Anna Maria was supposed to stay in the night she met her future husband, Andrea Dante. She was studying for an exam when some friends came by her house, mistakenly thinking she was joining them for dinner. Since they had come all the way to her home, Anna abandoned her plans to study and joined them. Almost as soon as she entered the London members’ club, she noticed Andrea.
“I thought to myself that he was the most handsome man I had ever seen,” Anna says. “It was definitely love at first sight—at least for me!” Andrea was similarly smitten. “I was left speechless—impressed with her grace, elegance and the disarming smile on her face. In a few moments I realize d that she would be the woman of my life.”
“IT WAS DEFINITELY LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT—AT LEAST FOR ME!”
Although the couple knew they wanted to be together and had started talking about marriage and even looked at places to hold the ceremony, the official proposal still came as a surprise to Anna.
“Andrea and I travel a lot; that’s what we both love. We’re always on the go, looking to visit the most unique places in the world. So when we were on some remote island, on a cruise, or on an Orient Express-style train, there were a few times I was sure he would pop the question,” she says.
Instead, Andrea proposed on a casual night at home. “It was the most perfect moment,” remembers Anna.
They searched all over the United Kingdom and abroad for the most beautiful wedding spot. They knew they’d found it when they visited Lake Como’s Villa del Balbianello.
There was only one problem—having been the picturesque setting for Star Wars and the James Bond film, Casino Royale, there were no available dates for years. They put their names on the waitlist and while they hoped their dream venue would open up, they moved forward with planning a small ceremony in the UK. They were delighted when one day they got an email informing them the Villa had an available date. They wasted no time planning an event to match the Villa’s grandeur.
Borrowing from 007’s style, Andrea and his groomsmen arrived at the ceremony by hydroplane. Anna and her family did things a bit more conventionally, taking a Venetianstyle boat.
The religious ceremony, which was performed in Latin, took place in the Loggia Segre, with the mountains and lake serving as the most stunning natural backdrop. The guests, decked out in traditional morning dress, moved to the Villa’s upper terrace for the reception.
“Although the location was amazing on its own, I am very happy that we put our own touch on it and the character of the event very much corresponded with us as a couple,” Andrea says.
Anna wore a sophisticated gown by Moscow-based designer Svetlana Lyalina. In addition to a majestic 8-meter cathedral train, it featured a pearl-encrusted, bespoke lace bodice expressly created to resemble the Villa’s intricate patterns. A matching hairpiece and 12-meter, pearl-dotted veil completed the look.
The couple’s honeymoon was equally glamorous. They cruised from Japan to Singapore on Cunard Line in the old-school Titanic spirit, complete with traditional dress code.
Location: Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como, Italy; Wedding Dress: Svetlana Lyalina