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La Dolce Vita: Gorgeous Italian Inspiration For The Nearly Wed

By: 
Lara M Burnap

Annette Kirkhuff of Wheat and Honey Events in Simi Valley transported guests to southern Italy with a vibrant design punctuated by the spicy red hue of dried Italian hot peppers. “I wanted to capture the feeling of staying at a bed-and-breakfast where they cook the most amazing food,” she explains. Joined by Italian native Jessica Mangia of Jessica Grazia Mangia Photography, based in Sherman Oaks, Kirkhuff found a home for the idea against the backdrop of the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in the Santa Monica Mountains. The preserve includes a classic 1930s-era California ranch house and 5,000 acres of protected parkland. “I wanted to stay true to the design of my home country with the colors, food, decor and style representing more than just a picturesque Italian scene,” notes Mangia.



Photograph by Jessica Grazia Mangia

Inspired by bougainvillea flowers, which bloom throughout Italy’s summer months, Unique Floral Designs arranged a mix of vibrant red flowers, including garden roses, ranunculus, parrot tulips and anemones, punctuated with dried Italian peppers and the deep green of Italian ruscus, in a variety of stone and metal vases. Party Pleasers’ vintage cut-glass glassware and votives contributed an elegant note. “I wanted red and green to be the center of the attention, all perfectly blended with neutral tones,” notes Mangia. “Together, the shades are colorful yet still elegant.”

Reminiscent of an Italian home kitchen, Party Pleasers’ (partypleasers.com) vintage white shelving unit adds visual interest as a bar back or backdrop to a food station. Fresh rosemary and dried chili pepper wreaths by Unique Floral Designs (uniquefloraldesigns.com) lend a colorful note to the shelves, which are filled with home essentials, such as fresh oranges, jars of dry pasta, bottles of olive oil, and patterned linens and napkins from Luxe Linen (luxelinen.org). 



Photograph by Jessica Grazia Mangia

Carrara Pastries (carrarpastries.us.com) in Simi Valley baked a decadent spread of authentic Italian desserts, including mascarpone mousse with fresh strawberries; pistachio sponge cake with dark chocolate center; vanilla sponge cake with white chocolate Bavarian cream; maraschino-soaked sponge cake with chocolate mousse; sfogliatella (a flaky shell filled with baked ricotta cheese and a hint of orange); and crostatine di frutta, an assortment of shortbread tarts.


Photograph by Jessica Grazia Mangia

Cecile’s Paper Co. (cecilespaperco.com) paid homage to the Italian tradition of leather tanning by creating a leather folio to envelop the invitations made with handmade paper from the Amalfi Coast. Soft calligraphy evokes the romantic notion of a handwritten note, with the save-the-dates draw inspiration from a vintage postcard. Engagement ring by Encino’s Jewels by Grace (jewelsbygrace.com).

  
Photograph by Jessica Grazia Mangia

The elegant tabletop features vibrant centerpieces that feel freshly picked from the garden, along with rustic basket chargers layered with terra-cotta-rimmed plates and a tile-embossed salad plate, all from Party Pleasers. Cecile Paper Co.’s menus on Amalfi paper, decorated with a rosemary sprig and dried pepper, are a nod to the Italian art of drying spice. Luxe Linen’s simple white linens add elegance.


Photograph by Jessica Grazia Mangia

Shaking tambourines to celebrate newlyweds is common in small Italian villages. With that in mind, Wheat and Honey(wheatandhoneyevents.com) strung the instruments with ribbons onto trees to create an ambiant escort card display. The tambourines also make a sweet parting gift. 
Photograph by Jessica Grazia Mangia

Command Performance Catering’s (cpcatering.com) executive chef Maya Chrestensen brings the bounty of the Italian table to life with an upscale, family-style menu featuring squid Ink linguine with romanesco and seared baby heirloom tomatoes; focaccia pizza;  house-made meatballs with red wine marinara; and roasted garlic pesto orecchiette. 


Photograph by Jessica Grazia Mangia

Unique Floral Designs captures the essence of the Italian countryside with this cascading bouquet of olive leaves, garden roses and bougainvillea wrapped in a pale gray ribbon and sealed with Cecile Paper Co.‘s handmade, monogrammed leather swatch. A leather-bound vow book with hand-torn pages echoes the invitation suite.