Melanie and Chris's love for travel and Italy was the driving force behind their wedding concept, and they found the perfect venue in a 17th century Baroque villa. Inspired by the colors and tones of the venue and motifs that represented them as a couple, they created a warm and intimate atmosphere with a refined rustic theme. We discoussed with Melanie all the details of their preparations for the big day, as well as the beautiful story of how she and Chris fell in love.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
Chris and I met 12 years ago through mutual friends. Funnily enough we started out as flatmates – I was living with 2 other friends at the time, and when one of them moved to New York for the summer he sublet his room to Chris. Little did I know my new flatmate was to be my future husband! From constantly being in each other’s space, we built a really strong foundation for our relationship. Spending most of our time cooking, hosting parties and goofing around, really set the scene for our future together.
What do you do for a living?
I work in luxury fashion, as the Brand Styling Editor for Burberry and my husband is a real estate investor.
And for fun?
Chris and I love to cook and eat – but mainly eat! Our fondest memories are centred around traveling and discovering the best of local cuisines. If we’re travelling to an unfamiliar destination, we always try and squeeze in a local cooking class or two.
What was the concept behind your wedding and how did you find your inspiration?
My husband and I love to travel and Italy has always been a destination we kept going back to, to explore. Once we had chosen our venue, this was the catalyst for the design suite and overall look and feel of the wedding. We wanted to link the colour scheme with the colours and tones found in and around the venue, as well as draw on motifs and symbols that we felt represented us as a couple. This created a very warm, earthy and intimate mood. The overarching theme was ‘refined rustic’ – florals were seasonal with arrangements kept quite wild, and the tablescape mixed oriental style Oscar De La Renta flatware with rattan chargers and custom-made linens.
Where was your wedding? Why did you choose this venue?
Our wedding was held at Villa Cetinale, a 17th century Baroque villa 25 minutes outside Siena. The villa was originally built as a hunting lodge for the nephew of Pope Alexander VII. This venue made it to a shortlist of 5 – I think it was the last venue we saw on our recce trip in Italy back in 2019. When we pulled up to the entrance of the villa with our wedding planner it was absolutely love at first site! The pebbled walkway leading into the main villa was lined with potted lemon trees and the smell of citrus was overwhelming. The look and feel of the villa were Tuscany to a tea. As we toured the premise it just kept getting better and better. From the expansive woodland gardens, the incredible interiors and vine-covered pergolas – everything about this venue reminded us of why we chose to marry in Italy. Also, what was great about this venue was that not only did we have access to the main villa, but also the 3 surrounding properties on the grounds. This meant we were able to host 50 of our closest friends the week after the wedding.
How many guests did you have?
The number of guests were changing right up until the day before the wedding (thanks a lot Covid-19), but in the end we had about 120 guests.
Tell us about your outfits.
I had 3 looks in total. My wedding gown was by Viktor & Rolf from Browns Fashion. I had my eye on this dress for a very long time and had my first fitting back in 2020. Like many couples, we had to postpone our wedding multiple times due to Covid-19. When we finally settled on a new date (2 years later than originally planned!) I was worried I wasn’t going to like my original dress anymore, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. I chose my dress because I felt it really summed me up – classic with a little bit of unexpected drama! I’ve always been a fan of Viktor & Rolf; their bridal designs perfectly juxtapose modernity and tradition.
My next dress was a contemporary take on a traditional Chinese cheongsam with jade buttons. Normally cheongsams are designed to be extremely fitted but I opted for something a little looser that would be easier to move around in. This was custom made for me by Shanghainese designer Samuel Gui Yang. I wanted to create a dress that was special enough for the event, but also something that I could wear over and over again. My husband didn’t want to miss out on the fun, so he also had a custom silk 2-piece set made.
Finally for dancing and staying up till the early hours, I wore a white and red floral mini dress by Australian designer Alex Perry. I felt this was the perfect final look as it was a combination of the previous 2 dresses in terms of colour and style. Being Australian born Chinese, I really wanted to represent each of these aspects of my life and heritage into my looks.
What was your first dance song?
Our first dance song was Al Green’s, Let’s Stay Together. My husband and I are huge soul R&B fans. I’ve aways loved this song for its melody and heartfelt lyrics, and the first verse just seemed so perfect for our first dance.
What flowers did you choose for the bride's bouquet and why?
I chose rust orange speckled vanda cut orchids. I had the same orchids in my civil bouquet which I loved so much, and I thought it was a nice touch to bring in an element from my civil wedding 2 years prior. The colour of these orchids had a wonderful Tuscan vibe to them, but with an oriental twist.
What was your wedding cake like? And where did you order it?
Our cake was a traditional Italian wedding cake, a mixed berry millefoglie which was made by our caterer. What’s great about this was the theatre around the creation of the cake, which was done in front of the guests on the dance floor.
Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?
Our fabulous stationary designer Fin Fellowes did an incredible job of creating the most beautiful, fun and expressive pieces. She really encapsulated what we wanted through her stunning illustrations and bold use of colour. Everything she designed from the order of service books to the menus and city guides, felt so happy and joyful.
Bridesmaids dresses: @oliviavonhalle