Ravi and I have always loved Italy. The food, the wine, the scenery and the history all contribute to it being our favourite holiday destination. The Tuscany region is particularly beautiful: rolling green hills, olive groves, vineyards and hilltop towns. And within Tuscany, Florence, for us, is a stand out city. It's steeped in history and it's impossible to resist getting swept up in the historical romance of it, thanks to the amazing art and architecture everywhere you turn. Florence just has an old-world charm and we couldn't think of a better location for our wedding.
I'd admired pictures of Castello di Vincigliata while researching reception venues near Florence. It's in Fiesole, a hillside town just a few kilometres above the city. It soon became clear that we'd need a wedding planner on board to help us secure a booking at the medieval castle (and, we later discovered, help us with pretty much everything wedding related!). Daniela Tripodi from The Tuscan Wedding instantly impressed us. While other planners swiftly told us that Castello di Vincigliata would be too difficult to secure, either due to availability, exclusivity or expense, Daniela approached things with a completely different attitude. She has a ‘can do’ attitude, something we'll always be grateful for.
Once we'd chosen our reception venue, we focused all our efforts on securing a Catholic church for the ceremony (I'm Catholic and Ravi is Hindu). We really wanted to hold our ceremony in a Florentine church that represented everything we loved about the city: its history, art and old-world grandeur. Daniela warned us that this was unlikely, as the churches in central Florence are generally difficult to book for a wedding. There are strict rules in Florence not allowing couples who belong to the local parish to marry in their churches. Particularly if one of them isn't Catholic. We weren't particularly hopeful about securing our dream venue. But one thing we learned was to never underestimate Daniela's determination. She contacted us a month later saying she had some exciting news: she'd managed to book the incredible 13th-Century Chiesa di Ognissanti for our wedding date, having spoken directly to the parish priest!
One of my absolutely favourite moments was towards the end of the night. We were all dancing outside on the terrace of the castle, overlooking Florence. The castle was lit up so beautifully and there was a full moon. I remember looking around me and feeling so happy that everyone we loved was with us, having a brilliant time.
I wore a bespoke couture dress by Sophie Garratt, who used to design for Elizabeth Todd in Chiltern Street, Marylebone. I knew from the outset that I wanted a lace bridal gown, so I chose a handmade French corded lace, which took three months to produce! Sophie listened to my brief and sketched a design factoring in every detail I wanted - to be corseted, strapless, fishtail, with a long train and a separate jacket made in the same lace with a button-back fastening and a separate lace collar. This meant I could move my arms but keep my shoulders covered in the church. Nothing was ever a problem for Sophie and I knew she would make the dress of my dreams.
I went to Brides the Show in London soon after I got engaged, where I met Neda from Storyett Photography. She was so warm and friendly, and, when I went through her portfolio, I loved its creativity. Months later, I contacted her and we met for drink, where we discussed all my wedding plans. Neda seemed to take into account all the little details, which I found so reassuring. Once we'd booked her, she went above and beyond creating a timeline and organising us – from her photography perspective. We were truly able to relax and leave her to it, as we trusted she'd have it all in hand.
Photographs by Storyett