Planning a Wedding in Italy

Planning a wedding in Italy can take a lot of organising, where do you start?

Are you planning a wedding in Italy and need some additional advice?

Well my guest post this week is Jo from Accent Events Limited.  

Ive worked with Gio on a few weddings in Italy, both as a Lake Como Wedding Photographer and a Tuscany Wedding Photographer. Ive also shot weddings in Sorrento. Gio has kindly offered to write this article which is just gold if  you’re planning a wedding in Italy. These tips could consequently make anyones planning of a wedding rather simple.

Here are her 10 great tips on; Planning a Wedding in Italy.

I love meeting new people and when they are part of the wonderful world of weddings there is an automatic connection.  Ste popped up on Facebook to ask if I would like to do a guest article for his professional photography blog. I love this stuff so of course I said yes. How could I refuse an opportunity to write about weddings, specifically destination Italian weddings?

Try and stop me!

Every time I receive a request for information on planning a wedding in Italy, it’s just like getting an invitation.  Every email is different, because every couple comes with a different perspective. Different questions, when to start planning, where to start, how much will it cost?

To help all of you who are considering a destination wedding in Italy or elsewhere, here are our top 10 considerations that will get you all set for your wedding story.

Wedding Planner or DIY Bride? 

Brides are definitely becoming more self-sufficient using wedding forums such as ‘Weddings Abroad Guide’ to seek help and inspiration from fellow brides and experts. Thus providing guidance and helpful recommendations. A wedding is a considerable expense and of course anything you can do to contain that expense will help financially.

There are some areas of destination wedding planning that are best left to the professionals, the dreaded legal requirements.  You need to know your stuff and be up to date with the process.

How much time do you have to devote to your wedding?  On average a wedding takes 6 weeks of full time planning.  If you can spare the time great, do be aware the two months prior to the wedding become very intense and can become stressful,  juggling home, career and other commitments can take its toll.

It is worth bearing in mind that using a wedding planner adds value, yes we do negotiate where possible but this is not the main feature of the service. It is our expert knowledge on managing an event abroad, our relationships with suppliers and venues to give couples the very best experience from their destination wedding.

Lake Como bride and groom on boat

Photo from Jo and Marks Wedding in Lake Como

Is an Italy wedding for you?

If you are someone who would like to know the exact outlay for their Italy wedding then a package wedding offered by one of the large holiday firms is the way to go.  These have been designed for volume sales and will be priced to reflect this.   Choose your location,venue, number of guests and you will have your total price.  It’s neat it’s tidy but it may not allow you put your stamp on this very special day.  Requests for additional extras are likely to cost.

If you want a relationship based service where your wedding event has been designed solely with you in mind, then a bespoke or tailormade service will meet this requirement.

A tailormade services allows me to work in a flexible way,  it allows me to collaborate with chaps such as  Ste who poped up on Facebook.  A brief conversation on aspirations leads to the potential for my clients to benefit from a fabulous photography service, all because I received an invitation!

You and Your Destination Wedding

It is surprising how many couples chose a destination they do not know nor have they ever visited.  It is worth getting acquainted, this will go a long way to help with expectations of the country and for your wedding day.

What do you want from your dream destination?  If it is the dream sunset wedding or vineyard dining experience do not worry Italy will not disappoint. Indulge yourself by swiping all those fantastic images that can be found on the internet and picture yourself there.

Italian Wedding Photographer

Photo from Mark and Megans Wedding in Tuscany

Don’t Forget To Focus on You!

If you are more focused on budget and containing costs and your sole reason for going abroad is to save money.  We may then need to do some perception adjustment about what is possible regarding pricing and how things actually work for a destination wedding.

It is often assumed not all invitees will attend, watch out for this one as it can come back to bite you if you send out ‘save the dates’ to everyone in your address book.  A well designed save the date that generates excitement and a smidge of escapism may just give you a full turnout.  Do not assume your fixed budget will accommodate everyone, if over stretched the compromises will be obvious.

Research has shown that the average cost for a couple to attend a wedding abroad is between £1000 and £2200? As your guests have travelled to join you for your wedding abroad. By asking them to pay for their own transport to your enchanting but remote location or the only option for accommodation is that very expensive and luxurious hotel nearby will not go down too well.  Working with a Wedding Planner will prevent this type of situation occurring.  He/she will be able to draw upon their knowledge and experience to suggest the perfect location that will be able to work within your budget.  This is going to save you much angst.

Specialist wedding planners will already know the nearest airport, distances between the civil and reception venue and will be able to suggest a range of accommodation for your guests.  A wedding planner gives you back time, a very important factor in planning a wedding.

Liverpool Wedding Photographer

Budget and Costs Of An Italian Wedding

How much?

It’s a bottom line question.

Things you will need to take into consideration for your financial planning:

  • Currency exchange rates, these can fluctuate over a 12 month period. So spend time monitoring what is happening with currency exchange.
  • There are no standard costs.
  • Cost will be influenced by many factors, to name a few: quality, experience, location, amount, design, effort, hours of service.
  • Package vs bespoke, there is a difference.
  • IVA the equivalent of VAT.  In Italy the amount of tax paid on a service can be 10% or 22%
  • Transfer costs for making payments abroad.
  • Entertainment tax.
  • Costs that change due to time of day ( late night transport etc.)

Rather than give a couple the cost of another couple’s wedding.  We prefer to produce a guideline cost based on their choices. This will be a good indicator of what the total cost of their wedding will be.  Another couple’s wedding choices may or may not result in a similar cost.  Comparisons can be deceiving.  For example’s sake, two rustic style venues, where both couples have gone for a simple and elegant theme.

bride in villa doorway Italy

Transport For A Destination Wedding

One of our mantra’s at Accent Events is ‘make it easy for your guests to enjoy being abroad’.

Do this and you will have a successful wedding on your hands!

This starts at home, find out direct flights to Italy from your local/nearby airport.

This is a good criteria for choosing where in Italy to get married.

If you have elderly guests, young families or guests with restricted mobility, keeping the travel logistics as simple as they can be will show you are aware of what is involved.

Once in Italy  an acceptable onward journey is  1.5hr to 2hrs .  Remember to give key info such as public transport options, private transfer details, costs and hire car options.  In peak summer months hire cars are much in demand. This can often create a hold up in travel plans.  Allow for this when picking up your hire car.  Furthermore put together a list of accommodation and activities with important telephone numbers, english speaking services, doctors, chemists etc.

A little goes along way.

Italian boat on lake

Finding The Perfect Italian Wedding Venue

The options are almost endless.  Private villas with seaviews, castles, vineyards, hamlets, boutique hotels even yachts.  Personal style preference will dictate the type of venue that appeals.

Things that will influence choice.

For example: A legal ceremony must meet regulations and there are restrictions as to where this can take place.

There are venues that have the whole package, licensed for the legal civil ceremony.  They hold both reception and party venue as well as having accommodation on site.  This type of venue is suited to large wedding groups, avoiding the need to transport people between locations and saving you money on laying on transport.  If everyone stays on site then from the moment they arrive they can relax. Take a look at these Lake Como Wedding Venues.

If location and look are what inspires you and this overrides the need to meet legal requirements then choosing a symbolic ceremony frees you from meeting legal requirements in Italy and this will open up the options for the setting of your wedding venue.  You can do the legal bit back at home.

When to start your venue search?

This depends very much on the size and format of the wedding.   If you wish to take a property exclusively that has associated accommodation for you and your guests it is best to begin the venue search 18 months, 12 months (at the latest) in advance.  Most properties will require a 3 day minimum booking. Weekends can be more difficult to secure so for this particular aspect advanced planning is best.

In addition, Properties for large weddings where a high number of rooms are required could take more time.

If you have a medium sized group (40 people) then a lead time of 12 months should be sufficient to research and secure a reception venue.

Types of Wedding Ceremony

Civil Ceremony:

This is a legally binding, non-religious ceremony conducted in the local Town Hall, it can be either old or modern in style.  It is home to the mayor and his council.  Alternatively the Community Town Hall will also own outside space an example of this is ‘ The Cloisters in Sorrento’ where the official will conduct the ceremony.

Religious Ceremony:

Catholic Weddings in Italy are performed in a Catholic Church.  There are religious as well as civil documents required for this type of wedding. It is advisable to consult your local priest if you wish to have a Catholic wedding abroad.

Symbolic Ceremony: 

This style of ceremony is very popular and is increasingly being requested by couples.  The reason is, it removes the need for any legalities.  For some nationalities the process for getting legally married in Italy is complex and for whatever reason the couple may not be able to meet those requirements.

The symbolic ceremony will be designed for you by a celebrant.  There is much scope for personalisation and you have the freedom for the style and tone of the ceremony to be anything you want  it to be.  It is an inclusive ceremony as it allows you to invite family and friends to take part.  A symbolic ceremony also gives a wider choice for your venue i.e the beach, hillside, open air terrace, on a boat.  Imagine having a ceremony written just for you free of any legal jargon or obligations, Sound good!

You can choose to meet the legal requirements back at home or in your chosen destination. Either before or after your symbolic ceremony.

Vows renewal:

A celebratory ceremony, whether you are renewing vows after 1, 5, 10 or 25 years.  These are often intimate celebrations where the couple renew their original vows.  Even better if they recite the original ones, but this time with generations of their family alongside them.

Timings For Your Italy Wedding

When deciding the date of your wedding we suggest looking up Italy’s national and regional public holidays. Its best if sometimes these are avoided.

If you are thinking of a wedding in outside of the peak wedding season, consult with a wedding planner as some of the seasonal coastal locations often close down over the winter time.  Some of the larger coastal towns are magical over the Christmas and New Year period.

Key holidays can and often do affect the availability of services.  Watch out for August, as this a very quirky month for weddings in Italy. It is super hot, there is a major public holiday on 15th August followed by two weeks of the italians fleeing the city for their beach villas or country homes.

Due to the above the roads on the Amalfi Coast can become very busy, a journey that would normally take 15 minutes could take an hour!

Hot, hot, hot!

Italy’s hottest months of the year are typically July & August. Morning temperature can reach 30 degrees by 10.30am. It can be quite uncomfortable so the timing of arrangements is very important. Many couples ask for a midday or early afternoon ceremony to make the most of their day. Though in the two hottest months of the year, this time of day may not be such a great idea if your heart is set on the outdoors.

Your wedding planner will always have your best interests in mind and will make suggestions so that everyone enjoys themselves rather than stressing on how to keep cool.

Having a chat to Ste about your wedding photography and the best conditions for shooting your wedding story is time well spent. Get in touch with Ste and he will help you with your photography needs.

In Italy, many venues suggest sitting down to the wedding meal around 7pm at the earliest. Any time before that can be just too darn’ hot.

We recognise couples go abroad for the weather and alfresco dining but it is also worth considering an aircon interior option for the high temperatures and then taking the party outside.

Communication & Not lost in Translation

If you are undertaking the planning of your wedding yourselves, it will not be uncommon to have quite big gaps in communication if you are planning in advance, the wedding industry in Italy tends to focus on what is happening in the current year.

Remember to check for the Italian public holidays when planning your Italian wedding as there are some that fall in April, May and June.

Phrasing, verbal and written. Therefore bear in mind there will always be difference in how we say things. Do not fall into the trap of colloquial phrasing in Google Translate.  Somethings just do not translate into Italian.

Requests for things that you may expect at a UK Wedding, may not always be met with enthusiasm. In Italy it may not be something that is normally carried out or it may be that the service is just not available.

Country or rural locations may not have the choice of supplier needed to meet a request so if your heart is set on something special then it could be more expensive than anticipated.

Venue Visits

Your research will soon reveal the area that most appeals. So you can get down to shortlisting possible reception venues.  You may know Italy very well or not at all but I strongly suggest visiting in person. Your own personal experience is going to be so valuable  to ensure that the venue you choose works for you.

Why not go for an accompanied venue visit with someone who knows the area?

You will get real time info on options for how your wedding day will flow. Also  how best to manage transport on the day and suggestions for pre and post wedding events.

Also all your questions will be answered in the moment.  It’s not as expensive as you think. We often do a day commute to the Amalfi Coast. It’s amazing what you can fit in when booked on an early flight!

Why not use the venue visit to organise a pre-wedding shoot with your photographer on location and you can choose that special image for a “Save-the-Date”.

Italy Wedding Venue

Your Destination wedding in Italy

In conclusion a destination wedding is an opportunity to do things your way. There is something to be said for leaving tradition behind if you want to.  Also do not feel you need to keep to a recognised format. Town Halls perform morning civil ceremonies. Not only does this give you a full wedding day to make the most of the location you can surprise guests. How about hosting your lunch time reception on a yacht sailing the Amalfi Coast?  Followed by formal or informal gathering in the evening.

That’s just the start!

Most of all the key is to embrace Italy!

If you would like a free consultation regarding your photography options or want to know why you should take a photographer with you please get in touch for a free consultation.

Thanks again to Accent Events Limited for providing some great content!

To find out more about the weddings you see above, check out the links below!

Lake Como Wedding Photographer

Tuscany Wedding Photographer