What is the word we should use to describe what happens when two young people who happen to share a passion for vintage, for jazz, for Japanese culture and even for dessert meet at a friend’s party in New York City? According to CJ and Angie, a wonderful couple whose destination wedding we photographed in Siena at the magnificent Borgo Stomennano, the word is this: Miracle.
Think about that word for a moment. By definition, a miracle is a surprising and welcome event not explicable by natural or scientific laws and therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. Or, put more simply, an outstanding example of something.
When Angie and CJ shared with us their belief that everything leading up to their private and intimate wedding (fewer than 20 guests including family) in the Tuscan hills was a miracle – an outstanding example of something – we believed them. Because every detail was a flawless and magnificent work of art. A perfection. A moment so exquisite and so carefully considered that we actually stopped our work for just a moment and held our breath with wonder. The elegance. The politesse. The respect and the care.
CJ and Angie, both Chinese (and officially Anqi and Sijie), fell in love with the Borgo Stomennano the very first time they saw it. “When we saw the road of olive trees, we knew this was the place where we would marry,” Angie told us.
Angie and CJ hired the Spectrum Agency, a multicultural team of events specialists, designers, stylists dedicated to producing exceptional events & weddings.Cyrielle Mohara, the head planner at Spectrum, is a French event producer and a certified Wedding specialist from Weddings Beautiful worldwide, the National bridal service. She was extraordinary.
What Angie and CJ envisioned was a film. A gorgeous, artistic, perfect jewel-box of a film – a treasure in black and white, perhaps, shot on a vintage camera. Maybe a Keystone Model A-7 16mm C-mount Vintage Movie Camera.
Arriving on the day of the wedding, we learned that the tiny village (borgo) of Stomennano was built on ancient Etruscan and Roman ruins. Those ruins remain visible to this day, and it is indeed as a Roman outpost that the property first appears in written records dating back to 1059. In 1555 The Republic of Siena was incorporated into the Granducato of Tuscany, bringing Stomennano into the famous Medici family. Successive ownership of Stomennano passed to several noble families and finally – in 1700 – to the Griccioli family of which the current owners are direct descendants.
Angie’s and CJ’s families and very close friends stayed at the Borgo Stomennano for the two days of the wedding, including a rehearsal dinner and, on the following day, the wedding itself.
For the rehearsal dinner, Angie wore an elegant, sophisticated and simple claret-colored silk dress, and CJ opted for a French blue suit and a fun, plaid bowtie. The dinner was held outside in the warm Italian evening air. A long trellis of greens and the palest pink roses decorated the table, along with candle-lit glass lanterns. The grounds were dotted with lanterns, illuminating this scene from another world, another era.
The next day was the wedding. Angie, with pearls woven into her thick, lustrous dark hair, wore a magnificent pearl-beaded bodice, a satin waistband and a full, romantic, and truly cinematic, billowing skirt of milky-white satin. Angie’s sleeves came just to the elbow. She wore ankle-high lace socks and slipped her feet into white silk Manolo Blahnik shoes with crystal buckles. Angie added a pair of nearly sheer, off-white day gloves, delicately embroidered with pearl accents.
The groom was handsome and understated in a lighter blue, three-piece suit and a white satin bow tie. His elegant, almost certainly vintage, eyeglasses hinted at the Italy of Vittorio De Sica or Federico Fellini. Not Hollywood. No, not by a longshot. More European, more refined. And a tip of the hat to the Japanese esthetic both CJ and Angie love so much.
The rings were held in a vintage box the couple purchased for the occasion. So perfect.
The bride and the groom wrote out their vows in small parchment booklets held together with a grosgrain ribbon. Each wrote out their commitments and their words of union in Chinese characters. We do not read (or speak) Chinese. But one thing caught our eye. One word in English, appearing in the middle of one of Angie’s pages: she had written “Wabi sabi”. In Japanese esthetics, wabi sabi a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. It is unique. It is indescribable. It is a miracle.
Before their wedding, we asked Angie and CJ what they were hoping for from our photos, what they dreamed we would capture. Their response is perhaps the perfect reflection of who these two elegant, private, beautiful and deep-thinking individuals are as people and as a couple. They said, We would like to hear our wedding described as a one and only. Like art. Like vintage art. We would like the photos to be paintings, they said.
The true miracle? That is exactly what happened.