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The Bride’s Watercolors Were Incorporated Onto The Invitations, Tablecloths, Dance Floor, and More For Her Wedding at Villa d’Este

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Kristen Kilpatrick

|Planning by 

The Lake Como Wedding Planner

After interior designer and Floretta Studio Founder Elaina Fagan and Wyatt Darden got engaged in the rose gardens at the Commodore Perry Estate in Austin, the two quickly set their sights on a destination wedding in Lake Como. Elaina’s family first visited Villa d’Este in July of 2006 and returned every summer thereafter. “My sister and I grew up exploring the gardens and water skiing on the lake,” the bride-to-be shares. “And my 10-year-old self decided I would someday get married there.”

Elaina and Wyatt, who made his first trip to Italy in 2019, set the date for September 10, 2022. “As an interior designer, I loved being involved in the design details,” Elaina shares. “I only had to pull up about three inspiration photos before Rachel and Taimar of The Lake Como Wedding Planner picked up on my vision and started coming up with ideas about how to bring it to life. We wanted bursts of color, layers of pattern, and a field of my favorite flowers, dahlias!” Kiana Underwood of Tulipina created stunning floral arrangements, nicknaming them as a whole: “The Dahlia Garden.”

To set the tone for the La Dolce Vita–esque weekend, the bride enlisted her friend of Katherine Jezek Design for stationery and Laura Lines Calligraphy for the calligraphy on her invitation suite. Elaina herself watercolored a version of the iconic Mosaic Garden—the ceremony venue—and florals for each invitation and the day-of goods. She took it a step further and incorporated the painted flowers and design motifs into the tablecloths, dance floor, and pajamas for her bridesmaids.

On Thursday, the couple welcomed their guests with a casual night at Una Finestra Sul Lago. Elaina wore a beautiful Carolina Herrera dress with a Bottega Veneta bag and shoes, Nicola Bathie earrings, and Celine sunnies. The next day, everyone headed on the refurbished historic steamboat The Concordia for a fun cruise around the lake. The bride-to-be rocked a Slim Aarons–inspired Emilio Pucci set and headscarf. That night, Wyatt’s parents hosted a stunning rehearsal dinner at Crotto dei Platani. For the last occasion before the ceremony, Elaina chose a flowing Giambattista Valli dress.

The bride describes her personal style “as vintage-inspired, dramatic, yet tailored,” and she hoped to find this in her wedding dress. With lace as her North Star, Lela Rose’s Rosewood dress featuring Chantilly lace was perfectly classic with a fresh, square neckline. “Once I had the lace dress, I decided my vintage bridal dreams required layers upon layers of lace and began the challenging search for a fully lace veil. I landed on a Monvieve mantilla veil that brought the drama I was looking for and pulled the whole look together.”

On the day-of, Elaina’s hairdresser since childhood, Kevin Wayne Murphy of Tease Salon, secured her into her signature sleek, classic low bun, while makeup artist Ashle Aligno gave her a glowing beauty look. The bride finished her ensemble with her “something old” and “something borrowed,” her great-grandmother’s pearl necklace. “Side note: When picking my dress, I wanted something that would be relatively easy to pack,” Elaina shares. “I actually was able to get my entire wedding wardrobe—wedding dress, veil, all of my shoes, bags, and dresses for each event of the weekend—into an Away carry-on.”

The bride’s sister and maid of honor complemented Elaina in a pink, green, and yellow floral dress by Monique Lhuillier, then all the bridesmaids picked out their own looks, playing off of the vibrant shades in Elaina’s sister’s gown. Custom lemon and trellis Nicola Bathie earrings were the finishing touches.

“It was such a pinch-me moment to walk down the Villa d’Este lobby staircase with my dad, as we have so many times before, and this time in a wedding dress!” Elaina exclaims. As the bride’s grandmother was one of the first female county judges in Texas, she performed both wedding ceremonies—a smaller civil ceremony in Texas and the larger I dos in Italy. “Having my grandmother marry us was something we had been looking forward to for so long, and it was such a memorable moment having her lead our vows. It was a short and sweet ceremony with a classic lecture we’ve heard from my grandmother many times before: ‘Who you marry is the most important decision you will ever make in your life.’”

Once declared as finally married, the newlyweds snuck off for their own private cocktail hour on a classic Italian boat. Then, they rejoined everyone for the seated meal. “We wanted the wedding to feel like a fabulous dinner party, like any other night eating at the hotel’s famous Veranda restaurant, just with a few more flowers and a side of dancing!” Elaina declares.

With dinner as the focal point, the tablescapes were paid closed attention to. Multiple colors of Ginori Oriente Italiano China were mixed throughout the tables with Elaina’s custom linens and watercolored menus, listing out favorite dishes like caprese salad, wild strawberry and balsamic risotto, chicken Milanese, beef filet, and eggplant parmesan. For dessert, many sweet treats were served, including individual chocolate tortelli and scoops from a gelato cart.

Elan Artists arranged the music for the day with strings during the ceremony, a small band during dinner with surprise opera moments, and a DJ with a live singer and saxophone at the after-party. The newlyweds had their first dance to “Say a Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin. “A song we both adore and always takes us back to nights at the Villa d’Este,” Elaina chimes in.

While on the main terrace to cut their traditional Italian millefeuille wedding cake covered with wild strawberries, the bride and groom again surprised their guests with a pyrotechnic display. Elaina shares, “Being the Queen fan that I am, the fireworks show was coordinated to the song ‘Somebody to Love.’”

After the formal reception came to a close, the two did a sparkler exit, and the bride changed into a lemon Dolce & Gabbana sequin mini dress. Everyone ended the night in the D’Este Club—a soundproofed room in the hotel. The DJ leaned into the Studio 54 vibe of the space and played ABBA for hours. “After a pretty formal evening, I loved that guests could let their hair down, throw on a colorful wig, and grab some pizza and an espresso martini,” Elaina says.

At one point, the newlyweds ended up behind the bar mixing martinis with their bartenders. “[It was definitely one of our favorite—although slightly fuzzy—memories of the night!” Elaina exclaims. She then adds, “The sign of a good night: Two of our friends had a super early morning flight out of Milan and flew back to the States in their dress and tux from the wedding!”