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Rustic Italian Entertaining… at it’s finest!

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Guest Contributor: Jewels Gray

Jewels is the talented eye behind Jewels Photography in Denver, Colorado. Follow along as she show’s us a proper Italian feast.

There’s a venue here in Denver that reminds me of the home my grand-parents built in Northern California… tan stucco arches and dark brown tiled floors, it’s not something you typically see here in Colorado. The lighting is always so beautiful here and as a Photographer, that’s something I notice while shooting weddings. If this venue were around back when I got married, I definitely would have had my own wedding there, without a doubt. It’s called the Villa Parker, and I’ve always dreamed of what my wedding would have looked like here. This past September, I finally got to see my vision in real life!

I’m in love with Italy…in fact, it’s my favorite country to visit. The Mediterranean climate and landscape, reminds me of home back in Northern California. I wanted this shoot to be as authentic as Colorado could do it. Of course, the aesthetic of the Villa Parker was the perfect setting. “Villa Parker is a stunning Colorado wedding and special event venue. Located just south of Denver, this Mediterranean estate with its grand entrance and vibrant gardens warmly welcomes friends and family to share in your special occasion.

Wallflower Décor brought the rustic table we used for the “antipasti” and “dolce” set up, and the wine barrels & boxes for the bar (which were borrowed from the wine aficionado from Elway’s in Cherry Creek – fancy! They went above and beyond to get everything I wanted for the shoot.

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Antipasti – this was a challenge getting together! Italians love their food and it just wouldn’t be an Italian shoot without it! Being that it’s September, and the busiest month for Colorado weddings, I couldn’t find one catering company that would commit to helping with this project, even with begging and pleading. I completely get it. With time running out, I decided to just do it myself and picked up a few key ingredients at Tony’s Meat Market, a high-end gourmet deli and market. 

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How beautiful the table-scape came out! It was so much fun picking out the details at the Event Rents showroom. They were extremely helpful on this shoot and I just loved how everything looked together! The classic flatware and stunning glassware filled the table and it made me swoon the way the lighting came through the cut crystal goblets! 

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For the florals, I could really only see that soft greyish green of olive leaves, mixed with lots of texture and maybe a subtle pop of citrus. Pam from Petals ‘N Grapes nailed it. She saw I was looking for a florist and was all over it!

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I made a batch of Italian wedding soup, a charcuterie board with Italian meats & cheeses, bruschetta & tapenade, meatballs & marinara, caprese skewers, and an “olive bar” with Italian olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

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Speaking of Italian olive oils and balsamic vinegars, I just had to have little bottles as “favors”. There was only one choice in my mind, and that’s Lucero. American Olive Farmers since 1947 in Corning, a rural Far Northern California community known for producing delicious olive oil for over a century, Lucero is the “standard”, period. One of my friends from high school got married a few years back and had sample bottles of Lucero for her guests, and I brought home as many as I could (and coveted them till they ran out). I loved that idea and wanted it for this shoot. Due to my fan-girl status, they agreed to work with me and sent a case of the most perfect product for us to use! We had the Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil, accompanied with the Bianco white balsamic vinegar and adorable little bottles.

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Italians are revered for their wine, Prosecco, Lemoncello, and even sangria (I know it’s more Spanish, but that still counts for Mediterranean). Peak Beverage, Colorado’s premier beverage catering service was the most perfect choice.

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Wine Featured:
Santa Christina Toscana

Arcanum 2005 Toscana

Santa Margarita Brut Rose

Mia Dolcea Moscato D’Asti

Marchesi Incisa Della Rocchetta “Felice” Moscato D’Asti 

Adam, the owner, brought plenty of beautiful bottles to fill the bar with, and made us some authentic Italian cocktails! They photographed beautifully and he included the recipes and featured wines below:

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Summer Thyme Spritz

1 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz Thyme Simple Syrup, and 1/2 oz Lemon Juice. Top with soda water and garnish with lemon wedges and fresh Thyme in Collins glass.

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Classic Negroni

1 oz London Dry Gin, 1 oz Campari, and 1 oz Contratto Rosso Vermouth. Stir and serve in coupe. Garnish with orange peel

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Rosemary Sangria

4 oz Italian Red Wine (We used Santa Christina Toscana), 1/2 oz Blood Orange Liqueur (Solerno), 1/2 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup, and 1/2 oz Leopold’s Blackberry Whiskey. Top with lemon-lime soda and serve in wine glass over ice. Garnish with blackberry, rosemary sprig, and orange (blood orange if available).

Dolce… the best part! Of course, there were the must-haves… cannolis, tiramisu, and gelato! Rene with Little Bites Bakery did a beautiful job with little tiramisu cups (YUM), some shortbread cookies, biscotti, and cake pops! We also had some super yummy tiramisu macaroons from Honeycomb that were the bomb-diggity (I ate most of them myself after the shoot) :O I was not able to find anyone to do actual gelato (ice cream yes, but not gelato), so we did it ourselves anyway. Bringing all of these things together are the hand-lettered signage done by my pal Krista with Always Rooted.

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You can’t have a wedding without cake! This was masterfully made for us by the amazing Kelley Kakes! Even though this particular cake is actually Styrofoam filled, we imagine the insides to be lemon buttermilk pound cake with fresh berries, or perhaps a banana cake with Nutella mousse filling (reminding us of those crepes we had on the street in Venice that one time…). She also offers Italian rum cake or white chocolate cappuccino cake with a variety of decadent fillings. With Kelley the options are endless, even when it comes to the design – she is pretty freakin’ amazing!

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One of the coolest things we’ve seen in our many years of shooting weddings is The Espresso Affair, a coffee bar catering company. Say what? Yes, you can actually have a catered coffee bar for your event, and Bill’s team knows how to do it right! Their set up is not only impressive, but they actually know how to make everything on the menu to perfection. 

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Special thanks to my Assistant Missy for helping out so much on this shoot!! The girls from the Villa were wonderful and set up was perfection. Thanks to my Dad for knowing a guy who knows a guy…

Favors and Gifts: Bridesmaid Gift Boutique//Specialty Foods:Espresso Affair//Cake Designer: Kelley Kakes//Beauty:Glam Team Colorado//Favors and Gifts: Lucero Olive Oil//Calligrapher: Always Rooted//Paper Props: Whimsy Design Studio//Bakery: Honeycombe Denver//Bakery: Little Bites Bakery//Other:Peak Beverage//Equipment Rentals:Event Rents//Design and Decor: Wallflower Rentals//Groomsman Attire:Jos A Bank//Ring Designer:John Atencio//Dress Designer:Martina Liana Bridal Gown//Dress Store: the bridal collection//Floral Designer: Petals N Grapes//Event Venue:Villa Parker//Photographer: Photography by Jewels//

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Sam Temsah-Deniskin

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the whimsical life of accidental photographer, stylist, & writer, Sam. Her approachable and fun style has received critical acclaim from such media outlets as The Huffington Post, Real Simple Magazine, PopSugar, and Buzzfeed. In addition to running a successful photography & content creation business, Sam also serves as a contributing writer for Liquor.com and Scary Mommy.

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3 Comments

  1. Dana Rodriguez says:

    This is such a gorgeous display! Absolutely magical!

  2. Julie Wood says:

    Everything that you have displayed looks perfect. What a gorgeous table setting and everything is set up beautiful. I love your rustic Italian dinner idea!

  3. Cheryl says:

    Looks as good as the authentic dinners I ate when I lived in Italy for four years 🙂

Comments are closed.