It almost seemed like fate that Benedetta de Mennato and Luca Nardi, both Italians from Naples who knew each other from high school, would end up together. After all, their grandmothers used to play as children during summer breaks in the Amalfi Coast. But while the two didn’t cross paths for many years after graduation, they eventually reconnected when they were both in their hometown for a party. “I was studying in Milan and he was working in London,” Benedetta explains. After exchanging numbers, Luca finally invited Benedetta over to his house with some friends over Easter of that year and the two quickly became inseparable.
After six years of dating the pair got engaged, and they both easily agreed that they wanted to get married in Naples. “I’m very attached to my family house and we decided it would be the perfect place,” she explains. “The most important thing is that we wanted to feel at home.” Of course, that was probably easy at her family home, which is also known as the Villa di Donato, a structure built in the 1700s by her ancestors, the Barons di Donato of Casteldonato.
With the wedding set for October 14 and the location settled, the bride then focused on finding her dream dress. “I looked for a while in Paris and Milan for the perfect dress but I never found ‘The One,’” Benedetta says. “My mom finally convinced me to design it myself and I’m happy I listened to her.” She found a seamstress in Naples and together they worked on the design over weekends. “I wanted my dress to be classic but special at the same time,” she says. “My mom’s best friend helped me find the best artist, Sarah Van Hoe, to hand paint my skirt. I was inspired by William Kilburn’s illustrations after I discovered his beautiful water color designs at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. We decided that on the front it would look classic and on the back it would have this beautiful painted surprise.”
The day of the wedding kicked off with a ceremony in a church across from Villa di Donato, where olive trees surrounded the altar and small flowers inside vimini baskets decorated the aisle. Three musicians played the organ, guitar, and piano, and once they were declared husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Nardi were showered with rice and flower petals.
From there, family and friends were ushered to the house, where an aperitivo and typical Neapolitan dishes awaited. “We had six buffets all with different kinds of food,” the bride adds. Then, the wedding’s 400 guests took a seat at the seven long tables all named after flowers and plants inside. Each table was illuminated with candles and bamboo chairs inside, while olive tree branches hung from above. “At the end of the dinner we moved to the court in front of the house, where we cut the cake,” Benedetta remembers. “The toast was given by my twin brother Antonio. I loved his letter to us.”
After taking their first dance to Norah Jones’s “Come Away With Me,” the couple and their guests went to another part of the house where a DJ played music until 4:30 a.m. For the late night revelery, Benedetta changed into a Slim Net dress made out of white paillettes.
Once the party was over, Luca surprised his new wife with an impromptu trip to Sorrento. “After all the guests left, he had a car take us to a secret place,” she says. A lovely beginning to the couple’s happily ever after.