Katie Kirkland had just moved to San Francisco from Atlanta when she met Jimmy Marchetti at a dive bar in the fall of 2015. They had two things in common: a mutual friend in Atlanta, and a passion for skiing. “We started talking about skiing and Jimmy invited Katie and her friend to join his ski lease in Tahoe City,” the couple shares. “We got to know each other as friends through the ski lease, and started dating in early summer 2017.”
That December, the couple’s families met in Italy. “Both of our families have Italian roots. Our parents first met each other in Rome when our families had separately planned to be there for the holidays,” the pair remembers. Something magical happened on that trip. “We did a day trip to Montepulciano and had the best day,” the couple shares. “We both felt it was the beginning of our lifelong partnership.”
Their families grew closer and by the following year, they decided to spend the holidays together, intentionally, in Italy. “Jimmy asked Katie’s mom for her blessing that Thanksgiving,” the couple says. “Because of their special trip the year before, he planned the proposal for Montepulciano. He brought Katie to the top of the tower in the square of Montepulciano, talked about their trip the year before and how that was when he knew, and proposed to a very surprised and thrilled Katie.” Afterward, they met their families at a nearby cafe to celebrate.
There was no question, then, about where they’d get married. “We wanted to get married in Tuscany because of how special it is to us and our families,” they share. “It’s where our families are from, where our parents first met each other, and where we shared many special memories, including our engagement.”
“Our original wedding date was May 23, 2020. Because Italy was hit by COVID so hard early on, we had to make the call to postpone earlier than most, in early March,” the couple recalls. They had to postpone a second time in early 2021, and were finally married on August 25, 2021. Thankfully, they had planner Eva Clark to lead them through it all and manage vendors during the postponement process.
“Eva and her team were a dream,” Katie says. “She really helped guide us through decisions big and small. I’m a perfectionist and can end up in analysis paralysis. Eva could always step in and provide helpful perspective and guidance to help us arrive at the best decision for us and the event. The team provided so much guidance on all of the logistics that go into planning a destination wedding.”
Katie and Jimmy wanted their nuptials to be about more than just them, though. “We wanted our wedding to truly feel like a vacation for all of our guests,” they share. “Because we asked our friends and family to travel so far for the wedding, we wanted to create a space for everyone to relax and enjoy their time in Italy.” They planned events over four days in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany, culminating in an extra-special ceremony and reception for 75 guests.
Read on to see the destination day come alive, as planned by Eva Clark Events and photographed by Bottega 53 Studio.
“When looking for a venue in Tuscany, we didn’t know where to start,” Katie says. “But coincidentally, a friend of a friend had written an article about destination venues, and had featured La Foce. We looked at many venues in Tuscany, but La Foce stood out with its beautiful gardens and rich history. We loved the impeccable grounds, villas on property, views of the valley—including the quintessential Tuscan winding road with cypress trees—and the overall spirit.” They also rented out La Foce’s sister property, Chiarentana, so that almost all their guests could stay onsite or nearby.
Artist Caitlin Alderfer painted a watercolor of the venue to line peachy envelopes for the invitations. The venue naturally set the tone for the wedding vision. “Our colors were coral with yellow and pink accents,” says planner Eva Clark. “La Foce’s gardens provided a beautiful backdrop with lush greenery as part of its historic landscape design. We wanted the wedding color story to be vibrant and cheerful, without competing in any way with the stunning surroundings.”
“I love skincare, so I kept to my normal routine while adding some hydrating sheet and overnight masks pretty frequently,” Katie says of her pre-wedding beauty prep. “I love Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream and Kiehl’s Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream for hydration, and Sunday Riley Luna sleeping night oil as a more gentle retinol. GrandeLash-MD is a game changer for long and full lashes.” She added a few facials into the routine and, by the time the big day finally arrived, was positively glowing.
The beauty vision was “elegant, but with some fun,” Katie says. “Not too stuffy or overdone. I wanted my eyes to stand out. I trusted my hair and makeup stylist—Jessica Kendall, the owner of Beauty Asylum—completely. I had been loving bronze eye makeup, so we did a softer variation of that for the wedding day.” Jessica started with a flawless canvas using Temptu airbrush makeup. “I always wear my hair down,” Katie continues. “I have a lot of hair, so I didn’t want to be worried about it staying in place. Ultimately, I wanted something simple but elevated from what I normally do.”
She accessorized with a tennis bracelet gifted from Jimmy on her 30th birthday, and a pair of Roberto Coin drop earrings from her mom. A spritz of Ellis Brooklyn’s Fawn and her look was complete.
Katie had her selection narrowed down to three gowns and decided to revisit Jin Wang to try each on again. That’s when the this silk Carolina Herrera style, complete with an organza train, truly shone. “When I put this one on, I got emotional envisioning myself in the dress at La Foce with Jimmy,” Katie remembers. “I never thought I’d have that moment, so it took me by surprise.” The emotions were a family affair. “My mom flew cross-country twice to help me with the selection. It was so special to have her there, along with one of my bridesmaids who also flew cross-country and my mother-in-law, to support me.”
“I selected a range of Jenny Yoo dresses in the color ‘petal,’” Katie says. “I wanted my bridesmaids to be able to choose the style of their dress from a range of options. The style options complemented my dress as well. The color in a satin finish blended well with our color scheme and the outdoor garden setting.”
Jimmy trimmed his signature beard and slipped on a dark blue suit, custom-made for him at Spoon Tailor in San Francisco. For the groomsmen, “we chose dark blue suits to go with Jimmy’s, and coordinating blue ties,” Katie says. “We didn’t want to go the black-tie route to allow our guests more options and to be less restrictive. We wanted everyone to be at ease and enjoy the beautiful setting.”
We wanted to make sure we took the time to be present as a couple.
Their first look was a chance to take it all in. “After almost three years of planning, there was a lot of build up to that moment,” Katie remembers. “We wanted to make sure we took the time to be present as a couple.” She goes on: “As part of our first look, we read our vows to each other in private before reading them at the ceremony. I wanted to get some of the tears out of the way prior to the ceremony, but that was unsuccessful! I just ended up crying twice. My bridal party was watching from afar and cheered when we finished our vows, which added so much excitement ahead of the ceremony.”
Katie carried a bouquet of ranunculus, peony, dahlia, sweet pea, garden rose, lily, and daisy; her maids carried smaller versions of the same.
“We knew we’d want to soften the statues in the heart of the main garden with some vibrant, dramatic flowers,” Eva says. “The groomed shrubbery formed a natural aisle to the ceremony site, so no additional enhancements were needed.”
Guests fanned themselves as the ceremony began, a string quartet playing pop songs as the parents were seated and the bridal party entered. In the repertoire? “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift and “Do You Realize” by The Flaming Lips.
“My stepdad, Jason, walked me down the aisle,” Katie shares. “He’s been in my life since I was eight, and I was the maid of honor for my mom at their wedding in 1999 when I was 10. Jason has always been there for me as a parent, and it was very special to have him walk me down the aisle.” Leon Bridges’ “Beyond” played on strings and Katie’s organza-trimmed veil made an epic statement against the unblemished greenery.
The ceremony was officiated by a family friend and featured personal vows written by the couple. ”We both independently included our dog, Dolly,” Katie remembers. “I vowed to let Jimmy spoil her rotten while I enforced the rules every once in a while, and he vowed to love me and Dolly.”
“We also both referenced our time together in our ski lease; I vowed to love him even when he wakes me up way too early for powder days. Jimmy told the story of when I first realized I was falling for him past our initial friendship: a 10-hour car ride from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe that should have been miserable—the ride is usually only three-and-a-half hours—but instead was full of laughter, making me realize that we could have fun together in any circumstance.”
“Our ceremony included two readings,” Katie says. “The first was the poem ‘[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]’ by one of my favorite poets, E.E. Cummings. The second was an excerpt from the novel The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.” The passage began: “When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke—the language that everyone on Earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert.”
The quartet strung Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away” as guests formed a tunnel along the aisle and tossed colorful flower petals, showering the newlyweds with love.
The string quartet kept up with modern music during cocktail hour in the upper lemon garden. Guests noshed Italian light bites like arancini truffle balls, mini bruschetta, and skewers of veal and sage.
“The lemon garden was the perfect backdrop,” Eva says. “Playing off of Italy’s famed fruit, we incorporated lemons into the cocktails as well as the escort display, which contained bottles of limoncello and fresh lemons. The chic bottles acted as both a guest favor and an escort card.”
“We wanted to infuse some of the sherbert-like colors into the bars and gelato cart to unify the look of each space at La Foce,” Eva continues. “So, we brought fabric over from Georgia and wrapped each of these pieces.”
Their signature cocktail? “An Aperol spritz, of course!” Katie says.
“In general, we wanted to incorporate as much of Tuscany and all of the wonderful things it’s known for, such as delicious cuisine, picturesque scenery, and the warmest of warm people,” Katie says.”Eva really helped us integrate the vibe of Italy in the design elements.”
“Our tablescape included rustic Tuscan touches such as wood and natural linen, which were playfully balanced by pops of glamor with the Oscar de la Renta china and modern flatware,” Eva describes. “Fresh lemons made another appearance here, serving as the base for the calligraphed place cards. The colorful wedding crest was showcased on the dinner menus, which were a real conversation starter.”
“There was a beautiful sunset the night of the wedding during dinner,” Katie remembers. “So many of the guests went to the gardens to watch the sunset and take pictures. Jimmy and I also went out to look at the sunset over the rolling Tuscan hills and valley. It was such a special moment to reflect on the ceremony and a great kickoff to the reception.”
Cafe lights flickered on overhead as guests sat for the plated dinner. “We had an appetizer of pear and pecorino cheese tortelli in butter and sage sauce and a primo course of risotto with porcini mushrooms, herbs, and black truffle,” Katie says. “There was a choice of a Florentine beef sirloin steak with arugula or salmon with almond sauce as the main course.”
“We are not big cake people, but we still wanted a moment as a couple during dinner,” Katie says. “We decided to do a Champagne tower instead. Jimmy and his family have a fun tradition of sabering Champagne bottles that we have continued on with our friends. So, we started the Champagne tower with Jimmy sabering the first bottle.”
They couldn’t leave guests completely without cake, though. “We did a traditional Italian millefoglie wedding cake; the chef assembled the cake in front of the guests according to tradition,” Katie shares. “We played classic songs during the assembly while the guests watched.” Think “Cheek To Cheek” by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and “The Best Is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra. “‘That’s Amore’ was a favorite, and was a good transition to the reception dancing.”
There was also a gelato cart by the dance floor. Another late night treat? “We made sure we had an espresso machine, in case anyone needed a caffeine kick or an espresso martini to stay on the dance floor.”
“Jimmy and I danced together with both sets of our parents to kick off the special dances and get everyone to the floor,” Katie says. “It was a testament to how close our families are and how much love and support we had from them all throughout the planning process and in our everyday lives.” Their first dance song was another Leon Bridges tune, “Coming Home.”
Following dinner and a slew of memorable speeches that were a favorite moment of the bride’s, guests transitioned to the nearby Limonaia—lemon house—for dancing. “The lighting and vibe in this space was much more festive and colorful,” Eva says.
It called for a dress change. The bride swapped her Carolina Herrera gown for Retrofête’s party-ready Aubrielle sequined chiffon mini dress.
“The reception band was very important to both of us,” Katie says. “We love live music, so we knew that we wanted to have a live band as our entertainment. The band selection was one of the decisions that took the longest.” They landed on The Sultans, a band they’d seen play at a friend’s wedding. “They had such great energy and came onto the dance floor to interact with the guests. We had eight musicians who were all so talented. They really made the reception a blast and kept everyone on the dance floor.” The Sultans also served as DJs for the afterparty—the final celebration before the newlyweds escaped for a honeymoon in Montenegro, Croatia, Capri, and Positano.
“In general, Jimmy and I were so grateful to our friends and family that traveled all the way to Italy to celebrate with us mid-pandemic and stuck with us after two postponements,” Katie says. “After so much planning through all of the uncertainties, every single moment with everyone there was so special to us.”