It was a rainy evening in March of 2010 when a mutual friend invited Christie Lauren Leli and Salvatore Bacarella to a group outing over drinks. “I normally don’t get romantic, but there was something different about her,” Sal remembers. “Her silky long hair, sparkly almond eyes and perfect smile drew me in like there was no one around us.”
Their first date took place two days later, and it soon became apparent that the pair had a special connection. “As I grew closer to Sal, I realized how attracted I was to his work ethic and alpha male personality,” Christie describes. “From day one, I have truly admired and adored him.”
“SINCE CHRISTIE AND SAL WERE ENGAGED IN PARIS, THEY DECIDED TO HAVE A DESTINATION WEDDING AND CAME UP WITH THE THEME, “LOCKING OUR LOVE AROUND THE WORLD.”
Sal proposed during a surprise Christmas trip he planned, making sure not to disclose their destination to his future fiancé. The couple ended up in Paris, where Sal had arranged a tour of the Eiffel Tower with a “private tour guide,” which was code for a photographer he hired to capture the moment. When the photographer failed to show up, an elderly Frenchman nearby offered several times to take their picture with the Eiffel Tower in the background until the couple obliged. While posing in front of the iconic structure, Sal knelt down on one knee and popped the question.
Since Christie and Sal were engaged in Paris, they decided to have a destination wedding and came up with the theme, “locking our love around the world.” A breathtaking Lake Como villa in Italy completely embodied their vision, with wrought iron gates at the entrance, old world craftsmanship and detailed architecture. When they were back stateside, Christie spent hours with The Wedding Company in Manhasset in order to design the perfect invitation and crest, which would later be used throughout the wedding décor.
Attending bridal fashion week inspired Christie to design her own couture wedding gown with good friends and designers Jesus and Antonio Estrada. The dress was a silk/satin mix, with a high French lace neck and trumpet silhouette. She and her mother Denise Leli custom designed a one-of-a-kind tiara adorned in Swarovski crystals, freshwater pearls, and silver leaves that matched the lace leaves in the bodice of her dress. Her veil, which was five yards in length, also tied in seamlessly–after waiting seven months for ensemble to be complete–topped off with Christian Louboutin shoes, Christie was ready for her picture-perfect day.
As the bride made her way to the church in a classic Rolls Royce with her parents, they were greeted by gorgeous sights of the lake and mountains, as well as church bells ringing upon their arrival. After the nuptials, the newlyweds were in awe of how the villa looked.
A banquet table for their 50 guests was surrounded by white roses, hydrangeas, peonies, gold accents and candelabras. Loved ones were treated to a European-style dinner, heartwarming toasts, dancing, and personalized touches like gold broaches that served as place cards at each table setting.
Location: Villa Erba, Lake Como, Italy; Floral Design: Figli dei Fiori, Lake Como, Italy; Caterer and Cake: AFM Banqueting, Milan, Italy; Wedding Dress: Jesus and Antonio Estrada; Veil and Headpieces: Christie Lauren, Manhasset, NY; Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin; Stationery: The Wedding Company,
Manhasset, NY; Cinematography: Ray Roman Films, Miami, FL; Photography: Alain Martinez Photography, Miami, FL