Natalia + Alessandro by Elisa Rinaldi

 I always thought I would get married covered in lace. I’m Sicilian, it’s one of our traditional crafts! I went to a few different ateliers, tried many lace gowns, and… The spark just wasn’t there. Then we went to a multi-brand atelier in Milan, where I laid my eyes on a simple, sleek princess gown made of stiff silk. It was like Belle’s iconic yellow dress in Beauty and the Beast but in white. The sleeves, the train, the folds. Everything was just perfect. I didn’t cry, but my mother and cousins who were there with me did, so I knew I had made the right choice, then and there.

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

Natalia: I am a southern-Italian born, northern-Italian-raised history nerd, with a passion for all things ancient. After living around Italy and the world during my school and university years, I finally settled in Milan (for now…?), where I work in the export of food and beverage products. My passions include reading, horse riding, yoga and pilates.

Alessandro: Most of my family has been living in and around Venice for generations. I also have some Sicilian blood in me, like Natalia, and it’s nice to have this shared heritage! Since I was a kid, I have always loved video games and computers. I rarely turn down an invitation to barbecue, and walking in nature is one of my favourite ways of spending our weekends.  

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

Natalia: We met in Venice, the city of love, which I think it’s quite fitting! I spent my university years living in Venice, and even though to tourists it may sometimes seem an almost Disney-like city, to those who live there it gives a sense of community like no other. The sensation of living surrounded by water, the narrow streets which suddenly open to reveal a quiet “piazza” (or “campo”, as my Venetian friends would correct me) where children are playing undisturbed, the silent magnificence of ancient buildings and their history: it is the perfect background to quietly and intimately fall in love. Ours wasn’t much of a meet-cute, but more an intertwining of friend groups which led to a friendship first, and then to unmistakable love and attraction soon after!

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with?

Natalia: For me, it wasn’t a single moment, but more a sense of familiarity that grew day by day, until at one point I knew there was no coming back from it! We would either spend our lives together or break each other’s hearts in a terrible, terrible way. I remember once, we were on a holiday in Tuscany in summer 2020, our first outing after the COVID lockdown. We were strolling down the roads of a sunny Florence, not many people around, as foreign tourists were not allowed in the country. We spent the whole day at the Uffizi Gallery, and he listened to me talking on and on about the paintings and marbles. Then we came to a few paintings of couples and families, enjoying their time together from ancient Rome to the Renaissance. And I could see us, I could sympathize with those pictures. It was at that point that I thought “Wow, I really want to do life with this person”.

Alessandro: I knew from the beginning. From that first time, I met her and saw her eyes. I had never seen someone with such deep, black eyes. After, I learned that her eyes, which are normally of deep chestnut colour, change to black when she is nervous. So I guess I wasn’t the only one to know that something was different about the other person! I remember we went to get a pizza later, and she got a simple margherita. I thought it was funny, who even gets a plain Margherita?! From the first moment, there were so many things I wanted to ask her and to know about her. I know it was different then.

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

Alessandro: One thing to know about Natalia, is that she is a planner. If she could, she would plan her whole life, beginning to end. So, when in the summer of 2021 she planned her dream road trip to continental Greece, I knew that she was expecting the proposal to happen in those two weeks. It could be on the balcony of our hotel room in Athens, overlooking the Parthenon. Or maybe amongst the ancient ruins of Olympia? How about the dreamy beaches of that secluded island where we spent the last few days of our trip? Well, you can imagine her mood when the proposal did not happen when and where she planned it. I could see her slightly sulking at first, and then losing any hope. Maybe I did not want to marry her? Of course, I had a plan of my own. And trust me, I thought about Greece. I knew she was expecting it to happen there. But I wanted to properly surprise her, and for the proposal to happen at a place that had meaning and history for us. The weekend after coming back from Greece, we planned to stay in Venice to spend the last few days off work before coming back to our daily life. We went for a stroll around our favourite places in the city, just as we did at the beginning of our relationship. Once we got to “our place” – it’s called Punta della Dogana, a place directly on the Lagoon’s water, from which you can enjoy a terrific view of Saint Mark’s Square. We sat down, with the water splashing around us. It was then and there that I asked her. She said yes, and I managed not to throw the ring in the lagoon by accident. 10/10 execution, I’d say!

Natalia: In hindsight, there’s no other way I would have wanted the proposal to go. Venice is so intertwined with our lives and our relationship, that I couldn’t imagine not making it a part of this story. But yeah, I was pissed on that last day in Greece, I won’t lie!

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

Natalia: I grew up with a love for literature and period dramas, so I knew I wanted to channel my inner Downtown Abbey energy for this. I always imagined renting a Villa with a nice garden and hosting a morning and afternoon party for our closest friends and family. To bring this view to life, we toured a few villas in the wine-making region of Valpolicella. Many of our guests had never heard about this area before, but everyone left the wedding wondering why it’s not as famous as the more known Chianti Hills. We found our location, Villa Rizzardi, almost by chance. But as soon as we toured the Villa and the gardens, we knew we had found our place. In the car on the way back, we couldn’t stop thinking about having our big day there. It was love at first sight, indeed! Then it all came quite naturally, and I think in the end we stayed quite close to our vision.

RECEPTION: Villa Rizzardi, @villarizzardi / PHOTOGRAPHER: Elisa Rinaldi, @elisarinadliphoto / VIDEOGRAPHER: AR Wedding Film, @arweddingfilm / PLANNER: Foorevent, @foor_event / FLORA: Ancilla Flower Lab, @ancillaflowerlab / CATERING & BEVERAGES: Food & Sweet, @foodandsweetcatering / CAKE: Pasticceria Martini, @martinipastry / STATIONERY: Studio Alispi, @studioalispi / GOWN: Le Spose di Milano, @lesposedimilanoofficial / SUIT: Sposa d’Este, @sposadeste / RINGS: Damiani, @damianiofficial / BRIDE’S SHOES: Roger Vivier, @rogervivier / PEARL NECKLACE & EARRINGS: Tiffany & Co, @tiffanyandco / HEADPIECE: Brioche Handmade, @briochehandmade / MAKEUP: Federica Tarantino MUA, @federica_tarantino_pmu / HAIR: Black & White Hairdresser, @black_e_white_parrucchieri / FRAGRANCE: Bloom by Gucci, @gucci / BRIDESMAIDS’ ATTIRE: Vera Wang, @verawangbride / GROOMSMENS’ ATTIRE: Sposa d’Este, @sposadeste

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