Sydney, Australia, may be known for its warm summers and epic surf culture, but it’s actually skiing that brought Gabby Lee and Chris Sinclair together. The pair attended the same university there, but with wildly different degrees, they had no reason to meet—until they arrived at the same bar for their school’s ski-club party. “Chris wanted to speak to me the minute I walked in the room,” Gabby remembers. “I, on the other hand, had written him off because he was having such a rambunctious reunion with one of his friends!” But Chris persisted—and the pair began a six-year relationship. And in 2014, Chris joined Gabby for her family’s reunion in Malaysia. “It was the first time he’d met my extended family,” says Gabby. He wasted no time getting to know them, and just two days into the vacation, he asked for their help with a surprise proposal. “They decked out our over-water villa with candles and rose petals, and each played a role in the private moment,” Gabby says.
For their wedding, the couple had their hearts set on Italy and knew that if they were going to ask their 52 guests to make the trip, they should go big or go home! “We loved the contrast between the wow factor of the Amalfi Duomo and the sleek, modern-meets-antiquity style of the Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi,” Gabby explains. But planning an Italian wedding all the way from Australia required some serious planning expertise, which Gabby and Chris found in Jacquie Coppola and Lucy Kiely from the Amalfi Experience. “Instead of perfecting every single detail, I was just as surprised as our guests when we arrived at the venue," Gabby says. "Our planners did an amazing job capturing the essence of what I wanted!” Keep reading to see Bottega 53's photos of Chris and Gabby's October 3, 2016, wedding on the Italian coast.
“We both grew up in Sydney, so having our wedding near the water was a must,” says Gabby.
The bride and her bridesmaids prepped overlooking a sweet garden, with champagne in hand (of course). The girls slipped into black dresses with white speckles—a playful take on the black-and-white dresses Gabby had envisioned!—before helping the bride into her dream gown.
Gabby was open-minded when it came to her wedding dress, but this Pronovias design was the first that stopped her in her tracks. “It really embodied my everyday style,” she says. “It’s sleek and figure hugging, but not too revealing, and has a timeless appeal.”
The couple selected Amalfi Cathedral, where they wed in a traditional Catholic ceremony. But this was actually the second event of the day, as they had also had a tea ceremony earlier in the afternoon. "Being from different backgrounds, we were able to honor both Western and Chinese traditions with the church ceremony as well as a tea ceremony during the day," Gabby explains.
The couple also personalized their ceremony by printing programs on little passports to signify their love of travel. After picturesque vows inside the cathedral, the newlyweds exited beneath a shower of white rose petals—a must-have photo op when your venue is this gorgeous!
“It was so surreal to finally walk through the cathedral doors and realize what was about to happen,” says the bride. “And it was incredible to hear strangers cheering as we came down the steps! Our wedding was so intimate, but having the town celebrating with us made us feel even more loved.”
For their reception, Gabby and Chris selected the Grand Hotel Convento's beautiful outdoor terrace, which has a stunning view of Amalfi (a must have for the couple!). There, guests dined on veal with pine nuts and summer truffles and local bresaola, followed by handmade garganelli pasta with quail and mushroom meatballs—proof that every Italian wedding is all about the food. “We served local Amalfi wines, toasted with vintage Dom Perignon that my father brought over from Australia, and finished with delicious lemon desserts,” Gabby describes.
The color scheme for the night's events was black and white with pops of yellow. "Lemons were a theme throughout the wedding—starring in the dessert, menu design, table decorations, and even the bridesmaids' bouquets," she says.
The newlyweds celebrated with a "pre-honeymoon" in Italy in the days leading up to their wedding, then headed to Paris for a few days before jetting to Malaysia for a second wedding with the bride’s family. “We had a formal dinner, spent five days in Malaysia, and then went on our real honeymoon in Tokyo and Kyoto,” Gabby says.
And even after all that traveling, the happy couple swears a destination wedding is easier than planning one at home. “You learn not to sweat the small stuff and really can’t become a control freak," she says. "It forces you to identify the key things you want and need for your wedding and then to let all the rest of it go!”