A Simply Elegant Wedding at the Lazy Olive in Tuscany
After matching on Tinder and chatting for a month, Sophie King and Timothy Root met up for a drink in London in September 2013. Sophie remembers going home and telling her flatmate that she was sure "that was the last first date she would ever go on" (in a good way!), and Tim similarly confessed that he also knew instantly. However, when they tell the story now, nearly seven years later, there is always one detail missing: the name of the bar. They quite literally met at "The Bar With No Name."
Five years from their first meeting, the couple had booked a trip to Venice, Italy, over Valentine's Day weekend, and Sophie admits that she was "be becoming a little restless about when things might progress to the next level." Then, Tim "suspiciously" changed their destination: Instead of boating down the canals of Venice, they found themselves strolling through the snow at Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway. "Weâ€™re both big movie buffs and this is the location where Ex Machina was filmedâ€”itâ€™s a secluded collection of six modernist glass cabins, ours somehow positioned directly over a frozen river," she adds. It was there that Tim dropped to one kneeâ€”in snowshoes, no lessâ€”and removed a ring box from his many layers of thermal.
Sophie and Tim chose a much warmer climate for their destination wedding at The Lazy Olive, in Tuscany, Italy, on July 15, 2019. "We knew we wanted to get married somewhere abroadâ€”Tim grew up in Los Angeles, and we both crave sunshineâ€”and Timâ€™s grandparents spent many years in Rome, so Italy felt like an appropriate choice," she says. That said, the couple was admittedly not planning a traditional Tuscan weddingâ€”they had a vision for something more contemporary. "We also wanted somewhere that would let us decide how and where we wanted to do things, versus a venue with a very rigid wedding factory team," Sophie explains.
Keep reading to see how the London-based couple put a modern twist on their destination wedding in Tuscany, as captured by Olivia & Dan Photography, a destination wedding photographer also based in London.
We were really keen to have a more informal wedding that embraced everyone and celebrated love and friendship above all else.
"Weâ€™ve been to many beautiful weddings, all of which weâ€™ve loved, but the majority of them have been grand, traditional, and/or religious affairs," Sophie admits. "We were really keen to have a more informal wedding that embraced everyone and celebrated love and friendship above all else. As a result, we went for a natural and generally gender-neutral theme throughout."
This theme was clear in the wedding invitation suite, which the couple designed and had printed at Mount Street Printers. It mixed a modern block font with a bold script that highlighted Sophie and Tim's names, as well as the fun message: "Pack your suitcases and join us in Italy."
After a rather adventurous trip scouting for venues across Italyâ€”a thunderstorm caused their rental car to get stuck in the mud!â€”Sophie and Tim made it to The Lazy Olive, thanks to a farmer who pulled their car out of the mud. "When we arrived at The Lazy Olive, instead of a formal greeting we were met by their beautiful Weimaraner dog, Nina, who led us up the dirt track and showed us where to park," Sophie recalls. "She then took us to meet her human parents, Italian Daniela and Kiwi Malcolm, who had dinner already cooking for us on the stove of their own kitchen. We sat by the fire with this incredibly generous couple and their dogs, drank and dined, listened to Joni Mitchell, and knew that we had found the place for us."
The following summer, Sophie and Tim, too, welcomed their family and friends with good wine and great food. It was important that their wedding "had a harmonious relationship with nature" so all eventsâ€”from the family rehearsal dinner and morning-after brunchâ€”were entirely vegetarian and intentionally vegan-friendly, with produce grown on-site wherever possible.
This intention was carried through in the day's dÃ©cor as well, with Sophie bridal bouquet of wildflowers foraged from the property and the wedding signage repurposed for future celebrations.
The couple's wedding bands and leather ring boxes (from Etsy!) were engraved with their wedding date.
Sophie and Tim tackled planning on their ownâ€”she organizes film and photo shoots for a livingâ€”and even took on a variety of DIY projects. They also commissioned an embroiderer in Morocco to create â€˜Mother of the Brideâ€™ and â€˜Mother of the Groomâ€™ sun-hats for their mothers, which they wore with pride during the day-after brunch and pool party.
On the big day, Sophie slipped into a Riki Dalal bridal gown. "Itâ€™s composed of seven different layers of fabric to create a romantic, almost Pre-Raphaelite wildflower design that felt so in keeping with the timeless natural setting of our venue," she says. "The top layer of the dress is decorated with tiny pearlsâ€”perfect as our wedding day was also my parentsâ€™ pearl wedding anniversary."
"Tim struggled to decide what to wear, given that he wanted to be informal yet not inappropriate when stood next to a bride in a huge dress!" Sophie says. After admittedly more appointments than she took to find her dress, he decided on a deep blue Burberry suit paired with Axel Arigato suede sneakers to dress it down.
"We were just so overwhelmed by the natural beauty of The Lazy Olive and the kind spirits of its owners, that we just never got past this niggling feeling that it had to be there," explains the bride. "Weâ€™d definitely recommend that other couples keep their minds open until having physically attended a variety of venues, as nothing can replace the feeling of a placeâ€”thatâ€™s what your guests will experience too, of course."
The wooden altar was covered in simple wildflowers as to not take away from the already stunning setting. "We wanted to use the incredible landscape of The Lazy Olive as our canvas by keeping our decorations minimal and essential," explains the bride.
The couple's ring bearer was their miniature poodle, Edie. "Edie is such a huge part of our lives, and we knew that it wouldnâ€™t feel right getting married without her by our side, even if it meant a several-day drive from London to Tuscany each way," Sophie says.
Sophieâ€™s brother played Bach Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude arranged for viola as she walked down the aisle. "We had been worried about whether the lone instrument would sound rich enough, but it was actually magical hearing the violaâ€™s sound carry across the rolling hills," she recalls.
Sophie's father escorted her down the aisle. "I had wondered whether this was a bit too traditional, but it was a moment that I knew my father had always looked forward to, and frankly, I was glad to have someone to steady myself on!" she says. "The only slightly unplanned moment was when the lace of my dress, blown by the wind, started to get stuck to the clasps of his shoesâ€”it nearly turned into a three-legged race unintentionally!"
"We wanted a wedding that felt relaxed and intimate, which reflected our own values, and so we decided not to go with a lot of the more formal traditions," Sophie says. To create such an atmosphere, they chose to have no wedding party, seat guests at one long table, and prioritize family when it came to speeches and readings.
Sophieâ€™s uncle Ed Hardy, who is a professional humanist celebrant, performed the ceremony. "He gave a really personal, funny, and touching recount of our relationship, which formed the bulk of the ceremony," Sophie says. "It was so special to be married by someone who actually knew and cared for us both, and so many guests commented on this."
The couple "kept to traditional and simple humanist vows overall," removing â€˜till death do us partâ€™ as they "wanted our ceremony script to be simple and positive." The readings were also all chosen with intention, so their siblings gave simple readings that focused on friendship. "We were keen to make sure our ceremony was gender and sexuality neutral, and so all readings were gender non-specific so that everyone in the audience could connect to them equally," she adds.
Sophie and Tim exchanged rings beneath the arborâ€”but it didn't go off without a hitch! The rings had been tied to Edie's dog collar but somehow came undone before Sophie's mother walked her down the aisle. Unbeknownst to Sophie, guests scrambled to search for the missing rings...ultimately finding them in a bush near the ceremony entrance.
Looking back, the couple counts this hiccup as a favorite memory. "Whilst itâ€™s a clichÃ©, it really is moments that donâ€™t go to plan like this that weâ€™ll remember with a smile forever," Sophie adds.
The newlyweds recessed to a recording of the Louis Armstrong classic What a Wonderful World, which transitioned guests into the light jazz playlist of the reception.
Looking back on the wedding, the couple has this advice to share: "Remember to enjoy it!" We were so worried about it being this huge stress, but itâ€™s important to take a step back and think about why youâ€™re doing it. It should be a celebration of your love and friendship, not a cause of constant headaches." Their top tip? Avoid asking too many people for their opinions!
After attending a lot of weddings, we really embraced the opportunity to be able to explore our own tastesâ€”youâ€™re getting to put on an event that you have total creative control over, which for most of us is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"After attending a lot of weddings, we really embraced the opportunity to be able to explore our own tastesâ€”youâ€™re getting to put on an event that you have total creative control over, which for most of us is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Sophie says of their approach to wedding planning.
On the wedding day, signage directed guests from the ceremony to the reception site and informed guests of the night's schedule and bar offerings. Sophie recommends taking this more-is-more approach to directions ahead of the day as well. "If you can stomach it, create a wedding website with all the information about your day, especially if youâ€™re throwing a destination wedding," she advises. "Itâ€™s so much easier to send people a website link than to have to write out the information every time, and people often lose paper invites!"
The reception was set in an olive grove, where simple festoon lighting hung above natural wooden tables. Below, each was decorated with candlelight, garlands of olive leaves, and vases filled with gypsophila, wild grasses, and white roses. "We were keen that the reception felt like a family dinner as opposed to a very formal occasion," Sophie says. "Keen to dispel traditional hierarchy, we had one big U-shaped table, and mixed family and friends." (Don't worry: They made sure everyone was still sat with their partner or people they knew!)
The Lazy Olive is plastic-free and carbon-neutral (they plant trees in New Zealand to offset their carbon footprint), so guests were given glassware over plastic and metal straws were used in all cocktails. The couple collected the glassware in the 18 months leading up to the wedding. "Recycled kombucha bottles never looked so good!" Sophie adds with a laugh.
For each place setting, Sophie handwrote each guest's initials, and then worked with London embroiders Hawthorne & Heaney to have them sewn onto a natural linen napkin by hand. "One tip here would be to always make sure you have spares, as guest lists change more than you might think, especially as your guestsâ€™ relationship statuses morph and evolve over the planning period," she advises.
The wedding date fell on Sophieâ€™s parentsâ€™ 30th wedding anniversary and, echoing her own mother 30 years ago to the day, Sophie gave a speech as well as Tim. Her speech included an homage to her parents on their 30th wedding anniversary, including a poem about the nature of old love which made both mothers cry.
"The speeches were a huge highlight for us," Sophie recalls. Tim's father gave a moving speech, as did Tim, but perhaps the most impressive moment came when Sophieâ€™s parents revealed that they had created printed photo albums of embarrassing photos of Sophieâ€™s "evolution" to accompany their speech.
Sophie and Tim skipped over the traditional father-daughter and mother-son dances and decided to save the expense of a big wedding cake. However, after much back-and-forth, they ultimately decided to keep one tradition: the first dance. "Neither of us is a natural dancer in any way, but in the end, we decided that it was our one shot so we may as well!" she says. They chose "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" by Elton John, as decision Sophie explains by saying, "Throughout the planning process and during the run-up events, weâ€™d been so amazed by the amount of love from our friends and family, and we felt like this track really summed that up, as well as reflecting our own love."