Photography by
Gianni di Natale Photography

Claire Bucknell & Raj Down

September 6, 2014 in Ravello, Italy

In the words of Frank Sinatra’s classic song, “September Rain”: “To every word of love I heard you whisper, the raindrops seemed to play our sweet refrain.” For Raj Down and Claire Bucknell, that “sweet refrain” could be heard playing across the gardens of Hotel Villa Cimbrone in the picturesque mountaintop town of Ravello, on a rainy Friday afternoon in September, 2014.

Their romance began eight years earlier in London, when they were introduced to each other by a mutual friend. Prompted by Claire’s love of Italy and desire to get married in an enchanted floral garden setting, Raj set out to find the right location for their wedding day. For Claire, a fashion stylist, choosing the right venue was the most important task. It’s no surprise that the couple finally decided upon Hotel Villa Cimbrone–an awe-inspiring setting dating back to the 11th century. 

After arriving at the villa for a pre-wedding visit, Claire instantly realized she had been there before, when she was styling a shoot for a British magazine eight years earlier. The couple fell in love with the elegant interiors, idyllic gardens, fountains, statues, and hidden temples, and it was clear that this would be the perfect background for their nuptials.

On the day of their wedding, Claire was adjusting the cascading skirts of her Vera Wang bridal gown and placing a crown of delicate flowers on the head of her daughter, Mahalia, when Mother Nature decided to compromise her dreams of having an outdoor wedding. The heavens opened, drenching the lawns and leaving the indoor crypt as the only place where they could hold the wedding ceremony with family and friends from around the globe.

Despite taking place inside–and in a crypt, nonetheless–florist Armando rearranged the décor to ensure that the new setting was as picturesque and as pristine as Claire and Raj’s original vision. After the rain subsided, photographer Gianni Di Natale was poised and ready to capture precious outdoor images before the light faded. Gianni had been specifically chosen by Claire as her wedding photographer, as her experience in the fashion industry left her with a deep appreciation for high-quality photography. It was especially important to have her wedding day properly documented, and she knew Gianni would be able to deliver vivid, intimate, and spontaneous images.

The wedding décor turned out to be ethereal and romantic, with candlelight illuminating the walls of the Gothic-style crypt, and stunning white florals filling the air with perfume. Rain-soaked feet didn’t do anything to hamper the guests from enjoying an exquisite menu, carefully crafted by Raj, or dancing to the live band. Glasses were raised and tears were falling as Raj delivered an emotional tribute, which transitioned into the couple’s first dance.

Although September rain may have fallen on the Amalfi Coast that day, Claire and Raj’s wedding was nothing short of joyful, magical, and unforgettable.

Location: Hotel Villa Cimbrone Ravello, Italy; Floral and Event Design: Ravello Events Ravello, Italy; Wedding Dress: Vera Wang;