Getting Hitched Overseas: The Good, the Bad and the Tuscan
If you’ve ever thought about fleeing the confines of your hometown to get married in Italy, here are some reasons why you should do it and never look back.
As we all know, Italy is one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world – duh. But on the day my now-husband proposed, it was not where I imagined I would get married.
Back in the early 2010’s, we were both living in Vancouver, Canada – me, because I was born there and Mr. P because work had brought him there a decade earlier and – in his words – 6 weeks just turned into 10 years.
He’s from New Zealand, I bleed Red & White – Ancestry.com has been very clear that our love of cheese and wine have absolutely nothing to do with our DNA – but yet, on September 20th 2014, our nearest and dearest were all crowded into a town hall in Volterra, the oldest town in Tuscany, witnessing our I-dos.
Now look, I did not have a Wedding Book from childhood à la Monica Geller but I am a lady who imagined she’d have a wedding day so of course I’d done some preliminary prep work – the covert emails to restaurants you think would be great for a reception, before I’m even engaged (show me someone who hasn’t done that. I’ll wait), the casual draft of my ‘who would make the guest list’ and of course, the private Pinterest boards dripping in wedding dresses –come on, I’M NOT DEAD INSIDE.
But, I did not fancy myself the sort to conjure celebrity wedding vibes in lush Euro venues. It suggests opulence, indulgence and expense which is not me so, nope, a local wedding was on the cards.
But then, an encounter with a Tour Guide changed all that. During the middle of a Tuscan cycling trip just after getting engaged, our guide whispered in Mr. P’s ear we should consider Tuscany – and over a post-bike ride wine in the town of San Quirco we found ourselves considering it.
So if you’ve ever thought about fleeing the confines of your hometown get married in Italy, here are some of the reasons you should to do it and never look back.
It kept our inflated guest list down (and let us have quality time with the people we loved)
A local wedding can also equal a massive guest list – every childhood friend, work colleague, casual boyfriend of a friend can make a claim for getting on the list. Our personal rule was we wanted everyone in the wedding photos to be people we knew and loved a decade from now. So an easy way of keeping the drama out of the wedding was to fling it half way across the world and not in ‘everyone you knows’ backyard. We went from over 150 on our ‘local’ guest list to just 40 of our best people.
It made it surprisingly easy to plan (because we had a lot of help at destination)
I took pride in the idea of planning my own wedding but as soon as we had our eye on Italy, I knew I was out of my depth. Legalities, tricky Italian vendors, the dollar vs the Euro. A year and half before our wedding, we hired an absolute gem of a wedding planner.
Ben Singleton – Our Knight in Italian Armour
A no-nonsense Brit living in Italy, Ben from Italy Weddings, knew the good, bad and the …interesting…of navigating the bureaucracy of nuptials in Italy. He was a godsend and worth every European penny. We did not see the fruits our almost-2-year labour until the day we arrived at the Villa so to have that much trust in an expert on the ground was invaluable.
It can actually be more affordable.
This was our biggest hurdle, Italy “seems” expensive and it’s not secret a wedding has all the hallmarks to potentially be cash blowout.
Don’t get me wrong, you can make a wedding as expensive as you want – get those Louboutins to totter down the aisle in, throw down 12 courses, get life-size ice carvings of you both to look benevolently down at the reception!
But I’m here to tell you, you can throw a pretty sweet wedding that will leave people thinking you plumped up the cash when you really didn’t and all it takes is a shit load of manual labour – and no, I’m not kidding.
Here are a few examples of where we eschewed the ‘wedding tax’ of inflated matrimonial money traps and blazed our own path…
Just say No to Euro DJs
In what I can only describe as a wedding fever dream, I was sure if we hired a local DJ they would play covers of songs you know but in Italian, their multimedia would consist of a 4-lightbuld rotating lamp, they would OF COURSE put on the chicken dance and then leave the guests high and dry at the pumpkin-stroke of 1am or whenever the contract was signed for.
But instead, we spent hours, hours and more hours curating a playlist of our favourite songs in Spotify and listening and re-listening to that list for weeks leading up to the big day. It was truly a labour of love but every song meant something, it was free and years later the playlists still exist and the nostalgia is real.
We made our own Cocktail Hour, Dinner and Dancing lists and some of my favourite memories are, still, curling up in front of the computer with my man, drinking wine and excel spreadsheet-ing run times of songs while we played and re-played them to our hearts content.
We sourced our own booze for any additional events outside of the wedding.
We threw a welcome party, a theme party, rehearsal dinner and various informal events during the week.
Was I going to hire a caterer for all of them? No.
We took pride in hiring professionals for a few special events but for all other days we hoofed it to the local grocery store 18km away and bought 40 guests worth of booze in bulk. In fact, we had to do this multiple times but the cost saving was too enormous to overlook.
This actually lead to one of my husband’s all-time favourite stories to date. We had a strict $1000 budget for the first liquor run on the first day. We let ourselves loose in the aisle, giddy and blissed out, and filling our cart until it was heaping, not keeping track of cost or amount. Queue pushing it through the checkout (I still remember the looks on the cashier’s faces – it was A LOT of booze) and the bill comes to…
…a perfect $998 – and change!
We were either very lucky or we’re alcohol-buying savants and should immediately go to Vegas.
Trimming the guest list
As I said, this freed up some of our budget to hold an event for a week for 40 instead of one massive night for 150.
Money. Well. Spent.
After a few days in a Tuscan villa, all the guests were best friends which made for an intimate and love-filled wedding day. And god, the stories we still tell to this day! When you ensure there’s a never-ending flow of wine for 7 days and everyone one is in love with love because it’s a goddamn wedding in a villa on a Tuscan hilltop – hilarity, as the saying goes, does truly ensue.
You don’t plan on getting married, you say?
At least let me leave you with this – at its core our destination wedding was the culmination of our favourite humans, in a perfect place with so much food, so much wine and so much laughter that to this day I rarely go a week without revisiting an inside joke, a picture, a fleeting memory from that that time that makes me burn with happiness.
For one, it was one of the best & last really good times I had with my Dad while he was still healthy.
So matrimony be damned! Be the catalyst to get your clutch people together and vacation. Hard. And with much joy. And thank me later because everyone loves a vacation.
And I know a guy, who knows a guy in Italy if you ever need it.
Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir genti. xx