A Four Day Destination Wedding Weekend at Villa Cora in Florence, Italy
“Peter had been working in Hong Kong as an expat for a couple years already when I moved there for work in January 2014,” says Paulina. “We worked at the same company and met on my first day at work. We worked on different teams, so our relationship took some time to warm up. I swear I thought we were just friends in the beginning, one expat to another. In passing, we would reminisce about home, follow the NBA championship together, and talk about how much we missed a real Thanksgiving dinner. Occasionally, we grabbed lunch and I ate way too comfortably in front of him.
Then one day in July that year, he surprised me with a Cartier love bracelet at our favorite restaurant, Carbone in Hong Kong. He was going home to New York for a wedding the next week and wanted to make sure I knew he was serious about me before taking off for the trip. We moved in upon his return, and the rest is history. We’ve since moved back to New York, along with our puppy LeBron.”
“I HAD WAY TOO MUCH FUN PLANNING MY OWN WEDDING.”
The engagement took place in Paris, during a romantic getaway. One night, after dinner at Le Meurice, Paulina found a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses by the balcony of their hotel room. It was 11 p.m., the Eiffel Tower was sparkling in the background, and Peter got down on one knee to pop the question. To make it even more special, he shared with Paulina that he had already asked her father for permission. Even though Paulina’s father lives in Taiwan and doesn’t speak English, her brother facilitated the entire conversation and translated between the two.
“I had way too much fun planning my own wedding,” Paulina shares, describing the process of orchestrating a destination wedding at Villa Cora. “It was to the point that my friends thought I was weird – aren’t brides supposed to be stressed out and miserable? I had so much fun that after planning our four day wedding weekend in Florence, I decided to become a wedding and event planner. I loved everything from spreadsheets, to schedules, to seating cards, to floral arrangements. I guess that’s what happens when a wedding planner plans her own wedding!”
With guests traveling all the way to Italy, Paulina and Peter wanted to turn their wedding into a real vacation for everyone involved. They hosted a family-only welcome dinner on Tuesday at a local steakhouse, followed by an official welcome dinner for everyone else on Wednesday.
On Thursday, guests enjoyed a daytime tour of Tuscany, complete with wine tasting, saffron gelato, and a visit to the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa. Finally, Paulina’s girlfriends decided to throw her a bridal shower on Friday, taking advantage of having everyone in the same place at the same time. They enjoyed lunch at Villa Cora’s restaurant, along with an impromptu pool party when the bride-to-be was tossed into the pool.
On Friday night, the couple hosted a Chinese Tea Ceremony and rehearsal dinner at Restaurant B-Roof, which was decorated in red – the lucky color in Chinese culture. “It was important to me that our wedding festivities had elements of Chinese culture,” explains Paulina. “It was the most emotional part of the entire wedding weekend. I cried like a baby. Actually, everyone did. Peter thanked my parents for giving him their daughter and promised that he will take good care of me. I thanked Peter’s mother for raising such a great man, so that I could find him in this life. It’s my favorite part of our wedding.”
When Saturday arrived, guests took their seats at the wedding ceremony to the sweet sound of a string quartet playing “Beauty and the Beast,” and the bride walked down the aisle to the classic wedding tune, “Canon in D.” After the nuptials, guests enjoyed cocktail hour on the terrace with plenty of Prosecco, local prosciutto and cheeses, gourmet finger foods, and a gelato bar.
With the bride’s father being a legendary singer in Taiwan, the reception was the perfect time for him to perform for the crowd as the guests from Taiwan sang along. The party continued well into the night with the couple’s first dance, a packed dance floor and DJ, cake cutting, and pizza served as a midnight snack.
For their honeymoon, the newlyweds traveled to Positano and spent five days at the romantic Le Sirenuse hotel. “We spent a day in Capri, boating around to the many caves, diving into the water, and eating the best sea food at La Fontelina,” Paulina adds. “We then took a boat trip to La Conca del Sogno, where you could find Beyonce and Jay-Z hanging out over the summer. We toured Ravello and visited the undeniable Villa Cimbrone, where they filmed many scenes of Wonder Woman.
Peter surprised me with another bouquet of long stems in our hotel room, bringing back memories from our engagement in Paris. It was a dream. My husband is determined to go every year now!”
Location: Villa Cora Florence, Italy; Planning & Event Design: Events by Paulina; Floral Design & Favors: Giardino delle Fate; Ceremony Dress: Provovias; Reception Dress: Berta; Hair: Armilla Beauty: Groom's Attire: Frere: Cinematography: Dolcevita Wedding Cinema