Meighan + Bertram by Divine Day Photography

I am American and he is British, so it was going to be a destination wedding for either his or my family. We decided on selecting somewhere that was “neutral ground” but also that we knew people would be keen to travel to. Italy is just that.

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

Meighan – Currently the Head of People & HR at a recruitment Consultancy called Troi. I’m a 36-year American Expat living in London.  A Virgo and a lover of cats, especially my angel Persian chinchilla called Princess Diana. I enjoy travelling, Pilates, sustainable fashion, mediaeval/fantasy/period dramas, good books, all things food, wine, and history.

Bertie – Investment Banker and Fintech Enthusiast. A trained musician and lover of the blues and classic rock and roll, he can play guitar, drums, and piano. He’s a also a keen sportsman, particularly basketball, football, tennis and rugby along with being an avid golfer. He loves a good glass of wine and Italian food.

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

Bertie and I met on the 1st of June 2018. It was a glorious sunny day in London. I had recently moved into a new flat in Chelsea, having only moved to London from Chicago a few months prior. In true “Great British Summer” fashion, I went to a pub down the road, the Hollywood Arms, to enjoy the sunshine, mingling and of course, rose. Shortly after arriving, I was introduced to someone called Oliver, who told me he had a brother that I might like. Then by a twist of fate, this brother called Bertie, happened to walk by the pub on his way to a BBQ. We got to chatting, drank far too much rose and by the end of the night seemed to be equally hooked on each other. We went on a date the following week and by the end of June were an item. 

Funny bit is I thought he was closer to my age than he was. He is wickedly smart, so engaging, charismatic and what I found to be quite mature and ambitious. I didn’t realise he was eight years younger (does this make me a cougar?!) until we decided to take a holiday and meet friends in Ibiza several months later. I asked for his passport to check us in for flights and realised I was dating someone aged 23 when I was nearly 32. Oopsy!

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

Bertie completely surprised me with the proposal. We went on holiday with our friends to Crete in August 2021. Currently, we had been together for three years and a bit. While I knew he was the one, I wasn’t sure when he would propose. We had talked about getting engaged, married, the whole lot but I didn’t want to pressure him given he was younger than I am and still settling into his career.  So we went on this holiday and our friends all kept the proposal from me too.  I had planned this entire holiday, with a google doc full of detailed reservations and planning for activities. The fact that he surprised me amongst all of that is impressive. We went to a gorgeous beach club called Scorpio’s in Heraklion Crete. We started ordering champagne and other drinks quite early and after an hour or so he told me he found this great place for a picture. Which was rare because wanting to go take a picture was so not him. We walked me to this secluded area of the beach club overlooking the ocean. I sat down on one of the daybeds and when I turned around, he was on one knee. It was so sweet, so out of the blue. I instantly feel over,, ugly cried and immediately said yes. He had the perfect pear-shaped diamond on a yellow gold band and the biggest smile on his face. Pure bliss!

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding.

I never thought I wanted a big over the top wedding. Then we got engaged and it just sort of happened. Being I am American, and he is British, it was going to be a destination wedding for either his or my family. So, we decided on selecting somewhere that was “neutral ground. We wanted somewhere people would be keen to travel too. Italy is that place. I was adamant on a romantic location with beautiful scenery, history, glamour, and water. 

Lake Como embodies this for me, straight out of a fairy-tale or fantasy movie. And for someone who absolutely adores neoclassical, mediaeval, renaissance, etc architecture and ambiance, it was the ideal setting. We selected Villa Erba because it is a magnificent 18th century villa right on the lake. I fell in love with the venue as soon as I saw it. The chandeliers and gorgeous paintings, wallpapers and sculptures coupled with the grandiose outer façade and lush greenery with the Lake Como backdrop, encapsulated the setting and mood I wanted to curate. The wedding we were going for was a mixture of the Marlon Brando film The Godfather (my husband’s favourite film) meets Italian Fairy-tale.

We kept it classic Italiano style with an aperitivo after the ceremony with a charcuterie table, canopies, aperol spritz, prosecco and a gelato truck were all on tap.  For dinner, a three-course meal with a cheese souffle, pasta dish and steak (with optional vegan/veggie menus of course) and white and red wine selected locally from Northern Italy was served. To spice it up a bit, we decided to give our tables names instead of numbers, naming each table after our favourite films and tv shows. For cake, we decided against the ever so popular “white wedding cake” and went with a traditional Italian Millefoglie cake. My wedding planner was fantastic at helping and guiding me through the aesthetic and setting the mood. I had friends tell me they felt like they were in a real-life episode of Italian Bridgeton.  I think we nailed it

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

Entertainment! This was a big one for us. Given it was a destination wedding we both wanted to give people a night they would remember. We went all out. It was truly extra. We had a string quartet that played some of our favourite songs during the ceremony and aperitivo (Canon in D, Can’t Help Falling In Love with You, Bitter Sweet Symphony, Game of Thrones Theme, Gypsy etc). Following the aperitivo, I selected a fantastic Italian Tenor to serenade us with classical opera songs along with some of my favourite tunes by Dean Martin. Everyone was either in tears or on their feet dancing. It was fabulous.  After dinner, we moved back outside for cake.  As soon as we cut the cake, we had fireworks start right on the lake to the absolute banger “Sky full of Stars” by Coldplay. Lastly, we did our entrance to the dance floor (with outfit changes, duh! ) to “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gee’s with a somewhat “choreographed “ dance. For the remainder of the evening, we had an incredible DJ for the remainder of the evening with disco lights and a disco ball.

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

Bertie had originally wanted a midnight blue Tom Ford Tuxedo, like the one Daniel Craig wears in the James Bond Film, Spectre. However, he waited a little longer than he should have and was unable to have it custom made in time. So, in a slight rush, he was connected to an amazing tailor based in Naples. He wound up having both of his suits custom made by Enio  of St Gregory’s Tailors of Naples. Enio flew to London and hand made both tuxedos to his liking. One was midnight blue with exaggerated black lapels and the other was a classic ivory dinner jacket with black trousers. He did the final fitting the day we arrived in Lake Como and the suits were hand delivered on the day before the wedding. His shoes were also custom and very special as they had our wedding logo printed on the front.

My dress was one of the first dresses that I had saved on my phone before going wedding dress shopping. I made four appointments to visit different bridal salons to get a feel for different designers, styles etc and tried on about 40 dresses in total, exhausting! I didn’t want anything super modern or trendy, but I also didn’t want a dress that was overly traditional or simple.  I needed a bit of drama. And to complicate things I wanted to look like a princess but didn’t want a full skirt or ball gown.  I wanted a dress that was romantic, feminine, and unique with a touch of vintage glamour. And ideally from a European designer.

There were a few components of a bridal gown that I was set on as well.  1. Mermaid/Trumpet silhouette, 2. Sleeves, 3. Floral Lace with beading 4. Buttons down the back. I found all of those things in the Rocio Gown from the Haute Couture of Atelier  Pronovias. The dress was made to order in Barcelona, Spain. This dress is ultra-feminine, with delicate embroidery of lace flowers that look like they’re blooming all over the dress. It has an exaggerated chiffon train which I absolutely adored. And gave me the “drama” I also craved.  And the back was just as beautiful as the front, with cascading flowers and elegant buttons. The flowers on the dress had tiny beading as well which gave the dress a little something extra.

My veil was equally as important for me. I created a custom 3.5 metre veil from a lovely woman based in England, Sophie of Unveiled by Sophie. This was a truly intimate and wonderful experience as she sent me tulle and lace samples, and we matched the veil perfectly to the dress.

Ceremony + Reception Location: Villa Erba, @villaerbaofficial / Photographer: Divine Day Photography, @divinedayphotography / Videographer: Marcoabba Videography, @marcoabba / Celebrant: Bride’s godfather, Michael Joseph Renner / Entertainment: Blunotte, @blunotteventi / Styling: Bride / Planner: I Do in Lake Como, @idoinlakecomoandsicily / Hire: Latini Design, @latinidesign / Flora: Figli Dei Fiori, @figlideifioricomo / Catering, Beverages & Cake: Class Eventi, @classeventi / Stationery: Bramley & Dandelion, @bramley_dandelion / Registry: The Wedding Shop, @theweddingshopuk / Bride’s First Look: Pronovias, @pronovias / Brides’s Second Look: Nadine Merabi Bridal, @nadinemerabibridal / Veil: Bespoke, custom veil from Unveiled by Sophie, @unveiledbysophie / Groom’s Tuxedo: Saint Gregory Tailors in Naples, @saintgregory_tailorsinnaples / Engagement ring: Graham Tom, @grahamtomdiamonds / Wedding Bands: Cartier, @cartier / Bride’s 1st Look Shoes: Aquazzura, @aquazzura / Bride’s 2nd Look Shoes: Mach & Mach, @machandmach / Groom’s Shoes: Bespoke from Arthur Sleep, @arthursleepshoes / Bridal Tiara: Pronovias, @pronovias / Earrings: Helzberg Diamonds, @helzbergdiamonds / Rose gold and sapphire Cufflinks: Ernest Jones, @ernestjonesjewellers / Hair + Makeup: The Studio, @thestudiocomo / Bride’s Fragrance: Byredo, @officialbyredo / Groom’s Fragrance: Tom Ford, @tomford / Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo, @jennyyoonyc / Groomsmen Tuxedos: Moss, @mossbros