In a traditional Italian wedding, you’ll often hear guests exclaim per cent’anni – “for a hundred years” – as they raise a glass to toast the bride and groom. And what better way to celebrate the start of la dolce vita – “the sweet life” – than an elegant and unforgettable wedding reception? We invited a recent Loews Portofino Bay Hotel bride, Marie Claire, to tell us about her special day and what made it perfect.

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All images: Kristen Weaver Photography

Q: What was your inspiration for choosing your wedding venue?

My inspiration to choose Loews Portofino Bay Hotel came from my visits to Universal CityWalk as a child. My parents would take us on the water taxi to Portofino and we would eat at one of the restaurants on the harbor. Like all young girls, I was always imagining my wedding day, and Portofino Bay quickly became my dream location. I was pleasantly surprised when years later my wedding planner, April, informed me that the hotel was available on August 3rd, my wedding day. When we decided to have our wedding at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the minute we walked into the Venetian Ballroom, my now husband, Michael, looked at April with a big grin on his face and said, “this is it!”

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Q: What was the process of working with the property team like?

Throughout the wedding planning process, I had the pleasure of working with Bonnie Garfield, Director of Catering. Food was a top priority for us in picking our venue, and Bonnie and the staff made sure that we were 100-percent satisfied with every item that was served before the menu was finalized. Knowing that she was always working her hardest to make sure that we left smiling after every meeting relieved so much stress for me as a bride. The day of the wedding, our guests came to us raving about the delicious food (we had a duo of New York strip and chicken breast with a panko herb crust and an assortment of vegetables) and the excellent service, especially Simon, the banquet captain who made sure that we enjoyed every aspect of the reception.

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Q: When planning your wedding, what were some of your top priorities?

For my venue, I was looking for a ballroom that would give my reception an intimate feel without being too cluttered, so the Venetian Ballroom was the perfect size for my 250 guests. What attracted me most to the ballroom were the gorgeous chandeliers, elegant crown molding and the mirrors that were perfectly placed around the room to accentuate the candle  lighting I wanted on all my guest tables. Plus, the beautiful grand staircase leading to the ballroom and the classic Italian Cypress trees surrounding the hotel were the perfect touches to ensure that our photographer, Kristen, would have no trouble finding gorgeous locations for our wedding photos.

We can’t think of a more romantic way to celebrate the beginning of a lifetime of love. As the Italians would say, evviva gli sposi – “hurray for the newlyweds!”