A castle in the picturesque city of Bagnoregio in Italy was festooned with flowers in preparation for a wedding which had all the makings of a fairytale. Yet, there was more to the choice of location which was where the bride’s parents exchanged vows as well. Hence, this secluded, picture perfect spot with its sentimental value, bound together two hearts, their families and friends from across the globe.
Stephanie and Dushyanth were the cynosure of all eyes in the congregation who gathered to celebrate the uniting of their love at the San Donato church of Civita Di Bagnoregio as the beautiful bride who was the epitome of elegance and radiance walked towards her handsome groom to the soulful strains of ‘Ave Maria’.
The two celebrities who have their own fan following and burgeoning careers met a few years back and what began as a friendship blossomed into a deeper relationship which came to fruition at their marriage in May 2018. Yet, the reasons for it being a unique declaration of love was not merely because they are so popular but the fact that the wedding per se had a profound meaning to it.
“The two of us were intentional about having a reception in a location other than a hotel, mainly due to the fact that our work requires us to be constantly at hotels. As well, the choice of this beautiful Italian hide-away was mainly due to my affinity towards it, as my aunty who is a nun resides there and that is where my parents got married. It is also a place where I go to when I need a respite from the stresses of life. I wanted to share it with those I love as Dushyanth too was drawn to its serenity and tranquility,” gushed the new bride.
“While it had the expert touch of legendary folks in the wedding industry, they too went to great lengths out of sheer love as many are friends who we have known for years; my wedding dress was stitched ever so lovingly by Micheal Wijesuriya who is like family to me. My makeup artist Viran Jose Peters, hairdresser Asanjaya from Arq and his wife Nua flew all the way from Sri Lanka to do my make- up and outfit changes as well as my bridesmaids’ makeup and Shane Perera styled the bridesmaids’ hair. All the professionals added to that personal touch as they have been part of my life since my Miss. Universe win in 2011 and are more than friends, as they are more like family members. Namal Balachandra stitched the outfits for Dushyanth and the groomsmen and Stefan Andre Joachim who has been a long- time friend of ours had, along with Serran and Howard, ensured that everything worked like clockwork. It seemed like a family affair right down to the photographers who were Ryan and Jonathan of Jonathan Studios who are Dushyanth’s cousins and Dylan Seedin who is a close friend of mine,” enthused Stephanie, who was overwhelmed by the gestures of love displayed by every person who was involved in the wedding. As part of making each moment special we decided to choose the flowers ourselves from the local flower market in the area which had an array of glorious blooms which were used to make the flower arrangements by Dima from Sand Concepts.”
“We also wanted the wedding to be very meaningful, which was the reason my veil was made out of my mother’s wedding dress among other such minute tokens of profound meaning for both of us. Ofcourse our families which got the opportunity to bond during our week long stay prior to the wedding brought with them an immeasurable amount of love and laughter which made it extra special and we felt cacooned by love,” recalled she, adding “We were also determined to make each guest feel special, hence the various colour coordinated slippers which were all the hype as it was a wedding favour and specially monogramed with our names and details of the wedding- this enabled each one to walk the distance to the reception in comfort. The guests were also served a specially blended tea with ingredients chosen by us and the delicious gelato ice cream which was served in a rose garden just after we exited the church after the ceremony, making the festivities more heartfelt.”
Each moment of Stephanie and Dushyanth’s wedding celebration had a distinct aura of love and it was felt in the memories she shared; “my three brothers delivered the most beautiful speeches, which moved us and the guests to the core. Also giving the ceremony more meaning was Dushyanth’s father who performed the Bhuddist rites. As well, since our recording of the ‘Jayamangala gatha’ had a technical difficulty, the guests sang this blessing over us in the spur of the moment and I consider that one of the most beautiful experiences at our wedding. Another moment which I cherish is a gift of a rosary given by Carlo Scialdone which I received prior to the wedding which was identical to the one which the nuns in the convent in Italy gave me for my first holy communion years back and was misplaced. I had been searching for a similar one to no avail, which is why the gift meant a lot and it was part of my bouquet. Carlo, the spouse of Rosamaria Fucile who works for the Italian Embassy in Sri Lanka was also instrumental in obtaining a special blessing for us from His Holiness the Pope.”
Moreover, the wedding had included the traditional Sri Lankan customs, despite being far away from their island home; “we were able to perform the traditional rite of setting a table filled with Sri Lankan sweetmeats and receiving the blessing of our respective families before leaving for the church ceremony. It was another wedding keepsake or memorabilia which will remain in our hearts.”
Maybe yours truly can take the liberty of naming it the ‘Wedding of the Year’, not merely for its celebrity guest list but for exuding a sense of bonhomie and an outpouring of love which was almost tangible, making it a wedding that will be remembered with warmth for years to come.
By Rochelle Palipane- Gunaratne