When Cara Montemuro and Alex Brown were helping Cara’s parents pack up their home to move, Cara happened upon a hotel brochure for a place in Italy. It’s where they had spent their most recent family vacation. 

“I said, ‘If I ever get married, I always dreamed it might be at a place like this,’” Cara says. “Alex was taking notes. Dreams do come true. Ours did.”

After getting engaged on a surprise trip to Rome, the couple set about planning a summer 2019 destination wedding in southwestern Italy, at La Badia di Orvieto. “Our vision was an intimate, Italian evening with close friends and family, filled with laughter, love, plenty of wine, and lots of dancing,” explains the bride.

It would not only celebrate their love but also their admiration for the country of Italy. The décor took inspiration from the rolling hillsides, and the food, of course, included traditional dishes. For drinks, the couple served Italy’s favorite cocktail, the Aperol Spritz, but the best part, they say, is the group of 65 people who joined them. “The most personal part of our wedding was the people that made the journey to be with us on our special day,” Cara says. “We were honored to have so many friends and family celebrate with us.”

Read on for all the details of the Italian countryside-inspired wedding, planned by Italian Eye Events and photographed by Lyndsey Anna Photography.

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

Cara admits their first look was full of tears, especially Alex. “We waited and waited, then cried a lot,” she says. 

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

Our vision was an intimate, Italian evening with close friends and family, filled with laughter, love, plenty of wine, and lots of dancing.

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

Cara wore a tulle and lace dress by Willowby by Watters, one she says was “entirely different” than she expected going into the bridal salon. “I just felt comfortable and most like myself,” she adds.

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

The flower girls wore whimsical dresses from Ele Story that matched the Show Me Your Mumu gowns that the bridesmaids donned. 

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

“Italians certainly are romantic, and definitely have a thing for weddings,” Cara says of collaborating with the team at Italian Eye Events and her other local wedding pros. “Everyone we worked with was amazing.”

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

The ceremony took place outside the Romanesque walls of the historic property. The couple’s florist from The Blume Studio, pulled inspiration from the surrounding landscape for the olive branch accents and dusty hued flowers. For Cara’s bouquet, she used the colors of the mosaic floor of the onsite chapel to create the bridal arrangement. 

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

“Each of our vows spoke to the core of who we are,” Cara says of the ceremony. It was officiated by their dear friend, Matthew Thompson, who returned the vows notebook to the couple after the ceremony. “The book now rests on our coffee table where we sit every night,” Cara adds.

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

The couple included a sweet tradition for their recessional that you don’t see as often anymore: their guests tossed rice as they exited, a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. 

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

The ruins of a previous chapel provided the venue for the reception, where guests sat at long tables topped with candles and olive leaves. Though the planning process went smoothly overall, Cara does say that organizing the seating arrangements for the two tables proved quite the challenge. “We went through probably 20 different seating arrangements before picking one,” she says.

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

A three-piece band played Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” for the couple’s first dance. Later, a DJ got the party started with Italian club music. 

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

You cannot have a wedding in Italy without talking about the food. Cara and Alex served Umbrichelli, a traditional Umbrian pasta dish, alongside risotto, pork, and plenty of wine.

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

They finished the meal with a dessert bar and slices of their Chantilly cream and chocolate chip wedding cake. 

Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography
Photo by Lyndsey Anna Photography

“There was a moment only we remember where time seemed to stop,” recalls the bride. “It was the peak of dance hour. The music was blaring,​ and everyone was drenched in sweat, but we were both dancing slowly together, embracing the moment. It was perfect.”