Ying Huang and Billy Palladino-King have a classic summer-camp romance—even though they didn’t meet until they were adults. “We met in September 2016 on a bus headed to adult summer camp,” the couple shares. “Billy and his brother sat across the aisle from Ying and her girlfriend, and struck up a conversation on the four-and-a-half hour journey.” The courting continued upon arrival. “We got to know each other while paddle boarding, rock climbing, and roasting s’mores over the weekend, and decided to meet up a few days later for what ended up being the best—and last—first date either of us would ever have.”
On a trip to Italy in June 2019, the duo sought out some of Billy’s distant relatives in Calabria, where they ended up at a graduation party for a cousin he’d never met. “The family embraced us warmly with hugs, kisses, and mountains of food,” the couple remembers. “Only one person at the party spoke any English, and conversations were conducted almost exclusively through gesturing and Google Translate.” Still, they caught wind that Billy was planning to propose on the trip, and encouraged him to do it right then and there. He moved to the front of the room with the only other English speaker and made a heart-melting speech. “112 years ago, my great-grandfather left [Italy] and went to America,” he began. “It took me more than 100 years to get back to my family. It’s beautiful to see where I come from and where my past is. Today is the first day that my past and my future meet—and that is why I would like to take this moment to ask this woman to marry me.” Ying broke into stunned tears.
“We thought it would be very romantic to get married in Italy, given Billy’s Italian heritage and how much we loved our first vacation to Italy when we got engaged,” the bride says. “We visited several sites in Lake Como and absolutely fell in love with Villa Sola Cabiati and its beautiful views, garden, and history.” They envisioned a three-day destination event; and unlike many couples who downsized during COVID postponements, their vision kept growing and growing as the date was pushed further back. “As we had been wedding planning for three years, we kept adding elements to the wedding that made it more logistically challenging: an additional welcome event, five musical acts, fireworks, a tent, a choreographed dance, a sword to cut the cake, and so on,” Ying says. “Our planner, Jacqueline Hallgarth, took on each additional request with grace and professionalism.”
And so their May 3, 2022 wedding was nothing if not grand (the bride alone wore four dresses!). Read on to see all the regal details, planned by Jacqueline Hallgarth Events and photographed by Claire Morris Photography.
The artistic bride painted a watercolor of the villa venue and sent it to their invitation designer, who incorporated it into the invitation suite as an envelope liner. “Though bridesmaids wore champagne and gold, there was no set color scheme for the wedding,” Ying says. “I wanted florals to look organic and colorful to fit in with the decor of the villa and its gardens.”
For the welcome reception at Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Ying wore a satin Carolina Herrera dress. “I wanted something simple and elegant, and loved the clean lines and silhouette of this gown,” she says. “The signature Carolina Herrera bow in the back really solidified it for me.” She accessorized with a bracelet and earrings gifted from the groom.
Not to be outdone by his bride, who changed up her look three times on the wedding day, Billy opted for two looks as well. He wore a Hall Madden tuxedo with a white jacket for the ceremony and black jacket for the reception, and accessorized with black velvet Louboutin loafers and a Rolex Submariner. The final touch was a spritz of Creed Viking. “One of the top notes is Calabrian bergamot,” he says. “My family is from Calabria, and thus I wanted to have a scent from the South.”
Ying fell in love with a Galia Lahav gown, but it didn’t fit her vision exactly. “I loved the form-fitting beaded lace top of this mermaid gown and its dramatic tulle train, but was looking for something strapless,” she says. “The bridal salon called the designer, who agreed to customize it without straps and I was instantly sold!” She made a practical footwear choice. “I wore comfortable white wedges under my gowns, because I knew no one could see my shoes and I’d be standing all day and dancing all night!”
For beauty, “I wanted to make sure I looked like myself, so I did my own makeup each day as I usually do it,” Ying adds. “Chanel VitaLumière Aqua Foundation and waterproof eye makeup [were key]. There were many happy tears shed throughout the wedding, and my makeup didn’t budge. I also use Menu Beauty lashes, which I love because they’re super comfortable and look incredibly natural.”
With a ceremony setting overlooking the stunning Lake Como, not much decor was required. “We had a floral arch, large flower urns at the end of the aisle, and arrangements along the backs of the chairs,” Ying describes.
A string quartet set the tone, playing an instrumental version of “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey as the bride walked down the aisle.
“Our good friend Misha Leybovich was our officiant,” the couple shares. “He spent hours conducting calls with us, our families, and our best friends to gather information for the personalized ceremony.” Ying and Billy each read their own vows, then—after being pronounced husband and wife—walked back up the aisle to “All You Need is Love.” A Champagne pop was in order.
Vellum escort cards affixed with monogrammed wax seals were arranged at the entrance to the reception space, where guests also signed the guestbook. Ying and Billy opted to use an actual book—Assouline’s The Italian Dream—so they can display their 80 guests’ sentimental notes on their coffee table with pride.
“We set up a reception tent in case of rain, which is common in Como—it rained for four hours straight prior to the ceremony, and the rain stopped just as the first guests arrived,” Ying shares. “We had assorted candles and flower arrangements of various sizes in antique vases running down the center of long rectangular tables. Chandeliers draped with greenery hung from the top of the tent.” Gold flatware and tasseled menus adorned each place setting, which had an antique aura modernized with bursts of fresh floral color.
“We added a few fun surprises on the wedding day,” Ying says. “First, we spent months learning a special choreographed dance with dance instructors.” Her hard work learning the steps deserved a dress all it’s own: a tea-length Nadine Merabi style she found via an Instagram ad.
When I saw this Berta glitter under the lights of the bridal salon, I fell in love immediately.
The first dance done with—“It was a relief to complete it without too many mistakes!” Ying says—it was time to change into her glamorous reception-worthy gown. “While I loved my mermaid ceremony gown, it wasn’t easy to move around—much less dance—in, so I was looking for something a bit more comfortable for the second half of the reception,” she recalls. “When I saw this Berta glitter under the lights of the bridal salon, I fell in love immediately.”
The couple selected “In My Life” by The Beatles and “Daydreamin’” by Johnny Mathis as their parent dances.
“After dinner and dancing, we asked the guests to come to the front lawn for cake cutting. Shawls and cigars were handed out and two chefs assembled the traditional Italian wedding cake live, with layers of strawberries and cream,” Ying remembers. “A tenor began singing a live surprise performance from behind the crowd. Then, fireworks began shooting off from the front of the villa gates, timed with the tenor’s song. When the music ended, Billy cut the cake with a sword.”
It was an epic finale to the evening, but the party was far from over. “Our good friend Josh DJ-ed a late-night dance party in the villa after the band finished playing in the tent,” the couple shares. And their own party—a lifetime together—was just getting started. The newlyweds kicked it off with a honeymoon all across Italy, including Venice, Bologna, Tuscany and Florence.