A Karen Willis Holmes Sequin Dress for a Romantic City Wedding In Rome

karen willis holmes wedding dress

We have a fair amount of Italian weddings in our archive but not many are city weddings. Beautiful Rome was the destination of choice for lawyer Melissa and her husband, underground plant mechanic Marcus when they tied the knot on the 9th of September 2016.

The bride has Italian heritage (her father and both sets of grandparents migrated to Australia in the 1960’s) and the groom loves history, in particular, ancient Rome. Marcus is from New Zealand so they liked the idea of having a destination wedding where family and friends could come together and enjoy an overseas holiday. Melissa found her gorgeous Karen Willis Holmes dress at the Bridal Boutique at the Sydney city branch of Australian department store, David Jones. She added fresh flowers to her hair and a long delicate veil.

“I love sequins, and the fit and shape of the dress was so flattering. Being a Catholic church wedding it was also important that my dress was appropriate.”

Photography by Sandra Luoni

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The couple held their wedding ceremony at Basilica di Santa Sabina all’Aventino, and their wedding reception at the Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora.

“We wanted to respect the history and culture of beautiful Rome. We were after a simple, laid-back and romantic wedding surrounded by the people we love. In terms of colour, we wanted to stick to romantic blush tones with touches of gold.”My heart skipped a beat when I spotted Melissa’s Yves Saint Laurent ‘Tribute’ Sandals. They are perfection in a shoe and a great contrast to her dress.

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Melissa accessorised with a ‘something borrowed’ Tiffany & Co. bracelet, and a beautiful pair of VALÉRE earrings.

The bride could only wear a scent from her favourite perfume house, Chanel, so she picked up the new Coco Noir by Chanel on the way over to Italy.

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“We first met through mutual friends at a pub trivia night. The relationship progressed pretty quickly with Marcus moving in within a few months. We were engaged on 31 March 2015, approximately two years after meeting, in Marcus’ home country of New Zealand.”

“He proposed at his favourite place, Lake Tarawera, near Rotorua. Our wedding took place roughly 15 months after we were engaged.”

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Melissa’s hair and makeup was expertly done by Rome-based Marianna Zambenedett

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The bride travelled in style to her wedding in a white limousine from Fiani Autonoleggio.

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Melissa was accompanied down the aisle by her father Michael while the ‘Bridal Chorus’ by Wagner played. The couple exchanged traditional Catholic church wedding vows, and chose two readings for the ceremony.

The first was a reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 12:31–13:8a and the second was a reading from the Book of Tobit 8:4b-8. Both of these readings resonated with the couple as they are about love and respect.

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Both the bride and grooms rings are from Tiffany & Co.. Melissa chose a yellow gold ring with a half band of diamonds to complement her Tiffany & Co. engagement ring, and Marcus chose a plain yellow gold band.

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The groom chose a tailored blue suit from Calibre, and paired it with a textured navy tie, and Hugo Boss shoes.

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Anna Speranza from Floreventi – Scenografie Floreali is responsible for the stunning bouquets and floral arrangements.

“I was seeking a bohemian style bouquet, quite unstructured with delicate blush and green tones. I worked with Anna to select flowers that were both in season and would achieve this look.”

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Sandra Luoni was the photographer of choice to capture this stylish couple on their special day.


“An extremely talented photographer with the most kind and gentle nature and an eye for capturing special moments in the most brilliant ways. I am so happy I found Sandra and that she agreed to make the trip from Milan to capture our day. She was professional, accommodating and provided us with beautiful photos that will allow us to reminisce.”

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“Our favourite part of the day was the wedding reception when we could finally relax and let our hair down.”

“We did not have a budget per se, we just made careful and considered choices and spent what we were comfortable with, on the things we felt were important.”

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“Our cake was supplied by the Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora. It was made of strawberries and Italian cream, we wanted something light and with a touch of fruit.”

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“Be prepared for the fact that despite the amount of time planning and preparation that you put in, things will not run entirely smoothly, but that is all part of it.”


“Enjoy the day and don’t let the little things worry you, any mishaps/hiccups will be things you will laugh about later on. The day goes so quickly too so make sure you soak it all in.”

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Congratulations Melissa and Marcus, your wedding is simply stunning. Thank you to Sandra Luoni whose images capture the day beautifully. Are you planning your own Italian wedding? We’ve got lots more inspiration here.

Love Caoimhe x


Credits & Thanks

Caoimhe Anderson

Caoimhe Anderson View all Caoimhe's articles

Caoimhe will never tire of beautiful wedding dress and a blooming flower crown. When she's not lusting after a gorgeous wedding she will be trying new vegetarian recipes, knitting very slowly or capturing a pink sunset from behind a camera lens.

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