An Airy Italian Wedding at a Historic Cathedral
After over a decade together, one might think it would be hard for Steffan de Vries to surprise his now-wife, Kiara Shaughnessy, with a proposal, but he pulled it off. The pair started dating when the bride was just 17 (the groom was pals with her friendâs older brother), and their love story has spread across Europe. When it came time to propose, Steff colluded with Kiaraâs boss to catch her off guard. âI was at the Shard in London, having a meeting with my boss," she recalls. "He received a phone call and left the room to take it, and the next thing I knew Steffan was standing there with his hand on my shoulder!â She tried to wave him offâshe was mid-meeting, or so she thoughtâbut Steffan persisted and got down on one knee. âTheyâd had a secret Whatsapp group going for months,â she says.
Steffanâs family lives in Italy, and the couple wanted to share their love for the country with their guests. So on July 27, 2017, they invited 167 friends and family members to join them in Tuscany. âVilla Dianella provided so many beautiful spaces to work with, offering a light, French countryside-style that was refreshing against the regionâs darker stone villas,â says Kiara. The nearby Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta e San Genesio, a church that dates back to the 12th century, offered a magical ceremony setting overlooking the Tuscan hills, giving guests a true taste of the region.
Kiara first found Villa Dianella on Pinterest, and then organized a trip with her parents to get a taste of what was to come.
The bride let the venueâs soft palette inspire the invitations, opting for light pink, soft green, and pale blue, all accented with olive branches.
The bride was happy to have help in her wedding gown search. âI never had a âthis is itâ moment, but my mother and my best friend definitely did with this dress,â she says of her lace gown by Sincerity. âAfter trying on so many styles, I think I became dress-blind.â
She paired the sheer V-neck gown with a lace-edged veil and a bouquet of white roses and eucalyptus branches.
The couple had a church ceremony, exchanging traditional vows beneath gorgeous marble columns. âI was way too nervous to write my own vows,â says Kiara. Thankfully she had her father and his best friend to keep the mood lighthearted. She adds, âThey drove me to the church, and are usually so funny, but that morning they were both in tears! I told them they had to make me laugh before we got there, and we arrived giggling with excitement.â
Guests tossed rose petals as the newlyweds made their way out of the church.
Steffan looked classic in a black tuxedo, which he paired with red socks for an unexpected touch. Kiaraâs bridesmaids dressed for the occasion in black dresses, each with a ruffled neckline.
Steffan and Kiara took the scenic route to the reception, stopping amongst hills of vineyards in a â60s Mercedes convertible.
Guests enjoyed a traditional Italian aperitivo, sipping Aperol Spritzes as they enjoyed cured meats and local cheeses.
âWe got lucky that it didnât rain, so we were able to have the reception of our dreams under the stars,â says Kiara of the al fresco reception. The all-white celebration was accented with personal touches, including bags of sugared almonds hand-sewn by Steffanâs mother. The dinner menu included cannelloni, veal fillet with roasted potatoes, and two wedding cakes.
âOur flower girl was Steffanâs niece, and she stole the show!â says Kiara. âShe made two trips down the aisle because she loved it so much, and demanded a pause in group photos so she could have a sip of water!â
The couple wanted both an English cake and the traditional Italian millefoglie, and put Steffanâs sister in charge of the former. âShe offered to arrange it as a gift, so I sent her a picture of what we wanted with no information about scale. When it arrived, it was nearly bigger than us, and I thought someone might pop out,â the bride says, laughing.
Looking back on be planning, the bride has a piece of advice for brides-to-be: âPlanning a wedding can be overwhelming, but the most important thing is to make sure you and your partner are still friends when it is over,â says Kiara. âPlay to one anotherâs strengths and work as a team, then enjoy every minute when it arrives!â