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An Intimate Garden Wedding in Florence

By Alexandra Macon

In 2010, Tania Isacoff, a real estate broker at Brown Harris Sevens, was celebrating her 23rd birthday shortly after graduating from college with a party at a lounge on the Lower East Side. Her friend Lauren texted her earlier in the day asking if she could bring a friend. “Of course I said, ‘Yes,’” remembers Tania. “What I didn’t know was that her friend was a tall, handsome, Southern gentleman whom I was being set up with.”

Five and a half years after that initial meeting, Sam, who runs a real estate platform at a family office, proposed. “Since Tania and I both work in real estate, I surprised her by arranging a fake showing at a listing of hers,” explains Sam. “She was already waiting in the apartment for her client when I rang the doorbell with our toy poodle Lucy. Tania was so confused that she told me I had to leave as the client would be there shortly to see the apartment. I explained to her that I was in fact the ‘client,’ and I got down on one knee. I then surprised her with a dinner at The Mark Hotel with all of our closest friends. We were scheduled to go to a best friend’s home in East Hampton, but in the middle of dinner, our friend handed Tania a bag with a pair of espadrilles and sunglasses and told Tania she would need them for the weekend. Perplexed Tania immediately turned to me, and I explained that we were instead leaving the next day at 6:00 A.M. for a surprise weekend getaway to St. Barths.” The following morning the two jetted off for a romantic four-day weekend at Hotel Taiwana on Flamands.

Tania and Sam love to travel, and at the beginning of the planning process, they both quickly agreed on having a small, intimate wedding somewhere in Europe. “We try to take a special trip every summer, and we knew we wanted to get married in a beautiful setting in Italy or France,” explains Tania. “We wanted the aesthetic of the ceremony to be romantic and for our reception to feel like a really chic dinner party. Ultimately, we fell in love with the garden at the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence and knew that it would be the perfect venue for our wedding.”

The bride and her mother, who has an event planning business called My Flowerbox Weddings, handled the majority of the preparations for the event. “We used a planner named Kate Collins-Manetti to help us with the rehearsal dinner and other last-minute items like the welcome bags.”

For her wedding day look, Tania knew she wanted a strapless dress with clean and simple lines. “I went to every bridal atelier and tried on so many dresses!” she admits. Ultimately, she ended up choosing an ivory guipure lace gown by Oscar de la Renta with a long train and a slit up the front. “The slit made my traditional dress feel sexy and relevant, but it was still also very elegant,” says Tania. “I knew from the moment I tried it on that this dress was the one!” She complemented the look with emerald green Hangisi satin pumps by Manolo Blahnik. “They were perfect and so Florentine!” says the bride.

For jewelry, Tania wore her engagement ring—an emerald cut diamond with two baguettes from Van Cleef and Arpels circa 1950—a diamond and sapphire bracelet that belonged to her grandmother, and a pair of South Sea pearl and diamond earrings. “The earrings were supposed to be my ‘something borrowed’ from my mother, however, at the rehearsal dinner she gave them to me as a gift during her toast,” says Tania. “She explained that I had asked to borrow them, which she of course agreed to, and then she realized that she had purchased them the day she conceived me, and therefore, it was only appropriate (and her pleasure) for her to give them to me for my wedding.”

Ever the prepared bride, Tania did a hair trial with Ryan Cotton, her usual hair stylist in New York, and took lots of photos. Ketty from Renato Coiffeur then did her hair on her wedding day with those images as a reference. For makeup, Tania used Ana Matanovic, who did a very natural look with just a pop of color on Tania’s lips.

Sam wore a navy tuxedo by Ermenegildo Zegna, a Ralph Lauren shirt, Giorgio Armani tie, Belgian Shoes slippers, and a Rolex watch that once belonged to his late grandfather. Meanwhile, the bridesmaids selected their own dresses in a color palette of green, blue, or purple. “I wanted the dresses to feel garden-chic and romantic,” says Tania. “My maid of honor wore a gorgeous teal floral Dolce & Gabbana gown, another bridesmaid wore a mint green Elie Saab gown, Sam’s sister wore an absolutely beautiful floral Erdem gown, and my two other bridesmaids wore chic navy gowns. I love how all of these different dresses came together!” The groomsmen were in navy suits, white shirts, Hermès ties in a gray/blue colorway that Sam gave to everyone as gifts and black velvet slippers.

The ceremony took place as the sun was setting—birds were chirping and flying in circles near the Chuppah and the church bells from the Duomo were ringing in the background. The couple wanted everything to feel bespoke and personal so they asked their dear friend Spencer Schrage to speak during the service. “Words cannot express our love and gratitude towards him,” says Tania. “He was eloquent, poignant, relevant, and he really captured the essence of ‘us’ as a couple as well as our individual personalities. Spencer is like a brother, and it was so important to me that he had a really meaningful role in our wedding.”

“I think it’s rare during a wedding weekend for the bride and groom to be able to completely focus on one another and the ceremony was the perfect opportunity,” remembers Sam.“I was able to focus on Tania and take in how absolutely gorgeous she looked and think about how happy I was to be marrying Sam.”

“I’m usually a very anxious person,” admits Tania. “So I always thought I would feel super nervous walking down the aisle and standing under the Chuppah in front of everyone, but I felt totally relaxed and at ease. I was just so excited to be marrying my best friend.”

Immediately after the ceremony, guests were invited into the garden for cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres, and appetizers. Negronis and bellinis were passed on silver trays throughout the cocktail hour, and there was also a bar set up. “We wanted to make sure that there were plenty of cocktails being passed so our guests didn’t have to wait in line at the bar to get a drink after the ceremony,” says Tania.

Once the sun fully set, guests moved into a different area of the garden for a seated dinner. There were three long tables with low floral arrangements—only white, green and purple flowers—and a variety of candles—some tall and some short in crystal votives—and string lights twinkling above. “Tuscany Flowers was our florist and they really did an amazing job executing my vision,” says Tania. “During dinner fabulous duo Marco and Carlotta played the guitar and sang a mix of American and Italian songs. They were fantastic and really set the mood for dinner!”

Afterwards, guests were invited into the Conventino (the building was formerly used as a convent and this room was a chapel) where the newlyweds cut the cake and then there was dessert and dancing. “With some greenery, dramatic lighting, a fabulous bar set up (with a very chic peacock sitting atop it), and a few seating areas, we created an atmosphere that felt like a 1930s/1940s nightclub, modeled after the café society. And it really turned into a serious dance party!” They also had a gelato cart, passed desserts, and late-night snacks like mini burgers and chocolate chip cookies, and the dance floor was full up until the last song! “It really was important to us that our guests have fun and the best indication to us that they actually did is after the wedding so many of our friends asked for our other friends’ numbers and emails because they had sat next to each other at one of the events and wanted to get together with them again in NYC,” says Tania. “To me, that’s an indication of a fun party!”