Start Slideshow View Grid Start Slideshow 40

A Wedding in Lake Como with 1,000 Paper Cranes Scattered Around Villa Lario

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Lost in Love Photography

|Planning by 

WeddingBox Lake Como

Melanie Fortune and Daniel Luntz first met in their business class at the University of Rhode Island, but it wasn’t until their senior year that they began dating and eventually moved to New York City together.

Seven years later, Dan asked Melanie to marry him while they were on a trip in the Grand Cayman Islands for her birthday. He proposed with a Stephanie Gottlieb Fine Jewelry engagement ring, catching Melanie completely by surprise. 

The newly-engaged couple had no doubt they would host a destination wedding. “We absolutely love to travel, and Italy came to mind right away,” Melanie shares. Two months after the proposal, they zeroed in on Lake Como as the ideal locale. A venue tour through the area helped the couple decide on Villa Lario Resort in Mandello. “When you pull into the property, it feels like an escape from reality,” she describes. “The calmness, privacy, beauty, and exceptional staff make it feel like your own private home on the lake.” To bring the vision to fruition, she and Dan enlisted Sally Sephora from WeddingBox Lake Como to plan the wedding. Lost in Love Photography documented every special moment on camera.

Finding a bridal dress was fairly straightforward. “I was truly inspired to have my wedding in Italy when I first saw the FW ’20 Monique Lhuillier collection shot in Lake Como,” Melanie confides. She stepped into Amina Muaddi heels to complete the timeless and romantic ensemble. The Studio Como completed her glowing beauty look.

Daniel chose Brunello Cucinelli for his wedding weekend outfits, including his dark blue ceremony tuxedo. He honored his late grandfather by wearing his antique Rado watch.

On June 11, 2022, guests congregated on the villa helipad and took in the lakeside view. Riccardo Ciceri and his team created breathtaking floral arrangements, including the open arch at the end of the aisle. While guests meandered through the rose garden, a harpist and violinist serenaded the crowd before strumming Sam Smith’s “Latch.” Melanie made her way to her groom with her father beside her. Their officiant, Dan’s uncle Peter, presided over the ceremony. Before the couple exchanged vows, Dan’s brother and Melanie’s brother shared a few readings. Once pronounced as husband and wife, guests tossed rose petals and moved to aperitif hour. This cocktail period was so delightful, it was actually extended. “Our guests were enjoying themselves so much,” Melanie confesses. “Delicate, small bites and Aperol spritz were in every hand.”

Melanie scattered 1,000 paper cranes throughout the entire venue. “It was important for me to honor my Japanese tradition of 1,000 cranes to represent happiness, prosperity, and good fortune,” she adds. Each one was made by the bride in the couple’s New York City apartment. 

Just as the sun set, everyone sat down for the al fresco dinner while Melanie’s father delivered a heartwarming welcome speech. Seats were labeled with Prosecco tags, and tables were bedecked with lemons, florals, and plates of burrata. Chef Luca’s second course of egg yolk-filled ravioli with black truffle was followed by a third course of white fish from the lake. In-between the meal, both the bride and groom’s sisters gave speeches. Everyone toasted with the Italian wine pairing selection of Falanghina and Chianti. 

The newlyweds then cut their Luca Mozzanica cake, which was punctuated by a firework show. The DJ and saxophonist wasted no time launching into musical accompaniment for the explosive moment. Guests danced the night away with their choice of Negronis, Manhattans, and espresso martinis in hand.

The next day, everyone returned to the villa for a final toast and dip in the pool. “It was such a special way to end the weekend surrounded by all our family and friends,” Melanie shares. Dressed to match this air of la dolce vita, the bride wore an V. Chapman dress from Over The Moon.

While the pandemic pushed their initial June 2021 date, both Dan and Melanie feel like the wait was worthwhile—they ultimately had their dream wedding.