When Nicole Balestrieri walked into the home she shared with Pasquale Abbatiello after work, he surprised her with a proposal surrounded by a romantic display of flowers, candles, and balloons. “It took me by surprise because Pasquale was supposed to leave on a bachelor party the following day,” shares Nicole of the engagement. “He proposed told me that instead of going, he planned a trip just for us to the Bahamas!” 

The couple, who reside in New York, knew they wanted a destination wedding in Italy. “We had traveled to Italy three times together before getting engaged, and we always said we wanted to get married there,” shares the bride. Since Pasquale had worked as a chef in Tuscany, they narrowed the choices of picturesque places to say “I do” to the gorgeous region. “We have spent many summers traveling to Italy and we both have our ancestry coming from Italy, so it was nice to bring together our cultures, as well as a destination that we feel so connected to,” adds Nicole. 

Since the couple wanted their ceremony to feel intimate and personalized, they had the groom’s sister marry them in front of 85 of their closest loved ones. “She played an important role in both of our lives, and we felt she would be able to execute the personal ceremony we longed for,” confirms Nicole. “I remember standing there, overlooking the Tuscan hills and thinking, This is exactly why I wanted to get married in Italy. It felt like it represented us, was a true experience for everyone, and I never felt so happy.” 

The alfresco late-summer celebration overlooking the verdant landscape set an essentially blank canvas for the décor. “Since Tuscany is predominately greenery, I wanted flowers that popped and made a statement,” explains the bride of her vision. Guests sat at long tables, which were adorned with linen table runners, high and low floral arrangements, and romantic candlelight. “I wanted an emphasis on jewel and berry tones in my flowers, which Flowers Living executed flawlessly,” smiles Nicole of the florals in tones of burgundy, red, and plum, which were accented with fresh fruit and berries. 

To further honor the Tuscan region, friends and family enjoyed a menu designed to highlight the seasonal ingredients of the area: summer salad with gorgonzola, pears, and walnuts, eggplant parmigiana, parsley pesto pasta with zucchini, and beef filet with prawns and vegetables. To ensure friends and family went home with a taste of Italy, wedding favors featured bottles of the venue’s specialty olive oil. As a unique entertainment element, the couple’s traditional Italian millefeuille wedding cake was made on display during the reception. “Our guests still talk about this cake, as not only was it delicious, it was amazing to see the cake being constructed live,” notes the bride. 

All in all, the couple feels honored to have celebrated their intimate, personalized wedding with their nearest and dearest. “We made every aspect of the wedding feel like us,” affirms Nicole. “The ceremony was intimate, but wasn’t so serious; the dinner was elegant, but also felt relaxed; and the party was a true European summer bash!”