Advice for planning your wedding in Italy

Planning a wedding in Italy is an exciting idea but how do you do it?

So, you announce your engagement and decide that you want to have a fabulous Italian wedding.

Here are some simple steps and ideas that may give you a better idea of where to start and what to do next in the process of planning your wedding in Italy. This is not a comprehensive guide that covers everything you need to do but more an outline that will point you in the right direction.

  1. Choose a wedding date.
  2. It does not need to be exactly the date but an idea of which month/year you prefer helps. Having an idea of which month will also mean that you will then receive the correct seasonal prices from venues and suppliers. Holidays, school term times, annual leave, the weather and other factors may influence your wedding date selection.

  3. Define a wedding budget.
  4. How much money do you have to spend on your wedding in Italy? Talk to your partner and families and figure out a maximum amount that you can spend on your dream wedding in Italy.

    You should also discuss what you are going to pay for. Are you going to pay for the accommodation for all your guests or just some of them. Some people decide to subsidise it, basically, they put some money towards it and this means that the guests pay less. In general, most people pay for the venue and locations for the wedding as well as the food, drinks, entertainment and other things on each day of their wedding festivities. The guests pay for their own accommodation, flights, and transport. There are of course exceptions to this, for example some people rent a villa where they stay with their immediate family and then the other guests sort out their own accommodation.

    If you are having difficulty with this part you can read this article about how to budget your wedding.

    Once you have a maximum budget create a spreadsheet or some method of tracking and recording expenses. You can also add other pages to your spreadsheet to keep track of the guest list, service providers and so on.

    lovely al fresco dining in coutyard at Castello di Vincigliata

    Castello di Vincigliata weddings

  5. Decide who you want to invite?
  6. It’s important to do this early as you will have difficulty choosing a venue if you don’t know how many people it needs to accommodate. Make a list. Start with the people that you MUST invite. Then add the people you SHOULD invite. Finally, add to the list those that it would be nice to invite them too. You should also consider if you are going to invite children.

    My experience is that most couples think people won’t come to a destination wedding. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. If you invite 100 people most of the time they will all come. You are not having a normal wedding where people consider it an inconvenience and are just concerned about when they can go home or back to work. You are inviting people abroad to your wedding, basically, you are giving them an excuse to take a holiday. On one or two days they are going to have a party and celebrate with you and enjoy lovely Italian food and wine… for sure people will want to come to your Italian wedding!

    You will be able to start making a list quickly as many people such as immediate family and best friends are easy to include. You can also ring around and talk to some people to get an idea of their responses before officially sending out invites to everyone else.

  7. Decide what type of wedding you want.
  8. Do you want to have a religious wedding in a church, a civil wedding, or will you get married civilly back home to take care of the paperwork and then have a symbolic garden ceremony or similar? If you like the idea of a symbolic blessing ceremony then you might want to read this article about how to have a great symbolic wedding ceremony.

    It is important to decide this now as the type of wedding ceremony will influence the selection of the venue. Do you need a venue close to a church, does the venue have a church or chapel, is there a town hall nearby and what is the wedding room like. Are the gardens of the venue perfect for your sunset wedding ceremony?

  9. Choose and book your venue or venues.
  10. Now you have an idea of how many people may be attending your wedding and what sort of wedding ceremony you will have it is time to start the hunt for the perfect venue for your wedding in Italy. Choosing your wedding venue in Italy is often the hardest step. There are so many to choose from and many factors that will influence the choice of an Italian wedding venue.

    We know that the number of guests will influence your venue selection but you can also take into consideration the style of wedding you prefer, such as elegant, rustic, luxurious. Some people want to get married near the water and are driven to look at venues either by lakes or the seaside. Then there’s the location and accessibility, the price, type of wedding ceremony and other factors too.

    Some Italian wedding venues are great at replying to their emails and inquiries, others are not. Don’t be surprised if some are slow to respond or worse give no reply at all.

    Once you have received the quotations you then need to sort through the information try and make sense of it and then ask your questions. Make sure that the prices are clear, see what’s included and not and so on. Often these things are so much easier with a phone call but that requires an English speaking person on the other end or your ability to speak Italian.

    Choosing a venue is a critical step as venues are unique and irreplaceable items. What do I mean by this? The venue is likely a one of a kind, if you find a venue and fall in love with it, you will have a hard time finding a replacement should it not be available. If you are planning your wedding in Italy at a villa that’s a one of a kind and there are no dates available then you will be very disappointed and it will be hard to find an alternative.

    Some people also consider where their guests are coming from when choosing the venue. I personally think this is a mistake. It is your wedding and so do what you really want to do. This is a one-time deal, make it your dream. If people really love you they will come to your wedding wherever it is!

    Based on what month you are getting married in Italy you should also evaluate each venue considering what options are available in the eventuality of poor weather or rain on your wedding day. Some venues have indoor alternatives for ceremonies and reception spaces. If your venue does not have an indoor alternative the you will need to hire a tent/marquee so you should budget for this expense in a contingency plan. Organise your wedding with good weather in mind but be realistic and consider what will be required for plan B.

    So, once you have found the venue and chosen the date, book it. Pay the deposit and then get ready to start some serious Italian wedding planning.

    Castello di Velona at night time

    Castello di Velona wedding

  11. Book a photographer.
  12. Once you have the venue sorted you should book your wedding photographer. The wedding photographer is another aspect of your Italian wedding that is unique. If you love one photographer’s work so much that any other photographers work just won’t do then you should also check that photographer availability at the same time as you are researching and booking the venue.

    Your perfect venue or photographer are key aspects of your wedding. After all, a caterer does the food and drink, if one is not available it is probably not the end of the world and you can easily find another to do the same menu. Likewise, if your florist falls through you can most likely find a good alternative. If you lose your venue or photographer you will have a much harder time moving on and finding a replacement.

  13. Book a videographer.
  14. If you feel the same way about video as you do about the photos then you should book them early to assure you get your dream videographer. If a video is a nice idea for you but not essential then you can leave it to the end and see what money is left in the budget when all other essentials are sorted.

  15. Choose your bridal party.
  16. How many bridesmaids will you have?. How many best men? Will there be a maid of honour and best man?

  17. Go wedding dress shopping.
  18. Choosing a wedding dress is not as easy as it may seem. You may like certain styles and you may know what looks good on you in everyday life but trying on a wedding dress can be a surprise and you may well change your mind about styles after you have tried a few on. Don’t choose your wedding dress because you are trying to please your mom, your sisters, or your bridesmaids. Take with you someone whose taste you totally trust! Buy shoes and accessories too!

    Once you have selected a wedding dress you can then style and shop for the bridesmaids.

  19. Groom and bestman/men’s attire.
  20. Time to find the perfect suit or black tie! Buy shoes and accessories too.

  21. Send out the invitations.
  22. Now you know the date and location of the wedding you can send out the invitations. Once the invites have all been delivered you can RSVP everyone. Seeing as you are having a destination wedding don’t be afraid to send out invitations nice and early and ask people to RSVP with plenty of time to spare.

    When you order your invitations if you have a specific theme and style for the stationery then you may want to continue that theme through with the wedding programmes/orders of service, place holders and seating cards, table identifiers, menus, thank you cards and so on.

    If you have not yet decided the ceremony time you can leave this of the invites for now and inform people later. If you do want to include this then you should make sure you choose an appropriate time. I always advise my clients on their schedules, ceremony times and order of events for their wedding day.

    Kissing at sunset after wedding in Italy at Borgo Stomennano

    Borgo Stomennano wedding

  23. Organise your wedding ceremony in Italy.
  24. So you decide what type of ceremony you would like, either a religious ceremony in a church, a civil wedding in a town hall (or possibly outdoors), or a symbolic ceremony in a garden or similar.

    If you are having either a religious or civil wedding in Italy you need to start the procedure to complete the necessary documentation. For a religious wedding you will also need to consider the priest for your ceremony.

    If you choose a symbolic ceremony then you need to research, book, and organise the ceremony together with your chosen Italian wedding celebrant. Read this information about symbolic wedding ceremonies in Italy.

  25. Find a caterer.
  26. This can be a fun thing to do. Many people travel to Italy and then organize to have tastings with their caterers. You can try the food and wine and select the wedding menu. Normally you can also choose the cutlery, linens, glassware, tables, chairs and so on. Bear in mind caterers are usually very busy with events, site inspections, meetings with clients, food tastings and they tend to be slow to reply to your emails. Don’t choose a caterer over another only because one is faster to reply!

  27. Find a florist/event stylist.
  28. Get on the internet and look around. Photographers websites and Pinterest are a great source of inspiration. You can create a theme or mood board on Pinterest. You can then share this with your florist and they can give you a quotation and some styling ideas as well.

  29. Lighting.
  30. Depending on the location you have chosen you may require extra lighting as it could be dark outside or you may want lighting as part of your design and decor, lighting is an essential part of creating an atmosphere. Good lighting will also help the photographer get better results.

  31. Hair and makeup.
  32. If you are visiting Italy for a tasting with a caterer you can also organise a trial with the hair and makeup artist. By having a trial it will remove all the stress on the day. Once the stylist has finished your trial and you are satisfied with the hair style and makeup you can take photos of it. You can then show them these pictures as a reminder in the weeks before your wedding and they will reproduce the look for you on the day.

    Good hair and makeup are really important for the photos so I suggest you read this article about hair and makeup for your Italian wedding.

    You may also want hair and makeup styling for your bridal party and maybe even some guests. If so, you need to work out the number of people who need styling and the time it takes for each person to be styled.Then, based on this make sure the person you are hiring has enough assistants to be able to prepare everyone to schedule.

    Couple at sunset standing in flowers after their wedding in Italy

    Castello di Casole wedding

  33. Musicians and entertainment.
  34. Music is an important part of the atmosphere for your event. There are many choices, pretty much everything is available. Get in touch with bands and Dj’s and see their costs, repertoires, and availability. Ask them about the mandatory tax you have to pay to the Italian authorities to be play music to an audience, this is called SIAE Tax.

  35. Wedding Cake.
  36. Some catering companies offer a traditional Italian wedding cake included in their menu others do not. Some caterers also offer the possibility for the Italian wedding cake to be made by the chef in front of your guests. This can be a nice little bit of entertainment at the end of your wedding reception. If you want a more elaborate wedding cake or a more traditional western wedding cake then there are cake designers available to style your cake. Make sure you coordinate with your floral designer in order to have a nice display of flowers and candles for your cake and cutting the cake.

  37. Develop a schedule for your wedding in Italy and the event.
  38. This is an important part of the event. Yes, you can develop timelines for the months and weeks leading up to the wedding. You can also develop separate timelines for the suppliers so they know when and where they need to be and what they need to do. But the schedule I am talking about is the wedding day schedule that you will need to follow. You need a schedule that tells you when you need to start getting ready, when you need to leave, when the ceremony is, when the drinks start and what time dinner and other events will take place. This is your game plan for the day! If you are working with me I will guide you on your ideal schedule of events.

  39. Transportation.
  40. If your wedding involves multiple locations such as a church wedding in Florence and then a villa outside Florence you will need to consider transportation for the guests.

  41. Create a seating plan for the ceremony.
  42. You might like to reserve seating for your families in the front rows and clarify who is sitting where.

  43. Create a seating plan for the reception.
  44. This can be a difficult one to do! Figure out who is going to sit where and next to whom. You also need to consider if there are going to be any speeches. Normally the people speaking are on the head table and when they speak they should not give the backs to anyone.

  45. Go ring shopping for the wedding bands.
  46. Find the wedding rings and allow time for them to be resized and engraved if required/desired.

  47. Get other wedding accessories.
  48. You may want a guest book, ring cushion, appropriate pen for signing, wedding favors etc.

Don’t forget you need to get your wedding in Italy, so book your flights and travel arrangements early too. Well, I can go on and on with things you need to do but that’s not the point. Hopefully, you can expand upon these ideas and develop them into a great strategy for planning your wedding in Italy.

walking in the grass in Tuscany after a wedding in Italy at La Foce

Elegant La Foce wedding

But what about hiring a wedding planner in Italy?

This article is intended for people that want to plan their own wedding, for people that like to be hands on and get involved in the process. If you don’t have time to do the planning then you will want to engage the services of a professional Italian wedding planner.

If you would like some recommendations for a good Italian wedding planner then get in touch via the form below and one of my team will give you some suggestions.

Hopefully having read this it will trigger a few ideas that will help you on your way towards organising your own wedding in Italy. It points out some of the basic steps, but in reality, planning a wedding in Italy involves a lot more. However, don’t be discouraged from your dream of getting married in Italy. Thousands of couples from all over the world have their destinations weddings in Italy so you can too!

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Jules Bower

Italian and destination wedding photographer Jules Bower photographs weddings in Italy, Europe and worldwide. His unique approach and expertise arrive from not only an obsession with photography but also because he owned one of the first and most successful wedding planning agencies in Italy.