Breana McDow and Matthew Helders first met on the set of a music video so it was only natural that the musician—he's the drummer and vocalist in the British rock band, Arctic Monkeys—propose with a song. "I woke up in our first house together to our song being played," says Breana, an actress. "He proposed with a pinky ring and got me a real engagement ring later." From there, the Los Angeles–based duo started wedding planning—they made a trip to Rome, did their food and wine tastings, put deposits down—but when they returned home, plans changed. "I discovered I was pregnant," she says. "We pushed the wedding another year, and I'm so glad we did because having Amelia there was really special."
On June 11, 2016, the couple (with their adorable baby daughter in tow!) made the trip to Rome, where they said "I do" under a gorgeous floral canopy at Villa Aurelia, a historic villa with expansive gardens. Keep reading to see how Cristina Ditta of The Wedding Care created a flower-filled ceremony and elegant reception, all captured by Cinzia Bruschini.
The couple selected Villa Aurelia because they could rent out the entire location. "I loved that each location, from the entrance to the reception, felt entirely different," says the bride. "Each place within the villa's grounds was its own magical world."
The couple—Breana in Reem Acra, Matthew in Costa Antonio—shared sweet love notes prior to the ceremony. They again used the notes during the ceremony—see that below!
When designing the ceremony site, Breana and planner Cristina Ditta set out with one plan in mind: Flowers everywhere! They lined the aisle with blooms in white and blush, attached them to the back of the chairs, and even hung hundreds of flowers from the tree where the couple exchanged vows.
The bride walked down the aisle to "Once Upon a Dream" on the arm of her papa, as a sting quartet played. Once at the altar, she and Matthew took part in an Italian wedding tradition, in which they put letters to each other in a box. "The groom is supposed to hammer the box shut but I demanded that I do some hammering as well," says the bride, laughing.
"During the last 10 minutes of the ceremony, our six-month-old daughter demanded to be held," Breana says. "One of her shoes fell off, and I remember holding her tiny foot as we were pronounced husband and wife."
During the last 10 minutes of the ceremony, our six-month-old daughter demanded to be held. One of her shoes fell off, and I remember holding her tiny foot as we were pronounced husband and wife.
The couple hired an artist to paint beautiful scenes from the day so they'll have a piece of artwork to treasure forever.
Guests picked up drinks from a beverage cart that served pretty-hued cocktails garnished with edible flowers.
Inside the villa, which features gorgeous crystal chandeliers and a painted ceiling, longs tables were set for dinner. "We were very picky about our menu—down to the herbs and wine pairings," Breana says. "Ultimately, we chose five courses and ended with a dessert table, an Italian tradition that we turned into our favors as well."
After dinner, the night transitioned into dancing, where guests moved into a larger room downstairs for an all-out dance sesh.
Dancing, of course, called for outfit number two for the fashionable bride. She selected a floral print Dolce & Gabbana gown, heels by Rupert Sanderson, and a necklace by Tiffany & Co.
With Matthew being a well-known musician, the dancing portion of the evening was obviously very important. The couple selected "Case of You" by James Blake for their first dance song. Following the dance-filled reception, the newlyweds took a car to the Trevi fountain—late at night when no one was around. "It was our first quiet moment together that day," Breana remembers.
Looking back on the big day, she has this piece of advice for brides: "The magic is in the details," she says. "Whether your wedding is big or small, let it represent you and put time in the small things."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Villa Aurelia
Event Production & Design: The Wedding Care
Officiant: Tuscan Pledges
Bride's Dress: Reem Acra
Hair & Makeup: Muccino Amatulli
Groom's Attire: Valentino
Floral Design: La Rosa Canina Firenze
Guest Book: Sugar Paper
Music: Professionisti della Musica; DJ Uberto Gattai
Cake: Rosaria Garzone
Accommodations: Hotel De Russie
Photography: Cinzia Bruschini