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Real Wedding | Elayna + John

Tell us a little about yourselves!

John (35) and Elayna (30) live and work in Dallas, TX. We met in Los Angeles, CA on a blind date and dated for about 3 years prior to the engagement. 

As much as we love each other, we also just really like each other.

Why did you decide to get married where you did?

John’s an Italian citizen and we’ve travelled to Rome numerous times. We’d gone to Rome on one of our first trips while dating and it’s our favourite city. 

As for the venue location, we’d told our planner Weddings on Demand to find us a location inspired by the movie The Great Beauty. Something eccentric and not your typical wedding venue. Monica found the most perfect setting right in the heart of the city. 

Palazzo Vilon is the southern wing of the Palazzo Borghese. Howard Hibbard wrote a 200-page book about this one building. Absolutely surreal.

How many guests did you have?

36 guests.

Tell us about your outfits.

Elayna wore a La Perla robe prior to the ceremony and her wedding dress was Danielle Frankel. Shoes were Manolo Blahnik. My After-party dress was by Clio Peppiatt, alongside Miu Miu ballet flats. My perfume was Cinquanta by Santa Maria Novella.

John wore a custom Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit.

What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?

Having only invited 36 guests, we were able to be a bit more creative in the types of activities planned for the week. The first night, we ate €5 pizza and rented out a double-decker tour bus to drive us to the Colosseum. We’d bought up all the night tour tickets and had the whole place to ourselves. A big thank you to Angela at Roman Vacations and to John’s sister, Grace Bowden, for helping us to coordinate that evening.

The next night, we’d rented out the patio at our favourite restaurant in Rome, Luciano Cucina Italiana. Nothing too fancy, just great pasta on a warm summer night.

We had a bunch of rooms at Residenza Napoleone III and everyone would come up to our rooftop for late night drinks overlooking the city. Thank you to Beatrice for always making every trip memorable – this one especially!

And finally, come wedding day, the Palazzo Vilon surpassed all our expectations. It’s a magical place with a 500 year history. Italian Baroque at its finest. Our wedding planner was correct in saying we didn’t need to “add much” to the space. Anthea Studio created a number of beautiful floral arrangements to complement the rooms and Samuele and the whole team at Palazzo Vilon made the night so special for us and our guests.

On the final departure day, we had rented out the rooftop at Hotel Eden and had a nice lazy lunch. 

All in all, we just wanted it to feel like “us” and invite our closest friends and family along for the fun.

Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?

Mixing high and low moments was important for us. We didn’t want to do just a bunch of fancy multi-hour dinners and have an over-scheduled itinerary.

It was important for us to do handwritten vows and John’s father was the officiant.

Lastly, on the night of the wedding, we kept the dining rooms doors closed and had a wonderful little moment getting to “reveal” the galleria to our guests. That room was designed by Giovan Francesco Grimaldi around 1672 and it’s thisjust absolute explosion of grandeur. A few of our guests got a little teary just standing in the room.

Any tips for couples getting married?

Do what you want to do. There are so many wedding “traditions...” Cut out the noise and do what you feel is important.

One of our favourite photos of the week was taken about 5 minutes before the ceremony. We’re both just smiling ear to ear. It was a week of joy. I wish the same for you.

Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?

All of the vendors referenced here were so incredibly gracious and welcoming. Everyone went above and beyond to make the week special for us and our guests.

A special thank you to Monica at Weddings on Demand for the planning and execution of our dream, to Elisa Rinaldi  for all the lovely memories to look back on to remember those days, and to Samuele at Palazzo Vilon for the warmth and hospitality. We hope to see you again soon!

Photographer: Elisa Rinaldi @elisarinaldiphoto | Ceremony + Reception Location: Palazzo Vilon @palazzovilon | Celebrant: Jeff Bowden | Entertainment: Roma Eventi Musicali @roma_eventimusicali | Planner: Weddings on Demand @weddingsondemand | Flora: Anthea Studio @anthea_studio | Makeup: Ruslana Regi @ruslanaregi | Hair: Mac McAbee | Catering, Beverages + Cake: Palazzo Vilon @palazzovilon | Stationery: Oliver Coreaux @coreaux | Dress: Danielle Frankel @daniellefrankelstudio | Suit: Custom Ralph Lauren Purple Label @ralphlauren | Engagement + Wedding Rings: Self-designed, made by Herbert Goldberg @herbertgoldbergco | Shoes: Manolo Blahnik @manoloblahnik


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