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This OTM-Styled Bride Said “I Do” in the Medici Family’s Former Villa in Tuscany

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Lisa Poggi

|Planning by 

Exclusive Italy Weddings

Melody Dai and Ross Cussen first swiped right on Bumble in November 2019. By the end of December, they had their first date. Two years later, Melody and Ross visited the Bay Area to see his mother. For some reason, Ross insisted he and Melody follow the outing with a detour to Pacifica Beach and let their dog Hamilton run around the shore. As they watched the sunset, Ross launched into a preamble with “forever” and “always.” Then, much to Melody’s surprise, he was on one knee with one crucial question: “Will you marry me?”

The newly-engaged couple planned their fall wedding in romantic Italy. “More specifically, Florence because of the city’s history and beauty,” Melody clarifies. “And we thought it would be a fun escape for our closest friends and family, especially in a sort-of-post-pandemic world.” Villa Corsini, a villa just thirty minutes outside of Florence, served as the best setting to accomplish this. Plus, it had its own renown and famed tales as the former site of the Medici family’s parties. Martina Coppino at Exclusive Italy Weddings planned the three-day celebrations with Lisa Poggi photographing every picturesque moment. While the couple did not have an official wedding hashtag, Melody’s friends tried to make #RideOrDai happen. . .

Melody immediately turned to Over The Moon Styling Services for assistance. Anny Choi helped source looks for the Welcome Cocktails—an Oscar de la Renta dress and yellow Staud sandals—and the reception after-party—a short feathered number from Cult Gaia.

For her wedding gown, she sought something that would complement the Italian villa’s dreamy grandeur. “I also looked for something a bit more classic that would stand the test of time,” she adds. After visiting four different bridal stores in Los Angeles, Melody returned to Monique Lhuillier once more. This time, she turned to an in-house Monique Lhuillier consultant, Lindsay Gordinier, who told her they could customize dresses. Melody seized the opportunity to turn the Celestina into her ideal gown. They removed the sleeves and created straps in their place. She purposefully put her hair into an updo to show off the gown’s detailed back. Her bridal beauty look was soft, low-key, and dewy thanks to artist Giulia Cresci.

Before the wedding ceremony, Melody wore a traditional Chinese longfeng qungua, which was lent to her by her godparents. She confides that she put on the dress “mostly for pictures and good luck,” as this outfit is supposed to bring auspicious tidings to a marriage.

With all of Melody’s outfit changes, it was only fitting that Ross gets one. He switched into a black tuxedo jacket from his white J. Crew dinner jacket for the reception. “Given the ‘black tie optional’ suggestion for the reception. . .” Melody says, “Our dog, Hamilton, also wore a custom tuxedo harness!”

While it was supposed to rain on September 26, 2022, somehow, the sun showed up to watch over the outdoor ceremony with a blue sky in attendance. “It was such a relief!” the bride remembers. She, her mother, and her brother walked down the aisle while a string quartet strummed “Canon in D” and “A Thousand Years.” Her late father, with whom she was very close, would have loved to walk her down the aisle, so she included a small photo charm of him in her Fluida Design wedding bouquet.

The couple’s good friend, Lamiaa Soliman, served as the officiant. She did so well, Melody thinks she should officiate professionally. Melody mentions, “She was able to weave in so many aspects about our relationship as well as life generally and was incredibly thoughtful and personal.” The couple then exchanged their own vows, leaving each other in the happiest of tears. After saying “I do,” they exited the altar to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.”

Initially, the reception was supposed to be outside, but the weather impeded those plans. “Luckily for us, Villa Corsini has an incredible ballroom space where we could set up one long imperial table,” Melody shares. Served beside candlelight, the food was definitely a highlight of the event. “Usually, wedding catering is pretty mediocre. I don’t know how Salza did it, but every course was perfect,” she gushes about their Truffle & Friends’ salad, pumpkin and amaretti ravioli, and Chianina beef with sides. “We had friends saying that it was even better than some of the meals they had in Florence, if you can believe that!” A Chantilly wedding cake with raspberry coulis filling followed the meal, along with a gelato cart. As soon as the newlyweds sliced into their cake from Sugar Spice Bakery, a firework show erupted and dazzled all of their guests.

The toast lineup featured Melody’s cousin, Christina, Ross’s brother, Andrew, and Melody’s brother, Tino. “He had been preparing the speech for a while and wanted it to be perfect, which it was,” she admits. Lastly, a family friend read a speech prepared by Melody’s godfather. He was unable to attend due to health complications, but his words of wisdom as someone who has been married for more than 50 years nevertheless resounded. The live band, The Shakes, brought everyone to the dance floor. Melody and Ross shared their first dance as a married couple to Kina Grannis’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

The party lasted until two in the morning. When Melody and Ross finally left and returned to Florence that night, all she think about was how wonderful it was to be standing underneath the stars in a Tuscan villa with her husband.