It all begins as I wake from my jet-lagged haze on the morning of what will be one of the most memorable days of my life. I smile knowing today is the day I will marry the man of my dreams. I get dressed and start navigating my way through the labyrinth-like cobblestone backstreets surrounding our Venice palazzo.
It is very early in the morning. I travel past the closed masquerade stores filled with ornate masks displayed in the windows, past the smell of espresso coming from the small pasticcierias setting up for a busy day of tourists, dodging the street vendors already wheeling their portable stalls into place, each piled high with tourist junk (glitter masks, Italia jerseys, and Murano-glass fridge magnets), and past the screams of the fish market vendors bargaining for the catch of the day.
"I SMILE KNOWING TODAY IS THE DAY" - ANGELINA CAPOZZI
I finally arrive at the beauty store on the base of the Ponte di Rialto ready to get pampered in preparation for what will be one of the best days of my life.
On my way home, I admire the countless entrances behind which lie grand crumbling homes and lush ornamental gardens. Once I arrive home, everyone is awake and the photographers have already arrived, taking photos of Andy and his best man in the formal dining room. I sneak past hoping not to be noticed, as it is bad luck to be seen by your future husband 24 hours before the walk down the aisle. I go unnoticed and find my mother in the master bedroom getting my Steven Khalil fit-and-flare silhouette wedding dress prepared for the big day. My dress takes shape with a close-fitting sweet heart shaped bodice, held up by pearl straps, that hugs the body down through the hips and then gracefully flares out into a long train.
I feel the magic of putting on such a timeless and classical wedding dress for the first time. I love the way the semi-sheer lace and embroidery disappear down the dress. Putting on the long veil rimmed with gorgeous lace embroidery reminds me of the wedding dress my grandmother and mother wore on their wedding day. My perfume for the day is Chanel No.5 as it has a vintage feel and aroma to it which is exactly me. There is a reason Marilyn Monroe only wore Chanel No. 5. It screams timeless romance and its ultimate femininity makes me feel so womanly.
My dress is on, hair is done, make-up is applied, Andy and the bridal party have already left for the church by water taxi. It is now my turn to come out of hiding and all of it to be captured through my photographer’s lens. I love his distinctive style that harkens back to the elegant days of Princess Grace and Audrey Hepburn with a decidedly modern flair. I feel beautiful being photographed on the balcony of our Serenissima Palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal. What a more than perfect backdrop!
It is now time for me to leave for the church. It feels so strange that I have absolutely no nerves and the excitement inside is building. I make my way to the palazzo’s pier where the gondolier dressed in black and white stripes with a red neck scarf is waiting patiently to transport my dad and me to the church. It is a dream come true leaving by a Gondola. Not a cloud in the sky, people waving down from bridges and ferries gliding past. It is hard to resist getting intoxicated on the richness of this romantic city. I soak it all as the gondolier is singing ‘O Sole Mio’ purely for my benefit, drifting through small exquisite canals with boats scraping the bridges above, and Venice’s palaces, churches and museums offering their backdrop to my delight.
As I arrive at the canal entrance of the exquisite Baroque style church of San Moise, I am greeted by a thousand tourists lining the bridges and sidewalks of Campo San Moise hoping to get a glimpse of my dress. I put on white rimmed sunglasses to block the glare of the sun reflecting off the canal water below. My final touches are added to my hair and make-up and it is now time to make the grand entrance.
I can hear the four-piece Interpreti Veneziani String Quartet starting to play "Canon in D" by J.Pachelbel and I know it is time. As I enter the church of San Moise, I cannot help but to admire the great works of the renaissance on its walls. I feel in awe from spirituality that runs through my body as I think of all the happy couples that have been married here before. The butterflies soon subside as I see the smile on my future husbands face. The glimpse of him makes me feel so calm and relaxed; the smile on my face grows and grows as I make my way down the aisle past our 80 guests who made it from all corners of the world; Australia, United States, United Arab Emirates, UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, and even Siberia.
I walk down the aisle past round shaped white rose bouquets and white fabric covering each alternating pew, hurricanes with candles on the floor of each pew and rose petals scattered added a personal yet unique touch. I feel like a true day princess trapped in a fairy tale story that I never want to end. The ceremony conducted by Catholic Priest - Giuseppe Camilotto is perfect. He uses his witty humor to make everyone laugh and add a personal touch to the wedding when he describes Andy and me and our love for surfing in Bondi beach together, along with other things we share as a couple.
Then comes the most memorable moment when we walk out of the church as husband and wife for the first time with the copula’s bells ringing, to be greeted by all our family and friends holding white paper cones with gold ribbon, filled with white rose petals ready to be thrown up in the air above us; along with hundreds of onlookers from all around the world trying to work out if we are some celebrities.
We make our way past shuttered designer stores to escape the heat and enjoy a Bellini at Harry’s bar in San Marco before our session with the photographer. As the day turns into early evening we are lead through the most famous parts of Venice in search of those special moments to be captured on camera. We feel like we are celebrities with constant flashes following us but the only thing that matters to us both is the love we share for each other. The gold-laden Basilica di San Marco that consummated our love provides the perfect backdrop in the distance.
It is hard to stop ourselves from thinking how lucky we are to be married in such a unique city that has survived all odds, built on a series of low mud banks amid the tidal waves of the Adriatic, and regularly subjected to floods. Every time one walks somewhere there is something new to discover, with more than 12 million visitors a year that succumb to the magic of this improbable place, whose streets are full of water and where the glories of the past are evident at every turn.
As the evening approaches and the sun is setting, it is now time to make our way to Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal in San Marco, where all our guests have finished up their cocktails and canapés, waiting for our arrival. The pastel-hued fairy tale palace of Hotel Monaco’s ballroom is embellished with large mirrors, lacquered consoles and immense Murano chandeliers. The mosaics crafted from multicolored gems and elaborate ceiling frescoes invoke neck strain.
The ballroom is a sophisticated blend of Baroque and minimalism furnished Venetian style 1600’s converted theatre, such a magical place where time has stopped. The reception is decorated to keep with the Venetian theme. Two grand long imperial tables and a table at the head for the bridal party are decorated with white flowers along with tall candelabras. Greenery and tea light candles line the tables with gold angels placed at the head of everyone’s plate along with gold name plates. A Polaroid camera waits at the entrance where everyone can take a photo and place in our guestbook next to the wishes they want to share with us on the day.
The reception food is delicious; we have an entrée of young crawfish with porcini mushrooms alternating with scallops on a sweet pepper crust and aubergine sauce. It is followed by homemade ravioli filled with fish and red prawn sauce alternating with cannelloni filled with seabream au gratin. Afterwards, sorbetto palate cleansers are served before our main courses of beef fillet alternating with sea-bass in a light potato crust and prosecco sauce arrive. The cake is the traditional Venetian custard Millefoglie, round with four tiers and decorated with white icing and flowers.
Our speeches are special in their own unique ways. They reflect all different parts of our lives together, how it was love at first sight when we first met; spotting each other from across the room. Even the special story of how Andy proposed, surprising me with a five day trip to New York for my birthday, organizing a lunch in Central Park at the Boathouse followed by a horse and carriage ride through the park before taking me to the most beautiful park bench. The bench was engraved with the year we met which overlooked the most beautiful lake, getting down on one knee Andy asked me to marry him, leaving me to mutter ‘Yes’ three times, and not being able to stop the tears from rolling down my face.
After our blues inspired wedding dance of Etta James “At Last”, the night continues till 4am with lots of dancing and drinking. As the night came to an end and it is time to walk back to our palazzo, taking in all the beautiful sights of Venice deserted at night without a tourist in sight except for a few seagulls and fluoro-vest-clad street sweepers. Andy and I pause whilst gazing at the arresting view of the Grand Canal through our arched second-floor windows from our palazzo balcony, whilst sipping on a glass of Italian Prosecco and without saying anything we think to ourselves; “this is VENICE - So many things; the past that is always present. A fairy tale wedding come true!”
Location, Caterer, Cake, Linen and Lighting: Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal, Venice, Italy; Event Planner: Italy2Wed, Venice, Italy; Event Design and Planner: Carmel Capozzi, Melbourne, Australia; Floral Design: Munaretto Flowers, Venice, Italy; Wedding Dress: Steven Khalil; Entertainment: Godot Jazz Quartet
Engagement Ring: William Goldberg; Entertainment: Godot Jazz Quartet, Verona, Italy