Andrea Gray and Stefano Matussi first met in ninth grade German class at The American School of The Hague in The Netherlands. “We were friendly, but not close friends during this time,” Andrea explains. Stefano, meanwhile, admits he had always had a huge crush on her back then, but was too shy to ask her out. “I used to be a bit of a nerd,” he says. Years after graduating, the two reconnected via Facebook, when she was busy planning their ten year high school reunion. “After accepting my friend request, he slid into my DMs and we had an hours long conversation that just flowed comfortably.” A few months later, Stefano visited Andrea in New York City and on their very first date they got matching red panda tattoos (an inside joke between the two of them) followed by dinner.
The couple were together for a little over three years when one day they spontaneously decided to get hitched. “With one week’s notice, we told our immediate family and some close friends that we would be getting married at City Hall,” she says. “Technically, we were only engaged for seven days!”
A few months after their City Hall ceremony, the couple was vacationing with Stefano’s parents, who urged them to reconsider throwing a more traditional wedding the following year. Stefano’s mother recommended they look into Villa Aurelia in Rome, a gorgeous property perched on top of Gianicolo hill. “It overlooks Trastevere, the vibrant and beautiful neighborhood that Stefano’s grandparents have called home for over thirty years,” she says. “With its Baroque style, I knew that it would be absolutely gorgeous and would make my job of designing a lovely and impactful wedding a lot easier.” Once they decided on the venue, the let the details and architecture of the villa dictate their wedding’s aesthetic—something classic, elegant, and with plenty of muted colors. To help achieve their vision, the couple hired stylist and planner Cristina Ditta from The Wedding Care, who had planned many events at Villa Aurelia before. “She was absolutely invaluable,” Andrea says. “I like to joke that after my groom, she was the best wedding-related choice I made!”
When searching for her wedding dress, Andrea knew right off the bat that she wanted to wear something with long sleeves. She went to a few bridal salons but nothing was really clicking. Then, during a lengthy online research session, she came across and up-and-coming Israeli wedding designer called Floral Bridal. She found one of the few places that carried the designer in New York and knew it was “the one” the minute she put it on. “It made me feel exactly how I wanted to feel as a bride on my wedding day: elegant, a little sexy, and traditional but with some edge,” she says. Jewelry and beauty were kept simple. She only wore her plain gold wedding band and a pair of diamond studs her mother had gifted her as her “something new.” For hair, she went with a romantic up-do.
As for Stefano, he selected a two-piece, dark blue Loro Piana bespoke suit made at iconic Brooklyn clothier, Martin Greenfield. “Martin Greenfield is an Auschwitz survivor and has made a suit for six US presidents,” Andrea explains. His shirt and cufflinks were purchased at Davide Cenci, an upscale clothing store in Rome, where his grandfather, Admiral Raffaele Colliva, used to shop, while his tie, a vintage Hermès, was a gift from his grandfather before he passed away.
Meanwhile bridesmaids were only given instructions to wear some shade of white and no lace. “I made the decision to have them wear white because not only did I want them to stand out (knowing no other guest would be wearing that color), I was also happy to share the stage,” Andrea says. “Despite the lack of specifications, everyone’s look came together perfectly. It all just worked; everyone was comfortable, and I honestly believe this approach to bridal party fashion is the way forward!”
When their wedding weekend finally arrived, the couple first hosted friends and family at Stefano’s grandmother’s penthouse apartment in Trastevere for an evening of cocktails and snacks. “While my family is Italian, I was born in Germany and grew up all over Europe. My grandmother’s house has been the only consistent “home” I’ve known for my entire life,” explains Stefano. “I was really touched when Andrea suggested having my family’s residence be the venue of our first and most intimate wedding event.” A rehearsal dinner at Enoteca Ferrara followed, and the next day, guests were treated to a walking tour of some of Rome’s lesser known spots, which ended with a picnic at the Giardino deli Aranci.
Then came time for the big ceremony on Saturday, which took place just before sunset. The bride’s father walked her down a winding aisle to classical music played by a cellist and a harpist. “My sister and maid of honor, Kim, went behind us and took care of my cathedral length veil, just like Pippa Middleton!” she remembers. The ceremony was officiated by the best man’s father, who is a close friend of Stefano’s family, and was offered in both English and Italian. (Stefano’s sister and one of his groomsman provided on the spot translation.) After readings by friends and family, the couple then exchanged personal vows they had written themselves. “Reciting these incredibly personal words to my husband in front of everyone we care about was such a powerful moment,” Andrea says.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests walked to an Italian garden scattered with Mediterranean pines and cypress tress, where Italian cocktails such as Negronis, Aperol Spritzes, and Prosecco were served, alongside cured meats, cheeses, and hors d’oeuvre’s. A live jazz band provided music and right before it was time for dinner, the bride and groom’s fathers gave toasts—again in English and Italian—welcoming everyone to the lemon garden, where they would enjoy a three-course plated meal.
The couple had each asked a member of their bridal party to serve as an MC during dinner. “They prepared an incredible, funny, and triumphant show that was completely bilingual,” says Andrea. “They really knocked it out of the park. It was really dinner and a show. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Once everyone had finished eating, a classic Italian millefoglie cake was served along with a coffee and digestif buffet.
Then it was time for the first dance. Stefano admits it was hard choosing one song for their big moment. “I joked that I would love our first dance to be “What’s Luv” by Fat Joe ft. Ashanti, as it reminded us of high school,” he says. “Right after dinner, we had the DJ play some oldies while people mingled. When the infamous first line of that song started playing, we both dropped everything and rushed to the dance floor from opposite ends of the room and started dancing as everyone surrounded us. It was such a joyous moment to share with Andrea. In the end, our dance was unplanned yet perfectly executed.”
After the reception ended, everyone headed out to an outdoor club that featured a pool and firework display. A business school classmate of Stefano’s got a table for everyone and the newlyweds ended up partying until 5:00 a.m. But even at the hour, most of their guests weren’t ready to call it a night. “Some of our friends stayed up until 9:00 a.m. and ended the night by jumping in the pool with their party clothes on,” she says. “They were hoping to get kicked out by nightclub security and go out with a bang, but security didn’t care at all—apparently people jump in all the time!”