NAMES: Ashley Castaños & Terrence Brown
WEDDING DATE: 8.2.18
GUEST NUMBERS: 80
Ceremony/Reception Venue :Lake Como, Italy, “Villa Camilla”
Wedding Hashtag: #LagodiBrowños
HOW WE MET
My husband Terrence and I are from the same hometown, Fresno, California. We went to the same schools together growing up. I may have even had a crush on him at the young age of 11. We didn’t have mutual friends or really know much of each other but reconnected 8+ years ago while living in San Francisco. Our first date was a 12-hour car ride from San Francisco to Indio, CA for the Coachella Music Festival in 2010. Our mutual love of music must have been pretty strong, as we became pretty inseparable ever since.
The summer we started dating Terrence was heading to Lugano, Switzerland to work at a kids summer program, and I was on my way to Milan, Italy for a fashion internship. We spent our first couple months getting to know one another in Europe, taking the 45-minute train ride to and from to see each other.
YOUR ENGAGEMENT STORY
To my delight, Terrence has become quite the master of surprises. He convinced me that we were heading to the beach to celebrate his parents’ anniversary. I prepared for the weekend away with a bottle of Veuve champagne and some fresh blooms for gifting. Not knowing this was all just a ruse to throw me off track. We spent the beginning of the day with his family wine tasting. Upon arrival at a winery later in the afternoon, he held my hand and asked me to follow him. The winery was located on the top of a hill overlooking the vineyards…he led me up there to “check out the view”. Before I knew what was happening, he had gotten down on one knee and was asking me to marry him. It’s all such a blur, I was a blubbering mess! I was so stunned and shocked that I just kept repeating, “this is not real life”. I had been waiting for this moment for so long that I had a hard time taking it all in once it actually happened.
After a few moments alone, and a lot of happy tears, his family popped out of hiding and we celebrated together over champagne. The whole car ride back we sat in the back seat like giddy school children. It was such a moment of heightened emotion, a real out-of-body experience.
But the surprises didn’t end there, I walked into our beach house to find a room full of cheering people and 60 or so heart balloons. He had invited my parents, siblings and some good friends to be there for our special day. We spent the rest of the evening dancing on the beach and popping bottles. Boy did good.
WEDDING LOCATION/ VENUE:
We knew we wanted to get married in Lugano, Switzerland because it’s where we first started dating. We thought it would be incredibly romantic to share this magical place with our closest family and friends.
In addition, we found a gorgeous Villa in a tiny village on Lake Como, Italy that was the perfect venue for our wedding reception. It also happened to be the place where we stayed with our bridal parties and family for the week. It was important to us that we all stayed under one roof and had ample bonding time.
Being that the Villa was only 45 minutes or so away from Lugano, we decided to host events in both countries – Lugano, Switzerland and Lake Como, Italy.
We knew that whatever theme we would decide on would be unique and nontraditional. Most of the creativity evolved over time but we knew one of the main things we wanted to highlight was our shared love of fashion. We asked our guests to dress in their finest “runway attire”. I even put a link to the Met Gala coverage for inspiration. We set our ceremony up as though the guests were seated for a runway show and had our bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle one-by-one so they could have their individual runway moment.
To top it all off, our florist went above and beyond to create an abundant floral display and what she described as “the ultimate Fleetwood Mac fairytale wedding”. We were married on top of a mountain in a historic garden overlooking Lake Como and the mountains. It still doesn’t feel real.
The villa couldn’t have been a more perfect location for our reception. The house is located right on the edge of Lake Como, Italy with an impeccable view of the water. It had sprawling grounds which consumed eight acres of land. It was so fun to share the beautiful space with our guests and watch them explore all about.
We had everyone arrive out front of the villa, and with their champagne glass in tow they were lead around the back of the house to a lovely rose garden. They landed there for cocktail hour while noshing on heavy appetizers and admiring the gardens. A while later, they were lead to the pool area where the dinner took place.
There was a moment of awe as I walked up the steps to our reception area. The pool had been completely converted into a midsummers night’s dream land. We had gone for a nonconventional seating arrangement by having only lounge areas comprised of vintage furniture, along with a few tables smattered about. Everywhere you looked were larger-than-life florals, sparkling string lights and drippy candles. One of the greatest features was a stairway that led up to the garden which had ivy growing over it – our florist had lined the stairway with vintage gold candelabras and an additional variety of lit candles.
- Ceremony/Reception Venue: Lake Como, Italy, (specifically: Santa Maria Rezzonico CO, Italy – on Lake Como, Italy), no venue, just a private villa we rented: “Villa Camilla” is the name
- Rehearsal Venue: Yacht Party on Lake Lugano, Switzerland
- Rehearsal Outfit: Custom gold velvet gown (Daughters of Simone)
- Should mention, several women wore Daughters of Simone gowns, as pictured
Our wedding was a mix of so many things but more so our goal was to create a beautiful non-traditional wedding in Europe. Most of the creativity evolved over time but we knew one of the main things we wanted to highlight was our shared love of fashion. We asked our guests to dress in their finest “runway attire”, I put a link to the Met Gala coverage for inspiration. We even set our ceremony up as though the guests were seated for a runway show and had our bridal parties walk down the aisle one-by-one so they could have their individual runway moment.
Throughout the wedding planning process I kept commenting on my love of the juxtaposition between super fancy and nonconformity. I believe this is where our wedding planner and photographer started labeling it “the BOBO wedding”. We bent many rules by getting married in raw nature, setting up lounge areas for seating instead of organized tables and having a dance party in the pool while wearing our finest attire. Overall there was a lot of fun fashion mixed with a carefree attitude and warm sense of community.
Photographer: Elisabetta Redaelli – @ElisabettaLillyRed
I had been seeing Lilly’s work more frequently on the bridal front and was immediately drawn to her moody editorial style. Lilly and her husband Vic were an absolute dream to work with from start to finish. It was amazing that they not only lived in San Francisco but also in Lake Como, Italy. Terrence and I were able to meet up with them several times to discuss our wedding in both locations.
On the day of our wedding, Lilly and Vic were everywhere you looked, snapping their cameras at everything and anything. There was one moment, the morning of, where I caught Lilly shooting our jewelry pieces while sitting on top of Vic’s shoulders. Her sweet nature and determination to capture every detail was awe-inspiring, while also providing some comic relief. We couldn’t be more in love with her photos and talent.
My wedding gown was comprised of 100% ivory silk, I’ve always been a sucker for vintage silk pieces so I knew right away this would be the fabric of choice. I had always envisioned wearing an off-the-shoulder gown, as my mother had, but I wanted to put a unique spin on it by developing these large billowy sleeves. In designing my own gown, I knew I wanted floral embroidery to be a feature, and after scouring the fabric markets I finally found a floral embroidered trim (of course it was vintage), so I had it recreated and customized for my gown. You can see subtle hints of it throughout the gown and all along the ridiculously long train. I wanted a gown that made me feel like I was floating while standing still.
- Brand: Raye Booties
- Style: Simple and sleek white pointed booties
Choosing wedding shoes proved to be a difficult task. Once I had decided to have a slit up the front of my gown I realized my shoes would be on display the whole time. I chose shoes that weren’t too busy as I didn’t want anything to take away from the dress. I’m rarely seen not wearing boots so I settled on some simple yet sleek pointed white bootie.
I’ve been an avid fan of Elie Saab runway shows and pretty much envisioned this for my girls in the ceremony, among other things. I may have even been more excited about the bridal party looks than my own! I really wanted my girls to feel beautiful and sexy, and imagined them wearing silky slip gowns. I was fortunate enough to collaborate with the brilliant New Zealand designers, Greer & Chelsea of Leave her Wilder and together with Daughters of Simone we came up with individual looks for each girl.
We chose warm colors in bronze, gold and a soft blush and let each girl choose which color felt best with their skin tone. The gowns have a sense of modern bohemian with details such as long full sleeves, low backs, loose silhouettes and flowing skirts.
While these pieces were being created, I also had the idea that each girl would wear some sort of long robe. After many revisions, these ended up being sheer netted pearled cloaks which connected in the front and were adorned with long tassels. I really wanted the girls gowns to have trains…there’s just so few moments in life when you get to wear a train, ya know? And I also thought it would add to the drama.
I also had the vision for each girl to be dripping in bold jewelry and gold crowns. I reached out to Ashley from A.B.Ellie who was up for the collaboration challenge with Daughters of Simone, and we created a jewelry collection comprised of crowns, various headpieces, necklaces, earrings. She even lent us a slew of pieces from her regular collection to wear at the various wedding events. On the morning of the wedding I laid out each of the pieces and invited the girls to deck themselves out and wear whatever they wanted from the collection. I really wanted them to have their “little princess” movie moment as they all had been doing so much for me!
We both went for very unique styles. Mine is a custom ring made by a local San Francisco designer, Rebecca Overmann. It is a thick gold ring, long in shape, with a marquee diamond in the center and curved gold outlines throughout. Additional details include two smaller diamonds, one at the top and one below that were taken from a vintage bracelet my Grandmother had given me. It has a very artdeco feel.
Terrence had a custom ring made by a local artisan in San Francisco. It is a gold signet ring with a square face and a diamond shaped copper and quartz stone which has imperfect jagged edges and is secured with gold prongs.
I’m quite the minimalist when comes to accessories so along with my wedding ring I wore a vintage gold necklace that had belonged to Grandma. Her and my Grandpa had been married for 65 years before she passed so it was a lovely sentiment to wear something he had given her.
My sister, Brit, created this long dramatic veil for me which was simple in design, but the length made quite a statement. The veil was attached to the sides of a custom headpiece that I took part in designing (along with Ashley from A.B.Ellie, for our collaboration jewelry collection). The decadent crown was worn on the back of my head and it looked like wild golden vines swimming though my hair, it had touches of wildflowers with gemstones throughout.
My husband Terrence kept the fashion-forward theme going by designing dark burgundy embroidered tuxedos, with embroidery by El Patcha Embroidery. He was inspired by a Valentino collection a few years back and incorporated nature-inspired details and southwestern symbols. He’s always had a unique sense of style and the tux’s complimented him and his crew beautifully.
I kept my hair fairly simple as I wanted to feel like myself on my wedding day. I also didn’t want to take too much away from the large golden headpiece which I wore on the back of my head. I designed the pieces (along with Ashley from A.B.Ellie, for our Daughters of Simone collaboration jewelry collection) so you could see subtle hints of it on the sides when looking at me from the front.
I went for a very natural look, dewy skin, soft peachy tones with hints of gold and bronze and a nude lip.
- Invitation Design: Carolyn Yocum – @carolyn.e.yocum
- Invitation Calligraphy: Jo Arcilla Pierson – @inkpushco
- Invitation Printing Press – Megan & Sebastian Mejia – @LighthouseBridal
The guests were provided with welcome bags with all sorts of goodies in them upon arrival at their hotels. (Canvas totes, refillable water bottles, local Italian grappa, Swiss chocolates, Homemade Amaretti biscuits.)
At the ceremony we provided personalized haikus for each guest that Terrence and I had written.
We also sent guests off with a late night snack of warm croque monsieurs and pom frites.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS:
I had been a big fan of our florist, Christine Cater, for a while. And, knowing her work I pretty much gave her free reign to do whatever she was inspired to do. She did not disappoint. She created larger-than-life florals for both the ceremony and the reception. Her intentions were to use flowers that were more heat resistant such as straw and wax flowers and proteas, while keeping in mind my request for wild flowers mixed with more formal blooms. She blended these with anthuriums, garden roses, magnolias and many more.
We found a gorgeous Villa in a tiny village on Lake Como, Italy that was the perfect venue for our wedding reception. It also happened to be the place where we stayed with our bridal parties and family for the week, and got ready the morning of our wedding. It was important to us that we all stayed under one roof and had ample bonding time.
- Processional: Fleet Foxes “Cascades”, Bob Dylan “Shelter from the Storm”
- Recessional: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young “Carry On”
- First Dance: Old Crow Medicine Show “Wagon Wheel” & George Benson “Give me the Night”
We spent almost three weeks traveling in Europe after the wedding. Our first stop was Mallorca, Spain and it is such a beautiful island. We had so many things on our wishlist to check off. We explored hidden beaches, dined at their Michelin Star restaurants, road a motorcycle all over the mountains. After a week alone we met up with my sister and brother-in-law in Bilbao, Spain.
One day while travelling from San Sebastian Spain to the South of France, we spotted a giant field of sunflowers. The large golden flowers went on for what looked like eternity. We all hopped out of the car and took a gazillion photos, it was such a magical moment I will never forget.
We spent the next few days hopping around different wineries, small french villages and even stayed a night in a castle.
We ended our trip in Paris and stayed at the wonderful Hotel Raphael, I felt like an absolute queen. The hotel is decorated with ornate details, rooms filled with beautiful antique furniture and had a rooftop bar with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
The day we arrived at the villa my sister-in-law and bridesmaid, Alex, gifted me a small gold necklace with our wedding date engraved in roman numerals. It was a beautiful sentiment to the beginning of our trip together.
The day before we flew to Europe, my sister Brit and brother-in law Jeff surprised Terrence and I with a celebratory bottle of champagne served in vintage silver bride and groom goblets. They also surprised us with a handmade wedding blanket which they brought back from Morocco for us. It was a sweet gesture that got us even more excited for our wedding.
We did register for our hometown Bon Voyage Party, a mix of homegoods and camping gear. But we left the registry off for our guests travelling abroad. Their presence all the way across the world was a gift in itself.
- Celebrants: Matthew & Anthony Castanos (Ashley’s Cousins, who are brothers)
We asked two of my cousins to officiate the wedding who also happen to be some of our closest friends. It was important that we had people who knew us really well as a couple to marry us.
They did an excellent job of balancing heartfelt sentiment with some hysterical comic relief. Their looks will forever be iconic as they sported long silk kaftans, decorative scarves and no shoes. There was no rhyme or reason for these fashion choices, which made everyone love it even more.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT:
I’d say jumping into the pool in my reception dress was pretty darn memorable. Our reception took place around an outdoor pool area and considering we had been hit with a relentless heatwave, the cool water had been calling us all day long.
I think once the guests got word that “the bride has jumped in the pool in her dress”, hordes of people began corralling over. Everytime I’d look up, another one of my girlfriends was leaping in the air in her formal gown and a guy friend was making a splash in his finest tuxedo. The swim dance party soon turned into a conga line of 60 or so roaring celebrants chanting and howling to “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting”. It was quite epic.
Other memorable moments:
My family is really into speeches, and there were so many wonderful ones throughout the wedding festivities. My two sisters, Courtney and Brittany, took it over the top by surprising us with a song. They passed out their edited version of the lyrics to, “Don’t let the Kids Win” by Julia Jacklin, and performed the melody while Court played the ukulele. The whole crowd sang along and I quickly feel into happy tears.
IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE…
Ignore all the rules and create a wedding that is uniquely you. Terrence and I had so many out-of-the-ordinary ideas for our non-traditional European wedding and in the end we were able to create something totally new and completely us. I had never felt so vulnerable until I was the bride and I had to learn to trust my gut and go for what I really wanted.
|Florals + Wedding design @ChristinemCater|
|Catering & Cake @CitronPavot|
|Wedding Planning @LauraDovaWeddings|
|Furniture Rentals @Sofi_rentdesign|
|Furniture Rentals @Narkisso_design|
|Tableware Rentals @tablesetrentals|
|Decor Rentals @rossodisera_events|
|Furniture rental @rossodisera_events|
|DJ Music @vincent_dancepolice|
|Wedding Dress @DaughtersofSimone|
|Bride and Bridesmaids Jewellery @A.B.Ellie @DaughtersofSimone|
|Bridesmaids Dresses @Leaveherwilder @daughtrsofSimone|
|Bridesmaids Pearled Capes @DaughtersofSimone|
|Groomsmen Embroidery @elpachaembroidery|
|Bride Ring @rebeccaovermannjewelry|
|Groom Ring @fiatluxsf|
|Invitation Design @carolyn.e.yocum|
|Invitation Calligraphy @inkpushco|
|Invitation Printing Press @LighthouseBridal|
|Hair & Make up @sinemyavsaner_makeupartist|
|Hair & Make up @sinemyavsaner_makeupartist|
|Craft Cocktails @barmanatworkofficial|
|Ceremony location – Giardino del Merlo|
|Location -Villa Camilla|
|Transportation – Discacciati Sarl|