This summer, I had the immense honor of flying to Italy, rather last minute, to shoot a destination wedding in a small town in Tuscany, called Cortona. Cortona is quite possibly the most amazing destination I’ve ever visited in the world; the people are amazing and helpful (even when I was butchering my attempts at speaking Italian, which garnered many friendly giggles), the food is out of this world, and the views of the rolling hills of Tuscany from this hilltop Medieval village just beg for romance.
Bailey and Mattia met when Bailey was studying abroad in Cortona with the University of Georgia in 2015. They fell in love over lots of homemade dinners (courtesy of Mattia), long walks around Cortona and the surrounding mountains, traveling, and just enjoying each other! They knew they were planning an American wedding later in Georgia, so they really wanted to make sure their Cortona wedding encompassed the local beauty and vendors, and they managed to create one of the most touching, intimate weddings I’ve seen. In Bailey’s own words, “You never think you would find a husband in Italy and I definitely did not, but he is the best person and loves me so well, I am so excited to marry him! The best experience of living here is to be able to connect and get to know his family- they are so deeply connected with their country and cooking and culture, and to be a part of that and to be welcomed into their family is a real blessing”.
I could write a novel about how amazing this destination wedding weekend in Cortona was (and I wouldn’t be the first; Frances Mayes was inspired by Cortona to write two of her best selling novels!). Let’s let the photos speak for themselves, though!
Before Bailey and her wedding party began getting ready, my second shooter, Megan, and I took her details through the city near Piazza della Repubblica to photograph every detail amongst the hilly streets and Medieval-era buildings filling the city. Bailey got ready for the wedding in a gorgeous villa her parents had stayed in for the month. The simplicity of the decor plus the amazing light was just a hint of what the rest of the wedding day had in store!
After getting ready in this gorgeous Tuscan villa, Bailey and her family and wedding party (who had all flown over from the US for the wedding) began the short but very steep walk from the villa to the Comune di Cortona in Piazza della Repubblica, where their civil ceremony was taking place. Bailey and Mattia opted for a First Look in the piazza, where their friends and family were also waiting. Most First Looks take place with the bride and groom alone, in an intimate setting, but this is Italy, and there’s no stopping friends and family from celebrating with you (and squeezing your face in love)!
This destination wedding ceremony was a civil ceremony, so it took place in the Cortona Town Hall, or “Comune di Cortona” in the Piazza della Repubblica. The room itself, part of the 13th century hall and clocktower, is very dark, and only lit by wall sconces and small bits of natural light that emanate from the doorway and single window. The traditional Italian decor, of heavy, dark, wooden ornamentations, lends itself to a formal feeling that perfectly maintains the sanctity of a marriage ceremony.
After this authentic Tuscan town hall wedding ceremony and risotto throwing, we all headed to a venue outside of the 5th century fortress walls of Cortona. The reception venue, Osteria Borgo Syrah at Tenimenti d’Alessandro, is the pioneering winery for Rhône style wines in Cortona, and sits to the east of Montepulciano in southeastern Tuscany, with 93 acres of rolling hills of vineyards and carefully tended olive orchards. I wish I had taken photos of the food, but it would not have done any justice to the flavors of the amazing menu.
I’m so sorry, I digressed as I was dreaming about more truffle risotto and the world’s most amazing soup…sigh.
Quick shoutout to the wedding reception musician, Piero Berti, for treating Megan and I to time with the cutest pup ever and a beautiful, winding drive from Cortona city center to Tenimenti d’Alessandro!
The olive branch greenery decor was the perfect centerpiece for the beautiful simplicity of Bailey and Mattia’s intimate wedding reception.
As an aside, if someone could ship me some adorable tiny sea salt and one of these amazing bottles of olive oil, and teach me how to grow my own olive trees, that would be just lovely. Oh, and some truffles! There is no substitute for the freshness of these things here in SC!
The remainder of the evening was just perfect. In Italian tradition, the reception began with a cocktail hour (aperitivo), followed by dinner that lasted 5 or 6 hours. Thankfully, I was able to grab Bailey and Mattia for many more photos while their friends and family mingled and we all enjoyed our stunning surroundings.
I will let the final photos in this post speak for themselves. But let me just say, Cortona, I will be back someday soon!