Emma and Christopher’s charming nuptials in Tuscany
School sweethearts Emma Hickmott and Christopher Thompson, from Barnet in North London celebrated 15 years together with a gorgeous wedding in the Tuscan sunshine
Finding ‘the one’
We went to secondary school together and we became boyfriend and girlfriend at 16 years-old and, apart from a couple of hiatus periods, have been together ever since – 15 years this year! It was, of course, love at first sight!
He proposed to me at KoKo in Camden. We went to see a band (The Guillemotts) play our favourite song (Made up Love song) at KoKo and went for burger and chips beforehand, and I had absolutely no idea it was coming. I pride myself on generally knowing when something is going to happen before it does, however, Chris played it very cool throughout the evening. Then when “our song” started playing I turned around to see Chris with a ring in his hand. It was pretty emotional and I was left speechless for one of the few times in my life! It was the biggest surprise of my life so far.
We initially wanted to get married quickly after the engagement, however, we couldn’t decide on the format for the day. We knew we didn’t want a big UK Hotel wedding and so we explored Vegas, but thought this wouldn’t accommodate large families of people with young children. I had never been to Italy and started to look at options there, and found details online for Lisa Burton of The Bridal Consultant wedding planners in Cheshire and from that we started to make enquiries. We visited Villa Gambassi in Tuscany for a holiday in 2012 and it was so perfect that we decided there and then that it was something we wanted to do. I booked the holiday through Lisa while I was working in the Middle East and it was so hassle free that I set my mind on the fact that I’d need the help of a wedding planner if I was going to get married abroad and keep to working the long hours I needed to pay for the wedding!
We used the services of Lisa Burton of The Bridal Consultant to plan our wedding and we arranged our own travel to/from Pisa as it was the most reasonable airport to fly into, however The Bridal Consultant organised all transfers between the airport and venue for all guests that didn’t rent a car. The wedding planners couldn’t have done enough to help. No request was too big and they did their very best to accommodate all requests, no matter what or how late the request. We planned the majority of things before we got to Italy, although on the day before the wedding we had a meeting with the Italian planners at the venue to go through the format of the day and get clarification on the centre pieces, my bouquet, the table layout and numbers for the wedding breakfast.
I think there were approximately 60 guests. Most of them stayed at Villa Gambassi in the apartments surrounding the main villa. People were definitiely put off by an overseas wedding as not everyone has the money available to spend on travelling, especially if they had already booked a family holiday and it is also excluding people that have recently had a baby and the elderly, so there were a couple of friends who couldn’t make it and also my nan who couldn’t travel that far.
Getting the look
We didn’t necessarily have a colour scheme in mind, however, as we started looking for ideas it became apparent that our taste was more towards a vintage theme. I chose the Eden dress by Jenny Packham near Sloane Square. I first did some extensive research over the internet to narrow down my preference to just a few dresses. The more I looked at the Jenny Packham Eden dress the more I loved it. I went to the shop with a few of my best friends, mother and mother-in-law and after trying a few other options I knew immediately that the Eden was the one! My dress was platinum in colour with a layer of silk lace and champagne beading and sequins. I had 1920’s style strappy Jimmy Choo sandals and a pearl headpiece from Donna Crain Ltd. I also wore my nan’s wedding ring and a pair of diamond studs my husband bought me as a previous birthday gift. I did my own hair and make up. I had a make up tutorial at MAC on Carnaby Street and then I bought myself a whole new make up kit and brushes. My hair was curled using heated rollers and kept loose with a hair piece inserted.
Something old, something new
My Something Old and Borrowed was my late nan’s wedding ring, my Something New was my dress and my Something Blue was a broach in the style of a blue rose on a gold stem bought for me by my younger sister.
Groom & bridesmaids
Chris wore a blue double breasted suit with a white shirt and silver shirt armbands. The father-of-the-bride also wore a three-piece blue suit but the colour and cut was slightly different to the grooms and the best men wore blue suits without the jacket but rather just the waistcoat and the sleeves of their shirts rolled up. All had a rusty gold tie and pocket hanky which matched some of the beading and sequins of my dress.
I had two flower girls and two page boys. The flower girls wore long, off white dresses from Monsoon with a crocheted top, white ballet pumps with a white corsage on them and a daisy chain headband. They each carried a small sunflower on a long stem. The page boys wore blue shorts with a matching waistcoat and white, short sleeved shirts with blue boat shoes. They also had a pocket handkerchief in the same rustic gold as the rest of the male bridal party.
I wanted my wedding to have a slight vintage/dreamy feel. I also wanted my bouquet to be quite rustic using local flowers. I had small sunflowers and white roses intermixed with local wild flowers in white, yellow and a small amount of purple. The cake was a traditional Italian millefeuille, which is puff pastry layered with fresh cream. I had chocolate pieces in the cream and it was topped with fresh strawberries – it was divine! We had a cake topper of a man and woman, which coincidentally was in the position of a great photo we had taken together after the ceremony!
The ceremony was held at Certaldo Town Hall, which is in the pedestrianized medieval part of Certaldo town in Tuscany, Italy, which is just beautiful. The locals are friendly and the town hall is perfect if you have a summer wedding as there is an open air courtyard where you can hold the ceremony with the guests standing around you. I understand there is also an indoor room if you would prefer something more formal or if there is adverse weather on the day. The service lasted around 20 minutes, which was perfect for us because the wedding was a formality and something that we wanted to do in front of our nearest and dearest, but we didn’t want it to last overly long and for our guests to become restless. We were married by an Italian Registrar and Nicoletta translated, as the whole ceremony was in Italian. My father gave me away – I am the oldest of two siblings and was the first to get married, so I think it was a pretty emotional day for the whole family. We had the standard Italian service and didn’t inlcude any of our own vows as we were happy with those generally used in Italy.
The reception was held at Villa Gambassi, which is a 20 minute drive from Certaldo. After the ceremony, guests were invited to a glass of Prosecco and canapés at a local café a short walk from the old town hall. The food was amazing and the views over the Tuscan countryside took everyone’s breath away.
Once the photos had finished we then all headed back to the villa for more canapés, including a selection of local cheese and meats and Prosecco, where we got to catch up properly with our guests and relax after the ceremony. There were a wide range of delicious Tuscan canapés presented under a lovely awning decorated with sunflowers and white draping. We sat down to dinner alfresco in the garden of the main villa while background music played. After the speeches there was a DJ who played a mixture of songs based on a list that we had provided and he was also happy to take requests on the night. The food for the Wedding Breakfast was just delicious – we had spinach and ricotta ravioli to start, followed by asparagus and parmesan risotto. For main we had veal stew, Italian roast potatos and grilled vegetables. For desert guests ate the wedding cake. Our guests sat at six tables, three of which had a bird cage centre piece with a large candle in the middle and flowers intertwined through the cage. The other three had large bowls of water sitting on mirrors with floating mini sunflowers and candles. At the table, all adult guests were given a scratch card, which was presented in a cream and gold envelope which said “wishing you luck and love”. The children were given activity packs and sweet cones.
For our First Dance we chose Fleetwood Mac ‘I Wanna Be With You Everywhere’. Then for our Second Dance we had ‘Hey Ho’ by The Lumineers. We had some dance lessons prior to the wedding and had hoped to perform fairly well, but that all went to pot after a few glasses of Prosecco and we’d both forgotten most of the steps!
Music played in the background while we ate and a DJ played music afterwards. We felt a little guilty as guests were quite vocal all night and made requests for their favourite songs, but he didn’t seem to mind and had most requests available, which is no easy feat given the wide range of requests that were thrown at him!
Our photographer was David Bastianoni who took some absolutely amazing pictures on the day and captured the wedding beautifully. My husband and I are very camera shy and photography has never been something we were big on – however, David was easy to talk to and managed to get some really good shots of us, despite our rigidity!
I love the photo of my husband and I where he is picking me up in Certaldo Alto. Its great because this is the pose the man and woman on our cake topper were in. I also like the fact there are two locals looking on! I also like the picture where all guests are on the balcony of the main villa with Chris and I are at the bottom. I’m pleased we managed to get a shot with everyone in it.
One of my best memories was seeing Chris for the first time at the town hall, as we stayed apart the night before and he looked so dapper in his suit! The ceremony was beautiful, we just love the traditional Italian vows which focus heavily on family and being loyal to each other.
We lost the cake topper and I didn’t get to walk through the Old Town as the car dropped me off at the door of the town hall, other than that everything was perfect.
The wedding package totalled £18,000 and it was worth every penny! This doesn’t include the cost of the bridal parties clothes, accessories and the childrens cost of travel, which we paid for. To be honest it was a little over budget, but once the planning starts you get a bit carried away and the want for everything to be perfect takes priority over money!
After our wedding we got the train down to Sorrento and spent five days on the Amalfi coast, it was the perfect way to relax after the wedding. All friends and family either left the day after the wedding or on the same morning as us. Our train was not until mid day, so we had plenty of time to get to the station and by the time we woke up the majority of guests had already left, which meant we could escape realtively unnoticed.
The Bridal Consultant
Certaldo Alto Town Hall and
Villa Gambassi, Italia