My Italian Horror/Gialli Themed Wedding

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

I got married a year ago on Sunday so I thought it was only fitting to write a blog post about the design aspects of the day as the look of my wedding was heavily influenced by the production design in gialli and Italian horror cinema from the sixties and seventies. In particular, there was a strong aesthetical influence from Dario Argento's Suspiria alongside style cues from the likes of Mario Bava's Blood & Black Lace and Black Sabbath. I thought I'd share with you the thought processes behind various elements of the big day alongside images of how those ideas came together. Hopefully fans of the genre will appreciate the stylistic nods to the films we all so dearly love represented through traditional wedding fare.

So I guess the big question is why did I theme my wedding around Italian thrillers of the sixties and seventies? Gialli is obviously a major passion of mine that I wanted to incorporate into my day on some level, however, the choice of theme extended far beyond my love of old Italian thrillers. I'm heavily into design whether it be in fashion, film, interiors or architecture so getting the right feel to my wedding day aesthetically was really important. To me, the gialli of yore embodies a design sensibility that really resonates with my own tastes. It's a grandiose style that meshes modernist design with a classical Italian penchant for ornate elegance. Although cinematic offerings like The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh might have been a little too zany to incorporate into the overall look of the wedding, earlier gialli like Bava's Blood & Black Lace were the perfect inspiration for a day that needed to be classy but stylised. By choosing these films as the basis for my wedding's look, I was paying homage to the cinema I love but I was also choosing a style that resonated with my aesthetical leanings. Ultimately, a wedding isn't primarily for yourself so this look allowed me to express my interests, passions and style but in a way that other people could appreciate and enjoy on a surface level without necessarily understanding the references. I wanted people to attend my wedding and view it as something different to the usual Scottish weddings in country houses and hotels. Most of all I hoped that people would enjoy all the effort that went into creating those different elements - something that didn't seem worth it when everything had to be painstakingly designed and created.

The Venue

Funnily enough, Edinburgh isn't exactly a hotbed for Italian design and although it has its fair share of Gothic venues, I wanted something a little more ornate and on theme for my big day. After tearing my hair out for about a year trying to find a venue, it dawned on me that an old bar haunt of mine, The Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh, was the perfect fit for a wedding heavily influenced by the elaborate production design of the Italian thriller. The Voodoo Rooms is a fantastic bar/restaurant located on the upper floor of an 19th century building tucked away behind Princes Street. The venue has some wonderful original features that give it a really distinctive feel and it features a lot of ornate detailing such as elaborate ceilings and cornices. It feels very theatrical as a setting with a heavy use of gold throughout its rooms - perfect for a wedding inspired by the production design of 1960s Bava films. I particularly love the arched windows that run along the outside of the bar which are uplit in red - very Argento.

Like anyone with a passion for Italian genre cinema, the beautiful lighting of Bava and Argento's work is something that feels so integral to one's appreciation of the aesthetics of these films. 
From the day I started planning, I knew coloured lighting was an integral element for the day. A bonus of The Voodoo Rooms is that it has a great lighting deck in its ballroom as well as twinkling lights embedded into the fabric walls. This spectacular lighting was key in achieving the Bavaesque look I was going for. Most weddings have very bright lighting/daylight for their wedding breakfast but the dark windowless ballroom illuminated with coloured lights, twinkling wall lights and candle light really achieved a dramatic, different look that was bang on theme.

The wedding meal and reception took place in the venue's ballroom which is a fantastic space - not only for the great lighting as mentioned above but also for its stage, ornate ceilings, draping and amazing DJ booth. Very little had to be done to the space; the chairs were gold so perfectly matched the theme and the tables were draped in black tablecloths echoing the black draping on the walls. The black and gold look of the room worked incredibly well with the gold table centrepieces which I go into detail about down below.

The Stationery

I knew that I wasn't going to find the sort of wedding stationery I was looking for online and a cursory glance on Etsy seemed to confirm this so I decided to get some designed. I talked to a few people who were ridiculously expensive before putting a call out on twitter for help. Luckily an amazing graphic designer called Jaci answered my call. I told her the kind of thing I was looking for and she got to work setting up a pinterest board in which I pinned a load of images that I liked from Italian genre cinema. Jaci gave me really good advice and told me to pin images that had shapes and motifs that I liked and would like included in the invites as well as potential typographies. You'll notice most of the ones that made it to the final board are from Suspiria but you'll also see Inferno, Five Dolls for an August Moon, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Seven Blood Stained Orchids, The Frightened Woman, The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears and Kubrick's 2001 (!!!) represented. After discussion about text, layout and other features, Jaci went away and designed 3 designs that matched the brief. I don't want to share Jaci's other designs here as they're obviously not my work to share but her original designs included a beautiful recreation of Suspiria's art nouveau doorways with the invite text inside the door. Ultimately, I rejected it due to the kaleidoscopic look feeling a little much for a wedding invite but they were really beautiful designs - sadly I felt that they weren't soft enough for the day so we went back to the drawing board. At this stage I had more of an idea of what I wanted and decided I wanted to use Pat's apartment lobby from Suspiria and her M C Escher walls as the major design elements for the wedding stationery. Jaci absolutely nailed this concept as you can see in the beautiful invites down below. Alongside wedding invites, Jaci designed RSVP cards, place cards, order of services and evening invites. 


Jaci's website can be found here.

The Tables

Contrary to what you might think, I was conscious of including my husband in the wedding planning and I thought it was important to have his personality and interests represented too. Originally, I wanted to have each table named after a different giallo director but as my husband is such a fan of cinema in general, it didn't seem fair to exclude his passions from the table planning. Instead, we decided that we'd name each table after a director we liked so although I managed to get a few gialli directors in there, there's also a fair few non Italian directors. We decided to name our tables after; Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Fritz Lang, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola and Nicolas Windin Refn.

I bought nine golden baroque style frames to put the table names into. The look of the frames was important as they had to compliment the venue's setting as well as have that Italian film look. It's typical to see golden baroque style fixtures in the Italian films of the sixties and seventies so I took Bava's The Telephone segment from Black Sabbath and Blood & Black Lace as inspiration and looked for frames with a similar look to the ornamental bed frame and mirror from The Telephone as well as the picture frames from B&BL. I then tried to find artistic posters online to my liking that would fit a director's name. I looked for fonts that would fit each poster and inserted each director's name into the appropriate poster.

I worked with my florist on the the table centrepieces. I wanted the tables to be a real focal point of the room that mirrored the cinematic theme so we dressed the tables with various items such as gold candelabras and birdcages. The candelabras were a homage to Inferno and the birdcages were a reference to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

Favours & Table Place Cards

People did suggest J&B bottles as favours but I felt this would have been a little obvious and wouldn't have fitted so well with the theming of the wedding. I got engaged in Canada and Montreal is one of our favourite places so we went for maple candies as favours - something my husband really appreciated when he was scoffing them all beforehand. I wanted the favour boxes to fit with the theme so we looked once again to Suspiria for inspiration. We made a template on cardboard in the wedding colours which when cut out and folded made a triangular box. The triangular favour box was supposed to resemble the giant triangular lift light in the foyer of Pat's apartment in Suspira. The table's place cards were a simplified version of the wedding stationery's design with the rhombus and circle design from Pat's foyer. My dad is talented at calligraphy so he conducted the pain staking task of writing each name in gold ornate lettering that mirrored the lift's gold curved shapes in the film.


For the wedding breakfast I decided on a playlist filled with music from Italian soundtracks. I went for pieces that had a Bossa Nova, lounge music feel which really complimented the mood of the meal and the relaxed setting. I thought it would be best to stay away from the more bombastic, experimental and sinister pieces of genre music and go for tracks that felt for the most part, leisurely and fun. I can't tell you how much the music added to the atmosphere of the meal and it just felt very cool and chilled sitting eating a meal to the sounds of The Five Dolls for an August Moon soundtrack.

You can listen to my wedding breakfast soundtrack here on Spotify featuring music from Bruno Nicolai, Stelvio Cipriani, Piero Umiliani and Riz Ortolani.

The Cake

Continuing on from the Suspiria production design themed wedding stationery, I decided upon a similar design for the cake. I took the invitations Jaci designed for me to local cake shop, Liggys and worked with the lovely staff on a design. We decided to repeat the M S Escher wallpaper from Suspiria on each cake tier and then added the circle and diamond pattern onto the edges of the cake tiers. My florist then finished off the look topping the cake with flowers from the centrepiece and my bouquet. For anyone that's interested, we had three cake flavours; lemon and poppyseed, chocolate and toffee. Note the art nouveau cake serving knife which again mirrors the art nouveau elements in Suspiria's production design.


I found an incredible French seller on Etsy who creates wedding guestbooks from antique French books. I settled on this cover as it feels very much in keeping with the wedding's theming evoking the feel of Suspiria with its red and gold art nouveau style cover. It's also a bit of an odd to the famous little red book in Blood & Black Lace. I also liked that the gold lines intersected in a familiar patten to the Three Mothers Varelli book in Argento's Inferno. As I'm Scottish, it felt fitting to have a cover that incorporates our country's national flower, the thistle, into its design. 


Again, the flowers were inspired by Mario Bava's Blood & Black Lace. One of the most striking aspects of the film is the opening credits sequence which features the various actors posed with colourful blooms bathed in jewel lighting (see the picture in the venue section above for reference). Multicoloured blooms look fantastic in this scene but for a wedding with a colour scheme of coral red and dove grey, this colour palette for our flowers would have been a bit overwhelming especially held against dresses. Instead, working with my amazing florist (The Enchanted Florist) we decided on red, white and magenta flowers in various shades. I wanted to replicate the full bloom look of the Blood & Black Lace scene so my florist picked flowers in season that mirrored the hydrangeas and roses from the film. I also showed my florist other examples of flowers featured in gialli i.e. the flowers from Short Night of Glass Dolls, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times and Death Walks on High Heels and we looked for flowers that mimicked these shapes. As you can see in the various pictures on this post, there's some really interesting floral shapes that really add to the theatrical vibe of the day. I can't praise the girls at The Enchanted Florist highly enough, a lot of the florists I looked at were traditional wedding florists and tended to offer arrangements that came straight out of wedding magazines and pinterest boards, which obviously there's a huge demand for, but what I love about the Enchanted Florist is that they were really into doing theatrical displays that were different and unique to the couple. In fact before my wedding, they did a Tim Burton themed wedding for another couple.

Bridesmaids Dresses

As evidenced in my blog, I've always loved the seventies style fashions featured throughout Italian genre films and I wanted to reflect this in my bridesmaids dresses. I didn't want to put my poor bridesmaids in something too outlandish so it was quite the task settling on dresses that matched the brief and matched up to what the girls felt comfortable wearing. I took inspiration from Suspiria once again and looked for dresses similar to the ones worn by the ballet school's students in the scene that takes place in the room with the blue iris. I noted that these dresses were typically maxi in length and featured fluttered sleeves and v-necks. I looked for dresses that matched this look but in the wedding's colours of coral and dove grey/blue. I settled on coral dresses from ASOS that we did minor alterations to. These dresses are similar in style to the lilac number Sara wears in the aforementioned scene. My sister as maid of honour was dressed in a dove grey/blue dress with embellishment on the bodice that mirrored some of the ornate detailing seen in these films. For shoes, I went with classic gold t-bar heels as worn by Suzy Banyon in Suspiria. 

Pat's dress second to right


I originally had planned to continually project a piece I edited together featuring some of our favourite movies however, this proved to be difficult and I ran out of time which left me with an incomplete film. Instead, I opted for playing a couple of films and trailers that inspired the wedding's look to show guests the theme and to add a bit of Italian film magic to the wedding reception. The biggest problem was the violence so I had the joyous task of editing the violent content out of Blood & Black Lace, Suspiria and Inferno the day before the wedding. It wasn't too difficult but I forgot about the violence/nudity in the trailers so below you have the slightly hilarious image of my guests looking at the nudity in Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. The trailers I included were for; Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, Le orme, Etoile, Red Rings of Fear, Short Night of Glass Dolls, The Heroin Busters, The Sweet Body of Deborah, Colt 38 Special Squad, Rome Armed to the Teeth and Suspicious Death of a Minor.


I'd like to thank Edinburgh photographer Loraine Ross for taking all of the wonderful photos I've used in this post. I really wanted all of the film elements photographed and Loraine did a fantastic job capturing the mood of the day and the individual elements. All images copyright to Loraine Ross.

I want to say a big thank you to all my wonderful wedding vendors. I know it's not the easiest of themes especially for a wedding but everyone involved in the big day really got on board with the concept and delivered some fantastic results. I was completely overwhelmed when I entered the venue at how well everything had come together and I really feel like I was successful in putting on a wedding that embodied that Italian genre cinema vibe but still felt classy and wedding appropriate. I'd also like to say a big huge thank you to all of my family and friends who attended. There was a lot of bullshit in the run up but the day was a huge success and the love and support that everyone showed me on the big day meant the world to me. I hope you all appreciated the look of the wedding and now understand a bit about the inspiration behind it!


  1. You put so much thought into this and your passion shows. Love the theme (those reds and blues!) and the photos. I'm sure it was a special day. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Daniel! A lot of work but a lot of fun! I know most people aren't interested in weddings but thought the film elements might appeal - glad you appreciated them!

  2. now that's how you do a wedding!!! excellent

  3. This is fabulous! I'm already married (courthouse wedding), but I'd love to do a lavish, Bava-themed anniversary party some day.

  4. You certainly have a lot of great ideas up your sleeve. I will certainly try these tricks for my wedding this summer. But I don’t know if any of the Chicago venues would incorporate all these wonderful ideas. But I would certainly come up with something great for the event. Thank You!


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