27th November 2018
A fairy-tale Florentine wedding – Vanessa & David
The bassist from local band The Busker wed his long-time love in a magical ceremony in Florence.
David and Vanessa Grech first met when they were both just 13 years old on the infamous online chatroom MiRC. “We dated online for over a year but given that we were living on separate islands (I’m Gozitan), it was difficult for us to meet in person, particularly as we were both still so young,” Vanessa says. They drifted apart and eventually started dating other people, until, at the age of 18, Vanessa moved to Malta for good. “Just a year later we ran into each other outside my place of work. It was surreal! After six years of being apart and never having met in person before, we still recognised each other immediately. We went on our first date a week later. I knew I had met my soulmate and never doubted that our relationship would last. It felt right.”
The pair dated for five years, travelling to over 20 countries together, and saving up for a wedding never seemed to be on the cards. “So when David got down on one knee on my 24th birthday, it was a total surprise! I loved it!” Vanessa exclaims. With travel having played such an important part in the relationship from the start, it seemed only fitting to opt for a destination wedding and the bride and groom decided to turn their big day into a weekend adventure – in Florence.
The theme for the wedding was Tuscan romance, with a green, white and gold colour palette. “We made sure that the theme was showcased in every aspect of the wedding. David’s wedding ring had the Giglio (the symbol of Florence) engraved in it by Fratelli Piccini, one of the few remaining authentic Italian jewellers on Ponte Vecchio.” The Giglio also featured on David’s gold shirt studs and matching cufflinks, as well as the wax seal on the envelopes of the wedding invitations.
His father hand-painted an image of Castello di Vincigliata, the castle where the pair would wed, which was also included within the invitations pack. Meanwhile, the bride and her troupe made their preparations in an outstanding suite located in Piazza Pitti, “with floor-to-ceiling frescoes that created the perfect backdrop for our getting-ready portraits.”
The wedding ceremony took place in Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli, a quaint church dating back to the 11th century and located a stone’s throw away from Ponte Vecchio. The aisle was strewn with olive leaves, white rose petals and candles, creating the romantic Tuscan vibe that the couple were after. Vanessa says the couple’s families were involved in the day as much as possible. “Our two-year-old nephew Yan stole the show as he made his way down the aisle, holding a sign which included my favourite quote from the Harry Potter series.”
“My sister played the organ during the ceremony, accompanied by her best friend who played the violin, the same violin I practiced on when I was just seven years old, and David’s mother sang. My best friend, who happens to be a guy, was my ‘bridesman’, alongside my other two bridesmaids, and David’s grandfather was our ring bearer. He brought everyone to tears when he blessed the rings with a kiss just before handing them to David for our vows.”
However, Vanessa says that the fondest memory from the ceremony remains the surprise the couple prepared for their parents. “After we finished exchanging our vows, the priest invited our parents to go up to the altar to renew their vows. Seeing their surprised faces turn into joyful tears as they recited their vows is a memory we will both cherish for years to come. Both of their marriages are our daily inspiration and we loved sharing the day with them!”
After the religious ceremony, the newlyweds hopped into a vintage Alpha Romeo spider and drove off into the stunning Tuscan fields, with passers-by shouting ‘Auguri’ from every corner! For the second part of the ceremony, the pair stopped in the fields and vineyards that surround the castle, and read their personal vows to each other privately in front of only the photographer and videographer. “It turned out to be a very romantic moment. After that, I instructed David to turn around and close his eyes while I took off my four-metre long overskirt to reveal the sheath backless gown I had underneath for the reception. His reaction was priceless!”
David and Vanessa then drove up to the castle, which by now was lit with over 300 torches and candles, and looked like a scene straight out of a fairytale. “Our third and final part of the ceremony, officiated by David’s uncle, was held on the terrace of the castle, with a Sicilian trio band playing instrumental Italian songs in the background. We wanted a love letter time capsule to be the symbol of our marriage, which is meant to be opened by us only in times of real hardship. Right before we nailed the box shut, which held in it secret love letters and advice slips which the guests had been instructed to fill in at the church, we took a Polaroid selfie with the guests and placed it inside the time capsule. It was a joyous moment for all of us.”
As the sun was setting, the pair made their way to the castle’s open-air courtyard were dinner was served under a romantic balcony. “For the seating chart, we had a shot prepared for every guest with their name and table number tied to it. Guests were instructed to drink the shot and find their seat. And instead of traditional name cards, we had the name of each guest laser cut into a calligraphy style gold mirrored material. Our guests loved this personal touch and many kept them as a decorative piece for their home.”
After a three-course meal complemented by the castles’ award-winning wine, the newlyweds headed down to the terrace. David and Vanessa’s uncle performed ‘Tfajla Wisq Sabiha’, a song the bride’s uncle had written and performed for my aunt on their wedding day. “My uncle who had travelled all the way from Australia for the day, used to sing his songs to my cousins and I when we were young and this specific song was my favorite. The fact that David remembered this detail from some conversation we had, and took the trouble to put the performance together brought me to tears.” Then the DJ took over and the 120-strong party danced the night away. “As souvenirs we handed our guests tiny bottles of Limoncello which we brewed ourselves. The guests loved the fact that it was homemade and many asked for the recipe!”
“Everything was perfect and we couldn’t be happier with our decision to honour and celebrate our love in Tuscany,” Vanessa says. “The most rewarding aspect for us was seeing our family and friends especially our grandparents embark on a little Italian adventure with us and enjoying it just as much as we did!”