Melissa Wasser, head of private capital markets at an investment bank, and Lee Miller, co-founder of tech start-up RenoFi, first met in college but didn’t reconnect until a decade later, when a mutual friend set them up. Sparks flew and after that first dinner date, the two made sure to see each other every weekend, even though they lived in different cities; Lee in Philadelphia, Melissa in New York.
A little over a year later, they were having Sunday brunch in Philadelphia with Lee’s sister and her fiancé to celebrate his birthday. “We went into Rittenhouse Square before brunch because Lee said they were doing a surprise for his brother-in-law’s birthday but instead he dropped down on one knee and proposed,” Melissa shares. That night, both of their families came into the city and they all celebrated their new engagement at dinner.
During the time that they dated, Melissa and Lee loved to travel the world together. Therefore, a destination wedding was an obvious choice for their wedding. “I’ve always wanted the style of a Tuscan villa wedding in the countryside,” she says. “In Florence, we could be in our favorite place with our favorite people. And we luckily found Villa di Maiano, right outside the city in Fiesole.” For help with the long distance planning, the couple hired Carolina Casini of Tuscan Dream, who worked together with the bride’s mother in figuring out all of the major details. “I was only particular around the flower arrangements and food. But other than that, I left it in my mother’s hand,” she admits.
At first, Melissa thought she wanted to keep her wedding dress simple, given the lush landscape of her venue. One month before the wedding, she decided she didn’t love the minimal dress she had chosen and ended up buying a strapless Oscar de la Renta dress off the floor and had it tailored in record time. As for accessories, she wore Jimmy Choo caged shoes, jewelry from XIV Karats of Beverly Hills, and a ring that once belonged to her great grandmother was her “something old.” Meanwhile, Lee chose a custom deep blue colored suit from Boyd’s of Philadelphia.
On a September afternoon, friends and family of the couple gathered outside Florence to witness the wedding. The ceremony kicked off with a string quartet and harpist, who played an instrumental version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as the bride walked down the aisle. Lee and Melissa were married by an Italian officiant, who performed “a sweet, but funny ceremony,” according to Melissa. “The crowd laughed when they heard that Lee would always put me first, even ahead of his one true love, the Philadelphia Eagles—except on Sundays,” the bride says.
Then it was time for cocktail hour, which took place outside, so guests could enjoy the view. An Italian dinner followed, where several pastas and Chianti were served. After speeches by Melissa’s father, and a few of their lifelong friends, guests moved to the Carriage Room in the villa for a dancing session with a DJ and an espresso martini bar. For their first dance, the couple couldn’t settle on just one song, so they picked a traditional slow one, “Unchained Melody,” and then transitioned into the classic ‘90s rap hit, “Get Ready.”
While most Italian weddings have a millefoglie for dessert, Melissa knew she wanted an American-style tiered wedding cake, which actually proved hard to find in Florence. “Thankfully my mom was able to get a recipe from a local bakery at home and found an expat with a bakery in Florence who could make it,” she explains.
The dancing went on until 2:00 a.m., when guests were treated to late night pizza. “The whole night was incredible, but I think everyone letting loose on the dance floor was my favorite part,” Melissa remembers. “Guests even sang from gelato cone microphones!”