• Photography By:

    Cristiano Ostinelli Photography


    September 21, 2017. Lake Como, Italy

    Melissa Stirling and Carlo Zola met at an old-fashioned dive bar on Abbott Kinney in Venice, California called The Brig. It was January 7, 2011, and both were with their friends as Carlo was visiting from London, and Melissa had just returned from a year-long trip around the world. Both noticed each other right away, but neither were expecting to meet their soulmate that night.

    While chatting outside the bar, Melissa captivated Carlo with her stories of Thailand from the past year, while she noticed Carlo’s style and charm.


     At first, she assumed she would never see him again. Within hours, however, she had an indescribable vision and knew he was the one. For Carlo, there was something magnetic about Melissa that instantly attracted him, and he’ll never forget the way he felt the first time he saw her.

    Five years later in 2016, Carlo proposed to Melissa at Burning Man. He arranged for all their close friends to meet up for a night out on the playa and, as the sun was rising, their song–“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”–started playing. Carlo popped the question, and it was a magical moment surrounded by friends and copious amounts of love.

    During the wedding planning process, Melissa had her heart set on a destination wedding on Lake Como, Italy, even though she never visited before. Carlo booked a trip for them to stay at Villa D’Este, and the two immediately fell in love with the location. “We were blessed to meet our wedding planner, Elena Pensini, who showed us our dream venue, Villa Pizzo,” Melissa adds. 

    “Elena was a wedding guru through the mountain of details and made our wedding dreams come true. Thanks to her experience and capability to always be in sync with me, we decided to follow her suggestion to involve Cristiano Ostinelli as part of our dream team. I’m so honored that my wedding photographer has been awarded as the 2017 Best Wedding Photographer in the World by the well-known International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers!”

    Melissa and Carlo’s Lake Como wedding was perfection. The ceremony was blissful, and the reception was one magical surprise after another. Butterflies adorned every detail, and the best of nature was represented by passionate and dreamy colors in rich reds and golds. 

    Art came alive through dancers and performers dressed as angels, butterflies, and flowers, and the bride surprised her groom by having his favorite chef prepare the wedding feast – two Michelin star chef, Carlo Cracco. As everyone gazed at fireworks, the groom also surprised his bride with a performer that was suspended above the lake. Like their friend Sandy said, “We were cuddled in love… It’s like we all got married.”

    “For our honeymoon, we traveled throughout Italy,” says Melissa. “We started in Venice, onto Florence, and then to Tuscany and Saturnia, one of the most beautiful natural hot springs. After soaking in crystal blue water, we headed for Rome and then the Amalfi Coast. We had one memorable meal after another and marveled at the beauty around us. We came home to one more surprise – we are excited to announce our son is due to be born on June 28, 2018!”


    Planner and Event Design: Elena Pensini Events and Concierge, Lake Como, Italy; Ceremony Dress: Pnina Tornai; Bridal Salon: Kleinfeld, New York, NY; Reception Dress: Galia Lahav; Groom’s Attire: Tom Ford

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