Sometimes, finding the perfect person to marry can be easier than finding the perfect location in which to host the wedding. Such was the case for Molly Gerratt and Patrick J. Kennedy III, who met while attending Georgetown University, she as an undergraduate and he as a law student. Upon getting engaged, the couple traversed the California coast from Los Angeles to Napa touring several venues, but nothing felt right. Then it dawned on them: Rome

“Molly and I share a common love of Rome,” explains Patrick, who had been to the city several times to visit family friends. It’s also the place where Molly, a Latin and classical studies enthusiast, spent a summer abroad. “We wanted to give our closest friends and family the opportunity to get to know the city we love so much,” explains the bride. Just like that, the decision was not so difficult after all.

Hiring a locally based American wedding planner turned out to be a key factor in making their destination event a success. Her knowledge of venues, vendors, and other resources made planning from a distance a stress-free experience for the couple. The bride used the rustic charm of the city, with its overgrown gardens and weathered architecture, as her influence for the design of the event. “I was inspired by the feeling I get from Rome,” she says. Additionally, the bride wanted to focus the celebration around a palette of earthy shades and muted blue undertones. “Not only were those the tones of the structure of the reception space, but they accent nearly every building in Rome,” adds Molly.

The ceremony was held in a historic basilica, which features marble floors leftover from an ancient Roman temple that had previously stood there, as well as a bronze Cypress door from the 5th century. Because a cardinal who is a close friend of Patrick’s family officiated, they were able to hold their service in a section of the church in which no one had ever married before.

It was agreed that the bride would not reveal anything about her wedding-day ensemble to the groom prior to walking down the aisle, so as Patrick watched her make her way towards the altar, he was overcome with emotion. She was simply stunning in a fit-and-flare gown with lace overlay and an off-the-shoulder neckline, a luxurious train and cathedral veil trailed behind. “I often imagined what she would look like,” he says. “Those daydreams, however, paled in comparison to the actual experience.”

Bridesmaids wore various styles of floor-length gowns all in earthy shades and carried nosegays of delphinium and muscari blooms in periwinkle blue. The groom and groomsmen wore traditional tuxedos with delicate boutonnieres of rosemary sprigs and ivory florals. A few Jewish traditions, such as the breaking of the glass, were included at the cocktail hour to honor the bride’s father’s heritage.

The reception was held in a picturesque structure that once served as a monastery and later a school. Situated atop the Aventine Hill, it offered a breathtaking view of the Tiber River and city below. Ancient walls distressed to perfection by time and the elements framed a vast courtyard on three sides, creating the ideal location for dining, drinking, and dancing. Guests feasted at a single wooden table that stretched the length of the alfresco space. A long, slate-blue linen ran down the table’s center while a variety of ceramic vases in cerulean and beige hues held low arrangements of cream-colored flowers. Candles set in mercury-glass vessels also adorned the tablescape. Dinnerware included vintage-cut wine glasses and gold-rimmed plates that rested on silver chargers. Personalized menus greeted each attendee at his or her seat and were affixed to linen napkins with burlap strings and sprigs of lavender.

The calligraphy featured on the wedding stationery was hand scribed by the same artist who created all of the beautiful signage for the event. From the seating chart to the signature cocktail list, any information pertinent to guests was noted on mirrors in order to reflect the surrounding scenery and emphasize the breathtaking sunset.

The couple’s wedding cake was a traditional Italian confectionery made of layers of crunchy pastry and creamy custard, dusted with flower petals. In addition to their customary bomboniere wedding favors – candy-coated almonds that represented their vows to one another ­– they also made donations to the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles, as a nod to the bride’s pro-bono legal work performed for the center.

The festivities lasted well until the early-morning hours. Lounge furniture was scattered throughout the yard so guests could relax and take in the view. “When it got dark, the backdrop sparkled with the lights of the city,” says the bride. “We were even lucky enough to get fireworks.” Indeed, it was as though Rome itself was congratulating the newlyweds and bestowing upon them a blessing of everlasting love apropos of a place nicknamed “The Eternal City.”