Destination Wedding

Justin Alexander for an Italian destination wedding at Villa Antiche Mura – Joannah & Josh

30th July 2019 | Sarah Symonds

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We’ve gone full-on Italian with our couple, Joannah and Josh’s classy, simple and beautiful Sorrento wedding today on the blog.

Joannah and Josh chose to swap Warrington in Cheshire for sunny Sorrento in Italy for their big day, and we’ve followed their overseas journey to give you all the enviable details. It might’ve taken Josh a couple of attempts at the proposal, and for Joannah it was second time lucky with the dress, but they certainly tied the knot in style to make up for it! Yorkshire meets Italy for this sun-soaked celebration featuring lots of lovely lilac and sage green.

Follow us from the exclusive ceremony at the Museo Correale di Terranova to the beautiful coastal reception. Making the most of the Italian sunshine, the Villa Antiche Mura served up an abundance of Italian food and hospitality, in typical italian style, on a glorious May day in Sorrento. We’re covering the perks of having an amazing local wedding planner to help suss out the venues and arrange the little details. Meanwhile, having lemons in fancy dress as cake toppers is a new one for us! Read on to get the full story.

With images by Teresa C Photography

Proposal

Joannah says: Josh had planned a surprise party for my 30th birthday and had planned to propose then. He bought my ring in September and my birthday was 13th November. Unfortunately, my granny passed away at the end of October and her funeral ended up being on the Tuesday before my birthday party on the Saturday. Josh didn’t feel like it would be right to carry on with his original plan as my family and I were still very upset.

Instead he finally did it on Christmas Day 2016. God knows how he managed to keep the ring hidden and not lose it for all that time! He bought me a Michael Kors jewellery set for my Christmas present and when he fastened the necklace round my neck for me, he slipped the engagement ring on to the chain as well! Safe to say I was very suprised and over the moon!

Setting

We got married on 31st May 2018 in Sorrento in Italy. We were planning on 5th October, when we were originally planning to get married in England, as this was the same date my grandparents got married and I wanted to include my granny in the wedding somehow. Then, I was talking to my friend Hannah about the different venues and the proposed costings from each, and she asked me if I could get married anywhere in the world and have whatever I wanted, what would I do? My answer was instantaneous! I love Italy, we used to go for family holidays all the time when I was younger, and I’ve been back multiple times as an adult. So, I talked to another friend and our wedding photographer Teri and she recommended a couple of wedding planners in Italy who she had previously worked with. Once the decision has been made that Italy was the place, we settled on the 31st of May for the perfect weather.

Our ceremony took place at the Museo Correale di Terranova and our reception was at the stunning Villa Antiche Mura. We chose these venues after viewing them with our chosen wedding planner, Victoria from Sophisticated Weddings. Victoria recommended the museum and, once we’d seen it, we were blown away by the beauty of the museum gardens. They were perfect for photo opportunities, had cooler shaded areas and most importantly we would not feel like we were on a conveyor belt as we would be the only wedding there that day. The gardens were closed to the public for weddings so we had total privacy.

We viewed four other reception venues with Victoria but she ended our day by showing us the Villa Antiche Mura and she definitely saved the best for last in our opinion. It ticked every box for us. One of my requests was to be able to be close to the sea as I love water. Although the villa is up the cliff it has its own private beach which was a perfect quiet bit of paradise. There is a stunning tree with fairy lights wound around it, which we both adored. The views of the bay of Naples were stunning, as well as the villa itself. We wouldn’t have picked anywhere else!

Theme

We didn’t really have a theme but when we were thinking about our tables and what to call them, we decided on naming them after places we had been together and loved, or places that had significant memories there. We had Sorrento, Delft, Lac du Parloup, St Ives, Warrington and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Our colour scheme was lilac and sage green. I love purple it is my favourite colour. Josh was happy for me to decide on the colours although I did check with him before ordering anything! The sage came from his sister, Olivia! More on that later!

I also used the Brides Up North blog for inspiration for the colours of the flowers and styles of dresses I might like.

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Dress

I had a very difficult time choosing my dress! I’m not fussy, I just knew what I didn’t want! I don’t do bling and I knew that I didn’t want a strapless dress. At home I’m a jeans or shorts and a hoodie kind of girl and I don’t own many dresses so it was important to me to find something I liked, which was different to the norm and as light as possible as it would hopefully be a glorious Italian summers day.

The dress I wore in the end was actually the second dress I purchased! I did love the first one, but it wasn’t really what I had in my mind and so, as time passed, I questioned my decision. It was a beautiful Italian lace number, which is what I think drew me towards it to begin with. But, after taking my mum and her best friend to have a look at it again they both persuaded me to spend the rest of the day looking around other bridal boutiques, because they thought I wasn’t as happy with it as I should be. We spent the rest of the day visiting other dress shops in Cheshire and, although they all had some stunning gowns, they were all either not me or they were unfortunately out of my price range.

I was beginning to get a bit frustrated and thought that I would never find something I really liked within my budget. Finally I googled bridal shops in our area and ended up managing to get a cancelled appointment at Puure Bride in Lymm. Angie, the owner, was fabulous and she was able to spend the time with me that none of the other assistants in the other shops had. She also shared her knowledge and experience of what looks good on various body shapes etc. After talking to me about my thoughts, she asked if I would let her bring me some dresses into the fitting room which she thought would work, rather than me looking through them first. I was very happy to do this and, finally, we found the one!

It was a stunning Justin Alexander gown with an optional sash and bow. It had spaghetti straps and was very simple but elegant, completely plain matt ivory material; the shape of the dress at the top was what made it so different. It was still bigger than I thought I would go for but made me feel instantly like a princess. We decided not to have the sash that came with the dress and instead to create one I liked to better complement the dress, with a bigger bow which was edged in pearls and clear crystals.

I paired my dream dress with Rainbow Club shoes and a long veil which was edged in a thin line of ivory material.

Groomsmen

Josh was adamant he was going to wear shorts and I agreed! He bought all the waistcoats and trousers in stone grey from ASOS and then the seamstress turned the trousers into shorts. They also wore white long-sleeved shirts with the sleeves rolled up and grey belts. They wore Toms for comfort. The bow ties were made by Josh’s Auntie Sally; she made some in lilac, some in sage and then Josh’s was reversible and had both colours, one on either side.

Cameron our son and page boy wore the same as well, however his suit was bought from JJ’s House online.

Bridesmaids

I knew I wanted my bridesmaids to wear the Twobirds multiway dresses and they came in a lovely lilac colour. Then, when we all went to Swan Brides Boutique in Congleton to try them on, Josh’s sister fell in love with the sage green coloured dress. The colour really suited her and, after enduring her hints, I decided that the two colours worked well together. So, we had the ballroom length jersey multiway dress in sage green and the ballroom length jersey dress with tulle in lilac.

Our daughter Lottie, my flower girl, was in a simple ivory dress to match mine, with a matching sash and bow at the back with pearl and clear crystal embellishments on the sash. This was from Puure bridal in Lymm, like my dress.

Beauty

We used Jimena Puy Brides Make-up & Hair, who is a fabulous makeup artist and hair stylist in Sorrento. She asked if I wanted anything in particular but was quite happy when I told her to try whatever she wanted! I’m generally very laid back and, other than the fact that I wanted my Granny’s pearl hair barrette (my something old!) to be used I was happy to let her expertise take over.

Transport

Victoria hired a car from a local firm for us, which took my dad and me to the museum, then took Josh and me from the museum to the villa after having photos taken. Everyone else walked round from the museum to the villa as it was a very scenic five-minute walk.

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Photographer

Our photographer was Teresa C Photography. She is amazing and I would recommend her in a heartbeat! Regardless of the fact that I knew Teri already (we went to primary school together!) she is a fabulous photographer and I have stalked her wedding photography for years, waiting for it to be my turn!

She makes everyone feel completely relaxed in front of the camera and, as someone who hates having her photo taken, she calmed me down, made me laugh and I adore every single photo she took. There is no way I would have had anyone else and, nearly a year on, I still cannot stop looking at her work!

She was also very patient with my daughter and helped to coax her out of a diva moment when she had had enough of being photographed. She goes above and beyond for a perfect shot and her attention to detail is second to none!

Videographer

We didn’t have a videographer in the end and if I could do anything differently it would probably be this as I would have loved to have had the speeches recorded properly and other moments recorded that I may be missed.

Styling

The bridesmaids and I carried bouquets of faux flowers, which were amazing, and I don’t think you could tell the difference at all! They were made by Foam Wedding Flowers by Joanne in Maghull, Liverpool. I was worried about how they would travel but they were absolutely fine.

My bouquet contained foam lilac roses, lilies, gypsophila and some leaves for greenery, all gathered together with hessian and tied with ribbon.

The flowers at the wedding reception were provided by the villa and we had fresh cream roses as the table centrepieces. That was all the extra floral decoration we had as at the villa as we were in the gardens anyway and they are already stunning. They certainly didn’t need any extra decoration.

We used Wedding Chairs & Co for the bar at the museum and the chairs for everyone to sit on during the ceremony.

Cake

Our cake was provided by the villa and it was amazing! We had two lemons on top which were meant to be Josh and me. One of Josh’s cousins had made us a tiny top hat and little veil to go on the lemons but unfortunately her flight was cancelled and we didn’t get them. Instead, our fabulous celebrant Carmela drew some faces on the lemons and gave Josh’s lemon a leaf hat and mine a veil from a small piece of my underskirt which I had managed to tear putting my heel though it!

Favours

For our favours we had hand painted bottles of Limoncello, which is famously made all along the Amalfi coast. The bottles had a Sorrento scene on one side and ‘Joannah & Josh’ and the date of the wedding on the other.

The children received bags I made up for them with bubbles, colouring, glow sticks and a few other trinkets in.

Dining

We wanted to enjoy some of the amazing Italian food for our meals but also wanted to be able to give our guests a choice. We had some apperitives on arrival and then we chose Parma ham and melon or caprese salad for starters, a pasta course of either Spaghetti Bolognese or shrimp and lemon risotto, followed by baked lamb with Mediterranean herbs or Seabass baked in a spicy sauce. The children had pizza to start, Bolognese and then ice-cream. We then had a mixture of red and white Italian wines on offer.

Entertainment

We had a harpist at the ceremony to play whilst I walked down the aisle, as we signed the register and afterwards when we had a couple of glasses of prosecco before moving on to the villa.

When we arrived at the villa we had a lovely singer, Katya, who sang during the aperitifs and we finished with a DJ for some dancing at the end. These were both recommended by the villa and on the list of their approved entertainers.

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Special touches

There were lots of little things along the way. We had three readings during the ceremony, each one picked specially for their meaning to us and read by the people we thought would perform them best. We tried to include as many of our guests as we could in asking them to help us with bits before or on the day.

We had a lovely bar set up in the Museum gardens for after the ceremony so that the guests could have a glass or two of prosecco before walking down to the villa. We had drapes in the marquee with fairy lights in that the villa provided as extra, as well as Mr & Mrs light up letters. Really the setting itself was so amazing you didn’t need to do too much extra!

Thanks to

We would definitely recommend our venue to other couples looking to marry in Italy. Michele the owner and his team were very helpful at every stage of the planning and throughout the day itself. The place is stunning, the views and scenery are just unbelievable and so different to what you would get at home in England. It was also great value for money. For what we wanted in England we were looking at spending double what we paid for the most amazing day. All of our guests have remarked on it being one of the best weddings they have been to, not just for the stunning backdrop but the phenomenal Italian food and drink, the host’s friendliness and how family-orientated they are.

Best bit

I’m not sure I have one part that I loved most, although our first dance to Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli’s Perfect Symphony, when our son and daughter came and danced with us, was pretty magical. Before the best man also joined in and the crazy dancing began!

Honeymoon

We haven’t been on our honeymoon yet. As we were on holiday for the wedding we didn’t want to go straight away again, so at the moment we are still deciding on a destination!

However, our week in Sorrento was just what we needed and I would recommend the Amalfi coast to anyone thinking of going. We flew out with TUI on the Monday morning, got married on the Thursday and came home on the Sunday afternoon. We travelled as a group of 21 and others joined us in Sorrento just for the wedding day itself or a couple of days either side as well. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Parco del Sole in Sant’Agnello, which is just outside Sorrento but only ten minutes walk to the centre.

Advice

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to always do what is best for you. A few people were not happy that we did it abroad, but the people who could come and support us had the best time, as did we.

Also, don’t settle if you don’t have to. As long as you feel comfortable and it’s what you want. It is nice to get other people’s opinions but if you don’t agree with them do not let them push you into buying something/having a colour or something you don’t like and may regret.

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