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Lake Maggiore Real Wedding


September 15, 2023
Words by Marisol Acosta
Photos courtesy of Vincent and Chie

An optimistic online match sparked a love that transcended continents. Whitney, a recent transplant from New Zealand, and Raffael (Raffy) had a magical first date at a champagne bar in the Golden Gate City. Years of love and adventure together led the couple on a road to say “I do.” While envisioning a destination for their nuptials, one special place came to mind. Having met Raffy’s parents for the first time at their summer home in Ascona, the lakeside border town became the place they chose to solidify their vows.

“Raffy is Swiss and his whole family lives in Switzerland,” the bride says. “Being right on the border with Italy, it is an amazing combination of Italian and Swiss cultures.”

The bride tells us that they wanted to choose a venue that spoke to the flow of lifestyle the couple exudes. Nestled on an island in the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore, Villa Emden on Isole di Brissago boasts a magical blend of fairytale and luxury. Neighboring the villa is a Botanical garden that provides an elegant acreage of diverse plants from all over the world. The gardens were carefully cultivated to showcase gorgeous flora from the Americas all the way to the Far East. The villa, framed by the gorgeous lake and shore, shines with its Art Nouveau architecture accompanied by features like marble arches and roman baths. These elegant features helped provide a backdrop of opulence. The couple spent a day taking in the garden’s beauty and sampling the divine cuisine to be chosen for their big event. With Raffy’s family being able to speak the local language, communicating with vendors proved to be effortless.

“Every vendor was professional and easy to work with,” the bride gushes. “And when it came to the wedding day…everything was on time and perfect!”

The ceremony was a spiritual affair and beautifully juxtaposed with the surroundings of the island. The bride and groom chose to celebrate the influence and importance of family, tradition, and community as well as celebrate their individual selves. A koan (a zen paradoxical question that invites self-reflection) was read, inviting a moment of contemplation. Incorporating these zen elements highlighted the couple’s appreciation for life and their journey of eternal love.

Not wanting to draw attention away from the natural beauty of the island surrounded by Lake Maggiore, simple yet elegant floral arrangements of orchids and Calla lilies accompanied by various greenery and moss accented the event. A romantic array of candles beautifully lined the staircases and rose petals scattered amongst the aisles for an extra dreamy effect. During cocktail hour at the reception, the wedding party was whisked away onto a Riva Aquarama (an Italian wooden speedboat) and jetted around the lake as guests waved to the happy couple. As if on cue, a rainbow appeared, seeming to further bless the couple’s union! 

As guests sat down to dinner, an extravagant surprise was awaited. A male and female opera singer emerged to provide a breathtaking performance of tranquility and reflection to the event. According to the bride, “there wasn’t a dry eye or an arm without goosebumps” in the house.

Having lovingly curated the wedding of their dreams, the couple took time to reflect on some advice that helped make their day one for the books.

“Have fun with it! Plan as much as is natural for you, but on the day – surrender. Be in the moment, be with your partner and breathe.”

Vendors: Photographer: Vincent and Chie; Wedding Coordinator/ Florals: Miss Deco; Venue: Villa Emden; Cake: Anny’s Cupcake; Hair & Makeup: Geraldine Mouton; Gown Designer: Blue by Enzoani; Gown alterations: House of Deane; Groom’s custom tuxedo: Soto & Co.; Opera singers & DJ: Wedding Voice

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