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BONBONWHIMS Founder Clare Ngai’s Intimate Wedding Weekend at Villa di Piazzano

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Stefano Santucci Studio and Mattia De Nardis

|Planning by 

FNC Agency

Clare Ngai, founder and CEO of jewelry and accessories brand BONBONWHIMS, and Eddie Howard, senior director of strategy at LexisNexis, were brought together via a dating app. “At the time I was living on the Upper East Side and Eddie on the Upper West Side, so we did a lot of our initial dates at Central Park and were definitely both regular passengers on the cross-town bus just to see each other,” Clare shares. “Looking back, it was quite romantic in the most New York way!”

After two years together, Eddie proposed in their apartment over a homemade meal. Clare had already designed her dream engagement ring with Diamond Registry during a trip to see her parents in Hong Kong. And while with her father, Eddie asked him for his approval. “Somehow my dad, who doesn’t speak much English, was able to say the phrase, ‘You have my blessing,’ to Eddie,” Clare says. “I suspect he had been practicing too.”

Like many couples, Clare and Eddie had originally planned to say, “I do,” in June 2020 in Upstate New York and ended up cancelling the event. They had already gone to City Hall for their license by the time the pandemic set in, so they didn’t feel immediate pressure to exchange vows in front of a larger group.

In 2021, Eddie ran the Berlin marathon, and the two decided to check into Villa di Piazzano in Tuscany afterward. “Literally from the first steps we took inside the villa, I knew this would be just the spot for us,” Clare says of her wedding venue. “I actually had to really convince them to let us have our wedding here because it’s not the kind of place that’s set up to churn out weddings, and the only reason they even considered us is because we had previously stayed there and agreed to have a very small sized party: seven guests including ourselves.” To help bring their elevated, spring Tuscan vision to life, the couple hired Christiana Bellusci and Francesco Di Pinto G. Cavalli of FNC Agency.

For her wedding weekend wardrobe, Clare opted for a lot of designer vintage. To the rehearsal dinner, the bride-to-be donned a white Prada dress with a bejeweled neckline that she had purchased at Designer Revival years prior, nude Aquazzura Tequila heels, and pearl clip earrings from Happy Isles. She also wore some of her own jewelry like the dainty initial pearl ring and the blue birthstone ring.

Clare always knew she wanted to incorporate her cultural background into the wedding. “Not seeing my family for almost four years made it that much more important that my roots were celebrated at this reunion in their presence.” the bride exclaims. The night before the tea and wedding ceremonies, Clare’s mother combed her hair 10 times while repeating blessings for Clare and Eddie—a ritual local to Hong Kong. “It was a very intimate and peaceful moment just between us and I will always cherish this memory.”

On May 21, 2023, Clare first put on her red and gold–embroidered wedding dress (裙褂) from 冠南華 in Hong Kong. The mother of the bride accessorized her daughter with the same earrings and rings she wore on her own wedding day and family heirlooms like a jade pendant necklace and a pearl ring. And Clare got ready with makeup artist and hairstylist Nelli Nelipovych, who also helped the bride prep for all of her looks throughout the weekend.

After the tea ceremony, Clare wore her strapless Chantilly lace Reem Acra dress. “The best part of this look is definitely the matching lace bolero that the atelier custom-made for me,” Clare gushes. “It’s the sweetest jacket that I was able to detach easily after the ceremony.” She also styled her bridal look with Jimmy Choo’s Bing 100 heels and her Double Ling Bling ring. Lastly, Clare changed into a nude vintage Narciso Rodriguez dress and Aquazzura Yes Darling mules.

The bride walked down the aisle with her father to a classical rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” “Whenever we hear this song, no matter which version, Eddie and I tear up at the same moment, it’s the weirdest thing!” Clare exclaims. “I was so emotional, remembering how the last three-and-a-half years of being his wife, though legally, never felt quite ‘complete’ until this moment.”

As soon as Eddie—who was handsome in a tuxedo by The Armoury—started reading his vows, a storm rolled in, and it started pouring so hard that Clare couldn’t hear all of his words. “All the umbrellas started popping up quickly, and in the most unexpected way, our small group got even more close-knit standing in the garden,” she recalls. Then, Clare’s father made a heartfelt speech in Cantonese, followed by Clare’s mother’s translation in English.

Once announced as married (again), the newlyweds joined their intimate party for the relaxed Tuscan supper. At each seat was a personalized, handwritten note from Clare to her guests on stationery illustrated by Jill Delavan.

For dessert, the couple cut their millefoglie. “It was easily the best dessert I’ve ever tasted,” Clare remembers. “We toasted one another once again with sweet moscato wine and officially wrapped up this very special day!”