It is hard to imagine a more romantic and beautiful setting for a wedding than overlooking the magnificent city of Florence, Italy. For Craig and Sharlene, the attraction of this beautiful city was strong enough to pull them across continents, all the way from their home in Melbourne, Australia. But as the saying goes, home is where the heart is, and this happy couple certainly look at home here with the most important people in their lives; each other, of course, and forty of their nearest and dearest family and friends who made the journey to celebrate with them.
Craig and Sharlene’s love story is a heart-warming one, the kind that gives you a little glow of happiness to hear: their romance began in 2004 at the tender age of 19, when they were studying together. As Sharlene recalls, she fell completely in love with his kind heart; the feeling must have been mutual, for not only did their young relationship stand the test of time but it matured and blossomed over the years into a love-everlasting, and here, ten years on, they declared their love for all the world to see.
Sharlene and Craig’s initial wedding plans were a very different affair; a venue was booked for a large-scale wedding of 120 guests for a wedding day in their home city of Melbourne. How they got from that to this is a bittersweet tale of sorrow and joy, loss and love; nine months before their date of their wedding, Sharlene’s grandmother passed away, having lost her battle with cancer. This devastating news hit hard on the happiness of the wedding plans, but they decided to continue, knowing that her grandmother would have been in full support.
What they didn’t know at the time was that just three months later, her grandfather would also part this world. With the loss of these dear grandparents, the giant void in their lives was too great and so the couple decided to completely reassess their plans and start afresh. No longer needing to stay near to home for the sake of the older generation, they chose to follow their hearts and dreams, and travel to the place most meaningful for them as a couple: Florence.
Why Florence? Well, the romantic beauty of the city alone should be enough to answer that question! But for Craig and Sharlene it was so much more: this was the setting for their engagement two years earlier as they travelled through Europe together.
Craig picked his moment perfectly; knowing that sunset is Sharlene’s favourite time of day, and sensing that they had both fallen in love with Florence, he dropped to one knee as they stood on the Santa Trinita bridge and asked her if one day she would like to return to Florence with him as husband and wife. With the setting sun over the River Arno to the right and to the left, the warm glow of pink and orange as the sun set cast its light on the Ponte Vecchio, Sharlene accepted, overcome with emotion as tears streamed down her face.
In Sharlene’s own words when asked what, if anything, she would do differently given the chance, the answer was firm; absolutely nothing! As cliched as that sounds, it was truly the most perfect day from start to finish.
Indeed it was a very good start; the luxurious comforts of the ‘Suite Deluxe’ at the 5* Villa la Vedetta hotel proved a splendid setting to prepare for the day ahead, in the company of her four wonderful bridesmaids.
Choosing this incredible dress, designed by Steven Khalil, widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading designers specialising in bridal gowns, was an easy decision for Sharlene. From the very moment she tried it on, she knew that nothing else could compare. The exquisite silk and lace, and the perfect figure-hugging fit beautifully combines classic and contemporary styles. As Sharlene says, as with my husband, it was love at first sight!
In addition to her four gorgeous bridesmaids, Sharlene and Craig also had important roles for the younger members of their party. The flower girl and three page boys were entrusted with the vital jobs of scattering white rose petal confetti and carrying the rings, and no doubt melted every guest’s heart in the process!
It wasn’t only the bridal party who looked stunning, the men scrubbed up marvellously too. Craig, centre, supported by his best man and ushers, were the picture of classic styling in their bespoke suits and bow ties.
Sharlene and Craig chose to hold their wedding ceremony in the formal gardens of this elegant Italian villa, built in the second half of the 1800s. Originally a private residence, this is now a refined and intimate hotel, offering a small selection of luxuriously appointed suites.
Once the couple had decided upon Florence as the backdrop to their day, the choice of venue was easy; it was the most beautiful property we had ever laid eyes on. It beautifully fit our grand but elegant theme and the view of the city was breathtaking.
Craig and Sharlene exchanged their wedding vows in front of their beloved family and friends, and chose to keep the decorations simple so as not to detract from the beauty of the surroundings. The white chairs were positioned either side of the aisle, at the end of each row a pretty posy of delicate gypsophila hand-tied with satin ribbon. Behind the celebrant, the arch formed the focal point of their ceremony, an abundance of white roses, gypsophila and carnations created by Stiatti Fiori.
Now husband and wife, the newly weds took a stroll to the nearby sights of old Florence. They must have created quite a stir as they walked through the ancient Florentine streets in their fine wedding attire!
Florence is certainly not short of spectacular backdrops for a wedding photo shoot; there’s a view, a magnificent building or a historically significant statue around every corner. Here the wedding party paused (and posed!) over the River Arno, with the infamous medieval Ponte Vecchio behind.
Back at Villa la Vedetta the scene was set for their wedding breakfast on the terrace looking out over the rooftops of this historic city. The couple danced on the terrace as the sun was setting, and Sharlene remembers whispering to her new husband, I cannot believe this is our wedding!
As Sharlene explains: After ten years Craig and I have shared together, with our love for family friends, travel, and our engagement in Florence, this day encapsulated everything we ever wanted, needed or dreamed possible.
We love the romantic beauty and elegant simplicity of this wedding celebration, and we’re sure that you will too. If you’re also feeling inspired, get in touch to let us know!
Photographer: Facibeni Fotografia
Venue: Villa La Vedetta
Dress: Steven Khalil
Shoes: Yves Saint Laurent
Accessories – Dior & Love On
Bridesmaids Dresses – Zimmermann
Grooms Suit: bespoke
Stationery – Adorn Invitations
Food and cake: Provided by venue
Flowers: Stiatti Fiori
Celebrant: Blessings From Italy
Cinematography: Gatto Tigre