Love was in the desert air as Lauren Dickinson, a consumer engagement manager at Estée Lauder, and Harry Miskin, an associate partner at Bell Pottinger, arrived at a mutual friend’s pool party in their adopted city of Dubai. “It was Harry’s first week living in Dubai,” says Lauren. “He and our friend had spent the last eight months working on a project in Libya, and let’s just say they were ready to let loose.” And let loose they did—not only did Lauren and Harry pair up that day, but their friend met his match as well. “It seems the stars were aligning,” laughs Lauren.
Fast forward a year and a half, and the couple was off to the City of Light to spend Christmas with Lauren’s parents. “It was Christmas Eve, and we were strolling around the 5th arrondissement after lunch,” Lauren says. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when the pair decided to stop in the Jardin des Plantes. “Though thinking back, Harry did request a large brandy at the end of lunch,” Lauren laughs, “which I remember left me feeling slightly puzzled.” Harry nervously led Lauren to a more secluded area of the garden to pop the question, then the newly-engaged duo celebrated over Champagne on the Quai Saint-Michel.
The two decided on a December wedding in Rome, and with the hope of keeping the day as relaxed as possible, they chose to have a civil ceremony. “We quickly learned that there’s only one venue for civil ceremonies in the city on weekdays, so needless to say, our options were limited,” Lauren says. Not surprisingly (because it’s Rome), the Vignola Mattei turned out to be a fourth century deconsecrated church that had been built over a site where ancient Romans celebrated nuptials. “It was special to learn that there was a history of over two thousand years of weddings taking place there,” says Lauren.
When it came to the dress, Lauren kept a relaxed mindset. “Initially, I thought that I wanted a ‘non-wedding’ wedding dress, so I bought a long, beautifully detailed number from Etro,” she explains. But a few days before saying “I do,” she began to second guess her choice. “I started worrying that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in it, so I resumed my search and ended up going with a simple, above-the-knee white dress from Dior,” she says. “It felt perfect.” She did her own makeup and accessorized with the engagement rings of both her grandmothers, plus a fur coat from One Off Luxury. “It was a winter wedding, so I was perhaps most focused on the fur,” she laughs.
The ceremony was short and sweet. “We were in and out in under half an hour,” says Lauren, “but we managed to find a role for most people.” Andrea Coen, one of Lauren’s best friends, did a reading and another longtime friend was a witness, while Harry’s sister, who speaks Italian, translated the ceremony. A cellist played Bach’s Cello “Suite No.1” and “Suite No.5,” which proved to be exceptionally beautiful in the stark old building.
Following the ceremony, the group of twenty-two made their way to Villa Laetitia, a historical residence on the Tiber banks, for an intimate lunch. “We fell in love with the building,” Lauren says. “The owner, Anna Fendi Venturini, has restored all of the original Art Deco features, including these wonderful floor length French windows that refracted the winter light.” The reception kicked off with speeches from the bride and groom, as well as their fathers. “The photographer described it as the most emotional wedding he had ever been to,” Lauren recalls. “None of the men could stop crying!” As tears dried, a delicious meal of cuttlefish and fennel salad, rabbit risotto, and pork fillet was served. In true Italian fashion, tiramisu and a garden cake (a traditional Italian wedding cake that looks like a garden) followed. The celebration wrapped up with more speeches and funny stories before guests hit the town to party. Not ready to bid farewell yet, the newlyweds spent Christmas in Rome, then made their way to Tuscany for a weeklong stay at the Borgo di Castelvecchio.