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This Couple Headed to Italy for the First Time to Host Their Destination Wedding in Rome

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Matteo Crescentini

Anne Isabelle Javellana and Christian Roman Pauly, who met in their high school math class in the spring of 2009, decided to host their wedding in Italy—where neither of them had been before—on a whim. “We have zero Italian in our blood nor do we have any connection to Italy,” Annabelle explains. “But with family all over the country, we couldn’t decide where to host our wedding, so I started doing some research ‘for fun,’ and the idea of an Italian wedding was seeming like it could become an amazing reality.”

Annabelle took on the role of the wedding planner, as she had experience doing events for Lou & Grey and J.Crew. “Of course, there are some challenges that you face when you’re planning a wedding in a country you’ve never been to and where they speak a language you can’t speak,” she remarks. The bride only saw her reception venue, Casale del Gallo, which she found on Google, in person five days before the ceremony. And the property’s host and wedding coordinator went above and beyond helping her organize everything.

In order to get married in a Catholic Church in Rome, they had to have a civil wedding in the States beforehand, and on February 20th, 2019, they said, “I do,” at New York City Hall. Months later, the Italian wedding weekend kicked off with a pizza welcome dinner, followed by a day of exploring the city. Then the rehearsal dinner was hosted at nearby vineyard Fattoria di Fiorano

After getting engaged, Annabelle saw photographer Olivia Rae James Suárez’s Instagram photo of a bride wearing a Delphine Manivet wedding dress and knew that was exactly what she wanted to wear. She tried the gown on at The Mews Bridal and it was further confirmed that it was the dress for her. To complete the look, she wore a Delphine Manivet lace topper, Jennifer Behr earrings, and a silk slip from Laure de Sagazan and held a bouquet from Anthea Studio.

On the day-of, Annabelle got ready with the beauty team from Ruslana Regi, and her bridesmaids put on floral dresses they had each picked out with gifted Nicola Bathie earrings from the bride. Christian wore a navy tuxedo from J.Crew with a pair of velvet Ferragamo loafers—a Christmas gift from his bride-to-be. “The perfect Italian wedding shoe for an Italian wedding in Rome,” she says.

At the historic San Sebastiano Fuori Le Mura on the Appian Way, Annabelle and Christian were married in a beautiful ceremony. “Getting married in an Italian church that is under the Vatican Diocese was definitely not easy to coordinate but so worth it,” the bride remarks. And at the end of the service, a memorable moment occurred when the couple whispered to remind their priest about their first kiss. 

Once married, the newlyweds headed to their aperitif with plenty of Aperol Spritzes and a string section accompanied by a tenor singer. “It really made it feel like an Italian garden party,” Annabelle says. “One of my family’s favorite movies is Step Brothers, so we had to relive the Catalina Wine Mixer with ‘Con te Partiro.’”

Dinner was a four-course meal—and half of them were pasta dishes. “I think our favorite was the handmade mushroom ravioli with fresh truffle,” the bride remembers. “It was unlike anything we had ever had before.” And after three hours, the new Mr. and Mrs. cut their traditional Italian millefoglie cake and had their first dance to “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Then Annabelle had her father-daughter dance to Kygo’s remix of Whitney Houston’s “Higher Love,” and a live saxophone player surprised everyone in the middle of the song to invite guests onto the dance floor. “That was one of my favorite moments of the entire night,” the bride says.

Of course, “September” was the kick-off song for dancing, as the wedding was on the 21st night of September. And then the reception came to a close around 3:00 a.m.—just missing the rain at 5:00 a.m.

Since the married couple had never been to Italy before, their honeymoon was spent in Tuscany, Florence, Matera, Cisternino, and Monopoli—Puglia was their favorite. It will certainly be difficult to top their first trip to Italy, but I’m sure this couple won’t mind returning to try.