Karen Aviles and Eric Grimaldi had both been to the Hamptons many times. But, their paths never crossed until Memorial Day weekend in 2015. “We met serendipitously on Sunset Beach,” they share. “We spent the day relaxing on the beach, having rosé, and bonding over our love of Levain cookies. After building up an appetite discussing our favorite restaurants and food, Karen suggested grabbing lunch in town at her favorite burger spot.” They watched the sunset, exchanged Instagram handles, and, eventually, phone numbers. The pair went on to talk every day for a month.
On Valentine’s Day 2018, Eric proposed on a surprise trip to Paris in the Jehan Rictus garden, where a stunning mural declares “I love you” in more than 250 languages. A photographer captured the moment, then the couple headed to their favorite cafe for Champagne and baguettes.
Like the proposal, their wedding was to be a romantic European affair. “A few years back we visited the Amalfi Coast and absolutely fell in love with the area,” the couple shares. “Karen had told Eric, ‘This is where I see us getting married.’ Eric’s family is originally from southern Italy, and our mutual love of food and la dolce vita made it a perfect location.”
Though choosing the location was easy, planning in general was “a process,” Karen admits. “I’d be lying if I said It was seamless! I created about five PowerPoints and 20 Excel sheets with Eric. I took care of the [vision], he took care of the budgeting. My vision changed slightly from what I originally wanted [after postponing the wedding a year], so as the ideas came up in my head, I would add them to the PowerPoint with examples and photos. My planners loved my mood boards. It helped us all understand the vision that we were going for.” The aesthetic played off the area’s natural beauty and topography with a color scheme of warm pastels and mauve accents.
Read ahead to see all the gorgeous details of Karen and Eric’s July 31, 2021, wedding in Ravello, Italy, planned by Elena Piemonte and Laura Frappa of Exclusive Italy Weddings and photographed by Cinzia Bruschini Studio.
“A promise we made to each other prior to our wedding day was to have coffee and breakfast alone on our terrace, overlooking the Amalfi Coast, before the chaos of the day started,” Karen says. “We aren’t traditional—we slept in the same room the night before our wedding—and it was the most perfect start to our wedding day.”
Both bride and groom are devotees of Russak Dermatology in New York City, and visited for treatments leading up to the wedding. Eric got a hydrafacial for his pre-wedding prep. He worked with Brioni stylist Edwin Abreau, who has been dressing Eric since he was 8 years old, to create the perfect bespoke tuxedo in a shade of green that matched the accents in Karen’s bridal gown. Cufflinks made from malachite—a mineral with a green hue—finished the look. “There were a few personal touches to the wedding that reflected both Eric and I, the most significant being the green accents throughout our wedding day,” Karen says.
True to her planning style, Karen created an inspo PowerPoint for her glam squad, complete with examples, shades, lipsticks, and eyeshadow palettes. “My statement look was my eyes,” she says. “I wanted a golden rose eyeshadow to complement my eyes. I used to get made fun of for having big eyes. Ironically, now it’s my favorite feature!”
She incorporated a pop of green into her manicure. “I did a traditional French tip with a green accent on my ring fingers to tie it all together. My nail technician knew the manicure was for my wedding, so she looked at me like I was crazy for adding green! I loved it.”
As soon as I saw myself in it, I was overwhelmed with emotion.
Perfectly fitting the venue and day’s vision, Monique Lhuillier’s high-low Tivoli gown was inspired by an Italian secret garden—and it had hand-appliquéd green accents. “I saw it hanging at the bridal shop and I thought it looked super unique, so I tried it on for fun. Little did I know I would fall in love with it the moment I walked out,” Karen recalls. “As soon as I saw myself in it, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I loved how it wasn’t traditional.”
She paired the look with Cartier earrings and Rene Caovilla sandals, both green. “One significant piece I attached to the back of my dress was a red Italian horn that a local jeweler gifted to me when I told her I was getting married the following day,” Karen says. “She told me that in Italian tradition, gifting someone the horn is a symbol of good luck and protection, and to attach it somewhere on myself for my wedding.”
The couple wanted an extra special space for their first look. “The day before the wedding, our planner Elena got a call about an exclusive villa that would give us access to their gorgeous property to have our first look, Villa La Rondinaia,” Karen shares.
The moment itself? “It was emotional,” the couple says. “Eric was flabbergasted by the nontraditional wedding dress Karen was wearing and couldn’t get over how beautiful she looked. In that moment, he realized all the hard work Karen put into having his tuxedo match her wedding dress. Karen isn’t the emotional type, but seeing Eric waiting for her at the end of the terrace completely overwhelmed her with emotion. It was a very beautiful moment.”
The intimate garden was dressed in white, light pink, and lilac florals. The arrangements were anchored by an organic arch through which you could peek at the sea below. A white carpet—thick, so the bride’s heels wouldn’t dig into the grass—ran the length of the aisle, and vintage white wrought-iron chairs seated the 30 guests.
Karen’s father walked her down the aisle to the tune of “Godspeed” by Frank Ocean, her favorite artist. “Our wedding song choices [were a personal touch]; they weren’t the traditional wedding songs,” the bride says. “I had to switch around my ceremony plans a month prior to the wedding to make sure we could find a singer and pianist that could sing and play ‘Godspeed.’”
The couple had shared private vows with each other earlier that morning over breakfast. At the ceremony itself, they exchanged personally engraved rings. “Eric engraved mine in Spanish with ‘te amo, por siempre <3 E,’ which translates to ‘I love you, forever,’” Karen says. “In his band, I engraved ‘contigo tengo sueños hasta el fin’ which translates to ‘with you I have dreams until the end.’”
After “I do,” they recessed down the aisle to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
Cocktail hour in the high garden featured a duo of signature drinks: a Hendrick’s Negroni and a refreshing white peach purée Bellini.
For dinner—set on one long table under the olive trees—Karen envisioned a fun and colorful tablescape that was still ultra elegant. Floral-patterned Versace plates set the tone and palette, backed by a dusty pink table linen. Whimsical center florals, rose-colored napkins, and modern pink-and-gold flatware upped the ante.
“We are foodies at heart and fell in love over food. We wanted to bring our mutual love affair with food to our wedding, so our guests could go through a journey of Southern Italian cuisine,” the couple shares. The menu featured their favorite local pescatarian dishes: sea bass marinated in Amalfi Coast citrus with celery and apple salad; penne with zucchini and sweet pecorino cheese; and filet of pezzogna, a local Mediterranean fish.
After dinner, both bride and groom changed into a second look. Eric swapped his jacket for a white paisley dinner jacket from Isaia, and Karen donned a Berta dress and Amina Muaddi sandals.
“Having live music was very important to us during our special day, and we had a variety of different types of music throughout our wedding,” the couple shares. “During the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner we had a three-string quartet, pianist, and singer. The afterparty consisted of a DJ with a saxophonist.” For their first dance, they went with an Italian tune, “Ti Amo” by Umberto Tozzi. Then, Eric danced with his mother to “Because You Loved Me” by Céline Dion, and Karen swung with her dad to “My Girl.”
For their cake, they opted for an Italian classic, as well: a millefoglie with strawberries in the shape of two intertwined hearts. Cutting it became one of their most memorable moments. “We were taken aback when we realized the two intertwined hearts could come apart,” Karen says. “We loved everything about the cake. It was so beautiful.” And, just like they had a perfect morning the day of their wedding, they also did on their first one as husband and wife. “We ended up having our cake for breakfast the following day.”