Tara and Brian Lehrer were party hopping sophomore year of college back in 2008 when they met and instantly hit it off...so much that they talked all night, until the bride's 8 a.m. class! "We pretty much started dating instantly after that," she says. "We've been together ever since." Nine years later, Brian used their anniversary as the prime opportunity to propose. The couple commemorated their dating milestone with a getaway to a Cambodia, where the groom got down on one knee on a picturesque wooden bridge amid rice patties. But first, he cleverly staged the moment as a photo op. Tara had given him a heads-up that she wanted to take more pictures of him on the trip, so he promptly broke into a series of silly poses. For the last shot, he got down on one knee, played their favorite song from his phone, and pulled out a ring. After a screamed yes, they spent about two hours crying of happiness together. "It was the most magical, surreal, and incredible feeling of all time, especially being totally alone in that moment together in that setting," Tara recalls.
As evidenced by their proposal abroad, the college sweethearts wanted to showcase their love of travel for their September 8, 2018, wedding. A venue in Italy, Castello di Vicarello, happened to coincide with Tara and Brian's timing and vision—so much so that they put down the deposit before even visiting! When the bride and her mother finally did make the trek, though, the lush greenery, organic orchards, vineyard, and authentic castle vibes all validated their impromptu decision making. After spending ample time in Bali, Tara was also drawn to the family-run space's decorative connections to the island. "The owners put huge importance on local, organic, and delicious food, rustic charm, and had ties with Balinese culture, as seen in some of their furniture straight from Bali," she says. With the locale out of the way, next came picking a vision, and the pair decided on a romantic, intimate vibe. With only 33 guests, a three day-long celebration, and a cozy dinner table supplied by the venue, the plan fell into place accordingly.
The event actually took on multiple unique themes and color schemes over three days. To start, Tara turned to kumquats, shades of lavender and green, and a bright orange Gucci couture dress for the welcome dinner's vibrant allure.
That same evening, friends, family, and the soon-to-be spouses all sported white for a cozy movie viewing post-dinner. Alluding to their favorite song, “Where Do You Go to My Lovely,” by Peter Sarstedt, Brian and Tara decided to play the film that initially inspired their infatuation with the tune. The viewing also paid homage to the groom's profession. "Brian being a director and a film student his whole life, it was really meaningful for me to make this movie night come to life," recalls Tara.
For the main event the following day, Tara traded her white monogrammed pajama set for an elegant lace off-the-shoulder Monique Lhuillier gown—which was nothing short of a miracle in the making. Turns out, the bride thought she had found the One online, and actually discovered the exact dress at a nearby bridal salon on loan from the runway. She ordered the garment on the spot, only to receive a version that was "made all wrong" a few months down the line. "That same day that I tried on the wrong dress, I ran to Monique Lhuillier and they custom-made me the dress of my dreams in three weeks," says Tara. "It was pure magic and the most fun and lovely process."
From there, she paired the made-to-order ensemble with a matching lace choker and statement earrings, which actually alluded to Brian's late grandfather. The accessories came from the same jeweler as the bride's engagement ring, Kwiat, of which the groom's grandfather previously worked closely with through the diamond business. "In this way, my husband’s grandfather felt like he was a part of the wedding in spirit," adds Tara.
Keeping more wedding fashion in the family, Brian worked with his sister-in-law's fiancé, the son of the late designer Bijan, to create his custom-tailored navy double-breasted suit.
Tara strove to develop a "color journey" for the entire wedding itself. The ceremony, held within a grove of olive trees, stayed on the natural side thanks to green and white blooms. The couple also purposely kept the aisle flower-free to direct all attention to the chuppah, which effortlessly matched the surrounding scenery.
Both the bride's parents walked her down the latter half of the aisle. "It was important for me to walk halfway by myself, and then I joined hands with them at the beginning of the seats and they both walked me to Brian," she says. Tara also describes "feeling such an intense level of happiness, contentment, and new level of consciousness" at this exact moment.
Another ceremony highlight? The couple's individualized vows. "Writing our own vows was honestly the one of the most important, highly personal, and incredible parts of the wedding for me and my husband," Tara explains.
The bride also made a point to consistently stay present and revel in each major wedding moment. "For instance, while we were at the chuppah, I made sure to stare at everyone in their seats, really soaking in everyone’s love," she adds. "You’ll never be in that situation again, and it really is such a magical experience to share with these important people."
Subtly upping the color factor, cocktail hour showcased the ceremony palette with pastel peach flowers in vintage terra cotta pots.
Finally, the hues transitioned to brighter pastel tones for the reception dinner. The venue's grand field housed the long vintage wooden table of the bride's dreams, which was just large enough to accommodate the full wedding crew. A pergola, adorned with eucalyptus, accented the tablescape's white and gold flatware and romantic gold-rimmed lanterns. "It was the most magical table I’ve ever seen in my life," Tara describes the scene.
The couple commissioned a watercolor artist to craft a likeness of each guest's face as their place setting. The handmade gifts were paired with gold-foil menus printed on handmade rustic paper.
Tara showed off her chef and nutritionist background in the food selection...and also insisted on serving two pastas. The dinner kicked off with a fig, cheese, and prosciutto tart, then both herb pasta and fresh tomato pasta, followed by a choice of fish or steak and a lemon sorbet palate cleanser.
Unsurprisingly, the newlyweds' go-to song from their proposal and welcome movie resurfaced for their first dance, which Tara says "felt like we had escaped into our own world." Once the DJ took the stage, the bride also admits to never leaving the dance floor once!
As for the main dessert, Tara wanted to incorporate their wedding locale, thus turning to a traditional Italian millefoglie cake in the shape of a heart.
Looking back on her own three-day wedding in Tuscany, Tara advises fellow to-be-weds to pinpoint your priorities first and foremost. "There will be so much going on, but stick to your guns on things that truly matter to you and be a bit more easygoing on the rest," she says. "Truly, all that matters on the wedding day are your vows and getting time to enjoy yourself and relish in the bliss with everyone you love. It truly is the most magical, transformative, intense, and blissful day of your entire life—the clichés are so true!"
Venue & Catering: Castello di Vicarello || Wedding Planner: Exclsive Italy Weddings || Bride's Dress, Veil, & Shoes: Monique Lhuillier || Bride's Jewelry, Engagement Ring, & Wedding Bands: Kwiat || Hair: Scotty Cunha || Makeup: Jeyanney || Mother of the Bride Dress: Alexander McQueen || Floral Design: La Rosa Canina || Invitations: Tara Spencer || Paper Products: Shhh My Darling || Music: Alma Project || Videographer: Alessandro Bordoni Films || Photographer: Lisa Poggi