Marry or Honeymoon in Sicily at The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

We love that Italy has so much to offer for couples who are considering a destination wedding! There are so many different types of terrain + backdrops to choose from, so when we say there truly is something for everyone, it’s not even the slightest bit of a stretch. Today, we’re taking a virtual voyage to Sicily to see what it would be like to tie the knot by the sparkling waters of Mazzarò Bay, surrounded by sub-tropical gardens at The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea. Already hooked by the sound of that? Read on for lots of great details about the property + this magical city.

The Belmond Hotel group has many amazing hotels, trains and cruises throughout the world. And since they have a a handful of absolutely stunning properties in Italy, we’ve been loving sharing them with you through our fun Belmond Hotel series! We hope this series will help those of you with dreams of marrying or honeymooning in Italy turn your ideas into a reality. Or if you’re already married, consider one of the Belmond properties for an anniversary trip.

Today, we thought it would be fun to chat with Marilisa Bagnato (Banqueting Supervisor) and Mario Zerillo (Guest Relations Manager) at The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea:

GWS: Do you have a favorite wedding that was held at your property? If so, what made the wedding so special and memorable? 

We are lucky to be located in a very special corner of Sicily and we have many creative brides and grooms who want to tie the knot here on the Bay of Mazzarò. The one which particularly sticks out for me is a wedding we held last year in September. The bride and groom were both architects and so were very precise about how they wanted the ceremony so they’re design backgrounds came through on the day. The bride was from Panama and he was from Sicily, so during the ceremony on the beach, we organized a sand ritual: she brought a bottle of sand from Panama and he brought the ashes from Mount Etna and they mixed them during the service in order to represent their union!

Wedding at Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

GWS: Where is your favorite location on property for a wedding ceremony and why? 

My favorite location is the beach, because it is very romantic. Depending on the time of day, you can feel as though you’re in two different places. Twilight is incredible because there is a mixture of pink and turquoise colors on the sky and the sea is so bright it seems as though it’s lit up from underneath the waves!

cocktails here

GWS: What is your must have dish at a restaurant on property? 

As we’re a seaside villa, our seafood and fish dishes made by Chef Salvatore Gambuzza are fresh and make the most of the local ingredients. A must try dish at Oliviero Restaurant is the stewed octopus and cuttlefish with crunchy vegetables and candied cherry tomatoes, it’s so fresh and zesty for a summer night starter.

GWS: What is your favorite drink on property and where is your favorite place to enjoy it? 

One of the most beautiful places to enjoy a cocktail or two is on the terrace as the sunsets over the island. For the gents, we suggest the tangy Belmond 75 cocktail which comprises of gin, lemon juice, sugar and champagne. For the ladies, Passion for Fashion which is made from fresh lime, passion fruit and topped off with white rum.

Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

Sicily

GWS: What is one local destination, store or restaurant you recommend our readers experience during their stay to give them a true sense of the local culture?

We want honeymooners and all our guests to have authentic experiences during their time in Taormina so we always suggests locally run restaurants owned by local families. One in particular, Malvasia, in Taormina, is a family-run trattoria. Couples can also ask Eleonora, the ‘mamma’, to show them her secrets of making the best maccheroni pasta.

For an excursion, we suggest Castiglione di Sicilia and its imposing Castello di Lauria. The Castello di Lauria is off the beaten track and is perched on one of the highest points in the town – with almost an 380 degree view of the area it’s a very special place to see the island and the town of Castiglione below.

GWS: What activities offered by your property or locally do you recommend to your guests? 

For honeymooners looking for adventure, they should join one of our off road 4×4 tours of the notorious north side of Mount Etna. They can even take a freshly-prepared picnic with them with a bottle of local wine. One way to see the coastline is to take part in a morning fishing boat tour with a fisherman, there are some real characters here and it’s a fun way to experience local culture and to see the famous Isola Bella. Honeymooners can also find their dolce vita behind the wheel of a vintage Ape Calessino and visit Taormina and the hilltop town of Castemola.

Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

Isola Bella

 

GWS: What’s something unique to your property that you can offer to couples to make their wedding or honeymoon truly special? 

No two weddings are the same. We pride ourselves on helping the couple realize their dream and make their personalities shine through on their big day. For honeymooners, we have many fun or romantic activities for them to take part in – or they can simply spend their time lounging on the private beach under the watchful eye of our lifeguards or having a couples’ moonlight massage.

We love that The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea fuses Sicilian tradition with modern luxuries (and delicious cuisine), ensuring your trip or celebration will be truly unforgettable! And the entire property is also for hire, meaning you + your guests can enjoy complete freedom and exclusive service from the hotel’s dedicated staff. So, whether you are planning your dream destination wedding or researching for your honeymoon or an anniversary trip, be sure to consider The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

* This post is sponsored by The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea and is part of our series, Find Your Italian Honeymoon + Wedding Destination with Belmond. Be sure to check out all the other amazing properties. Thanks for supporting our sponsors!

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A Day in the Life Engagement Session: Stacy + Diego

bare minerals engagement

For their engagement photos, rather than go all out and do something out of the ordinary, Stacy + Diego wanted to stick with what they normally do day-to-day. Since they LOVE to laugh and be silly together, and enjoy their fave eats + treats (tacos + popsicles!) it only seemed natural that they’d work those things into their adorable e-session with Laura Izumikawa! There were minimal props, but sometimes all you really need is a flower crown + a matching flower purse (WHAT?! Yep, you’ll see that in a sec!). And Stacy went with pretty makeup by bareMinerals to keep her look as natural + relaxed as their photo sesh was. Love, love, love it!

From Laura, Without fail, every Wednesday Stacy + Diego read books and drink coffee together at home, so that is where our session started. After that, we headed to a small park in Glendale where Diego asked Stacy to be his girlfriend – and later asked her to be his wife! Next, we went to their favorite taco place for a bite to eat and then headed off to their favorite dessert/popsicle place in Burbank. We ended the day on top of a hill behind Stacy’s home with cotton candy as the sun came down.

bare minerals engagement

home engagement

home engagement

home engagement

bare minerals engagement

flower purse

Ok, THIS bag! Jenny from California Floral crafted that little beauty. Jenny, can we have one?!

flower purse

flower purse

These were taken at the park where Diego proposed! The sweetest…

bare minerals engagement

food engagement

food engagement

popsicle engagement

popsicle engagement

cotton candy engagement

cotton candy engagement

cotton candy engagement

cotton candy engagement

cotton candy engagement

bare minerals engagement

Love these twilight shots of Stacy + Diego. And, of course, you can never go wrong with cotton candy!

bare minerals engagement

bare minerals engagement

bare minerals engagement

Big congrats, S + D! We loved this peek into your sweet everyday lives. :) For all of you newly engaged gals + brides-to-be, be sure to remember bareMinerals for your engagement photos + wedding day! Their good-for-you formulas will only enhance – rather than cover up – your natural beauty. And that’s something we are definitely on board with!

photography: Laura Izumikawa Photography // florals: California Floral // make-up: bareMinerals

* This post is sponsored by bareMinerals. All content, ideas, and words by Green Wedding Shoes. Thanks for supporting our sponsors!

This wedding features rad artists fromThe GWS Wedding Artist GalleryLaura Izumikawa Photography is a Featured Artist in the GWS Artist Guide! Find more rad artists for your day in our Gallery
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Colorful Outdoor Ojai Wedding: Ashley + Denni

Ojai wedding

Ashley + Denni’s super sweet Ojai wedding totally makes us remember why we love weddings so much. Not only were the details seriously spot-on (just wait ’til you see the ceremony backdrop + their reception tables!), these guys took everything in stride and kept in mind what the big day is really all about. Says Ashley, All the planning and all the details were perfect to our vision, but at the end of the day the best part of our wedding day was our starting a future together and solidifying our families. That’s what made it the happiest day of our lives. We couldn’t have said that better ourselves! We love how these photos by Fondly Forever Photography really feel like they captured these two and their charismatic personalities. And when you work with the talented design team at Hello Gem – who artfully tackled the styling, florals, hairpieces, invitations AND coordination (whew!) – you know you + your guests will be getting a day that’s truly chock-full of pretty!

More from Ashley, Denni and I both love the outdoor recreation and travel. I work for an outdoor clothing company, and Denni is an outdoor educator and bike mechanic. We wanted our wedding to show this side of us. Although the location was local for us we also knew for the majority of our guests, our wedding was a destination wedding and they would be traveling from out of town. We really wanted to give them a taste for our lifestyle and show them a “SoCal vibe” as well as showcase the location that we had chosen.

heels

rings xx

Rather than see Each other for the first time walking down the aisle, Denni and I choose to have a first look. The first look was amazing. The whole day leading up to that moment went by so fast- it felt like a bluer and very surreal, but when I saw Denni for the first time it was literally like time slowed down. Having that time to be together with nobody else around made both of us feel calm and excited about the ceremony ahead. When I think back to our wedding day, that moment is the first thing to come to my head every time.

Ojai wedding

Ojai wedding

Ojai wedding

wedding party

ojai peony bouquet

black and white bridesmaids

black and white bridesmaids

Loving these ‘maids in black + white! Ashley set up a Pinterest board and let the girls choose their favorites from four options. Amazingly none of them picked the same dress! Such a fun end result.

black and white bridesmaids

groomsmen

rope and garland ceremony decor

From Jen at Fondly ForeverAshley + Denni were wed in front of a handmade rope web adorned with flowers all created by Hello Gem. The rope theme carried over into the cocktail hour area where the trees were adorned with ropes as well. The reception took place in a large field under hanging lights and the dinner table was one long serpentine table beautifully decorated with various colorful flowers, cactus and fruits.

rope and garland ceremony decor

rope and garland ceremony decor

wedding oar

blankets for guests

ojai ceremony

ojai ceremony

ojai ceremony

ojai ceremony

ojai ceremony

ojai ceremony

Processional: Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles (played + sung by Ashley's aunt)

Recessional: Happy – Pharrel

First Dance: That's What's Up – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

ojai ceremony

rope wedding decor

wedding arrow signs

ojai wedding

rope escort card display

rope escort card display

We’re surely not the only ones swooning over the details + dresses from this one! Get the look from A + D’s gorgeous + playful wedding in our Shopping Guide below:

Shop this Look

signature drink

lawn game

winding long table

peony centerpiece

This winding table is such a dream! As are those pretty, punchy blooms!

table numbers

tassel

mr and mrs chair decor

ojai reception

ojai bride

ojai wedding

ojai wedding

lawn games

airstream trailer

Find awesome like minded people to work with! All of our vendors were so amazing and working with all of them was less like work but more like chatting with friends. It made the planning process worry free and actually really fun!

Also, don't be afraid to think "outside of the box". Just because it's not traditional, doesn't mean it's not beautiful. If it feels right to the two of you, don't let anyone talk you out of it - at the end of the day, being honest to yourself will make the day feel extra personal and special.

photography: Fondly Forever Photography // event design, florals, hairpieces, invitations + coordination: Hello Gem // venue: Dent House Ojai, California // catering + rentals: DJ’s California Catering // lighting: Wendees Occasions // music: Dash Entertainment // beauty: Luna Bella // wedding dress: Ivy and Aster // shoes: Kate Spade // bridesmaid dresses: each girl chose their own: Karen MillenMadewellBanana Republic, Anthropologie // groom suit: J.Crew

This wedding features rad artists fromThe GWS Wedding Artist GalleryFondly Forever Photography and J. Crew are all Featured Vendors in the GWS Vendor Guide! Find more rad artists for your day in our Guide.
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