Emanuela Santi & Andrew Pena
Emanuela Santi and Andrew Pena met during a busy night in bustling Hong Kong. Though they had never encountered each other in their small expat community, Andrew had heard of her before and enquired about the Italian-Hong Kong raised event producer. Little to Manu’s knowledge, Andrew was already an avid Instagram follower of hers, following her travels, family, dogs, and her love for beautiful events. A night of margaritas and conversation led to the discovery that Manu and Andrew had a great deal in common. By the time Andrew mentioned his two beloved Vizslas, Scooby and Scrappy, he had won over her heart.
An intense year-and-a-half of courtship ensued, during which the couple explored Hong Kong, traveled the globe and met each other’s friends and family. During a snowy New Year’s Eve, the two were standing on a balcony in Gstaad at their friends’ home, Chalet Montanah. Andrew presented Manu with a ring – which she thought was a commitment ring – and she responded with, “Thank you my love, but can we go inside now please? It’s freezing.” Upon realization that there was more to the ring, Manu began repeating various questions – “Are you joking? Are you sure? But I’m crazy.” It was a typically humorous moment for the couple, and once Manu stopped talking, Andrew got down on one knee.
“As I run a global events agency and head up creative direction, my own event came with its pressure, being both the bride and producer on the day,” Manu remarks. “I was also five-and-a-half months pregnant on my wedding day, so I knew I had to be rather stress-free and careful not to overdo it. Everything was bespoke – from the plates to the glasses on the tables; guest favors, to the props and décor – sourced in either India, China, Turkey, or Morocco with the utmost care and precision.”
Andrew and Manu’s destination wedding was a lavish four-day affair in Italy, hosted at Sting and Trudie Styler’s estate, Il Palagio – a place where the couple spent their first vacation together years before. On the first night, the bride and groom-to-be gathered with their wedding parties for a cozy dinner in the villa’s courtyard. The next day, a “Florence of Bohemia” theme party was held. “It was a hearty buffet serving huge rustic salads on custom Indian platters,” Manu describes. “We had a grigliata of meat (Italian version of a BBQ). Cushions and carpets were strewn over the floor to accommodate guests in a comfortable and relaxed vibe.”
The following day, the wedding was held with the theme of “Toscanerie” – a play on Manu’s Tuscan heritage and Hong Kong, where she’d spent 22 years of her life. “I was overwhelmed that for once in my life, the day was about me and Andrew,” says the bride. “It was a totally new experience for me, being in the spotlight and receiving so much attention. The most important thing was that I wanted to be by his side today and forever.”
After a full night of dancing and celebrations, everyone gathered together the next day for one last hurrah. “There was a definite sadness seeing our guests leave one by one,” Manu reminisces. “Having all the people you love stay in one of the most special places is a once in a lifetime experience; it seemed like one big dream to me. We do plan on returning to Il Palagio with our daughter, and reliving the magic we felt on those days and nights.”
>Written by: Lauren Malamala