Shabby chic + rustic destination wedding at Lake Como, Italy

When bride Brooke visited Lake Como in Italy she fell in love with the cobbled streets and jaw-dropping scenery, and knew right away she had to get married there!

Looking at her and groom John’s stunning wedding photos by JA Houston Photography, her gut instinct was right.

Their shabby chic, rustic-styled destination wedding is insanely pretty! Check out some of JA Houston Photography’s gorgeous pics and hear more about their big day from bride Brooke…  

Me and John have been together for years and actually got engaged in Thailand a good 12 years ago when we went travelling!

We were happy to have the commitment of being engaged back then and that was enough for us – we had so many other things and places we wanted to see before spending that kind of money on one day.

This was the right time for us, at an age where you can appreciate a lot more in life.

I knew I wanted to get married abroad and away from the traditional wedding that everyone does, but I also knew I didn’t want a beach wedding. The thought of walking past people at a pool sunbathing while I was in my full wedding attire was a big no no for me .

I visited Lake Como in Italy the previous year as I was scouting wedding venues and simply fell in love! Italy was a bit of me!

We both loved the ambience, culture and the people, and the landscapes were breathtaking! The greenery, flowers, rustic cobbled streets and mountains, with the Swiss alps in the background; it was jaw-dropping!

I knew right away that I had to get married here.

I wanted a shabby chic wedding to go with the Italian rustic landscape of Lake Como – simple and elegant! Blush roses and antique accents were added onto the tables to keep it rustic.

I used a wedding planning company called Perfect Weddings Abroad based in England, who did the planning for me.

I already knew the logistics of the lake and area so this helped – if I hadn’t been to visit the area the previous year I would have been a tad more nervous.

When it came to finding a photographer, I already knew Jacqui from JA Houston Photography through mutual friends.

We loved Jacqui’s banter and relaxed approach, she was perfect for us! She really got the guests going with her banter and jokes and that’s what made the day for us!

It would not have been the same with a regimented photographer – she was great, and her husband, too! He spent the morning with the groom, best man and my dad, and captured some special moments that I hadn’t seen any off!

For me the full day was so special, but the most special moments were the unplanned ones.

First off, while I was getting ready my bridesmaids could hear a piper outside, and when they went into the balcony they started screaming.

My husband-to-be John, his best man and my nephews had to travel past my hotel (Grand Hotel Tremezzo) to get to the ceremony venue across the lake. The piper was to pipe me at the other end, but they had stopped for photos with our hotel in background.

The piper took this opportunity to pipe out in the water on the boat and serenade me on the balcony!

I was trying to hold back the tears while hiding behind the curtain on the balcony as I didn’t want John to see me (it’s bad luck, after all!), but all the girls, including my mum and little niece who was a flower girl, were waving out into the water! It felt like a dream and I will never forget it!

The next special moment was when I got off the boat across the water to walk the beautiful cobbled streets to the ceremony venue at Villa Cipressi in Varenna. The town is so beautiful and quaint.

When I came off the boat, the piper was piping me up the cobbles to go and get married, so John and the guests could hear me before they saw me.

It took around 7 minutes to walk but again I was holding back tears as people started to gather and clap and shout “bellissimo” to me. Some of the locals continued to follow me up to the venue – this was so surreal to me and I couldn’t believe it was all happening.

The venue itself, Villa Cipressi is set on the hill, giving you views across all the lake – the setting is just breathtaking!

Once we were married, we stayed and had pictures in the venue, which had beautiful gardens and seriously dreamy views!

Afterwards, myself, John and our photographer, JA Houston Photography, went into our wedding boat, while the guests got into a larger boat.

Our boat driver asked if he could speed up and catch up with our guests heading to our reception venue, Lido de Lenno in the town Lenno.

We were all waving, going along parallel to each other and sipping champagne when again the piper took it upon himself to play a brave heart song on his pipes.

This moment gives me goosebumps whenever I think of it, with everyone we loved all happy to see us and the backdrop of the rustic Italian houses and mountains behind us as we sped along!

I must say that the piper Nick McIvor actually made our wedding, and these moments made it extra special for not only us but our guests too!

We were on a high after the wedding and felt so excited to see pictures from guests and our photography Jacqui!

I would recommend JA Houston Photography to anyone looking for someone who can relate to your guests and have that fun factor too. I was overwhelmed with the photos! She captured them exactly how I wanted them to be, and I can be fussy!

People who attended our wedding in Italy have told us that they’ve never experienced anything like it. That was simply down to the very small touches, like the piper and the people we had with us.

We had 59 guests in total in Italy and it was just so special. We had a reception back home for everyone else who couldn’t make it and loved that too, but also came to realise that if we’d had a home wedding with all the guests that were at our reception in Scotland, it simply would not have been as special as it was over in Italy. We just wouldn’t have had the time we did to get around everyone and have it be more of an intimate day.

We were so happy with our choice and simply would not change a thing about Italy!


Venue: Villa Cipressi, Varenna in Lake Como | Photographer: JA Houston Photography | Wedding planner: Perfect Weddings Abroad 

Bride’s dress: Martina Liana from Eleganza Sposa | Bride’s hair: Joanne Brown, Bathgate | Bridesmaid makeup: U Little Beauty

Bridesmaid dresses: Mark Lesley designer | Groom + groomsmen suits: Zara

Entertainment: Nick McIver | Boat transfer: Bardinelli Taxi Boats