Three years ago, designer Laura Day Webb called her mother shortly after she had finished her very first date with Stefano Gamba, an Italian MBA student at NYU, who had recently moved to New York City. “I told her, ‘He has dimples when he smiles. I think I may want to go out with him again,’” she remembers. Much to her delight, they did indeed continue seeing each other and dated for about a year and a half before he proposed while they were watching the ball drop at home on New Year’s Eve in 2015. “He disappeared into the other room and came back with a little black box and sat down next to me,” Laura explains. “He told me he wanted to start the new year off right.”
Since Stefano is originally from Vicenza, Italy, Laura and her mother-in-law scouted wedding venues in Verona, the setting of “Romeo and Juliet,” which was conveniently only about an hour away from the groom’s hometown. “We fell in love with the 18th century Villa Mosconi Bertani estate in historic Valpolicella,” Laura says.“Its stunning grounds, frescoed dining room, and famed winery made for a romantic and fitting backdrop for a multi-day celebration.”
With the wedding set for May 26, 2017, Laura had plenty of time to plan out every detail of her Italian nuptials. As the co-founder of a demi-couture line called La Doyenne, Laura took the wedding dress designing into her own hands and worked with her line’s co-founder, Rachel Hearn, to create three stunning looks for her big day.
For the ceremony gown, they sourced Elie Saab lace and materials, sewing every detail by hand including the floral lace hair pins and matching veil. For her entrance into the dining room, they settled on a dramatic ball gown with a free hand floral design painted on by Rachel. “It took twelve hours to complete and was done in acrylic paint,” Laura explains. “The floral design was inspired by the gardens of the Villa’s estate and the hand painted frescoes in the dining room.” And finally for Laura’s third look, she chose an off the shoulder Cinq à Sept white cocktail dress perfect for dancing, making it her own by adding white ostrich feather trim to the bottom, for “a little pizazz.”
As for her bridesmaids, Laura was not keen on the idea of matching dresses, instead opting for her bridal party to wear gowns that expressed their individuality. “I suggested bright colors and a sense of fun, because a wedding should be a joyous occasion,” she adds.
When the wedding weekend in Italy finally arrived, guests were invited on a tour of Cantine Masi’s wine cellars followed by an outdoor lunch at Lake Garda the day before. Later that night, the al fresco rehearsal dinner took place at Re Teodorico, offering stunning views of Verona from its hill top perch.
The day of the wedding, friends and family were first treated to a cocktail hour on the grounds of the estate before making their way to the outdoor ceremony in front of the property’s private pond. There, a string quartet played “Ave Maria” as the bride and her father walked down the aisle. “To accommodate our two native languages and ensure our guests could follow the ceremony, we held it in a mix of Italian and English,” Laura explains. “Stefano and I exchanged vows in each other’s language. We felt hearing such an important promise in one’s mother tongue would be incredibly meaningful.”
After the ceremony was over, guests made their way to a private garden where hors d’oeuvres and an Aperol spritz bar awaited. “We mingled with our guests and I threw the bouquet from the balcony,” Laura recalls. “My bridesmaid caught it and is now engaged,—so maybe there is something to that after all!”
After a quick change into her second gown complete with a cathedral length train, Laura and Stefano entered the dining room as a married couple. The guests were then treated to a four-course meal catered by Burro E Salvia, which included duck ragout and beef filet. After toasts, everyone made their way outside where gelati and the wedding cake—a fruit and meringue confection—were offered under dangling tea lights.
To end the evening on a high note, the couple along with their guests proceeded into the estate’s former barrel room now converted into a dance space. “We added a photo booth with New York and Italian themed props and a giant Polaroid frame with our names and wedding date,” Laura adds. Before hitting the dance floor, she changed into her last outfit of the evening (her Cinq à Sept dress) to dance the night away.
Once the music died down, guests were transported back to Verona in a private coach. Like most weddings, at some point pizza was ordered (this time to the hotel lobby) and a friend of the couple moved the Polaroid prop from the photo booth to the front door of the newlywed’s suite. “It was a great way to end the evening!” Laura exclaims.