This Couple Pulled Off a $12K Italian Destination Wedding and It. Was. Everything.
After Brooklyn lovebirds Brandy and Tyler got engaged, it didn’t take long to realize that accommodating their massive network was going to spiral out of control—fast. “We live in New York. Tyler is from Virginia, I’m from California, and we have friends and family from all over the world,” says Brandy. “When we started to plan, we got overwhelmed by the logistics really fast. We just wanted something effortless.” So the duo nimbly pivoted to the non-traditional wedding route, selecting Lake Como as the site of their festivities and narrowing the guest list to just eight(!) of their closest mutual friends.
After a breezy six months of planning, Brandy and Tyler said their “I dos” on the steps of a turn-of-the-century villa, before departing on a private cocktail cruise on the lake and later enjoying a Pinterest-perfect meal under the Lombardy stars. Equally remarkable, this lavish celebration was achieved with a $12,000 budget (including flights and rehearsal dinner!). Suffice to say, we’re obsessed.
ON WHY THEY CHOSE LAKE COMO
“Tyler’s maternal side is from northern Italy, and I wanted to go somewhere that had a warm culture and comforting, fresh food. Tyler had visited before with his family and loved it. Also, we didn’t want to have to get on another plane for the honeymoon. (We drove to Santa Margherita and Portofino after departing the villa!)”
ON FINDING VENDORS IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
“Finding the vendors abroad was the biggest challenge. If you’re not going to have a wedding planner, you really have to dig to find those contacts. I actually searched hashtags on Instagram to find most of my vendors. I also asked the owner of the venue for help. He helped arrange my chef and waitstaff for the day, and once I found my florist, she gave me some contacts as well."
ON HOW THEY LANDED ON THEIR TINY WEDDING PARTY
“Tyler and I decided we would each invite two couples. At the time, we just picked the people we're closest too. We also chose couples that we were both close to. We knew we wanted very chill vibes for the entire trip, and the group we invited just gets that and understands our flow.”
ON FINDING THE PERFECT VENUE
“Originally we had planned for a hotel venue, but there were so many rules involved. You could only get married in certain spots, order certain food and be on a certain schedule. It all seemed like a hassle! So I decided to seek out an Airbnb that was big enough for all of us, which is how we came across this beautiful 1913 villa. My two criterias were private rooms for each of the couples and a beautiful outdoor space to get married in. Because we were asking everyone to fly out of country, we wanted to make sure we could cover their stay. It was important that the wedding felt not just like an event, but an experience that would build lasting memories.”
ON STYLING HER BRIDAL LOOK
“My venue was pretty glamorous, so I wanted a dress that would stand up to the location, and also something that was sexy without being revealing. I tried on some traditional wedding dresses but everything felt so heavy and stiff. I quickly discovered that I wasn’t going to find what I needed at a store, so I enlisted my friend, the talented tailor Wendel Johnston, to make my vision come to life.”
ON CREATING HER DREAM BOUQUET
“I’m crazy about flowers and my tastes are not very traditional. That being said, I understand the importance in letting a professional guide you. I gave my florist a moodboard for the wedding day, and she nailed it. Also, I’ve always hated how you get these bouquets for the entire wedding party and then they just sit on tables because no one wants to hold them all night. So after the pictures, my florist broke down the bouquets and dispersed them throughout the venue.”
ON THEIR CEREMONY PROGRAM
“We wrote our vows together, and they were very personal to our journey through our relationship. Instead of repeating the same thing twice he read half, then I read half.” (Read Brandy’s portion below, and try to not to tear up.)
I, Brandy, commit myself to you, Tyler, as your wife to learn and grow with, to explore and adventure with, to respect you in everything as an equal partner, in the foreknowledge of joy and pain, strength and weariness, direction and doubt, for all the risings and settings of the sun.
I take you as you are, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they were my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me, through all our years and all that life may bring us. I will love you unconditionally and without hesitation for the rest of our lives.
ON HER NONTRADITIONAL COCKTAIL HOUR
“You can’t go to Lake Como without taking a ride on the lake! Again, we wanted everyone to experience the reason we asked them to travel so far, so we booked a private ‘cocktail cruise’ before dinner. Not only did it give us an incredible backdrop for photos, but it was a magical experience to share with our guests. It was the perfect way to kick off the lighter vibes after our emotional ceremony.”
ON HOW SHE DIY’D HER EPIC TABLESCAPE
"I put one of my best friends, Seane Marie, in charge of this. I had created a mood board, then we went online and looked at the villa in detail. Any decor I thought we could use for the table we did. There were so many candleholders that we decided to use those and order new candles and tablecloths from Amazon, and have them shipped to the villa ahead of time. The glasses, cups and silverware were already at the villa; we had emailed our host to confirm the quantities ahead of time. Then Seane stopped at IKEA Italy on her way in from the airport (hah!) and grabbed the plates. I packed the runner, which I had ordered off Etsy in my suitcase. My florist went above and beyond to add her finishing touches, filling Champagne cups with overflowing florals."
ON DESIGNING HER MENU
"We wanted a traditional Italian dinner, so we made our suggestions to the chef and she gave us hers. We had her make some traditional Italian wedding cookies too for dessert. We hit up the grocery store for wine and champagne for the dinner. (Italian wine, of course, is so much cheaper to buy in Italy!) Mathis, one of our groomsmen, also made us take a traditional shot of Akvavit."
ON HOW GUESTS WHILED AWAY THE EVENING
"After the boat ride, we arrived at the dock and several of the townspeople were sitting there cheering for us when we got off the boat. It was pretty magical. After that, we walked back to the villa and took a few more casual pictures. About 30 minutes later, we sat for dinner as the sun was setting. Tyler gave a quick speech thanking everyone and during dinner my brother sent me the most loving text message that brought the entire table to tears. After dinner and shots (lol) we cut the cake. The villa has the most beautiful veranda that looked over the entire town, so after changing into PJs, everyone went upstairs to dance!"
ON THE TRADITIONS THEY *DID* INCLUDE
"Generally speaking, we really eschewed tradition with our wedding. But we did keep the rice toss and the cake cutting!"
ON HER FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY
"My favorite part of the day was the walk to the boat. We stayed on the small, non-touristy side of Lake Como in a little town called Mandello del Lario. The streets are tight, the homes are gorgeous and you're surrounded by the mountains. As we were walking down the streets, I looked back at the smile on my husband's face, and I couldn't help but cry. I was so happy and the day was so perfect and stress-free. It just felt like a true reflection of our love."
Floral designer: Madness Flowers
Caterer: Maria Impellicciere
Cake: Qualcosa Di Dolce
Music: Cellist Maria Antonietta Puggioni
Photography: Jenny Fu Studio
Videography: Mathis Eskjaer, Mat Film
Hair and makeup: Oriana Curti
Stationery: Poppy Seed Signs
Venue: Villa Confalonieri
Transportation:: Lecco Boats