Amanda & Laert
If getting married in a Venetian 18th-century manor has always been your dream, this Albanian-Belgian couple’s Courti Estate Corfu luxury wedding will stop you right in your tracks.
Photo credits: Sotiris Tsakanikas
The decadently verdant island of Corfu has for centuries been portrayed as a haven for utter romance. Hedonistic, sophisticated, cultural, luxuriant, Italianate, and adored by British royalty. With its distinctive architectural beauty and multifaceted tapestry of monuments, groves, estates, and spectacular vistas, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-suited destination to hold the wedding celebration of a lifetime.
A globetrotter and lover of all things delectable, our groom Laert fell in love with Corfu ever he first visited our island. After several stays and meanders across its entire span, he knew he had to marry his beloved Amanda right here. Eager to start looking at venues, the couple contacted us to help them design a mesmerizing affair and find a dream location. After listening to their vision for the ultimate dance party and super-stylish, romance-laden luxury affair, we knew The Courti Estate was the perfect match.
THE WEDDING VENUE – Courti Estate Corfu
Perched on the lusciously green hillside of Messongi on the S/E coast of Corfu Riviera, the 18th-century Venetian manor sits perfectly amid Millenial olives, Italian cypresses, and ancient elms.
Its signature 1770 gateway, blazoning the gravel driveway and coral stuccoed walls- still bearing the markings of the Trivoli Pieri families – hems in several buildings, including the central villa, an olive press, stable houses, a church, a farm, and warehouses, which in 2010 were renovated completely to include an infinity pool, a master dining room, and salon, kitchens, residential chambers and private quarters.
Here, manicured lawns meld with marbled pathways, thriving herbs and fuzzy stems give away sweet aromas, and immaculate gardens and orangeries are gently enclosed to create endless beautiful nooks to discover. Inside objects, d’ art and curios, await, modernity and heritage are perfectly attuned, while on the backyard, a forest clearing expands into a farmstead brimming with possibilities.
THE WEDDING PREPARATIONS AT THE COURTI ESTATE CORFU VILLA
Early in the morning of July 10, wedding preps began at the Courti Estate Corfu villa. Amanda and her bridesmaids got their MUAH in one of the suites while Laert and his groom squad across the hall. As our bride wished to surprise Laert with a first look, everyone ensured there was a good buzz in the lounge room between them. Our couple’s wedding photographer Sotiris Tsakanikas began with capturing the first details of the day. First, the hand-drawn calligraphy wedding invites and papeterie Amanda had flown all the way from Albania along with her Geraldina Sposa bridal gown, her Jimmy Choos and bridal trousseau, and then Laert’s stylish choices (our groom had planned for two looks for his Big Day – a blue suit and Louis Vuitton kicks for the ceremony, and a black tux with Salvatore Ferragamo slippers for the reception).
AMANDA AND LAERT’S FIRST LOOK
Soon it was time for the groom and his lads to have their first portraits on the side yard next to one of the oldest poplars on the island. When the bridesmaid squad slipped in their bottle green gowns, more portraits followed. While the lads rode their luxury shuttles to Mouse Island for the ceremony, the girls made a circle around our groom and kept him busy with songs -according to the Corfiot custom- so that Amanda could sneak out and surprise him. Our first happy tears rolled right there…
AN ICONIC CORFU WEDDING CEREMONY VENUE & AN ORTHODOX WEDDING CEREMONY ON MOUSE ISLAND
One of the most photographed and famed spots in Corfu is none other than Mouse Island. Host to Pantokrator, the 11th-century Byzantine chapel that only opens for the public on August 6, Mouse island was, according to legend, Ulysses’ ship, the vessel that brought the legendary king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey to the island of the Phaeacians, transformed by Poseidon into an island. This time, two separate boats brought Laert, Amanda, and their family on the shore, where their guests awaited to cheer. We placed columns with floral arrangements in front of the staircase leading to the chapel, creating a long upward aisle. The orthodox wedding ceremony took place on the terrace before the church, with everyone circling the bride and groom. Amanda and Laert were pronounced husband and wife following the readings, blessings, and the couple’s signatures. Rice toss came next before the family boarded a luxury speedboat for a little tour on the Corfu Riviera.
WEDDING COCKTAIL HOUR AT THE COURTI ESTATE FRONT YARD
We love it when a venue comes with many spaces available for different parts of a wedding day. The gravel yard of the Courti estate was perfect for Laert & Amanda’s cocktail hour. We set the scene in miniature floral arrangements, minimalist garden sofas and tables, rustic white stations for bubbly, refreshments, and early cocktails. The Venetian Well served traditional Corfiot flavors in fanciful amuse bouche and canapes, while George Pantelios saxed the moods up in bistro-style solos and remixes by DJ Spartakos. During cocktail hour, Sotiris whisked our bride and groom away for their wedding portraits. From the stone wall ensconced Mediterranean Giardino filled with fuzzy shrubs, rose bushes, pistachio trees, dahlias, lavender, thyme, and camellias, to the side garden where Aurora and Euphoria succulents thrive, and then on to the olive grove and the pool our husband and wife enjoyed some fun moments alone taking in the beauty of their venue and the romantic aura of their destination. The groom’s friends, along with the bridesmaid squad, now having changed into gorgeous red gowns, joined in for some shots, and the couple joined their friends at the cocktail scene for a few laughs and catching up.
A GLAM BUT WARM WEDDING RECEPTION UNDER A SKY FULL OF STARS WITH GORGEOUS WEDDING LIGHTING
They say it is the tenderness that makes our hearts melt, the loveliness that makes us dream of going places and returns to them after we’ve first visited, and the sweetness that has us reach out. We wished to channel all this warmth and beauty into Amanda and Laert’s reception, both decor, scheme, and color-wise. But what we also wanted them to have was a smashing party and fulfilled their wishes for a million stars over their heads. Their opulent production meant crafting a glamorous wedding reception with an entire dance floor and a stage for their performers in the backyard of the Courti Estate.
We topped the reception scene with an art installation video screen and a canopy of twinkling lights alluding to the waves of the Ionian sea. At the same time, crystal chandeliers hung over the dance floor and above the bride and groom’s table. Since our bride wished chandeliers to illuminate the entire venue, we also had several pieces hanging from the trees. For the facade of the villa and the gardens, the couple wanted something vivid, bright, able to play with the light in unique ways, so they opted for geometric light projections on the main building as lanterns with candles and fluted columns for the side yard.
ALL COMING UP ROSES AND A ”SOMETHING BLUE” GRECIAN TABLESCAPE
Arrangements brimming with all kinds of roses, Spray, David Austin, Nancy Reagan, and garden varieties were perfectly weaved by Leonidas Rammos with lisianthus, eucalyptus, and hydrangeas to stunning effect. Leonidas and his team festooned the wedding reception’s crystal chandeliers with climbing ivy stems and blooms, decorated the main entrances of the estate in floral garlands, curated the bride’s and bridesmaids bouquets, and crafted the groom and his lads’ beautiful boutonnieres, all coordinating to perfection with Amanda’s favorite colors and the Courti Estate’s color palette. For the bride and groom’s table, our floral designer came up with a triangular shape of strategically placed rosebuds and foliage to spotlight the seated couple.
The tablescape was a beautiful meld of cream furnishings, natural linen napkins, and ivory textiles. Amanda and Laert’s “something blue was their choice of dinnerware, gorgeous Corfiot ceramics featuring foliage meanders with traditional Ιonian island flora paired to rose gold cutlery and crystal glassware. The Grecian tablescape came complete with our couple’s gift to their guests, a piece of Corfu’s heritage, the Governor, the rare, multi-awarded limited edition Premium Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced on the island.
ROMANCE IS IN THE ICING, BUT LOVE IS IN THE CAKE / FOOD GLORIOUS (WEDDING) FOOD
Or else, think of a three-tiered stucco-effect wedding cake to resemble the plasterwork on the Courti Estate’s walls, macaron towers, and utterly delicious pastries such as meringues, giant macaroons filled with sweet and sour creams, fresh fruit, flower, and white chocolate flavors, all by the master baker Cake Boutique Corfu! Ah, one always needs to leave room for cake when getting married in Corfu!
One cannot have a destination wedding in Corfu and not taste the traditional dishes known for their Mediterranean character and Venetian influence. Traditional tastes were reinterpreted by the award-winning chef of The Venetial Well into modern dishes such as black cod, stonefish gnocchi, tartar with carob soil, Challan’s Duck breast with elderflower, goat milk cream semifreddo with violet meringue, and more to create a unique culinary experience for our couple’s guests.
BIG ENTRANCE, FIRST DANCE & PARTY TILL DAWN!
Greece is a party nation, and wedding celebrations in the Ionian islands are a huge affair! But so it is for Albanians, whose verve and party panache can easily set the tone for days of festivities. Channeling their cultural heritage, our bride and groom flew in their own native band and went for local music and a DJ. They wanted it all, and we would go all the extra miles to keep them happy! For their big entrance, we provided every guest with glow sticks to be waived as they crossed the mansion’s gate to the reception space, and as the music went on, the beautiful duo walked the white carpet and cypress studded aisle to the dance floor. The party began after Laert’s bilingual (Albanian & French) welcome speech, and dancing did not stop until the wee hours.
It was an explosion of fun, beauty, and incredible experiences for us all. Before they headed back to Brussels, this ah-mazing family left us with a gift of light and love, one we will cherish for life, their trust in our ability to make them a celebration that won’t fade from memory. We couldn’t have asked for anything more!