Un­der the Tus­can Sun

Emanuela Santi and An­drew Peña’s three-day wed­ding cel­e­bra­tion in a rock star’s Flo­ren­tine home com­bined a Tus­can set­ting with Moroc­can in­spi­ra­tion—and a uniquely Hong Kong touch, writes Melissa Twigg

Hong Kong Tatler Weddings - - Contents -

Emanuela Santi and An­drew Peña’s three-day wed­ding cel­e­bra­tion in a rock star’s Flo­ren­tine home com­bined a Tus­can set­ting with Moroc­can in­spi­ra­tion—and a Hong Kong touch

There’s a par­tic­u­lar thrill that runs through us all when an em­bossed in­vi­ta­tion tum­bles into the let­ter­box. And for the 200 guests who at­tended Emanuela Santi and An­drew Peña’s three-day wed­ding in Italy this sum­mer, the rush of ex­cite­ment and an­tic­i­pa­tion was even greater than usual. That’s be­cause the wa­ter­colour-style, flo­ral in­vi­ta­tions were not the only in­di­ca­tion of the ex­trav­a­ganza ahead. Af­ter all, Emanuela her­self is some­thing of a lo­cal leg­end, and it’s not of­ten that you are in­vited to the nup­tials of an Ital­ian de­sign guru so renowned that her day job in­volves or­gan­is­ing the Hong Kong chap­ter of in­ter­na­tional AIDS char­ity gala—and celeb-fest—am­fAR.

An events plan­ner and de­signer, Emanuela is known around Hong Kong for her im­pec­ca­ble taste. And she cer­tainly knows how to throw a party: she or­gan­ised su­per­model Naomi Camp­bell’s 40th birth­day bash and has worked ex­ten­sively at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.

But for an Ital­ian girl liv­ing be­tween Hong Kong and Lon­don and en­gaged to a Puerto Ri­can in­vest­ment banker, the most press­ing ques­tion was in which time zone to hold the wed­ding of the cen­tury.

“Be­ing Ital­ian there was no other coun­try I could think of which would mea­sure up to the great food, wine, en­ergy and at­mos­phere of Italy,” says Emanuela. “An­drew and I had our first hol­i­day to­gether in Tus­cany: his best man had rented Il Pala­gio, Sting’s beloved hol­i­day home and the villa we mar­ried in. Hav­ing worked for over 12 years in events I had never seen such a nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful and well-kept venue.”

The mo­ment Emanuela laid eyes on the 15th cen­tury villa, which boasts a swim­ming pool, lakes, vine­yards, olive groves and— be­fit­ting its rock star owner—a record­ing stu­dio, she went weak at the knees.

“We had only been to­gether for sev­eral months at this point yet by the end of the hol­i­day, I made it clear to ev­ery­one in­clud­ing the in­cred­i­ble staff that I would get mar­ried here some­day—hope­fully to An­drew!” says Emanuela. “The staff still re­mem­bered that fondly and it was amaz­ing that we could make that dream come true.”

But while the venue is ex­quis­ite, like all brides Emanuela was un­der some pres­sure to en­sure the day felt per­sonal—and she achieved her goal by mak­ing the wed­ding week­end strongly the­matic.

“For the wel­come din­ner on the first day, my idea was ‘Florence of Bo­hemia’, taken from the tiles, ar­chi­tec­ture, colours and Medici his­tory [of Florence],” she says. But that wasn’t all. “I was in­spired by Morocco and Boho cul­ture, but also by a photo I had seen of Margherita Mis­soni’s wed­ding with cush­ions on the floor in lots of prints and pat­terns. But in­stead of pat­terned cush­ions, I sourced rugs from Turkey in fuch­sia, green and or­ange, and mixed them with vi­brant flow­ers such as bougainvil­lea and pe­onies,

“On the day, make sure you keep hold­ing hands and never let go of each other, so you can en­joy all the un­for­get­table mo­ments as a pair” – Emanuela & An­drew

along­side or­ange trees and pineap­ples.”

And the Turk­ish and Moroc­can in­spi­ra­tion con­tin­ued through­out the event, from the tra­di­tional North African vases to the metal serv­ing dishes, lanterns and wa­ter flasks.

How­ever, at­tracted as the cou­ple were to Mediter­ranean and Mid­dle East­ern mo­tifs, they were de­ter­mined to bring in el­e­ments of Hong Kong as well. Not only is their Hong Kong home in the Mid-Lev­els, they also met at So­cial­ito on Wyn­d­ham Street one packed Fri­day night in 2014, and they wanted to pay trib­ute to the city that was their match­maker.

“So for the wed­ding, I opted for the ti­tle ‘An evening of Toscanerie’,” says Emanuela. “It was a mar­riage be­tween China and Tus­cany, tak­ing el­e­ments from both to in­flu­ence the de­sign of the evening. So we mixed daisies with man­darin trees, and bam­boo bird cages and Ming vases with Flo­ren­tine glasses by de­signer Mario Luca Giusti and rus­tic wooden ta­bles and chairs.”

Emanuela’s favourite piece of de­sign from the en­tire day was a sim­ple ode to China in the form of ex­quis­ite hand-painted plates fea­tur­ing Chi­nese rice farm­ers, which were de­signed to match the cus­tom-made glass­ware. On these hand-painted pieces, guests ate home­made pasta with bur­rata and toma­toes, fol­lowed by tagli­ata with rose­mary and rock salt.

As a quick scroll through In­sta­gram (#drewela) il­lus­trates, this was an ex­quis­ite

wed­ding, and a rare com­bi­na­tion of style, beauty and originality. But it also con­tained a few mag­i­cal and very per­sonal mo­ments. The mem­ory Emanuela keeps re­turn­ing to is the mo­ment as she and An­drew sped away from the church to­wards the sun­set in a vin­tage MG car.

“I closed my eyes and would then open them to a vi­sion of rolling Tus­can hills, flow­ers in my hair, bouquet in hand and the evening breeze set­ting in. We felt com­pletely free and to­tally in love with each other,” says Emanuela.

Although the cou­ple wasn’t ex­actly alone in that vin­tage red sports car. Un­der Emanuela’s be­spoke cou­ture Naeem Khan lace dress was a barely no­tice­able bump, one that has to­day trans­formed into a gur­gling, pink-cheeked two-month-old baby named Pene­lope.

“It was a great feel­ing that our lit­tle girl was liv­ing all of these mo­ments vi­car­i­ously through us,” she says.

Once Pene­lope is old enough to ap­pre­ci­ate her par­ents’ inim­itable style, she’ll be de­lighted to learn that she didn’t miss her par­ents’ wed­ding.

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