Emily Samulka, a design consultant, and Jordan Persiani, a mixologist, had been dating for seven years when they became engaged during a particularly meaningful time for Emily’s family. “My grandmother’s health was failing,” explains Emily. “Originally, Jordan had planned to propose later in the year, but due to the circumstances, he thoughtfully asked my grandmother’s permission before popping the question in front of my entire extended family. It was a joyful surprise.”
The California-based couple found the perfect venue when vacationing the summer before their August 6th, 2016 wedding. “We were in Italy, and Jordan’s mother had found the most beautiful residential castle for us to stay in,” says Emily. “After just one night, it hit us, and we knew our search was over.” Sitting in the northwest town of Leivi, the rustic castle was the ideal place to celebrate with a small group of friends and family. “It’s also steeped in family history,” adds Emily, “which was perfect for the occasion.”
Deciding on the attire confirmed that this was an international affair. “I ended up wearing dresses from the U.S., England, France, and Australia,” admits Emily. NYC-based stylist and close friend, Calvy Click, styled Amy for the big day. “I wanted Emily’s looks to fit the different atmospheres, but not overpower the occasion or her cheery personality. I also wanted her to have fun with this rare opportunity to dress up in an Italian castle, so we worked together to select each garment with a different setting in mind,” explains Calvy.
For the ceremony, Emily wore a customized “Francesca” gown from Reformation, slightly altered to emanate a summery vibe. “I knew this piece was for me because I wanted all-over lace with a plunging neckline, and as soon as I tried it on, I felt completely sassy,” Emily says. The additional dresses included a romantic ruffle sleeve look from Delphine Manivet that was paired with a wide-brimmed sun hat, an enchanting “winged” dress from Grace Loves Lace, and an eye-catching embellished ensemble from Needle & Tread (the groom’s favorite). “Jordan loved the final sparkly look,” smiles Emily. “It turned out that I had saved the best for last.”
Treating the castle with the splendor it deserved, the couple decided to slowly reveal it to guests throughout the evening. “We chose to have the ceremony on the street level portion of the property so we could have a view of the sea in the distance,” says Emily. Family and friends gathered under lush green trees as Emily made her way down the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, and rolling hills spotted with villas stood as the backdrop when the duo exchanged vows. “As the ceremony concluded and we walked up the aisle, everyone set off confetti fireworks with a loud ‘bang!’ We were thrilled and surprised as blue streamers and rice flew in all directions. I thought my heart was going to explode from all of the happiness I felt in that moment,” Emily remembers.
The aesthetic was inspired by the 1993 film, The Secret Garden. “Everything about the venue—the multi-tiered yards, rich gardens, slated walkways, and narrow corridors—reminded me of the magic of that movie,” says Emily. “We wanted something effortless, yet still dreamy and intimate for our guests who traveled so far to celebrate with us.” With small details top of mind, the décor included olive branches from the property that were woven together with twine, flowers from a local shop, votive candles, and pompoms of all sizes.
Emily commissioned calligraphist and good friend, Jaymie Eaton, to create signage for the festivities. “Along with my wedding invitations, Jaymie created a spirited ‘Cin Cin’ (‘Cheers’ in Italian) banner for the reception and flags with our initials that flanked the castle’s gate,” Emily says. “I was completely blow away by her!”
The celebration wrapped up with toasts and dinner, where guests continuously encouraged the couple to kiss by clapping to a traditional Italian wedding chant, ‘Bacio, Bacio’ (‘Kiss, Kiss’ in Italian). “It was so incredibly sweet,” reflects Emily.
In true Italian fashion, the newlyweds took a stroll down the quaint streets after leaving the castle. “It was the perfect setting to reminisce,” says Emily. “Glamorous gown included!”