Paola Eulalia Saracino Fendi’s mother always said she would meet a nice boy at the library or in church. “Moms are just always right,” Paola says. “Aram [Warya Ahmed] and I met through very close friends at a church—it just happened to be at Gremio de Brixton, which is a bar underneath St. Matthew’s Church. I knew he liked me when he agreed to dance to Beyoncé with me when no one else was dancing. I had just moved to London, so was very much swooning over his awesome British accent.”
The two got engaged in Greece in August of 2016, on a trip with various European destinations since Paola was about to move back to New York after seven years in London. “Aram told me later on he had a proposal plan in each one of the places we were visiting that summer, but it all went out the window when on day one of our first trip I asked him when he would join me in New York. He had the ring in his pocket, and he thought the best answer to my question was to just come out and say, ‘let’s spend forever together’—so he dropped down on one knee and proposed. I was in such shock that I honestly didn’t even hear him. He had to repeat the whole thing!”
Wedding planning began in 2019, but when the world shut down due to COVID-19, Paola and Aram were forced to spend most of 2020 and 2021 living in different countries. He was still working in London, she was in New York, and they were an ocean apart, unable to visit each other. “There was so much uncertainty with everything that was going on that it was just hard to plan. Aram was my rock as I often felt like maybe we should just cancel. I relied so much on my family, my friends—so many of whom were in similar situations—and our Spain-based wedding planner Paola Sofia, who was my hero. She was our eyes, ears, and mouth…reviewing the venues in Ibiza—where we wanted to get married—tasting the cake, and checking everything. There was a lot of FaceTiming, but it was really all in her hands as neither Aram or I could be there.”
The couple’s wedding date was always scheduled for June 18th, 2021. “When we got engaged, a lot of changes were happening, I was starting in a new role at Christie’s, had just moved to New York, and Aram and I were planning to buy our first apartment as well,” Paola says. “I felt a bit overwhelmed by planning a wedding as I wanted to make sure I could give my proper attention to it, so I knew I wanted to wait until 2021. Who would have known that a pandemic would then hit? My heart goes out to all the couples affected as it has been truly a stressful experience. But one of my best friends had a beautiful ceremony earlier this year in Bali that was streamed live on Zoom, and when Aram and I saw how happy they were just being together, we knew we had to keep the date no matter what.”
Planning a wedding is never easy, but doing it from another country during a pandemic presents a particular set of challenges. “The biggest last minute change was that we really wanted to have our celebration at my grandmother’s home in Ibiza, but unfortunately events in private homes were not allowed,” Paola remembers. “Two weeks before the wedding, we decided to move the welcome party to Las Dos Lunas. The owners are old friends of my parents who have known me since I was little and really helped to create the atmosphere I wanted that evening.”
Paola de Herrera Soriano from A-tipica orchestrated everything. “She, my grandmother, and I all have the same name,” the bride says. “Aram called us the Holy Trinity of Paola!” Toni Riera, who is an event planner in Ibiza, was the local planner and helped with organizing everything at the church including the flowers, the beautiful orange trees, the music, and the traditional 17th-century dance that happened after the ceremony.
Coming from a fashion family, it’s no surprise that curating the wedding weekend wardrobe was the bride’s favorite part of the planning process. “I put a lot of thought into this as I’m the first person in my generation of our family to get married,” Paola says. “I wanted my family to be part of this journey.”
Her grandmother, Paola Fendi, was an important part of the process. “She is my role model, and I wanted to wear something that still felt very me, and I was comfortable in, but was also an ode to her legacy and our family,” the bride says of her guiding principles for the day’s ensembles.
“It was kismet as my friend Kim Jones joined Fendi at the end of 2020 and was preparing his first couture collection,” Paola says. “I am thrilled that he is now part of our Fendi family, so it was a pleasure working with my Aunt Silvia Venturini Fendi and him on a dress. I knew I didn’t want a traditional white dress for the first evening and when Kim suggested a beautiful green gown from his Spring/Summer Haute Couture 2021 collection, it was perfection.” The dress featured murano flower embroidery that reminded Paola of her grandmother’s garden, and she furthered the theme with jasmine in her hair. “The entire design process was a special experience as it was Kim’s first collection in womenswear as well as his first wedding dress,” she adds. “It’s a piece of history now for the both of us.”
Paola also wanted to relive her grandmother’s time as a designer. “She had worked in fashion for over 50 years—since she was 14 years old—and collaborated with many young designers at Fendi…one of them was Pierpaolo Piccioli.”
Because of their longstanding relationship, Paola’s grandmother asked Pierpaolo if he would be open to creating a wedding dress. “Pierpaolo was so thrilled to see my grandmother and show her what he’d been working on,” Paola says. “I enjoyed listening to their stories of the atelier. He said that he always respected and admired my grandmother as she knew him when he was just a kid and now to have her see him as a couturier…it was emotional, and my grandmother is so proud of him. He knew me when I was little and used to visit my grandmother at work, and when he saw me now, grown, he knew immediately what to do.”
Inspired by the Italian Renaissance, specifically Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, Pierpaolo created a pattern of various antique laces and a rectangular Renaissance neckline. “I was able to go to Rome to see him a few weeks before the wedding, and we danced to Diana Ross’s ‘I’m Coming Out’ at the Maison Valentino atelier with all of the seamstresses,” Paola remembers. “He wanted to make sure the dress made me feel comfortable in my own skin. He said there is nothing more beautiful than a confident bride.”
For something old, Paola wore her great-grandmother’s pearl earrings with an antique diamond clip—the same ones that her mother wore at her wedding. “My something blue were the blue buckles on my Manolo Blahniks, and a very small navy blue bow Pierpaolo had sewn into my skirt,” Paola says. Her something borrowed was a vintage white beaded Fendi bag that belongs to her mother. Eva Villar did Paola’s hair and makeup using Dior Beauty and placed flowers from the garden in her hair on both evenings so the bride always had a piece of home with her.
Paola and Aram knew early on in the planning process that they wanted to get married at the Cathedral of Ibiza, a 14th century church erected in a Catalan Gothic style that’s dedicated to the Virgin, Our Lady of Snows. The Cathedral is situated at the highest point of the main city of Ibiza on top of the old town of Dalt Vila.
Guests were flying in from various places in Europe and the United States, and many were experiencing Ibiza for the first time. To that end, Paola and Aram felt it was important to really celebrate the island that they love and bring in special traditions to the ceremony that are unique to the area. “I walked down the aisle with my father to a drum and the choir singing ‘Seguramente esta tarde se case mi niña’ (Surely this afternoon my girl will get married),” Paola says. “The most special surprise was when our family friend Toni Riera brought a group of traditional payesas ibicencas to throw fresh branches of mint on the floor as we started our new life as man and wife. We sang the special ‘Salve Rociera de Olé Olé’ to the Virgin, Our Lady of Snow and the guitars played Sevillana music (flamenco music for Sevilla) as we exited the church.”
Los payeses ibicencas were waiting in the square, and when the newlyweds arrived they started a special 17th century traditional dance called bal payès. At the end, they requested that the couple join in.
Afterwards, everyone went to Atzaro, a 300-year-old finca that is now a hotel in Ibiza, for the wedding reception. A Spanish guitar greeted guests as they went into cocktail hour where croquetas and jamon iberico were being served up. Later on, the group moved to the orange tree garden where violinists in white gowns played alongside the pool.
Then the band started playing a special remix of “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore, and Paola and Aram took to the stage. “It was a wild entrance and very Ibiza,” Paola says. “I remember looking at Aram like, What is happening? He just smiled, took my hand, and made us jump to the beat. We hadn’t even started dinner yet but the party had definitely started—all the guests were waving their napkins from their seats.”
The couple did their first dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” and executed a lift (thanks to lessons with ex-NYCB soloist Tom Gold who helped them choreograph their moves). “We were impressed we remembered the steps as we were unable to practice much living apart,” Paola says. The bride’s friend Henri Bergmann DJed for the rest of the night as waiters passed around tequila shots. “I look back on it all now and can’t help but smile,” Paola says. “I am so happy I got to experience this day with my family and friends. I am in shock and awe that it really happened—maybe because I’m still on a cloud, and it all feels like a dream.”