When I first visited Castello di Celsa in Tuscany, not far from Siena, I fell under the spell of its timeless beauty, charm, and incredible history.
Walking in the gardens - as an avid gardener – I felt an immediate connection with this space full of rose bushes, lemon trees, singing birds, and surrounded by an endlessly green landscape of rolling hills.
Photo by Primavera Dreams.
Of course, I badly wanted to plan a wedding in this location. But it was essential to find the right couple!
And I did find one! Or maybe we've found each other.
When I got an IG message from Justin, I didn't realize he was the CEO and creative director of Justin Alexander's wedding dresses brand. But I immediately felt connected to him and his warm, friendly, beautiful bride, Kelsey.
It wasn't sporadic that they selected Castello di Celsa for their wedding – they were destined to get married there!
After more than a year of rigorous planning, multiple discussions, brainstorming, zoom meetings, travel to Tuscany to tour the venue together, etc., we all reunited for their 3-days celebration. I had a lot of things on my plate, but I got great help: my friend and partner Diana da Ros came from Milan to help me with this multi-day celebration.
Diana and Luba, a selfi:)
Have you ever lived in a real castle? With halls, great rooms, galleries, libraries, fireplaces, and endless stairs? We had breakfast in the large dining room with big windows opening to gorgeous views. It felt a bit like Downtown Abbey to me, in the sense of being inside a real thing, not a movie set. The castle's personnel greeted us, made us feel welcome, and cared for everyone.
It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. And beauty. And worries about the weather. And stairs!
And, of course, dresses!
Kelsey had multiple outfits and looked stunning in every one of them.
The celebration started with a Welcome Party in Borgo San Luigi's Tuscan resort. We enjoyed the wine tasting, pizzas, barbecue, typical Tuscan dishes, and the charming trio of musicians performing traditional Italian and international tunes. Many guests stayed there for the duration of the festivities.
Kelsey wore a white Viktor & Rolf two-piece attire, and Justin - a black shirt and white pants.
The following day we woke up to a deep fog followed by rain. Not the setting we had dreamt about for the wedding!
But we kept positive and got lucky: in the late morning, the rain stopped, and by the time of the First Look, we even got some sun!
In the castle, everyone was busy getting ready, steaming, ironing, and laughing. The celebrity beauty artist Cherie Spisso came with her crew and took care of the ladies. The creative director of Justin Alexander, Terri Hilferty, who designed the dresses for Kelsey, was there to help with the ceremony dress.
Soon we greeted the talented photo and video teams: David Bastianoni Studio and Waterfall Visuals.
While the castle was busy inside, Diana and I greeted other vendors: the catering, the furniture, the floral designer, and the music, sound, and lighting crew had arrived and started preparing for the big day. All worked hard despite the weather!
Behind the scenes: creating the floral arch. Photo by Primavera Dreams.
The highly anticipated First Look took place in the early afternoon and was pure joy. Justin looked elegant and chic in his Ralph Lauren tux.
Kelsey's gown, created by the friend and colleague of the groom Terri Hilferty, was embellished with dozens of 3D flowers on the bodice and had a V-neck on both the décolleté and the back.
"All my looks were a surprise to Justin as we both wanted it that way," says Kelsey. "It was a huge adjustment for me, typically designing the bride's look, to be surprised by what Kelsey would wear down the aisle. But I returned the surprise by sneakily having handwritten embroidered notes added to her ceremony dress and veil," says Justin. "I was not involved in any of Kelsey's fittings to ensure each final look would be seen for the first time on the wedding day."
Justin and Kelsey chose a Garden of Love wedding theme with a Black-Tie dress code.
To address it, the floral team created a magnificent arch full of roses, dahlias, and delphiniums in shades of white, yellow, peach, and antique pink for the ceremony. The entrance to the garden was decorated with floral columns in the same style. The whole setup was both glamorous and romantic.
The ceremony site. Photo by Primavera Dreams.
We greeted the arriving guests with a glass of Prosecco and witnessed their admiration for the location.
The ceremony in the Italian garden started with the groom entering first and the string quartet playing "All of Me" by John Legend.
The bride and her father walked down the aisle to "Anyone" by Justin Bieber.
The couple's friend conducted the ceremony, full of delight and happy emotions.
Upon conclusion of the ceremony, we invited everyone to join the "aperitivo" - a cocktail hour on the beautiful terrace overlooking the hills. The legendary Florentine caterer, Guidi Lenci, prepared and served sumptuous food for the reception. The company have organized banquets for Ferrari, Fiat, Emilio Pucci, Ferragamo, Chanel, and Moschino, as well as for Prince Charles' and Princess Diana's official royal visit to Italy. Now it was Kelsey & Justin's guests' turn to enjoy their food!
After dinner, the guests were invited to watch the famous cake show, when the couple helped to add the finishing touches to the traditional wedding cake, millefoglie.
By then, Kelsey surprised her husband by appearing in the "Bobbie" model, a dress from the Justin Alexander Signature collection designed by himself, sporting a beautiful strapless bustier and a skirt with a deep side slit.
Everyone then proceeded to the castle's lawn overlooking the English-style park to enjoy a fantastic firework display.
The First Dance followed shortly, full of love and sparkles, and then, everyone enjoyed energizing dancing until 2 am, thanks to the Kaleydo Entertainment team. A gelato cart with artisanal gelatos and pizza, along with the drinks, helped keep the guests' energy levels high.
For the last look of the wedding day, the bride chose a short Justin Alexander halter dress with geometric embroidery expertly mixed with floral lace and bare shoulders: perfect for dancing late into the night!
The next day, we all woke up to the bright sun and enjoyed a relaxing brunch and a leisurely walk around the ample castle's grounds.
Castello di Celsa. Photo by Primavera Dreams.
For brunch, Kelsey wore a custom dress from the Lilian West collection with a crop top and long skirt entirely in lace with a subtle gypsy mood.
Everyone was delighted, and the newlyweds were happy and complimented us as everything was great and seamless. They knew it meant a lot of behind-the-scenes work for our team. Indeed, my Apple watch registered 27,000+ steps and 100 flights of stairs on the wedding day!
Here is what Justin said when being interviewed by the Bridal Guide:
Couples that choose to host destination weddings know it can be complicated to plan your event from far away. We asked Justin and Kelsey for insights for BG brides planning their big days when they aren't able to be there every step of the way. Justin says, "If you can, hire a wedding planner who will keep you organized and links you with great vendors to help execute your wedding vision. A good team can adapt on the fly, from changing weather conditions to hiccups that may occur throughout the day."
Needless to say, we agree!
All the best, Kelsey & Justin!
Photos by David Bastianoni Studio, unless otherwise indicated.
This wedding was published in the following wedding magazines and blogs: