An Enchanting Wedding in the Italian Countryside
Christina Weaver and Dâ€™Qwell Jackson, a former NFL linebacker, call Washington, D.C., home, but for their wedding, they went for full-on fairy-tale in Tuscany, where they took their first vacation together. "Italy is where the magic happened for us,â€ť says the bride. With a country set for their destination wedding, Christina and D'Qwell turned to Nathalie Cadet-James of Luxe FĂŞte to recreate that magicâ€”this time, for 95 of their closest friends and family.
The couple's vision started coming to life when they discovered Abbey San Galgano, a preserved church near Siena that was built between 1218 and 1288 by Cistercian monks. â€śIt stands like a ghostly specter in an Italian fieldâ€”truly an architectural marvel,â€ť says the bride. "None of us could have expected it to be so breathtaking!â€ť For the reception, they decided to switch locations, choosing the luxurious Belmond Villa San Michele in Fiesole, which features a facade designed by none other than Michelangelo. And as if that wasn't epic enough, this happened: Prince Charles and Camilla were staying at the hotel at the same time! â€śIt was unreal and certainly a nice beginning to our fairy-tale wedding,â€ť says the bride. Keep reading to see how Christina and D'Qwellâ€”with the help of Nathalie Cadet-Jamesâ€”created a beyond dreamy day in the Italian countryside for their April 8, 2017 wedding. (Seriously, where was our invite?!)
For her walk down the aisle, Christina donned a nude-hued, mermaid-style gown by Inbal Dror, which she fell hard for at Carineâ€™s Bridal in Washington, D.C. "I always thought I'd wear white but I loved the unique color and sexy-yet-classy silhouette," she says. Dâ€™Qwellâ€”who wore made-to-measure Tom Ford and custom Stubbs & Wooten driving slippersâ€”gifted his bride a diamond tennis bracelet the morning of their nuptials, which she wore along with Jimmy Choo strappy sandals and vintage drop earrings.
The ceremony venue (Abbey San Galgano in Sienna) was a non-negotiable once Christina and D'Qwell saw it. â€śThe sun beams were pouring in, and the acoustics made the coos from the birds sound like a melody,â€ť says Christina. â€śIt was a spiritual experience to say the least.â€ť
â€śWe wanted a clean, modern, simple look that would not compete with the natural beauty of our Italian backdrop,â€ť says the bride. Christina always wanted an all-white wedding, and thatâ€™s what they created with minimal decorâ€”think candles, ghost chairs, glass candelabras, and no flowers! â€śWe designed it this way to allow the space to truly be transparent and unadulterated,â€ť says Christina.
The bride walked down the aisle on the arm of her father as a string quartet played classic R&B hits.
At 3 p.m, as the birds were chirping and the sun was shining in, the bride and groom exchanged vows with their gorgeous venue as the backdrop. "It was a symbolic ceremony, but we did have some very close friends and mentors add a religious twist to it," Christina says.
After the coupleâ€™s celebratory ceremony exit, everyone headed to the waiting fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters for the 90-minute ride (through the picturesque Italian countryside!) to the reception. â€śWe treated each leg like a tourâ€”with light lunches, sweet snacks, some wine, and great playlists in each vehicle," she says. "Everybody loved it!â€ť
Still, things were timed so perfectly that everyone was in place at Belmont Villa San Michele in time to see the sun set (with cocktails in hand, of course). â€śThe view alone explains why the world-famous painters are from Italyâ€”just overwhelmingly beautiful and abound with inspiration," says the bride.
The night's seated dinner took place in the propertyâ€™s loggia, which overlooks the city of Florence. Here, the decor was romantic and lush, with antique chandeliers covered in ivy and a garland of thousands of ranunculus lining the table.
Antique gold taper candles and a eucalyptus accent added personal touches to each place settingâ€”as did the marble-looking name cards and letter pressed menus.
The couple's chocolate wedding cake incorporated marble and gold accents for a unique, modern take on the classic wedding cake.
The party turned up a few notches after dinner, when guests moved into a clear tent under the stars in the hotelâ€™s main courtyard. Here, the all-white theme was continued and disco balls set the tone for an all-night dance party that lasted until 3 a.m. (Talk about a perfect ending to a perfectly-planned day!)
Looking back on her dream day, Christina says that she loved how her friends recognized their personalities in the tiny details of the big day. â€śThey appreciated the personalized details far more than what kind of plates they ate on or the table linens we selected," she says. "Don't stress over the mundane decisions!"