Puglia, Italy Destination Wedding at Masseria Montenapoleone
Morgan and Michael met in 2010 while attending The University of Missouri. After nearly a year apart after graduation, fate reunited them, and they began to pursue their serious passion for travel. Whether eating their way through Italy, relaxing on the beaches of Barcelona, kayaking in Costa Rica, discovering the temples of Thailand or simply basking under the sun in Bali, they promised each other that they would never stop seeking adventures.
And so, after Michael proposed in September 2016, the couple immediately began to plan a destination wedding. With a rich family history reaching as far north as Vigevano and as south as the island of Sicily, these avid world travelers knew there was no better place to celebrate their wedding vows than in Italy.
I was thrilled to be on board as this couple’s destination wedding planner. After much research and planning (reviewing literally hundred of venues!) the couple chose to host their nuptials in the region of Apulia (often spelled “Puglia”) for its old-world bohemian charm. Often thought of as the “heel of the boot” that is Italy, the Apulian peninsula is surrounded by the Ionian and Adriatic seas. Ancient olive groves amble over hills stretching into the crystal-clear water that gives this area its nickname, “The Maldives of Europe.” Cliffside towns like Polignano a Mare drop dramatically into the sea, ancient Matera transports visitors back thousands of years, and Lecce gives tourists a taste of Florence with its fine Baroque architecture. All this - fueled by a hearty dose of extremely fresh and healthy Italian food - makes the Apulia area an incredible hidden gem.
Meggie Francisco and Cotton Paperie Letterpress collaborated on invitation design to include a bohemian, inky accents atop premium Italian cotton paper. Design Roots illustrated the Masseria to grace the envelope liners and give the guests a preview of the wedding’s ancient setting.
The luxuriously bohemian, family-run Masseria Montenapoleone served as the stage for Morgan and Michael’s weekend wedding. This beautiful 16th century farmhouse has been lovingly restored since its days as a watching tower during Turkish invasions hundred of years ago.
Guests arrived to welcome gifts including wine and almonds made on property at the Masseria. The thoughtful couple also snuck in plenty of American snacks to help everyone feel like home after such long flights!
"My father, as a young boy, walked across this property to reach land belonging to his family on the other side. Perhaps this is how the place and the landscape became glued to our souls," says Giuliano Monteneve, who, with his parents Donato and Christiane and his wife Alessandra, has brought the Masseria to life. They renovated the rooms with love, including special touches like handmade wood furniture and eclectic light fixtures. Guests found themselves surrounded by an abundance of growth as they strolled across the property, from almond trees that were thought to have disappeared forever, to soaring branches of bougainvillea and climbing roses, to Puglia Senatore Cappelli durum wheat, legumes, grapevines, artichokes, citrus and more.
The weekend’s festivities kicked off with an al fresco destination welcome party at the Masseria’s woodfired pizza oven. Guests dined poolside on organic olives, fresh vegetables, and delectable Italian pizzas. Homemade wine, Aperol spritz cocktails, and plenty of Peroni was on hand to wash down the feast!
The sun rises early in southern Italy, and the next morning dawned warm and bright. While Puglia is generally dry and mild in May, the wedding day brought balmy 80-degree temperatures. Bright and early in the morning, Michael and his groomsmen rode vespas to ancient Ostuni. Often called "The White City" for its jigsaw puzzle of white-washed buildings perched high atop a hill, Ostuni features stunning Baroque churches and sprawling views of the Adriatic Sea. Meanwhile, Morgan and her bridesmaids relaxed with Prosecco in the bridal suite while getting prettied up with Arte e Bellezza.
Morgan wore a romantic, summery floral appliqué gown with a creamy champagne underlay by Made with Love Bridal, and accented her look with antique beaded earrings gifted by her mom. In true Italian style, the bride wore sky high Vince Camuto stillettos to complete the ensemble. Her bouquet, designed by talented local florist Chiara Sperti, bursted with creamy peonies and tiny touches of blush.
Meanwhile, the groom and groomsmen returned from their morning trip to Ostuni. The groom donned a dashing gray-blue trim-fit suit from Suit Supply, complete with slim-fit pants that grazed the ankle. A clean navy pocket square and boutonniere accented with olive leaves topped off his stylish attire.
He was ready just in time for a special delivery. Unbeknownst to Michael, his bride had been sneaking along a surprise gift: a watch he’d had his eye on for some time. He had no idea it was coming!
When time came for the ceremony, feathery clouds gave the guests refuge from the hot southern Italian skies. Morgan and Michael exchanged personal, hand-written vows under the Masseria’s picturesque arch, surrounded by lush bougainvillea and crowned by a wheat halo designed by Chiara Sperti. Low arrangements of pampas grass and creamy floral accents tied in the neutral tones of the bouquets and Joanna August bridesmaid gowns.
After officially becoming Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, the happy couple retreated for photos as husband and wife in the Masseria’s lush vineyards and centuries-old hidden citrus garden.
Meanwhile, the couple’s uber-fashionable guests enjoyed Aperol spritz cocktails, local wine, hors d’oeuvres and fresh fruit at the cocktail hour. On display was a hand-painted map of Italy showing the couple’s heritage.
The reception was held in the Masseria's smartly designed Winter Garden, a bright space surrounded by windows and featuring a dramatic stone fireplace stacked with ivory candles. Tables were topped with lush centerpieces and taper candles.
The scene was set for a spectacular 5-course meal. The evening started with a variety of fresh, local charcuterie, carpaccio, and fried prawns. The meal continued with Puglia's most beloved pasta, orecchiete, served with local zampina sausage and a wild herb crumble. For the main course, guests relished a tender beef filet with sweet and sour baby onions and charred potatoes.
The evening transitioned outside, where the chef set up a cannoli bar under a terrace and the indoor/outdoor bar came to life. On the dance floor, the groom and his mom surprised the crowd with a traditional Italian Tarantello, and everyone joined in! Without missing a beat, DJ Deks fired up a high-energy mix of top party hits and Ibiza-style house music while guests partied under the stars. Seemingly every "last song" turned into a wild encore. Morgan, Michael, and their guests left it all on the dance floor - and the couple stepped into the night as an exhausted yet thrilled Mr. and Mrs. Phillips.
The next day, the group gathered back at the Masseria pool for one last hurrah, with DJ Deks playing chill summer beats by the pool. Guests relaxed in their cabanas and traded stories about the festivities the night before. Some took the afternoon and evening to explore local Puglia sights like Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, and others departed for additional adventures across Europe. As the adventure wound down, one thing was clear: Morgan and Michael succeeded in kicking off their marriage while giving their guests the experience of a lifetime.
If you’re looking for an experienced destination wedding planner to help you plan your big day in Italy, I would be honored to be a part of your team!
Special thanks to Style Me Pretty for featuring this stunning Italian destination wedding.
Thanks also to Love Stories TV for featuring the incredible wedding video by Innar Hunt Films!
Photography: Tracy Enoch
Videography: Innar Hunt Films
Venue: Masseria Montenapoleone
Floral Design: Chiara Sperti Floral Events
Invitations: Cotton Paperie
Envelope Liner Illustration: Design Roots
Wedding Dress: Made with Love Bridal
Bridesmaid Attire: Joanna August
Wedding Shoes: Vince Camuto
Hair and Makeup: Arte e Bellezza
Reception Entertainment: DJ Deks
Ceremony Musicians: Moonlight
Meggie Francisco is a Columbus wedding planner and event designer. She is well versed in guiding clients through challenging event design and management goals, and has successfully executed corporate events, social occasions, and destination weddings around the world. Contact Meggie today for a complimentary consultation for her wedding planning or event planning services.