Italy Comes To Colorado
Floral Designer | Petals N Grapes
Specialty Foods | Espresso Affair
Other | Peak Beverage
Italy Comes To Colorado
Floral Designer | Petals N Grapes
Specialty Foods | Espresso Affair
Other | Peak Beverage
There’s a venue here in Denver that reminds me of the home my grand-parents built in Northern California… tan stucco arches and dark brown tiled floors, it’s not something you typically see here in Colorado. The lighting is always so beautiful here and as a Photographer, that’s something I notice while shooting weddings. If this venue were around back when I got married, I definitely would have had my own wedding there, without a doubt. It’s called the Villa Parker, and I’ve always dreamed of what my wedding would have looked like here. This past September, I finally got to see my vision in real life!
I’m in love with Italy… in fact, it’s my favorite country to visit. The Mediterranean climate and landscape, reminds me of home back in Northern California. I wanted this shoot to be as authentic as Colorado could do it… I wanted to show achievable options with this shoot so Brides can actually make this happen for their own wedding. So many styled shoots are over-the-top and un-realistic and I did not want that for this. Of course, the aesthetic of the Villa Parker was the perfect setting. “Villa Parker is a stunning Colorado wedding and special event venue. Located just south of Denver, this Mediterranean estate with its grand entrance and vibrant gardens warmly welcomes friends and family to share in your special occasion. Whether you’re indoors surrounded by endless archways celebrating the night away or outside in the courtyard marrying the one you love, your Villa Parker event will leave you and your guests with amazing memories talked about for years to come.”
For the florals, I could really only see that soft greyish green of olive leaves, mixed with lots of texture and maybe a subtle pop of citrus. Pam from Petals ‘N Grapes nailed it. She saw I was looking for a florist and was all over it! The gorgeous arrangements in the fountain were the centerpiece of the ceremony set up, and the table runner was absolutely perfect! Just like a real wedding, we used some pieces from the ceremony into the reception – the aisle décor went on the back of the chairs at our table-scape. Printed items have to be cohesive and help tie everything together. Meagan with Whimsy Design Studio was my first choice since we did a wedding together and I was super impressed with how well she did. I loved her soft green, watercolor-like design for the invitations, programs, place cards, and menus. She even helped style the shot for the invitations (check out the little extra details she brought like the ring box and vintage stamps)! Notice anything special about the Bride & Groom’s names?
The lounge set up from Wallflower Décor was perfect, and I love having options for where to photograph models – they always have just the right touch with styling! The also brought the rustic table we used for the “antipasti” and “dolce” set up, and the wine barrels & boxes for the bar (which were borrowed from the wine aficionado from Elway’s in Cherry Creek – fancy! They went above and beyond to get everything I wanted for the shoot. They didn’t have a few things in house, and that didn’t stop them from making it happen! “It all started with a party, as good things always do. Jenni & Andrew met through friends and knew from the beginning it was forever. They love throwing parties and are experts on setting a mood, creating a vibe, and making guests right at home.”
Antipasti – this was a challenge getting together! Italians love their food and it just wouldn’t be an Italian shoot without it! Being that it’s September, and the busiest month for Colorado weddings, I couldn’t find one catering company that would commit to helping with this project, even with begging and pleading. I completely get it. With time running out, I decided to just do it myself and picked up a few key ingredients at Tony’s Meat Market, a high-end gourmet deli and market. I made a batch of Italian wedding soup, a charcuterie board with Italian meats & cheeses, bruschetta & tapenade, meatballs & marinara, caprese skewers, and an “olive bar” with Italian olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Speaking of Italian olive oils and balsamic vinegars, I just had to have little bottles as “favors”. There was only one choice in my mind, and that’s Lucero. American Olive Farmers since 1947 in Corning, a rural Far Northern California community known for producing delicious olive oil for over a century, Lucero is the “standard”, period. One of my friends from high school got married a few years back and had sample bottles of Lucero for her guests, and I brought home as many as I could (and coveted them till they ran out). I loved that idea and wanted it for this shoot. Due to my fan-girl status, they agreed to work with me and sent a case of the most perfect product for us to use! We had the Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil, accompanied with the Bianco white balsamic vinegar and adorable little bottles. Lucero’s mission is “to produce premium quality extra virgin olive oil that meets the highest standards of taste, quality, and nutritional value for the health and pleasure of you, your family, and your friends.”
Italians are revered for their wine, Prosecco, Lemoncello, and even sangria (I know it’s more Spanish, but that still counts for Mediterranean). Peak Beverage, Colorado’s premier beverage catering service was the most perfect choice. Adam, the owner, brought plenty of beautiful bottles to fill the bar with, and made us some authentic Italian cocktails! They photographed beautifully and he included the recipes and featured wines below:
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz Thyme Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Top with soda water
Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh Thyme in Collins glass
1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Contratto Rosso Vermouth
Stir and serve in coupe. Garnish with orange peel
4 oz Italian Red Wine (We used Santa Christina Toscana)
1/2 oz Blood Orange Liqueur (Solerno)
1/2 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Leopold’s Blackberry Whiskey
Top with lemon-lime soda and serve in wine glass over ice
garnish with blackberry, rosemary sprig, and orange (blood orange if available)
Santa Christina Toscana
Arcanum 2005 Toscana
Santa Margarita Brut Rose
Mia Dolcea Moscato D’Asti
Marchesi Incisa Della Rocchetta “Felice” Moscato D’Asti
Dolce… the best part! Of course, there were the must-haves… cannolis, tiramisu, and gelato! Rene with Little Bites Bakery did a beautiful job with little tiramisu cups (YUM), some shortbread cookies, biscotti, and cake pops! We also had some super yummy tiramisu macaroons from Honeycomb that were the bombdiggity (I ate most of them myself after the shoot) :O I was not able to find anyone to do actual gelato (ice cream yes, but not gelato), so we did it ourselves anyway… You can’t have a wedding without cake! This was masterfully made for us by the amazing Kelley Kakes! Even though this particular cake is actually Styrofoam filled, we imagine the insides to be lemon buttermilk pound cake with fresh berries, or perhaps a banana cake with Nutella mousse filling (reminding us of those crepes we had on the street in Venice that one time…). She also offers Italian rum cake or white chocolate cappuccino cake with a variety of decadent fillings. With Kelley the options are endless, even when it comes to the design – she is pretty freakin’ amazing!
One of the coolest things we’ve seen in our many years of shooting weddings is The Espresso Affair, a coffee bar catering company. Say what? Yes, you can actually have a catered coffee bar for your event, and Bill’s team knows how to do it right! Their set up is not only impressive, but they actually know how to make everything on the menu to perfection.
Bringing all of these things together are the hand-lettered signage done by my pal Krista with Always Rooted. She even made the most adorable little “Mr.” & “Mrs.” signs for the chairs, but in Italian of course “Signore” and “Signora”… I also loved the idea of a welcome sign and one featuring one of my favorite options for couples, an “Unplugged Wedding”. Krista nailed it! So many times I see guests distracted with their phones during ceremonies. Personally, I think it’s more important to be completely present and engaged for such an intimate event. When you have your phone in front of your face, you aren’t truly “there”, and consider it kinda rude to the couple you’re there to celebrate (especially if they’ve asked you to put them away). Selfishly, as a wedding photographer, it also turns “that guy” or Aunt Mary into a wedding photographer, and they’re just in my way, or I get requests to “photoshop that out”. #annoying
How beautiful the table-scape came out! It was so much fun picking out the details at the Event Rents showroom. They were extremely helpful on this shoot and I just loved how everything looked together! The classic flatware and stunning glassware filled the table and it made me swoon the way the lighting came through the cut crystal goblets!
The classic, yet tragic, Italian love story. I couldn’t resist….but you will see how it couldn’t be more perfect with this shoot at the end of this copy… kinda makes me giddy… Jessica the Bride is a wedding planner friend of mine, and I love how exotic she looks. I also didn’t want anyone waif-like…that just doesn’t make any sense to me in an Italian shoot, and Jessica is a gorgeous, curvy woman – the perfect Italian Bride! She brought her own shoes, but I put together a little “Bridesmaid’s gift” box with prosecco, an Italian Linen scented candle, stemless class, and a little bling.
The Martina Liana lace dress was on loan from The Bridal Collection, and Jordan was amazing to work with. It’s no surprise she is a Master Stylist – she helped fit the model’s curvy figure to the perfect dress and knew exactly which would work for this shoot. I also wanted a lace trimmed, long veil and they had the perfect one, check out the dramatic “veil blowing” shots! The Bridal Collection is a team of diverse women who believe that magic happens when women look and feel their best for the most important occasions in their life.
Logan from The Glam Team, knocked it out of the park with Jessica’s hair & makeup. Glam Team is a premier, award winning, hair and makeup company specializing in Bridal hair & makeup. Evan, our Groom, was so sweet to work with and incredibly professional. We hired him through the Wilhemina modeling agency here in Denver, and loved how tall and handsome he is! He looked stunning in the suit from Jos A. Bank. The Italian sports car cufflinks were found on Amazon, and so rad…
A few months ago, I was contacted by Joe from Groovy Guy Gifts offering to provide a sample for one of my shoots, and I thought, “I have the perfect one”. He sent a laser engraved wooden box containing a personalized flask and pocket-knife… something our Romeo would give his Groomsmen, for sure! Incredibly high quality and beautifully packaged, I loved incorporating this into the Groom’s details.
I really couldn’t believe it when Jodi, the Marketing Director from John Atencio agreed to help me with this shoot! John Atencio has designed fine jewelry in Colorado for more than 40 years. Each piece of fine jewelry hand designed by the legendary Atencio has its own compelling story. More distinctive, more personalized than any other jeweler’s designs elsewhere, John Atencio’s fine jewelry is precious and lasting.
Bellisima Ring in 18K White Gold with matching band: #26740
Confetti Necklaces in White gold – 2 lengths: #40417 & #40415
Essence Pave Huggie Hoops in White Gold: #41744
Men’s Eclipse Ring in 18k White Gold: #21058
Pantheon Chronograph Watch with silver Milanese band: #37485
Bocce anyone? Bocce ball is a relaxed but strategic game with an ancient lineage. It gained massive popularity with the influx of Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. It’s basically a lawn game played with balls and we got a set for the “ring shot”.
Finally, my most favorite part of the whole shoot… the car (this is where I get so excited)! I am a total “car girl”…I grew up going to car shows with my dad (sometimes reluctantly), and I love incorporating them into my styled shoots. They are such a “cool” element and always demand attention. It’s so fun getting the models to engage and pose with them! For this, I HAD to have an Alfa Romeo, period.
Alfas are a part of my family history. My parents met at an Alfa Romeo meeting. My Dad is known as the “Alfa Doc”, and quite well-known in the Alfa community. My Mom used to race an Alfa, and even on their honeymoon, they adventured in an Alfa-only road rally across the country back in the 70’s. I’m thankful that my parents didn’t actually name me “Alfa” (it was considered). Instead, they named me after my Dad’s first Alfa, his first car a Giulietta which he still has in fact, as Giulianna. So you see, it had to be an Alfa. How much better it would be if it were a convertible?! I dream big, and I obsess, and I’m sure I can be somewhat annoying about things – I can’t help it …because “Go big, or go home”. Since my Dad knows people, and even though he lives in Arizona, he put me in touch with a guy…who put me in touch with another guy. This guy is Scott Walker, and he is the President of the Rocky Mountain Alfa Owner’s Club. He and his adorable wife Vicki own a red 1960 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce convertible and were more than excited to help. I got a little misty while shooting the models with it… I just couldn’t believe it was there in front of my camera! They are so rare, and it was so perfect!! Pam added the garland to the back and there it is… my vision complete.
Special thanks to my Assistant Missy for helping out so much on this shoot!! The girls from the Villa were wonderful and set up was perfection. Thanks to my Dad for knowing a guy who knows a guy…