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Despite a forecast of thundershowers and a few looming clouds the night before, we awoke to blue skies and sunshine on our wedding day. I walked up (and up and up – it was long hike!) the grassy aisle with my father and married Mountaineering Man in front of a small group of family and friends in Tuscany.

The predicted rain and the long walk are good metaphors for my journey here; when I moved to Ireland two-and-a-half years ago, I did so out of a desperate need for change. Though on the surface my life in Los Angeles seemed great, inside I was unhappy and my future seemed clouded and uncertain; I felt if I didn’t make a big change, there’d be little hope for sunny skies in my future. It wasn’t just about meeting someone, it was about feeling fulfilled and challenging myself to try something new, something different.

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It wasn’t easy, but I took a leap of faith arrived in Drogheda in March 2010. In September of the same year, I met MM. After a few dates, I think we both knew this was something significant, and a few months later we realised that this was it – for both of us. We got engaged in February of this year and we started planning almost immediately.

We knew we wanted something small and in Italy; I’ve always loved the country and MM has always wanted to visit, plus it was close enough for our Irish guests and appealing to our American guests, all of whom decided to make a proper holiday out of the trip. What better place to holiday than Tuscany, the region of wine and food and beautiful, rolling green hills?

After finding Villa Vistarenni (via a quick Google search, no less!) we booked the location and asked the owner for wedding planner recommendations. She gave us a few names and after speaking with each one we chose Ben Singleton of Italy Weddings. As his wife Marisa is a florist and does all the arrangements and décor for their weddings, it was an easy choice. They managed all the vendors, from the caterers to the band, and gave us a number of choices for each element (menus, photographers, etc.). We only met with them once, and the rest was done via email and Pinterest. I “pinned” all my reception table ideas on a board and Marisa took it from there.

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The wedding and reception were absolutely perfect, and though we knew Ben and Marisa were good we were beyond impressed with the final result. The ceremony was beautiful and thoughtful, and the reception was fabulous. Of course there was a big focus on food: for aperitifs we had an array of local cheeses with droplets of Chianti jelly, lightly-fried Tuscan vegetables (fritto misto), prawn tarts, caprese skewers and fresh ricotta with pears. Everyone sampled the canapés and sipped Prosecco cocktails while watching the sun go down against the Villa’s vineyard.

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The dinner was inside the Villa’s wine room and we had one, long table for our party of 30 people. The table decorations were spectacular: small Mason jars of candles hung from vine branches, dozens of green hydrangeas spilled over onto mounds of fresh grapes and vases of all heights filled with water and more candles gave the setting a soft, warm glow. The band played jazz during dinner and then broke out into a mix of pop, funk and disco for dancing afterward but not before a surprise performance by MM himself. He played guitar and sang “California Stars” and was backed by his friend Steve, my brother-in-law Juan and the drummer and keyboardist from the wedding band.

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Instead of having a traditional wedding cake, we had a pastry chef create an Italian Millefoglie in front of all the guests. As everyone watched, he cut thin sheets of baked puffed pastry and layered them with custard, fresh fruit and cream – the guy worked fast and it was an entertaining show for all the guests. After another champagne toast, we danced until the wee hours and then stayed up late listening to the guys sing traditional Irish songs (had to bring some Irish traditions to Italy, of course!).

Anne 2A few people had told us over the last few months that our wedding would go by very fast and to try and focus on all the precious moments of the day. We both did just that, taking a step back every couple of hours to look at our family and friends and the party and the food and the sunset and the band and of course, each other. It almost seemed surreal, in a good way, and I found myself in awe of it all. If you would have told me three years ago that I’d would be marrying the man of my dreams in Tuscany in the company of our closets family and friends, I’d have thought it was a nice story but I wouldn’t have believed you.

Two weeks later, our heads are still spinning from the day and we find ourselves talking about the little moments we shared and observed. It was truly the best day of both our lives.

Thank you for sharing it with me through this blog – your emails and comments around this event have been incredible, and I feel so so lucky to have this community of readers and bloggers. And thanks to our guests for taking such great photos! x