With a trip to Spain and Italy already booked, Alexandra and Christian couldn’t resist the idea of eloping in one of the most romantic places on earth – Venice, Italy. When they discovered that it would be both Valentine’s day and Carnival when they arrived, it sealed the deal for the romantic couple. They exchanged their vows in the stunning baroque Scuola Grande dei Carmini and celebrated their newlywed status with a fittingly intimate and indulgent three hour lunch at the Gritti Palace overlooking the Grande Canal, complete with a romantic surprise proposal right outside their window.

A huge thank you to Nastja Kovacec for sharing Alexandra and Christian’s wonderful wedding adventure with us!

Venice elopement

Alexandra & Christian

Venice, Italy

Wedding Date: Valentine’s Day, 2015

Number of Guests: None

Wedding cost: $4,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Scuola Grande Dei Carmini

Wedding Reception Location: Club Del Doge Restaurant, The Gritti Palace

Venice canal masquerade mask red ranunculus wedding bouquet groom portrait bride portrait bride and groom kissing bride and groom in boat on Venice canal

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We had already planned a trip to Spain and Italy for February 2015. We both decided what could be better than an intimate ceremony in one of the most romantic places in the world?! Then when we realized it would be Carnival and Valentine’s Day at the same time in Venice, well what an amazing experience that would be! We contacted My Italian Wedding Planner and the rest was history.

Venice building wedding dress hanging up in hotel room sparkly wedding shoes red ranunculus wedding bouquet personalized wedding hanger black and white bride portrait

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

We really didn’t face many challenges. The decision to hire an Italian wedding planner made everything so easy. We discussed the venue, photography, musicians, bouquet, wedding luncheon, and transportation needs. We communicated with the planners via Skype and email and everything went very smoothly. We purchased the gown and tuxedo in the US and carried them with us to Venice. When it was time to send payment to the wedding planners from the US, the only difficulty was having the bank convert US dollars to Euros. The money arrived without a problem, but it could have been a real issue.

Venice wedding portrait bride and groom portrait bride and groom kissing

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

No, it wasn’t difficult because we didn’t invite any guests. It was a true elopement.

Venice wedding portrait bride and groom by the canals in Venice bride and groom laughing in Venice bride and groom portrait by Venice Canal

Did you have any issueswith the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

We didn’t have a guest list so we didn’t have any issues.

bride climbing stairs groom waiting for his bride Venice elopement ceremony groom kissing his bride on the cheek Venice elopement ceremony Venice elopement ceremony

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

My favorite moment was my bridal entrance and walking into the song “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. It was played by a solo flute and violinist. I played the flute when I was in high school so the musician selection held sentimental value for me. I loved seeing the expression on my future husband’s face as I walked into one of the most beautiful churches in Venice. We were the only two in the room aside from the officiant, musicians, photographers and wedding planner. It was an incredible feeling to marry the love of my life in such an intimate, romantic setting.

Venice elopement ceremony violinist at Venice elopement ceremony Venice elopement ceremony Venice elopement ceremony bride and groom first kiss

What were the highlights of the reception?

Since we didn’t have any guests, we decided to have a formal luncheon at the Gritti Palace. The decor of the restaurant was beautiful, including large windows which allowed us to look out on the Grande Canal during our 3 hour intimate lunch. One highlight during our luncheon was witnessing a man propose to his girlfriend on the deck right outside of the window in front of our table. It was beautiful to watch.

bride and groom portrait bride and groom kissing bride and groom portrait on stairs bride portrait in Venice bride laughing in Venice square bride and groom portrait on Venice pier

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

The best thing about having an intimate wedding was the experience. Eloping gave us the time to focus on each other and the importance of our vows without the anxiety of a planning a large wedding and reception. We travelled through Spain and Italy for 11 days prior to our wedding date so we had our honeymoon before the wedding. Our wedding day was stress-free and absolutely amazing!

bride and groom riding in canal boat bride and groom on boat in Venice canal bride and groom on Venice canal boat bride and groom kissing on Venice canal bride and groom on Venice canal boat bride and groom kissing on canal boat

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

The best advice we have is to make it as stress-free as possible. Decide what the most important aspects of the day will be for both you and your partner, and seek assistance when necessary. Neither one of us had travelled to Italy before, so choosing a wedding planner was best for us. This helped to reduce any stress we would have faced and allowed us to focus on each other during our special day.

groom wearing masquerade mask bride wearing masquerade mask


Wedding Planner: My Italian Wedding Planner

Photographer: Nastja Kovacec

Ceremony Venue: Scuola Grande dei Carmini

Reception Venue: Club del Doge Restaurant, The Gritti Palace

Bride’s Dress: Maggie Sotterro

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The Wild West Wedding

Western inspired weddings are a big trend for 2015. The Wild West wedding still has plenty of sophistication but with an informal edge. A ranch or barn would be ideal, but you can incorporate all of these details into any venue.

Even with this trend, you can still keep the look relatively minimal. Long farm tables with low vases of fresh flowers are all the decoration that you need for your tables. To add some warmth and to make a big space feel more intimate, go for low hanging chandeliers with greenery that are accompanied by draped fabric.

http-::jeremiahandrachel.com http-::fabyoubliss.com:2014:10:31:magnolia-plantation-and-gardens-wedding:

Textured buttercream cakes go well with rustic themes, adding a horseshoe is in keeping with the Wild West theme.


Antlers are a key detail to go for, and will look good as a piece of wall decor with contrasting glitter initials.


Say goodbye to mason jars for a barn wedding and hello to the Moscow mule. The copper mugs look stunning on the table and add a metallic touch. Copper and burnished tones complement the wooden details that this trend focuses on.


A bouquet of desert blooms and succulents fits in well and adds some color.


If you still prefer more of a classic table setting, adding in a horseshoe tied with a ribbon will add a touch of the west to your decor. Give your guests a subtle hint as to what your wedding will look like with an antler detail on the invitations.

Caroline and Evan Photography www.etsy.com:uk:listing:165472554:rustic-wedding-invitation-floral-antlers?ref=related-1

If the ceremony will be held outside, adding a few wooden signs will keep the theme running seamlessly throughout the different locations. A distressed window pane makes for a creative way to seat your guests.

www.kellystonelake.com www.weddingchicks.com:2013:05:06:cross-creek-ranch:

Finally, a Western wedding wouldn’t be complete without a pair of cowboy boots. And, of course,  a horse.

western wedding

Photo one: jeremiahandrachel.com; Photo two: fabyoubliss.com; Photo three: kellyboitano.com; Photo four: jamiedphoto.com; Photo five: cameroningalls.comPhoto six: heartlovealways.comPhoto eight: theeverylastdetail.com; Photo nine: etsy.com; Photo ten: kellystonelake.com; Photo eleven: weddingchicks.com; Photo Twelve: Dorhoro.com

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13 Ways with Roses For Your Wedding

Roses are undeniably romantic and the gorgeous look of a rose garden is perfect for a spring wedding. From fresh blooms to scattered petals, there are plenty of ways to incorporate this trend into your day. Roses work well with a classic palette but can also be added to other themes as a pretty finishing touch.

Go for the ultimate in opulence with an aisle runner of fresh rose petals. This will look amazing for an outdoor ceremony.


Match pink bridesmaid dresses with a soft rose and baby’s breath bouquet for a classic color combination.


Garden roses are all the decoration that you need for a tiered cake.


Pink roses can easily dress up a simple white cake.

rose wedding cake roses on cake

For a simple but stunning centerpiece, a bowl filled with dusky roses, pale pink astilbe and complementary candles is a lovely option.


Milk glass vases go so well with fresh blooms, include them in your table settings or around your venue.


Sometimes a donut requires a little makeover in order to be truly wedding appropriate. Persian donuts with rose petals, cardamom and pistachios are a decadent treat that your guests will love.


If your venue has a sweeping staircase you can decorate it with greenery, white roses and candles.


Roses on a grapevine wreath is an easy way to decorate your chair backs.


Watercolor invitations are a pretty design detail, and the watercolor florals will look great as wedding decor too.

rose-garden-invitations Make the most of an outdoor ceremony with an arch of lush greenery and hanging roses.


Why not make paper rose escort cards to go with your rose theme?

paper roses

Photo one: theknot.com; Photo two: liveviewstudios.com; Photo three: southernweddings.com; Photo four: pinterest.com; Photo Five: Intimate Weddings: Photo six: belleandchic.com; Photo seven: ruffledblog.com; Photo eight: twiggstudios.com; Photo nine: rebeccalindon.comPhoto ten: bridalmusings.comPhoto eleven: stylemepretty.comPhoto twelve: jophotoonline.com; Photo thirteen: Intimate Weddings

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The $1 DIY Wedding Centerpiece

milk glass vases

If you don’t have heaps of money to throw at your wedding flowers, go for a simple milk glass centerpiece! Milk glass vases are easy to find at thrift stores where they are usually under $1. You can also find them on Ebay and Etsy.

Place a single flower (we used pink mums) in each vase and you are good to go! Here’s how they look in groups of three:

milk glass en masse

Or as a pair:

milk glass vases

Mix and match patterns and sizes. They look gorgeous en masse!

milk glass vases milk glass vases milk glass vase

If you don’t like the look of white milk glass, you can paint it. Here is a tutorial for distressed milk glass vases.

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Nicole and Humberto wanted an intimate, five star wedding with stunning views, but without the sticker shock. They found everything they wanted and more (at a fraction of the price) at the Hotel Atitlan in Guatemala. Coming from different religious backgrounds, the couple opted for a spiritual Mayan ceremony rather than a religious one. Surrounded by Lake Atitlan and majestic volcanos, the bride and groom were joined together as husband and wife by a Mayan shaman in a ceremony that can only be described as purely magical. They ended the night by sending wish lanterns up into the sky – a beautiful and fitting end to the perfect day!

Special thanks to Daniel Lopez and Mellisa Ballarin for capturing it all and sharing the photos with us today.

Guatemala wedding

Nicole, 32 & Humberto, 31

Lake Atitlan, Panajachel Guatemala

Wedding Date: November 25, 2014

Number of Guests: 10

Wedding Cost: under $5,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Hotel Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Wedding Reception Location: Hotel Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Guatemalan sunset Guatemalan wedding altar white rose wedding bouquet Lake Atitlan wedding ceremony bride walking down the aisle


Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We didn’t want a traditional big wedding and to have to invite family friends out of obligation; we wanted something small that we could enjoy with our family. In addition, we wanted to have a million dollar wedding with five star food and breath taking views. We wanted to get the best bang for our buck so the idea of having a destination wedding and giving our family a vacation at the same time was perfect for us. It was the best decision we could have made because instead of having just one magical day to remember, we had 4 amazing days in a beautiful country where we met amazing people, and all for 1/4 of what a basic simple wedding would have cost us in the US.

Lake Atitlan Hotel Guatemalan fountain Lake Atitlan Hotel pool groom relaxing with groomsmen

What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding? 

Getting our family to accept that no extended family was invited!! Also, I took on the entire wedding planning on my own as it was so small that hiring a planner was not needed. I was lucky to have amazing vendors who made it as smooth as possible.

groom portrait bride portrait

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

We knew we just wanted our immediate family (parents and siblings) and our best friends who happened to be married to each other, so it worked out perfect.

bride and groom on lake pier bride and groom portrait bride and groom kissing

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them? 

We really didn’t discuss our wedding plans with extended family or other friends. We kept our plans very private amongst our immediate family only and because our wedding was a destination outside of the country, it was understood that we were going to have a very small and intimate trip.

Guatemalan wedding ceremony flower girls walking down the aisle bride walking down the aisle groom waiting at the altar

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

So many!!! We had a Mayan shaman marry us on a lake surrounded by the most gorgeous views of the volcanoes; it was a dream and it was magical! The ceremony was so unique and tailored just for us. The shaman described our personalities perfectly and gave us wonderful advise. Being that my husband is Christian and I am Jewish, having a spiritual wedding versus a religious ceremony was perfect and so meaningful to us. And we will always have a very cool story to tell when we tell people how we got married.

Lake Atitlan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony bride putting ring on groom's finger bride and groom first kiss

What were the highlights of the reception? 

The hotel grounds are absolutely stunning and the hotel manager made everything exactly how I had asked. Everything was perfect, from the 5 star food to the live music to the flowers. Everything came out beautifully. To finish the night off we sent wish lanterns into the sky.

reception dinner setting gold charger table setting simple white rose centerpiece wedding reception dinner kids at wedding reception kid at wedding reception

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding? 

Enjoying every minute of the wedding and experiencing the joy we gave our family. We would not have been able to spend the same quality time and made the memories we made had it been a larger wedding.

destination-wedding-lake-atitlan-guatemala-humberto-nicole_088 wedding guests releasing wish lanterns bride releasing wish lantern wish lanterns in the sky

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Your wedding is about you and your fiance and what you want. Do not feel that you have to have a big wedding out of an obligation to please others. Not only is it a lot of money, but very stressful! By having an intimate wedding you will be able to enjoy the process of getting married, give your guests a great experience, and not go into debt doing it.

bride and groom releasing wish lantern


Photographer: Daniel Lopez and Mellisa Ballarin, we could have not have done it without them!! Not only were they very reasonably priced, they went above and beyond to accomodate our requests. They were so amazing to work with and gave us gorgeous pictures that we will treasure forvever.

Musician: Carlos Rangel. He was the sweetest man. From my first conversation with him to the day of the wedding, he treated me like family and was so genuine. His voice and his acoustic band were perfect for the setting we were looking for.

Shaman: Tata Pedro. Recommended by our photographer, he was exactly what we had in mind. The ceremony was so meaningful and beautiful. He provided a  fire pit and accompanying musicians playing typical mayan tunes. I recommend him 100%.

Hotel Atitlan Manager of Events: Guillermo. He was amazing! All I did was send him pictures of what I liked and not only did he deliver, he exceeded our expectations. He organzied everything for us, transportarion from the airport in Guatemala City to the hotel in Antigua and to Lake Atitlan, I didnt have to worry about any of it. The flower arrangements that were made were right out of a magazine. He worked one on one with the chefs to cater to our requests and was very attentive throughout the whole processs.

Venue: Hotel Atitlan. It is a stunning venue. The hotel is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. The gardens and views are perfection, it’s very reasonably priced, and they have very friendly staff.

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