We have posted a few pictures below (that we took with our phones). But most of the day we just soaked it all in – followed around by our own personal paparazzi, so more professional pictures and video to come later.
Here are the highlights:
We had our own unique rehearsal dinner with 5 Euro pizza and 4 Euro wine. We decided to handwrite our vows to each other on a homemade scroll (since we didn’t have a printer). We set everything up and practiced a few times, except reading the vows – which we saved for the ceremony so they would be a surprise to each other. It was a perfect way to relax before the big day.
One of my favorite moments was the morning of the wedding – walking through the busy fish market on my way to the salon, while fishmongers did a sing-song trying to sell their wares. It was so uniquely Venice – not too many brides probably have that experience!
Stefano (who did my hair a couple of weeks ago) was back on the job and fixed me with a soft up-do with flowers that matched my bouquet. All of the flowers were delivered to the salon, which is directly across from Palazzo Cavalli (city hall), so it made it all very festive.
Gondola to Palazzo Cavalli
The hour came, and Frank and I walked hand-in-hand back through the fish market to the gondola stand. We were due at city hall in 30 minutes and would meander through the small back canals to get there. Just us with no photographer, so we could reflect on the meaning of the day. We were so happy and so excited. (The pictures we have are selfies, which is why they are a little off-center.)
Finally, we arrived in front of Palazzo Cavalli, where our photographer and videographer were waiting on the dock to film our arrival. The gondolier circled a few times, while our paparazzi ran from dock to dock yelling instructions. Our official day had begun.
We met our wedding planner, Chiara D’Angelo of Exclusive Italy Weddings, on the quay. Chiara has been the best – from helping us meet up with Bruno in Naples to obtain our documents to helping us schedule each moment of this amazing day. She and her team have been a pleasure to work with, and we could not have done this wedding without them.
Chiara ferried us into the Palazzo, where a school group was on a field trip so all applauded when we walked in. We went up the stairs to the tune of Vivaldi and realized it was our violin and cello duo already set up. I think our smiles grew even bigger.
Before the more traditional ceremony, we started in a small antechamber and had to declare ourselves to the Mayor and take certain oaths. Then we moved into the ceremony room as the music started. Frank stood at the front, and I slowly walked toward him to Wagner’s “Marcia Nuziale” (“Here Comes the Bride”).
Then we had to say take the official, legal vows, such as “Do you take this man/women?” – the answer being “Si.” All of this was in Italian with an English interpreter.
Then the exchange of rings and a Bible reading from 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is Patient and Kind . . . ). These verses have special significance to me because they are traditionally read at any wedding of a Kappa Alpha Theta. I have read this passage at the wedding of many of my sisters and could feel them cheering me on as I read at my own wedding.
And then the part we had really been waiting for – our vows that we had handwritten the night before. It was finally time to share them. It was very emotional.
We finished up by officially signing our wedding certificate in front of the Mayor, while our duo played Handel’s “Water Music.” And then were declared husband and wife. Our duo started up with “That’s Amore” while we kissed and had our first dance – “When the moon meets your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore . . . .”
The ceremony was supposed to be streamed on the Internet to be played back by family and friends, and we looked up into the camera in the corner and greeted everyone at home. (Alas, we found out that this part did not work – so we may all just have to wait for the professional version.)
The Palazzo Cavalli is on the Grand Canal with a balcony that has a stunning view of the Rialto Bridge. We had our wedding portrait made there and also had pictures with all of the dignitaries that were part of our ceremony.
Chiara and group told us to wait 5 minutes before exiting the building – they would go first and have the cameras set up. So we waited and slowly emerged, while everyone yelled “Auguri” (congratulations) and threw confetti. What a fun moment!
Then we boarded a beautiful wooden water taxi boat with our photographer and videographer. We stood up in the back and felt like movie stars making our way down the Grand Canal. The sky was so blue, tourists on vaparettos cheered as we went by, and we could not stop smiling and laughing. We were married!
The driver took us down the Grand Canal and out to the bigger Canal by St. Mark’s Square, so our photographers could get pictures with all of Venice as the background. He drove slowly around in a circle, as we kissed and were filmed from every angle.
St. Mark’s Square
Finally, we pulled up to the dock, where Chiara was there to meet us. We slowly made our way (with photographer and videographer) through St. Mark’s Square, where we posed for many pictures – from our photographer – but also from dozens of random tourists who all seemed so happy to be part of our moment. I think some even were crying.
The Florian is a cafe that has been on St. Mark’s Square since 1720. It is special to me because my parents first took me there, and I remember them dancing to the Florian Orchestra. I took Frank back there a couple of years ago, and it was one of our favorite spots. So my family arranged for us to have our first toast there. They were all in on it – my parents, my sister, Cindy, and her family, and Aunt Barbara, Uncle VA, and Aunt Jan from Texas. My parents and Cindy even sent the napkins from their weddings to be used during our toast. It was a very special moment.
Then it was across the Square for our Wedding Lunch at Ristorante Quadri. It is a famous restaurant that has earned a Michelin star and, at times, been called the best in the world. Our paparazzi took pictures as we sat down and then left us alone, so we could relax and enjoy the rest of the day. We had a 7-course tasting menu (with wine pairings) that took all afternoon. We had a private dining room all to ourselves with a window overlooking St. Mark’s Square. It was truly a moment in time.
At the end of the day, we walked back through the streets of Venice to our little apartment. We stopped off in a church near St. Mark’s Square and lit a candle for our new marriage and prayed for our families. We feel so blessed and thankful for each one of you. What a very happy day!