A Stunning Seaside Elopement in Portofino, Italy

You never know who you might meet at a wedding—including your future spouse! Back on June 20, 2015, Gilda Gregory and Simone Lee were attending the wedding of Gilda’s best friend when fate caused their paths to cross, beginning a whirlwind romance for the Italian couple. Exactly a year later, on June 20, 2016, they got engaged in their hometown of Portofino, an historic fishing village on the Italian Riviera.

When it came to their wedding, they had two plans in mind: A seaside elopement on (you guessed it!) June 20, 2017, followed by a celebration with their family and friends on the 24th. “Italian weddings are so big—too big, really,” says Gilda. “I am really emotional and knew I would cry a lot with so many people around, but would be smiling and laughing with just the two of us.” While their families wanted a huge celebration, they found the best of both worlds by pairing their simple, intimate union with a huge party at one of Portofino’s most famous clubs, Le Carillon. “We danced until morning, then all went to the beach to watch the sunrise,” says Gilda.

If you’re considering a seaside elopement (or even a honeymoon trip to romantic Portofino!), you’ll absolutely love these photos by Bottega 53!

Simone works for a yachting company and the bride and groom both love the sea, so this quaint town overlooking the Ligurian Sea was perfect for their elopement.

Deckled-edge invitations accented with washes of watercolors invited guests to join the couple for their post-elopement ceremony and reception.

We can’t get enough of Gilda’s stunning Leila Hafzi gown, made of layers of chiffon and silk. The bride works in the fashion industry, and was drawn to the designer’s aesthetic, as well as her sustainable mission. The hand-draped bodice, layered flutter sleeves, and flowing train were simple and elegant, with the perfect goddess vibe for the setting. In addition to her pale blue mules, Gilda wore an anchor necklace that she thought had been lost. “Simone gave it to me on our first date, and found it before our wedding. When he gave it to me on our wedding day, it was such a lovely surprise!” says the bride.

The bride topped her simple chignon with a wreath of fabric rosebuds that echoed the dramatic white roses in her organic-inspired bouquet, which also featured trailing vines and olive branches.

The bride had a "something blue" in the form of her chunky mule heels by Sebastian Milano!

The couple exchanged vows in town at the bride's home, and then took a scenic walk around (with their photographer in tow) for beautiful portraits and sightseeing.

After their photo shoot, the newlyweds went to Caffe Scala, a café overlooking the harbor, to toast to their new marriage with Aperol Spritzes. (Which, in our opinion, is the perfect summer cocktail!)

Simone and Gilda took a celebratory boat ride, just the two of them.

And when on a boat—why not pose for another epic photo session, right? Here, the bride accessorized her gown with a straw hat with chiffon ties.

The couple ended their special day by diving into the ocean together! “We had all of the ingredients of a perfect wedding day,” says Gilda. “It was intimate and full of love, and then we shared the happiness and fun with our friends. We were able to share our love and excitement with everyone we care about. So follow your heart, even if it isn’t what your family expects, and make it the wedding you really want!”

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