Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

I recently attended a friend’s wedding on the coast of Italy (the town was called Rodi Garganico) and really wanted to share the photos as it was stunningly gorgeous and just so much fun! My friend married an Italian (they met in New York City on a co-ed soccer team…Cue the collective ‘Awww’ here) and believe me when I tell you, Italians know how to party in the best way.

*A lot of these photos are courtesy of our friend Arvind, who is kindly letting me use them here. You can tell when they’re his using this simple equation: Good photos = Arvind’s, Bad photos = mine.

Bling and coral bridesmaid’s dresses (JCrew’s Arabelle)

A close-up of the bride’s gorgeous dress and sash, along with her double-strand of pearls.   Dreamy.

Ah, yours truly along my yummy hubby.  My dress was Diane von Furstenburg but I got it at a consignment store for $40.  Score! I love the print and the color combination.  Plus, you can’t see it in any of the photos but it had a very low (sexy) back.

Since there were both American and Italian guests, there was one basket of programs in English and another with programs in Italian.  In case you couldn’t figure it out, you’re looking at the American ones 🙂

The ceremony took place in the hotel’s courtyard and garden area.  The weather was perfect and with the afternoon sun slanting down and the strains of a string quartet in the background, my friend made her trip down the aisle, arm-in-arm with her proud papa.

She later said she had to look down for almost the entire walk to keep from sobbing.

She carried a bouquet of white peonies surrounded by wisps of greenery and had a white rose pinned in her hair.  I thought her whole look was classic and gorgeous.

 One of their readings (in both Italian and English) was from The Velveteen Rabbit, the chapter titled “What Is Real?” Here’s my favorite line:

“…It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

      -Margery Williams

The ceremony was short, simple and sweet. And then they were married!

After the ceremony, the couple took the time to take photos with almost all the guests in various combinations.  No running off for a moment to themselves here. I guess this is an Italian tradition but I could tell after about 45 minutes, my friend had had enough.

She did, however,  happily smile for a photo with all our college friends though.

After all the family and guest photos were taken, they moved to the hotel’s pool area to take a few portraits, just the bride and groom.  They are a seriously attractive couple.

And then, it was time to eat.  And eat.  And dance. And then eat some more.  All in all, including the cake and coffee served at the end of the night, there were seven (you read that right, seven) courses.

Apparently, Italian weddings typically have up to 10 or 11 courses but our friends felt that was a bit excessive, so they scaled it down to 7.  And of course, since we were in Italy, everything was amazing!

First, appetizers were served, including cheese and crackers, puff pastries filled with cheese and various versions of fried cheese.  I think Italians like their cheese 🙂

The antipasti course included this tower of prosciutto e meloni, along with seafood salad, mussels and more cheese.

 There was lots of hugging and kissing on both cheeks (which I always seemed to mess up.  Never could figure out which side to approach first!) Here’s the bride with her father-in-law, who was as warm, charming and gracious as anyone I’ve ever met.

Gummi candy in the shapes of various sea creatures decorated with these lovely little  tags served as escort cards.  My friend’s mom told me how they brought over 5 lbs of candy from the US  in their luggage and then assembled everything here.  I think between the four of them, they had something like 10 suitcases, can you imagine? Oy.

I loved how the bride and groom sat with their parents during the reception, I thought that was so sweet.  Here’s their table, all set up.

After eating our way through the appetizer and antipasto courses outside on the pool and patio are, we made our way into the reception room and took a break from eating to dance! The couple’s first dance was to Phil Collins’ “A Groovy Kind of Love” which was such an adorable choice and perfect for them.

After a few more dances, including a traditional tarantella (to which all the Americans gamely hopped along and flailed our arms around, much to the Italians’ amusement), it was time for…more food! *Surprise, surprise

Out came huge platters of cavatelli with lobster (pictured above), followed by a duet of filled pastas (lasagnas, both red and white. YUM.)

Then came some of the freshest, crispiest calamari I’ve ever had, plus whole langostas (shrimp) with the heads still on!

In case you’re keeping count, that’s course number five.

You better believe after those courses, we needed to digest and dance.  Given that the bottles of wine at our table kept being magically refilled every time we emptied one, it was safe to say that we were all feeling good and ready to get our groove on.

I’m not sure if we’re doing the tarantella or the YMCA here.  Take your best guess, they looked pretty similar 🙂 There were also several Conga lines that took place.  I have no idea why but Italians seem to love Conga lines!

The bride and groom were also lifted into the air several times.  Kinda like the Horah at Jewish weddings, only minus the chair (which would’ve scared me even more!)

At one point, the groom’s friends dragged a chair out onto the center of the dance floor and had the groom sit down, tied his hands behind him with a napkin and placed a spoon balancing a lit candle in his mouth. My friend had to stand about 5 feet away and try to extinguish the flame using water from a bottle.

We all thought it was hilarious (and I have no idea of the reasoning or tradition behind this, try Google if you’re really that curious) but the bride told me later she was actually kind of pissed that this happened (apparently, she had been warned it might) because she didn’t want to get him all wet.  Luckily, the flame went out after a few quick splashes so it all ended up fine.

After more dancing, it was time for (you guessed it), more food.  Veal and potatoes, cooked beautifully and seasoned perfectly.  Delicious!

And finally, dessert.  The dessert buffet was massive, stretching from one end of the room to the other.  It included Jordan Almonds (traditional Italian wedding gift and happen to be one of my most favorite things ever), chocolate-dipped oranges and pears (OMG these were SO good!), many variations of puff pastry filled with cream, cannolis, fruit torts, fresh fruit, chocolate torts and so on.

If you know me, you know I love dessert so, clearly, I was in heaven.

And then, finally, after more dancing and general merriment (including some very sweet toasts in both Italian and English), the cake was cut around 2:15 am.  I don’t usually care too much about the cake at weddings but I thought this one was quite pretty (and tasty).

Woof, I’m tired just writing this whole thing out. Things didn’t wind down until almost 3:00 am, which definitely goes down in my book as the longest wedding ever attended (ours ended around 1:00 am, which I thought was pretty late) as well as the most food ever served.  It was epic, it was glorious and we were thrilled to be a part of the celebrations of a couple we know and love.

This was my first destination wedding and I am (obviously) quite keen to go to another.  It was a wonderful mix of culture, food and genuine joy while creating life-long memories.  Thanks for including us, Sarah and Michele, in your absolutely fabulous wedding!

Have you ever been to a wedding in another country? Was it different from weddings in the United States?


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*I’m kicking off my travel recaps, hopefully you enjoy hearing about our trip! Here we go, first stop- Italy!

We arrived in Rome at about 8:00 am,  after a relatively painless  direct flight from Newark. Sure we were sweat and pretty tired but the thrill of being in a different country got our adrenaline going and we were ready to take on the day.  Off we headed to the little beach town of Rodi Garganico for a college friend’s wedding (she’s American, he’s Italian, could their life be any more like a romantic comedy?)

Since Pete is kind of a weenie (kidding! Sorta) and refuses to learn to drive a stick shift, it was up to me to maneuver our miniature  Panda Fiat through Rome traffic, winding mountain roads and seriously insane drivers.  I’m not kidding when I say that while Italians may have mastered the art of pasta and gelato making, they have a long, long way to go with their driving skills.

For example, if the person in front of you is driving too slow, it is perfectly acceptable to tailgait the sh*t out of them, leaving mere inches between the two vehicles while furiously honking one’s horn. There were many, many times where I contemplated slamming my brakes just to teach these Italians a lesson in courteous driving but Pete talked me out of it.

It was an adventure and while we were going on maybe three hours of sleep out of the last 36, we managed to make it to our hotel with only minimal pissing at one another as well as getting very, very lost. We made a pit stop at a rest area on the highway that sold, among other curious objects-

The largest jar of Nutella I have ever seen

Giant Chupa Chups lollipops

Retractable fishing rods (of which I have no photos)

How do I know the rest stop sold retractable fishing rods? Because my fishing-obsessed husband bought one. For 13 Euros.  Awesome.  We also ate some very acceptable pizza, proving that it really is impossible to have a bad meal in Italy (we certainly did not.)

Finally, about 7 hours after we began, the hotel appeared in front of us and we checked in, eager to jump in the pool and wash the smell of 12+ hours of travel off us.

We stayed at Hotel Parco degli Aranci, which is where the wedding took place.

Alas, literally as I jumped in the pool, ‘BOOM’ went thunder and ‘Yikes’ went I and jumped out as quickly as I had jumped in.  Oh well, we consoled ourselves with several bottles of prosecco as everyone gathered in the lobby for the wedding rehearsal.

The pool, post-thunder storm

The storm made for an incredible sunset

College friends (including a few soccer teammates)

*Photo courtesy of Arvind, Master Photographer Extraordinaire

After prosecco and an impromptu photo shoot thanks to the divine light,  it was off to the rehearsal dinner!

Oh, the rehearsal dinner.

Truthfully, it’s going to be difficult to convey just how incredible this event was, especially because my photos are not the greatest (luckily, I managed to borrow a few from those with better cameras and photog skillz than I. Namely, our friend Arvind who did an amazing job capturing the weekend and is even more amazingly allowing me to use there here. Thanks, yo!)

Picture every stereotype you’ve ever seen in every fluffy, chick-flick, rom-com about Italy (think Diane Lane in ‘Under The Tuscan Sun‘) and then multiply it by a thousand, only it wasn’t cheesy and stereotypical, it was real. No pretension, just love, happiness and an abundance of incredible food.

*Photo from Arvind


Photo from Arvind

It was held at the groom’s family’s beach house, and included multiple courses, copious amounts of wine, a DJ, the tarantella, a conga line and the groom’s 80-year-old Nonno (grandfather) charming the pants off of all the American guests.

This guy was the life of the part, I’m telling you!

The house had a huge patio with tables and chairs, with plenty more set up outside on the beach as well as on the house’s spacious balcony.  You know how sometimes when you’re traveling, you’ll stumble onto a local party scene and rather enviously wish to be a part of it, instead of being an outsider looking in? It was so awesome to actually be a part of this Italian celebration. True to form, the Italians loved to eat, to drink, to dance and to laugh and the rehearsal dinner is still one of my all-time favorite memories from the entire trip.

Photo from Arvind

Such dancing and merriment!

Photo from Arvind

The night ended with a conga line (Italians love their conga lines, this was the second of the night and there were several at the wedding the next night as well- no clue why) down to the beach, where my friend Kristin snapped this shot of the engaged couple.

Can’t you just feel the love?

Things didn’t wind down until well after 1:00 am, at which point Pete and I had been awake for almost two days straight and so we drunkenly piled back into the shuttle bus to head back to the hotel.  It was time for some sleep, and based on this party, we knew we had to majorly rest up for the wedding the next night!

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Yup, I’m back! And ready to to do it.  What’s up there, kiddos? Didja miss me?

I know it’s been a long-ass time since I posted anything here but when I started blogging, I made a personal decision never to apologize for an absence so while I’m not saying ‘Sorry’ or anything, just know that there were a few good reasons for my hiatus.  Sometimes life just gives you a kick in the nuts when you’re not looking and I was on the ground, doubled over, gasping for air for a quite a while.

But now I’ve caught my breath and looking forward to posting again.  Plus, I just got home from an obscenely fun-filled three weeks in Italy, Norway and Britain and will definitely be rehashing the trip.  Just to tide you all over, here’s a few of my favorite shots from our travels…

Before the rehearsal dinner for the wedding we attended in the Puglia region of Italy

Vino and snacks in Rodi Garganico

Fishing in the Oslo fjord (this photo was taken at about 11:30 pm!)

City of Bergen, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Indian food on Brick Lane in London

The last month has been a strange juxtaposition of  awesome and awful,  smooshed together in some unexpected ways.  I’m sorry I’m being so vague about things but I’m not ready to talk about anything yet.  Maybe I will sometime in the future (or maybe not, I haven’t decided yet.)

Anyways, I’ve also seriously got to get my running sh*t together because there’s only 10 weeks until the Chicago Marathon and all the wine-drinking and gelato/cheese-eating the past three weeks has not helped my endurance (unless we’re talking about my stomach capacity, in which case I definitely fall under the ‘winner’ category.)

So cheers to my return to the US, to bouncing back from a hard fall and running through it all.  I an back, baby!


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