Jacqueline and Phillip journeyed from Shanghai to Italy for their “modern secret garden” themed destination weeding in Castello di Vincigliata just outside of Florence. The couple had the brilliant idea of keeping the venue of the wedding a secret from their guests (since they were arranging buses from Florence to the location anyway) as a fun touch for family and friends who had travelled so far to join them. Jacqueline and Phillip had a beautiful first look in Florence before heading to their castle to exchange vows, all captured by David Bastianoni.

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HOW THEY MET

“Phil and I met in Hong Kong through my then roommate (now business partner) who had gone to college with him. I had moved to Hong Kong from Melbourne to experience living in Asia, whilst his work trips allowed him to be a frequent visitor. When we first met there were zero sparks. But somehow, a number of years later, we found ourselves at a birthday party not knowing many other people and that became the start of the rest of our lives. People often say it, but I now truly believe that timing is everything. The first three years of our relationship were spent over 6000 miles apart and one night, during our vacation to Italy, we decided to finally take the plunge and find a way to bridge that distance. After the holiday Phil went back to the States and started the process of applying for a transfer to Shanghai, whilst I went back started the process of quitting my job and moving to Shanghai, my city of birth and where I also had family.

DESTINATION DECISION

Much like our relationship, we had a lot of logistics to deal with! Phil’s friends and family were largely based on the east and west coast of the US whilst mine were in Australia, Asia and scattered throughout the world. Anywhere we chose would mean that at least half of our friends and family would be flying long haul so we just decided to pick a beautiful destination and just let everyone fly in and make a holiday out of it. Italy was our top choice. It was the backdrop for when we made that pivotal decision in our relationship and it was a country that we had fallen completely in love with- for the history, people, food, wine and atmosphere. We are so happy to have found Sara and Silvia at Infinity Weddings as our wedding planners. It felt like the moment we found them, everything else fell into place. We chose the venue, Castello di Vincigliata, from the photos and flew into Florence a few weeks after we booked it only to find the real thing was even more beautiful than pictures.

THE DRESS

My wedding dress was very special to me as I designed it as a custom Lace & Liberty dress- the bridal business that my maid of honour and I started just over a year ago. Our goal in starting the business was to give brides more flexibility on their wedding day by offering separates. I’m not just saying this because it’s my business, but never was that concept proved more when it became the answer to the impasse between my mom and I. As it turned out, every wedding dress I gravitated towards was not “bridal enough” whilst all the dresses she picked out for me I couldn’t imagine dancing very comfortably in (and I was planning to dance!). The simple answer to our issue was to simply have a separate skirt which I could wear over my dress during the ceremony and then slip off right before the dancing started. It was perfect.

THE WEDDING DAY

We started the wedding day with a traditional Chinese door games and tea ceremony. Traditionally, the groom arrives to pick up the bride from her parental home, where they will then pay respects and receive blessing from her parents, before going together to his family to do the same. Before the groom can proceed however, he (with the help of his friends) must pass a certain number of challenges given to him by the brides “sisters” as a final test to prove his worth. Although I was stuck in a room whilst all the fun and games were happening outside this was definitely one of my favorite parts of the day. It was so nice to see the boys, none of whom had ever participated in something like this before, be such great sports about completing all the funny but often humiliating challenges (think tying a cucumber dangling from a string around the guy’s waist and rolling an egg across the room, or putting makeup on each other). After the door games and tea ceremony it was time to get ready for the wedding itself. Castello di Vincigliata is located in Fiesole, which is a town about twenty minutes outside of central Florence. Because we were arranging buses to take all our guests to the location anyway, we decided to keep the venue a secret beforehand, so that everyone could step off the bus and have the full experience without seeing any photos online beforehand. Because every one of our guests had to travel so far and make such a big effort to be with us, we really wanted to treat them to something they couldn’t get back home. Our vendors really did such a great job in translating our Italian “modern secret garden” vision into reality. For our centerpieces in the garden where we had cocktails as well as in the courtyard she used local seasonal flowers such as Dahlias, Lisianthus, Roses, Berries and my very favorite, Astibles. I love how they are so pretty yet not traditional flowers and they were also used to make my bridesmaid’s bouquets.If you ask our guests what was their highlight of the wedding, majority of them will tell you the FOOD. From the “Tuscan corner” during cocktail hour (which included a man carving prosciutto straight off the bone!) to the traditional mille feuille wedding cake and the gelato cart, the food itself was worth travelling to Italy for.

BEST MOMENTS

I always took the whole “your wedding day is the happiest day of your life” with a grain of salt, as I had always felt that it implied that everything would just be downhill from there. Although I still wouldn’t classify it as the happiest day ever, it is definitely ranked in the top three and one of the most fun days of my life. To marry my best friend in front of all our friends and family, I could be anywhere in the world and be happy. But to be able to do that in a beautiful garden in a 500 year old castle, with the hills of Florence behind us, in front of all our loved ones who travelled so far just to share this moment, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world that day.”

Photography: David Bastianoni | Wedding Planner: Infinity Weddings | Venue: Castello di Vincigliata | Music: Alma Project | Bride’s Dress: Lace & Liberty | Videography: Nitrato d’Argento | Hair: Wave Parrucchieri

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