When we ask newlyweds to think back on what they wanted most for their big day — and we’ve interviewed hundreds of them over the years — the most common response is: “For it not to feel like a wedding!” But in a monsoon of flower crowns and macaroon towers, how do you see beyond the usual tropes and actually pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answer, we’ve decided to interrogate the cool couples whose weddings we would actually want to steal — right down to the tiger-shaped cake toppers.
Here, we talked to L.A. couple Alexandra Anthony–actress, dancer, and owner of the vintage costume company The Last Follies Closet–and her husband Scott Anthony, a headhunter for medical companies. Alexandra is originally from Utah; she met the Chicago-bred Scott at a dance party in Los Angeles, where the couple now lives. For their bacchanalian summer 2014 nuptials, they went to Tuscany — and remember it like all the opera-singing and naked-ribbon-dancing happened yesterday. It was such a memorable experience, in fact, they took their now-2-year-old son to be baptized on the same property, and once again ate the wild-boar ragù that they served for the reception dinner.
Alexandra: I am very theatrical. I knew I wanted a huge production. I wanted to get married. I wanted an alchemical, spiritual transformation for me and him and for everybody there. I wanted a portal to open.
Scott: It was a musical. The color of the sky in Alexandra’s world is a prettier hue than the color of the sky in the rest of our worlds. Her friends are almost all artists of one sort or another. My friends are … not. But we both knew it would be Italy for the wedding. We went on a trip there when we first started dating, in 2013. We both have Italian descent and a pull to the motherland.
Alexandra: We’re obsessed with Italy. We’re freaky Italy people. We did all that research, looking at places online, and then did a wedding-venue trip. Everything’s so staggeringly beautiful that we were just driving around from one insanely beautiful place to the next, like, “God.”
Scott: But when we pulled up to Borgo Stomennano — instantly it was the place. The matriarch of the family, Luisa, met us at the gate. She totally got Alexandra. And it was the kind of place where you could host four days’ worth of activities — which we did. The property sleeps 38 people and costs $17,300 to rent out for a three-day weekend, though back when we did it they also had seven-day options and we chose that. It started with a welcoming tea party and bocce tournament on the first day and ended with a bacchanalian roast on the last. And in between was the wedding and, the day before that, the rehearsal dinner — which included a surprise water ballet.
Alexandra: I knew since we got engaged that a water ballet would be my “toast” to my husband at our rehearsal dinner. We wore vintage bathing suits and swim caps and strutted out to the pool through the crowd twirling parasols, squealing with absolute joy. My best friend Kelleia Sheerin choreographed it to a song that I’ve loved since I was little, “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals. At night, I was just scouring places that had a good pool. We held the dinner at Fattoria Cinciano in Chianti and rented buses to take everyone to and from Borgo Stomennano.
Scott: It could have been a wedding in its own right. But then came the real wedding the next day.
Alexandra: For the ceremony, the entrance to the villa is this glorious tree-lined road that leads you up to these beautiful gates. I had a vision of everyone walking in a procession up to the gates.
Scott: Remember the procession through the town in The Godfather? All 111 guests, not just the wedding party, walked in a procession down the driveway, and we had flags and instruments; just getting there was a party.
Alexandra: All the groomsmen, my vision was Prussian 1890s military dress. There were blue silk banners, and blue sashes that the men wore. I sourced a lot of their coats from costume shops in L.A. I have two dads, and they looked like dictators from 200 years ago.
Scott: We flew over there with so … much … shit. It’s unbelievable. Including her wedding dress, which was the size of a refrigerator. We got married under a canopy, and we took the fabrics over, and the legs of it were these long bamboo poles.
Alexandra: I was such a weirdo about the bamboo poles. It was like a Broadway set that we took to Italy with us. And my husband was dying, because it’s not his thing. He’s very organized and a little bit minimal. He’s like, “They probably have them in Italy.” I said, “They do not.” So we took several huge 16-foot bamboo poles to Italy. We get to the villa, and there’s a bamboo grove at the villa.
Scott: Sure enough! On site! All the bamboo we could have possibly needed.
Alexandra: I was a special kind of bridezilla. Water-ballet rehearsal and pole-making and glitter-spraying.
Scott: Alexandra called her bridesmaids her muses, and they were all wearing Greek-goddess-type dresses. I walked down the aisle to my friend Kyle singing “Sympathy for the Devil.” There were a number of songs and dances throughout the ceremony: Even our vows, we sang our vows to one another. With the exception of a little bit of talking somewhere in there, it was singing and dancing from the beginning until the end.
Alexandra: It was inspired by Alvin Ailey. I chose all these contemporary songs, and one of my best friends arranged them in this sort of Moulin Rouge way. My friends who are professional actors and singers, the most beautiful people in the world, they sang and it literally happened. The portal opened. It was kind of a rock opera. My dearest friend, Dave Littlefield, who has since passed away, was the celebrant, and he really married the shit out of us. [ceremony director: Kristen Hangi; creative director: Christopher Lee Daniels; art director: Johnny Cubert White; musical director/composer: Kyle Puccia]
Scott: Sometimes I’m a reluctant participant in our daily lives, but for the wedding, it was just something that everybody gave into, experienced wholly. I remember my mom, who is the most pragmatic midwesterner you could meet — she was like, Whyyyy? But honestly it was the time of our lives. Alexandra shared her vision with the wedding planner [Chic Weddings] in our first call. I told her my budget was $40,000. She told me I needed to triple the budget. She was right.
Alexandra: Cocktail hour was right in front of the villa, and the dinner — it started with a wild-boar ragù, then there was a beautiful duck something [caterer, Galateo]. The tables were exploding with flowers in this Grecian, decadent glory. The florist, Sheer Flowers, re-created exactly what I wanted. And there were fruits strewn all over the table, like grapes coming off the candelabra. And the chandeliers! My advice to brides is get as many chandeliers as you can.
Scott: The guests all sat at three tables that weren’t quite a straight line. Then all the servers came out at the same time in their white outfits — they must have had one server per guest — and visually it was so striking. During the dinner, an opera singer came out and sang a couple of songs.
Alexandra: I can’t express how glorious she was. It was also dedicated to my father-in-law. He’s more of a romantic like me. Then I stupidly followed her and sang “Come With Me, My Love” on ukulele. I’m a horrible singer, and an even worse ukulele player.
Scott: It was nonstop. After dinner was the cake, a millefoglie or “thousand leaves,” these layers of cream and strawberries. They make the cake in front of you. People were into that — I had no idea how into it people were going to be, but they really loved the cake being made in front of them. We did our first dance, and our song was “This Must Be the Place” by the Talking Heads.
Alexandra: I showed him a video of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and he was like, “Okay.” He took it on like a sports event. There was jumps and twists and lifts, and I had this huge-ass dress on by Vera Wang, and he nailed it. Pretty soon after that I was naked. I did a rendition of “Who’s That Girl” with a ribbon banner, but I was naked. It’s not unusual that a party will end with a naked-dance number by myself and a few other friends. I do remember thinking before the wedding, Don’t get naked, don’t get naked, don’t get naked — there was a bunch of family members present and whatnot. But all of the muses jumped in the pool and really kicked things off, so I couldn’t help myself. Then it was just a shenanigans dance party, jumping in the pool. It was like a painting.
Scott: We danced all night long. At four or five in the morning, we went into the kitchen of the villa and my friend Danielle made a pasta meal and we drank wine. It ended with maybe eight of us on the rooftop watching the sun rise and making wishes for each other.