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One year after Sonali Hemachandra and Harold Brumleve met for the first time at a coffee shop and took a stroll together, they returned to that very coffee shop and took the same walk – yet Harold had secretly planned for something special. Right before they arrived back at their vehicle, he dropped to one knee and proposed to his beloved. Of course, she said yes, and they began planning for their fall nuptials, only nine months later.
Though the pair resides in Colorado, they knew they wanted to host a destination wedding. To honor their love of Florence, Italy, Sonali and Harold selected a gorgeous villa property that shares the enchanting city views of the famed Piazzale Michelangelo, which thousands of tourists visit each year to experience the breathtaking vistas. “Since we were having an international wedding, we needed to think about special travel needs for our guests, as well as what activities would help them get the most out of the trip,” shares the bride of their focus on their loved ones’ experience.
“The most important aspect to me was that all of our family and friends got to and from Florence safely,” confirms the groom. “Once we were there, the magic of Italy took care of the rest.” To ensure 50 of their closest friends and family could enjoy the magical setting both before and after the nuptials themselves, the couple planned a private day at a Tuscan vineyard to welcome attendees, shared their love of a favorite Italian restaurant for the rehearsal dinner, and provided tickets to museums for some of their family members in order to create the ultimate memorable experience.
“The most important aspect to me was that all of our family and friends got to and from Florence safely. Once we were there, the magic of Italy took care of the rest.”
On the 21st of September – a date that the groom was thrilled with as an Earth, Wind & Fire band fan – attendees gathered in the villa gardens for the alfresco ceremony. White chairs dotted the manicured lawn, and the aisle was lined with lush arrangements of greenery and florals in soft tones accented with burgundy blooms. A quartet played string renditions of contemporary and classic tunes as loved ones took their seats. At last, the bride made her way down the aisle in a strapless lace gown featuring a sweetheart neckline to meet her groom beneath an elegant floral arch. After the personalized vow exchange, guests tossed rose petals in celebration as Sonali and Harold walked up the aisle as husband and wife.
Following an exquisite cocktail hour, friends and family traversed the grounds to the terrace overlooking the monuments of the city, including the Duomo, which inspired the red-toned accent hues of the soirée. Guests found their seats at a single table, with the newlyweds arranged in the center, their chairs decorated with fresh greenery, roses, and ribbon. In an effort to not distract from the exceptional views or hinder conversation throughout the dinner service, centerpieces of roses and hydrangeas in ivory, blush, and burgundy were kept low. “We wanted beautiful, yet understated, table finishes so as not to compete with the skyline,” share the bride of the décor.
As the sun set, twinkling candlelight along the tablescape and romantic bistro lights overhead provided a beautifully warm and intimate ambience for the festivities. Friends and family enjoyed flowing wine served in gold-rimmed glassware and anticipated the Italian feast to come with selections listed on an artistic menu tied with ribbon to a fresh sprig of rosemary. To add a personalized detail, each guest’s place setting also featured an individually boxed Sri Lankan wedding cake handmade by the mother of the bride.
After slices of two wedding cakes – a classic three-tiered confection and a traditional Italian millefoglie cake – were enjoyed, friends and family danced all evening to a fun mix of soul music from the ‘70s, hip-hop from the ‘90s, and songs by classic crooners such as Frank Sinatra. “There was an Oceans 11 moment where I got to just relax and look out at all of our friends and family dancing and chatting on a terrace overlooking Florence and the Duomo, all lit up, seemingly just for us,” says the groom. “Not only did I have the best day of my life, but I was lucky enough to be aware it was going on… It was perfect!”