blind date. The plan was to meet for drinks at the Ace Hotel in New York City but drinks turned into dinner—and six hours later, a good-night kiss.
The two kept in touch after that, texting and catching up here and there—although Carly admits not as much as she’d hoped to!—before Giovanni took their relationship to the next level in May 2017 by sliding into Carly's DMs on Instagram. She had posted a snap from vacation in Hawaii and he commented, saying it was his favorite place. Carly's thought? "It's everyone's favorite place..." But he tried again a month later when Carly was in Paris for work, and made a plan to meet up when she was back in NYC. On July 13, 2017, they went to another hotel bar in Chelsea, just a few blocks from the spot of that first blind date...but Carly says this meeting felt different from the start. "Immediately, I noticed that he was behaving differently than before, being more flirtatious than ever," she recalls. "He even randomly told a couple, who said we looked really cute together, that we were married. I was like, ‘Huh?!' ”
But Giovanni eventually would prove to be right: They were officially a couple by Labor Day and engaged just ten months later. Of course, Instagram came into play in the proposal as well. On July 4, 2018, after a seven-course dinner at Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy, Giovanni led Carly over to a private patio that was randomly decorated with a neon sign that said, “Don’t Worry.” Carly was two months pregnant with their baby at the time, and she took the message as a sign. "She got out her phone to Instagram it, and that’s when I quickly got down on one knee," Giovanni recalls. She said yes, and they set a date for December 8, 2018.
Keep reading to see more of Carly and Giovanni's intimate New York City wedding, as captured by Esther S Yi.
For their wedding, the couple played up both their relationship in New York City and their engagement in Italy by selecting Palma, an Italian restaurant in the West Village, as their venue. "There’s a warmth and energy to the space that reminded us of places we’d visited in Positano—it’s so authentic, you almost feel transported to the Amalfi coast," Carly explains.
Carly tapped her close friend and bridal dress designer Hayley Paige to make her dress—and lucky for Carly, because they started designing just three weeks before the wedding. "I wanted the fit to be tight around my ever-growing belly," she says. With the bride's vision in mind—"I wanted my dress to show my shape since I was pregnant, but also be classic and chic," she explains—Hayley designed a crepe column gown with a plunging neckline and intricate button detailing. "It was such a special experience to be able to collaborate with Hayley and really figure out what dress spoke to my personality, and fit the look and feel of our wedding day," Carly adds.
The bride added two accessories: earrings by Sachin & Babi and a veil also by Hayley Paige. "I wanted to keep my look clean, classic, and chic, so that's what we decided on," she says. As a beauty editor, the glam was also important to Carly. "I had two of my friends, whom I met through the beauty industry, Ryan and Kale, do my hair and makeup, while Glamsquad, a mobile beauty company that Gio is one of the founders of, did my cousin, aunt, and mom’s hair and makeup," she adds.
Giovanni wore a suit from the Kooples, accessorizing with a white pocket square, a white button-down and black tie from Sandro, and Hugo Boss dress shoes.
The couple posed for portraits in the neighborhood before meeting their 16 guests at Palma. "We wanted the focus to be on our love for each other, so we chose to have a small, intimate wedding with just our immediate families," Carly says.
The ceremony took place in the restaurant's garden, which the couple left mainly as is. (They only added some candles!) "As for the decor, we wanted everything to have a romantic, magical look and feel with flowers and candles everywhere, which is also why Palma was the perfect fit," says the bride. "Their entire restaurant is littered with gorgeous blooms that the owner changes out each quarter. For the holidays, the restaurant is transformed into a winter wonderland filled with ivy and white flowers, café lights, and lit candles that add to the overall ethereal mood."
Carly walked down the aisle with her father as friend Chris Davenport played Elvis Presley's "Can’t Help Falling in Love" on his guitar. The song selection was inspired by the wedding scene from Crazy Rich Asians. "I couldn’t stop crying while the bride walked down the aisle, so I wanted to create that same kind of sweet, magical emotion on our wedding day," she says.
Item one on Carly and Giovanni's wedding to-do list was to ask their pastor John Termini and his wife, Katie, to marry them.
"We went with traditional vows because we both really like what they stand for and how they hold you accountable," Carly says. "And while we didn’t have any special readings, our pastor did ask all of our guests to come up and lay hands on us, praying over our marriage and our baby girl we had on the way."
After Carly and Giovanni exchanged rings and officially said "I do," Chris Davenport played Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect" for their recessional.
A five-course lunch followed in Palma's carriage house, but the newlyweds took a moment to themselves before joining their families. "I didn’t know how I would feel getting married and being pregnant, but it honestly was so special and magical that I wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way," Carly says. "I love the fact that our daughter, Delfina, will forever be a part of our wedding, and I was so thankful that our pastor, John Termini, wanted our families to come up and lay hands on me and Gio, praying over us and our little girl during the ceremony. It was such a powerful, moving moment."
Carly and Giovanni left the restaurant's reception space untouched as well. "The tables are wooden and rustic, the floors are concrete and gritty, and there are dainty single-flower vases that fill in the space between larger, equally gorgeous floral arrangements, and candles in the entire restaurant giving it a magical feel," Carly says.
In fact, Carly let the team at Palma put together all of the floral arrangements, the place settings, and the centerpieces. "I actually didn’t even know what the place settings were going to look like until the day-of because I trusted their taste so much," she admits. That said, she did put the final touch at each seat: a calligraphed place card by friend Rachel Reding.
Guests dined on what Carly calls Palma's "Italian deliciousness." The menu included specialities such as rollatini di melanzane, filetto di manzo, and branzino alla griglia.
The couple's cake came together at the last minute, thanks to an editor gift from beauty brand Guerlain. "I wanted something simple, yet stunning and chic, but it wasn’t until I was gifted a cake from Taste Crème that I was sold," Carly says. "I ended up having a similar design created with orchids and cream roses on our wedding cake." Inside, the vanilla-flavored confection was filled with blueberries with Earl Grey icing on the bottom tier and cut strawberries on the top. "Honestly, our guests couldn’t stop talking about it when it was served, and we basically had to fight people off to take a sliver home to eat on our one-year anniversary," Carly says with a laugh. "It was that amazing!"
"We actually continued the party at Gio’s parents’ house where we had our first dance in front of their Christmas tree and lit fireplace, which felt like a dream," Carly recalls. "Ed Sheeran’s 'Perfect' has always been our song (it was also our first concert together), so we danced to it again. It was, well, perfect."
Wedding Venue & Catering: Palma NYC
Wedding Planner: Katie Mecsics of Palma NYC
Officiant: John Termini
Bride's Dress: Hayley Paige
Bride's Veil: Hayley Paige
Bride's Jewelry: Sachin & Babi, from Our Story Bridal
Bride's Shoes: Brian Atwood
Hair: Ryan Austin Kazmarek
Makeup: Kale Teter
Bride's Hair Color: Ryan Pearl
Bride's Nails: Jin Soon
Groom's Attire: The Kooples, Sandro, Hugo Boss
Engagement Ring & Bride's Wedding Band: Yonaton Almagor
Groom's Wedding Band: Victoria Young Jewelry
Floral Design: Christy Doramus
Place Cards: Rachel Reding
Entertainment: Chris Davenport
Cake: Taste Crème
Photographer: Esther S Yi