“You have to understand that in Los Angeles most people show up at a hotel pool in full makeup and lashes,” says Lauren Barnette, “but I was in casual mode, looking forward to a no-pressure girl’s day out hanging with a friend visiting town.” That friend, however, also invited a guy friend who invited Matthew Sanger along. “Matt had long hair, tattoos and was edgy and interesting enough to hold my attention,” says Lauren.
Even so, when he asked for her phone number, she politely declined. “I had just gotten out of a relationship,” Lauren explains.
“THE MOST MEMORABLE, MAGICAL NIGHT OF OUR LIVES.”
In the elevator, descending from the rooftop pool, Matthew surprised himself by declaring, “I don’t even know her, but I’m going to marry her.” Not to be deterred, he engineered a group dinner date and brunch, so he could see Lauren again.
Matthew introduced Lauren to his spontaneous globe-trotting ways, leading them to some of the most remote locales of the world. Together they explored more than 40 countries, so when he announced a trip to Vienna it was not surprising. What was different this time was that he asked her to pack a formal gown for the Vienna State Opera.
Meanwhile, Matthew was orchestrating an elaborate proposal. “Details matter,’ he says. “I wanted everything to be perfect for her.” Layers of subterfuge included having a courier deliver the ring to Europe; dressing for the opera in Vienna, but driving past it; and fake dinner reservations and a private jet to Venice.
Matthew’s plan to propose in St. Mark’s Square with photographers and many bouquets of her favorite blush-pink garden roses unfolded perfectly. “All I can remember were the bystanders clapping as we hugged and cried,” admits Matthew.
The couple decided to share one of their favorite places with guests by marrying at Villa Pizzo in Lake Como, Italy. “It’s like waking up in a storybook,” says Lauren. On their wedding day, however, it was gloomy and raining, but the skies cleared just in time. The outdoor ceremony, overlooking the lake and under a bower of Lauren’s blush pink garden roses, went off without a hitch, though both bride and groom say it was a blur.
The intensity of the culmination of eight months of planning left Matthew at the altar willing himself to remain upright and breathe, while Lauren, coming down the aisle between her mother and father, struggled not to cry. “The pictures of us are hilarious. We both look ready to pass out,” says Lauren, “but it was so beautiful and we were so overwhelmed with emotions.”
After a wardrobe change, the newlyweds made their way down a double staircase to the reception. They stepped up to the see-through dance floor revealing 20,000 live roses and danced for the first time as a married couple. “Being up there with all our loved ones’ faces smiling at us was surreal,” says Lauren. Music, speeches, dinner and dancing followed, making for “the most memorable, magical night of our lives,” she adds. As three flavors of cake topped with edible flowers were served under glass domes, the lights dimmed and fireworks, set to music carefully programmed by Matthew, exploded the skies in a dramatic highlight.
A two-and-a-half-week honeymoon started by celebrating with friends in Saint-Tropez, and then helicoptering to a chartered yacht. The couple cruised Sardinia, Capri, Corsica and smaller islands for a week, snorkeling, exploring and relaxing. “My wedding diet went right out the window,” laughs Lauren. Then, on to Switzerland where Lauren says, “It’s so beautiful I felt like I was in the middle of The Sound of Music.” Lauren and Matthew returned to Los Angeles, where she says, “We are so excited to start the next chapter of our lives.”
Location: Villa Pizzo, Lake Como, Italy; Photography: Tali Photography; Planner: Exclusive Italy Weddings, Venice, Italy; Event and Floral Design: Vincenzo Dascanio Event Production, Milan, Italy; Wedding Dresses: Galia Lahav; Groom’s Attire: Tom Ford