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An Enchanting Wedding in Parma Where Italian and Sri Lankan Cultures Met

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Lenny Pellico

|Planning by 

Centorose e un Tulipano

Erin Alexander, a product manager at Spotify, and Matteo Godi, visiting lecturer at Yale Law School and a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, met through a mutual friend while they were both attending Yale. Erin’s roommate was hosting a dinner party for her colleagues, and Matteo was the chef. Erin crashed the evening. “I still like to joke that it was his homemade gnocchi that really won me over.”

Matteo proposed five years after they met, almost exactly down to the minute. He had organized early access to the MoMA because the law firm he was working at was hosting an event there. On the fifth floor, completely alone except for the two of them, he got down on one knee in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Once engaged, the couple knew they wanted to get married close to his Italian hometown, Ponte Taro. To help plan everything, they hired Centorose e un Tulipano and made several trips overseas to visit venues and meet with vendors. The pair ultimately chose Castello di Tabiano, an 11th-century castle perched in the hills of Parma, to host the celebration. And Kelsey Mae Calligraphy set the tone for guests with her beautiful work on the stationery. 

Because Matteo is Italian and Erin’s mother is from Sri Lanka, they worked hard to incorporate elements of both cultures into their day. The Catholic mass was conducted in Italian and English, and the mother-of-the-bride wore a traditional wedding sari. 

For the July wedding, Erin found her dream dress at Saks Fifth Avenue’s Bridal Salon in Manhattan with her mother and sister and largely credits her consultant, Christopher Maldarella, for helping her choose the one. He suggested she try on a new Marchesa gown, and once on, she fell in love with the French lace and contrasting black velvet band.

Erin’s “something old” was a pair of diamond earrings from Sri Lanka that belonged to her late maternal grandmother. And to complete the bridal ensemble, she chose black Dior heels. For the reception, she changed into a custom, short, beaded mini dress and a pair of strappy Gianvito Rossi heels.

In the church just a few hundred yards away from the venue, Matteo waited for his bride in his cashmere-silk wedding suit custom made by Prada at their Milan flagship and paired with Moreschi shoes. Both of Erin’s parents walked her down the aisle, and the bride recited her vows in Italian, while Matteo said his in English. “When I saw Erin for the first time, as she walked down the aisle against that bright July afternoon sun, I was stunned,” he says. 

Right after being announced as married, the first part of the reception—the aperitivo—began in the gardens of the castle. During this time, Matteo was formally admitted to the D.C. Bar. “Matteo is the first in his family to graduate from college, and because we knew that his grandparents wouldn’t be able to fly to the United States and witness him becoming a lawyer, Guido Calabresi, a federal judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for whom Matteo was clerking at the time, administered Matteo’s attorney oath while in Parma,” Erin explains.

After the aperitivo, guests made their way up to the courtyard for dinner. They found their seats at tables set with white tablecloths and dark burgundy and caramel florals. To highlight the food from Italy’s 2020 Capital of Culture, the meal started with a risotto alla Giuseppe Verdi, served in a Parmigiano Reggiano crust, and followed by raviolone filled with San Secondo spalla cotta ham in a Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce. The main course was a black pig filet with porcini mushrooms, Prosciutto di Parma, and black summer truffle. Each course was paired with wines from the region. To finish off, Matteo’s favorite—a millefoglie with Chantilly cream and fresh berries—and a traditional Sri Lankan wedding cake that Erin’s mother made were cut and served.

In-between speeches, the newlyweds had their first dance to Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” right after the sun had set. Then everyone moved down into the cellar of the castle in a converted club to finish celebrating the night with a DJ and full bar. 

Two days after the wedding, the new Mr. and Mrs. headed to Formentera island for a mini-moon, and when things are safe again, they plan to travel to Sri Lanka, so Erin can share her family’s home and heritage with her husband.