There were 42 of us that evening on the 17th May 2014 to mark the last celebration of our union. Mark and I held our private civil ceremony in Cambridge, UK, Chinese tea ceremony in Boston, MA and now our wedding reception in Lucca, Italy. But let this story not be about our wedding; rather I want to talk about a party, that was centered entirely on the notion of sharing our love for food & travel with close friends and family, and the people responsible for such a memorable event. That evening we sampled simple Tuscan fare, complemented by a view overlooking Lucca that varied in intensity as the sun began to set, casting a splendid glow all around us. Both Gabriele, proprietor of the villa and our wedding planner, Glenda Marradi, were instrumental in realizing our vision and guided us through all the details. They also led us to the caterers, Convivium Firenze, the geniuses who know how to throw down a spectacular spread. After a week of stalking the weather and praying for no rain our wish was granted but at the cost of a chilly evening. Thankfully there was much food and prosecco around to distract us. So we ate and we ate while our Italian singer serenaded us until it was time for dinner. We dined with fairy lights hung overhead and 3 outdoor heaters warming some of our backs – sorry friends, we should have had at least 4 more! As the evening wore on and twilight set in, a beautiful evening turned into a magical one. (I do want to specifically point out the below picture though, look and you’ll see the contrast of two different priorities: Mark is being a wonderful host and I…. am really focused on polishing my plate of papparedelle pasta with wild boar ragu.) The highlight of the evening was revealed to us in the form of a chef in a really tall hat. Instead of a wedding cake we opted for a “live cake” which is really just a live demonstration of the chef making an Italian version of a mille feuille, or Napoleon. So intense was the waft of fresh strawberries that many of us left the warmth of the heater and crowded around the chef, particularly when he started torching our dessert. The evening concluded with an outdoor dance party where we witnessed an orange-stained moon peeking over the cloud then quickly rising above it, capping off what I’ll always remember to be a magical Tuscan evening.
Note: I firmly believe that Tuscany is a magical place, so it’s not a surprise that the event itself was beautiful. But it took a lot of planning and creative direction on the part of Gabriele and Glenda to surpass our wildest expectations. There’s also Alison, who worked tirelessly throughout the day and into the night to preserve this special day for us, stopping only to eat and to have the occasional picture taken to document that she was indeed there. In other words, she is the epitome of awesome. You can find the rest of her work here: Alison Chang Photography.