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The ultimate guide to planning a wedding in Italy
I’ve been wanting to write this guide to planning a wedding in Italy since, well, I was planning my own wedding in Italy, but I was, errr, a little busy…planning my wedding.
As with all things, I’m writing this based on my own experience of getting married in Italy and going to Italian weddings. Just keep in mind that there’s flexibility and wiggle room and so much depends on couples and budgets and locations, so not all of the information applies in every single situation.
That said, things are generally done a particular way in Italy, as they are in every culture. If you want to incorporate some elements from your family and culture, fear not! We found service providers who understood our vision for our special day, and man, did they come through.
In case you’re new here, I’m American, and my husband is Australian, but we live in Rome. When the time came to start planning our big day, we decided that we wanted to incorporate some elements from traditional Italian weddings, but some from our own cultures, too. What this boils down to, as you’ll see below, is that we wanted a traditional Italian multi-course meal, but not one that took up the entire length of the reception, as is often the case at Italian weddings. We wanted our guests to meet and mingle before dinner, and then we wanted a nice, long dance party!
The people we hired created the exact atmosphere we wanted – an evening celebration that was elegant but informal. Every bite was delicious, every petal was perfectly placed, and every moment seemed too short. We were both walking on air that night, surrounded by candles, twinkling lights, and so, so many of our favorite people. I’ve never felt more special or loved.
I want to help you have the same experience, so I hope this guide is helpful if you’re planning your dream wedding in Italy!
As always, feel free to get in touch via the comments, email, or social media, and I’ll do my very best to answer your questions.
Ready to plan your dream wedding in Italy? Andiamo!
By all means, fill your “Italian dream wedding” Pinterest board with ideas, start shopping for your dress, and try to decide which beautiful part of Italy will make the perfect backdrop for your special day, but don’t forget the practical stuff! The sooner you get it all sorted out, the sooner you can get back to Pinterest.
Setting your budget early is a big help. You’ll know more or less what you can and can’t afford, and it will help you to set your priorities. You can also let your wedding planner or caterers know what it is up front, which will save you lots of time.
I wish we had done this earlier. We didn’t really talk about it until after we had started contacting service providers, and it would have been really helpful to know what we were working with beforehand!
If you can build in a cushion for unexpected costs, do so. You can spend whatever’s left on your honeymoon.
Your guest list
Along with your budget, you’ll need to know how many guests you’re inviting, and how many you’re actually expecting. Space can be limited at wedding venues in Italy – more on that below.
In general, lots of people won’t be able to make a destination wedding, and we even had some last-minute cancellations in the week leading up to our big day. That said, we benefited from the post-lockdown travel frenzy, so we had a lot of guests who were dying to take a vacation anyway!
I’d recommend sending a save the date as early as possible, and once you’ve firmed up the details, send the invitation, too. We sent our invitations via email and had our guests RSVP on our wedding website, so we didn’t have to wait for people to get our cards in the mail and then send back the RSVPs. Highly recommended!
Hiring a wedding planner
I’ll go into this a bit more below, but having a wedding planner, especially if you’re arranging everything from overseas or don’t speak Italian, is pretty much essential.
I live here and speak Italian, so we didn’t hire a wedding planner, but I wish we had. I think it would have taken away a lot of the stress of planning.
Finding service providers if you don’t speak Italian
First things first, like I just said above, if you don’t speak Italian and/or do not live in Italy, I don’t see how you’ll be able to plan a wedding in Italy without hiring a local wedding planner.
Again, I didn’t work with one (see my note below on things I wish I had done – spoiler alert – it’s number one), so I don’t have any personal recommendations, but I’m sure there are lots of excellent ones out there who will make it much easier for you to plan the Italian wedding of your dreams from overseas and/or as a non-Italian speaker.
Finding service providers if you do speak Italian
If you’re an Italian speaker, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend, Matrimonio.com. You can read reviews, request information, and even get ballpark figures on the cost of various services.
Even if you do get a wedding planner (again, highly recommended), you can still browse vendors on Matrimonio.com to get an idea of what’s available, what price points are for certain services, and have your planner contact anyone that you’re interested in.
Either you or your wedding planner will contact service providers to explain what you’re looking for. I found that being as direct as possible worked best – I’m looking for “x, y, z and this is my budget” yielded much better results than just requesting information.
Most of the service providers we requested information from were willing to have a video call or meeting after we sent an initial email. The outcome of the second contact, whether it was a call or meeting, we would receive a proposta.
Getting a proposta
The first step to actually booking a service is getting a proposta, or proposal. This is a document in which the business will indicate exactly what they’re offering and the price with the relevant taxes included.
Note: Most proposte have an expiration date. You generally have a week to decide if you’re going to book or not.
Accepting a proposta
Once you’ve decided what to do, you’ll have to accept the proposta by signing a contract and sending an initial deposit. This varies between providers, but the percentages and their due dates will be indicated in the contract.
Now let’s get to the fun part – the party!
The venue: things to think about
Location, location, location
There are TONS of gorgeous locations to get married in Italy, but some of them aren’t easily accessible – i.e. you’ll need people to rent cars or to organize a shuttle service.
For example, we really liked Le Sette Fonti outside of Rome, but the expense of organizing transportation for everyone was outside of our budget.
Another reason why we didn’t book Le Sette Fonti was because they only had one room – a bridal suite for the couple. Our guests would have had to get all the way back to Rome, which would have cut the party short.
Many venues in Italy can comfortably only seat a small number of people. We loved Merumalia in Frascati, but they didn’t have enough space for the number of guests we were expecting. If you’re having a smaller wedding, check it out!
We also loved the Hoxton Hotel in Rome, but again, they could only seat 80 guests at the time (they’ve since opened a restaurant, so you’d have to check what the capacity is now). If you’re looking for a chic spot to have a reception, take a look.
I never really think about parking because I don’t drive in Rome, but of course, it’s something to consider if you’re going to have guests arrive at your wedding by car. Make sure that the venue has either a parking lot or abundant street parking.
Typical wedding venues in Italy if you’re planning a small wedding
Some restaurants in Italy host wedding receptions, which can be ideal if you have a few dozen guests or less.
Agriturismi are essentially working farms with accommodation that range from rustic to luxurious. If you don’t want a city wedding and have a small guest list, an agriturismo would be an excellent option for you!
You can probably count on excellent food at an agriturismo, given the fact that they serve what they grow/raise.
If you want people to be able to spend the night at the venue, you’ll have to find an agriturismo that has enough rooms, or is perhaps close to other accommodation.
Typical wedding venues in Italy if you’re planning a medium or large wedding
Having your wedding reception in a villa is traditional and classic. Lots of times, these venues are located on the outskirts of town, so keep that in mind for transportation.
There are also multipurpose event venues to rent. We really liked the Officine Farneto in Rome, a converted ceramic factory with a post-industrial look.
I think it’s fair to say that the food is at the center of Italian weddings. Like I mentioned above, in my experience, weddings can consist of an hours-long meal and little or no dancing (more on that below).
One of the cool things about caterers in Italy is that they handle more than just the food – place settings, tables and chairs, and the cake are generally under their purview, too!
So, since the meal is really the star of the show at Italian weddings (second to the bride and groom, of course), lots of thought goes into the number of courses and the menu. In some families, it’s important to treat guests to expensive things like seafood, otherwise you risk making a bad impression, or una brutta figura!
Like I said in the intro, Jeremy and I were in agreement that while we of course wanted the food to be stellar and for everyone to enjoy the meal, we also wanted our guests to mingle. It was the first time that people from so many different chapters of our lives – both separate and together – were going to meet, so we didn’t want them seated for hours. And we wanted to dance!
We ended up going with Magnolia Eventi (see my love letter to them below) because they understood exactly what we wanted – a nice long aperitivo for people to chat, have a few drinks and snacks, and just enjoy the beautiful venue, followed by a meal of ONE first course and ONE second course, a small cake and a big dessert buffet with an open bar for the dancing.
Let’s break each element of the meal down so you can get an idea of what to expect.
The meal at an Italian wedding
If I’m being honest, I don’t actually know how the whole catering thing works in the US. I always thought that you set up tastings with several caterers before deciding who to go with, but I’m not actually sure that’s the case.
Anyway, what happened here was that we got a proposta from Magnolia after we found them on Matrimonio.com, liked what we saw, contacted them via email and then had a video call. The cost of the tasting was included in the proposta. We decided to work with them before we actually did the tasting, and luckily, the only issue that had with them that we had trouble deciding what to serve because everything was so delicious.
I’m not sure if this is offered at all weddings, but it was at ours. Essentially, it’s a quick drink and a few small bites to kick off the reception.
Jeremy and I initially wanted the welcome drink served immediately as people arrived at the venue, but Magnolia said it would be better to serve it after the ceremony. Their rationale was that it would be difficult to get people to move to the area where we were having the ceremony if there were drinks and nibbles to be had elsewhere. We figured they knew better than we did, so we did it their way, and it all worked out perfectly.
The antipasto buffet at an Italian wedding is something to behold. Fritti, seafood and charcuterie are piled high, and sometimes, there are hot passed apps being brought around, too.
This is perhaps a bit of a weird tip, but bees are attracted to cold cuts – something my friends and I discovered at an outdoor aperitivo on a hot summer night – so if you want your antipasti to be bee free, ask for cloches, or perhaps have the buffet inside.
You can work with your caterers to determine what will be served. We decided to opt out of the raw seafood buffet that is commonly available, but like I said above, at many Italian weddings, the seafood buffet is a critical piece of this stage of the meal.
I went to a wedding in southern Italy at which the antipasti were served once we were seated, so this is an option too. We had fritti with our welcome drinks to start, and then a few small plates of delicious seafood apps at the table.
The first course – il primo piatto
Once your guests have had their fill of antipasti, the meal will proceed with the first course, il primo piatto in Italian. This is the pasta or risotto course. And yes – there might be multiple served – at another Italian wedding I went to, we had both risotto and pasta!
The second course – il secondo piatto
Full yet? I hope not! The protein is about to arrive! Meat, fish, or a vegetarian option will be served next. I’ve not attended a wedding at which more than one secondo piatto is served, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
One of the great things about getting married in Italy is that, as I mentioned above, the caterers handle the cake – or at least, that’s how it worked for us. I was happy about this – one less vendor to find and one less meeting to have suited me just fine. At many Italian weddings, the cake will be a millefoglie, but our caterers offered “American” style cakes with layers, which I was happy about, too.
After the cake comes the dessert buffet. Ours consisted of whole cakes and pies, bite-sized mignons and cookies. It was gorgeous! I only had one bite of the wedding cake and then started dancing, but guests have assured me that it was all excellent. There will also be amari, limoncello and other digestivi available.
Wine with the meal
Another great thing about caterers in Italy is that the wine that is served with dinner is included in the cost of the meal. We tasted the wines when we sampled our caterer’s menu and chose the three we liked the best (a prosecco for the aperitivo, a white for the first course, and a red for the second).
Once the dancing started at our wedding, the open bar started too. I suppose you could have the open bar going from the start, but we decided to have it run when the caterers suggested, which was when the party got going.
The affordability of the open bar just about bowled us over. When we were thinking of getting married in the US, the cheapest option we found was $75 a head, but ours came to just E 22 per guest, and the cocktails were unique and made with top-shelf booze.
Other dinner format options
One of the things a lot of caterers offered was a style of meal with different stations (“corner” in Italian) where staff are either serving food or even performing “show cooking”.
We considered this option, too – some of the caterers we met with offered fresh mozzarella making stations or hanging cheese that was melted onto various items, whole legs of prosciutto being sliced, barbecues and a whole host of other options.
For more on traditional meals in Italy, check out my post on the Italian meal structure.
Hair and makeup
If you’re coming from overseas, you might not have time to do a hair and makeup trial before your wedding, but if you contact someone early enough, it just might work out!
I can highly recommend my hair stylist Jill at Element Salon in Rome, and the makeup artist that she works with, Muna. They listened to what I wanted and made me feel like a movie star on the day.
This is something that the wedding planner might be able to help you with, or maybe a hotel, but I’d highly recommend bringing a hand-held steamer just in case. Make sure you have the appropriate adaptor!
I rush ordered one a few days before the wedding, and I’m so glad I did. Me and my best women steamed our dresses the morning of the big day, and we were good to go.
Jeremy and I talked about certain areas where we thought we could save money, and we decided that flowers was one of them. I wanted a bouquet for myself and my sister and best friend, who were my co-best women, but we kept the centerpieces extremely simple – just some greenery and candles. I was obsessed with how they came out.
If you want something elaborate and have a big budget for flowers, don’t worry – you can get huge, jaw-dropping arrangements too.
If there is one sore spot that I have about our wedding, it is the DJ. We were assured that he would do certain things, specifically make a microphone available for speeches and take requests, and he didn’t do either of them.
He was extremely hard to get a hold of, and we actually weren’t able to have a conversation with him prior to the day – we only corresponded with his “assistant”. This was a big mistake. In retrospect, we should have just let him go, lost our deposit, and hired someone else who we could actually communicate with before the wedding.
To make a long story short, we didn’t have speeches because he wouldn’t let our bridal party use the microphone, and he didn’t play our requests, most importantly the first dance and our dance with our parents. I suppose I could have asked him to stop his playlist and put on the songs we had asked to dance to, but frankly, I was so exhausted that I just didn’t have the energy.
I was so looking forward to the dancing at our wedding. We even collected song requests from our guests and compiled them into a list that he didn’t end up playing. BOO! Anyway, it was still a dream wrapped in a fantasy floating on a cloud and I wouldn’t trade it, but I would go back in time, dip that DJ into a vat of eels and then fire him if I could.
The moral of this story is: Make sure you can actually communicate with whoever you hire before the actual wedding day so that you are clear about your expectations and about what they’re willing/able to do. And if they don’t do what you agree upon, don’t pay them. I was too afraid to complain to the company we hired him from for fear of being perceived as a “Bridezilla” or a Karen (lovely how these labels are specifically female, isn’t it?) that I just let it go. Don’t make the same mistake!
I didn’t know where to start when looking for a photographer, but as luck would have it, I was invited to a restaurant opening a few months before the wedding, and I was randomly seated next to another blogger who was planning her wedding, and she passed me a few names.
We ended up going with one of her suggestions, Matteo Genovese, and the photos are amazing. I’ll talk more about him and his team below, but one important thing to note here is that I noticed a trend among all the photographers we considered/spoke with, which is that they mostly shoot candids. Rather than a series of stiff, posed photos, they try to capture moments authentically, as they unfold across the event. Many shy away from Photoshop, too.
I was hesitant, but when I saw Matteo’s portfolio, I fell in love with the style. Like I said, we’re obsessed with our photos and the moments that Matteo and his team captured in them.
So, you might fall in love with a venue that’s a bit out of the way, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it! What it does mean is that you’ll have to organize transportation.
Even if your wedding venue is in a city, you might want to consider getting some shuttles, at least for the end of the night. I’ll touch on this again below under the “What I wish I would have done/known” list, but our wedding night happened to be the same night of a massive concert of a huge rock star in Circo Massimo. Our guests couldn’t get taxis or Ubers for literal hours, and it became a headache for Jeremy and I trying to help everyone get home. Along with going back in time to drop the DJ into a vat of eels, I would also have booked a van to do runs back into the city center, starting from about 10pm until the end of the night (which for us was 1am).
Regardless of whether or not you’re organizing transportation for others, you’ll need to get yourself to the venue!
One “Italy fantasy wedding” thing I wish we had done was to arrive in a Fiat 500. If you want to do the same, contact Rome 500 tour, which has great rates and offers exactly the service we wanted – transportation and time for photos!
If part of your Italian dream wedding is going to happen outside, you’ll have to take the weather into consideration. We didn’t do this until very late, given that there was a drought during the summer of 2022, but in the end, we decided to book one.
The tent we got was Bedouin style, and it was so much more beautiful than normal tents. It looked like clouds billowing overhead, and we were beyond happy with it. We got an excellent price, and it was really more beautiful than I could have imagined.
With regards to your budget, note that tents are EXPENSIVE. We had turned a couple of indoor venues down because of the cost, but frankly, we ended up spending almost the same amount between the venue rental and the tent in the end.
Getting married in Italy
If you’re considering getting married in Italy, as in, legally tying the knot here, but you don’t live here, I highly encourage you to rethink your decision.
My husband and I were both residents in Rome when we got married, and even then, it was difficult to get all of the paperwork we needed and to schedule the ceremony.
If you can get married in your home country, just a quick, legal binding of your marriage, I say do it. Many people I know who have gotten married here that were not marrying an Italian did it that way. It’s way less of a headache.
Because my husband and I are from different countries, we had to refer to our embassy’s websites to determine exactly what we needed to do. He is Australian and I’m American (I hadn’t yet gotten my Italian citizenship at that point, but I have it now).
If you’re American, the US Embassy’s website has a detailed list of what you’ll need, but I’ll summarize it below just to give you an idea:
La dichiarazione giurata
To obtain this, you have to go to the embassy or consulate in Italy and have the form notarized by a US consular officer that is accredited in Italy. On the form, you swear that there is no legal impediment to your marriage “according to the laws of the US state in which you are a resident.”
This form then has to be authenticated by a clerk at the Ufficio Legalizzazioni at the Prefettura that’s in the same jurisdiction where you obtained it. You will need to bring a marca da bollo, or revenue stamp, for 16 euro.
This is another declaration that there is no impediment to your marriage, but this one has to be witnessed by two people.
According to the US Embassy’s guidance on getting married in Italy:
“If you are coming to Italy to be married, you should obtain this declaration at the nearest Italian Embassy or Consulate before leaving the United States, as some courts may have long waiting lists for this service. If you decide to request the Atto Notorio in Italy, you should contact the Notary Services Office (Ufficio Atti Notori) of the court (tribunale ordinario) having jurisdiction over the city where you intend to marry, or any other court in Italy, and make an appointment in advance.”
Note that, if you and/or your spouse or witnesses do not speak Italian, you have to bring an interpreter.
To get the Atto Notorio, you will need two revenue stamps of €16 each and one of €10,62. The standard pickup time is 4-10 days. For an Atto Notorio issued on the spot, you will still need the two revenue stamps of €16 each, but the third will need to be for €31,86.
Reminder – check the guidance prior to purchasing these revenue stamps in case the prices change!
Dichiarazione di matrimonio
Once you’ve gotten the other forms issued and sworn and signed and you have spent all your savings on revenue stamps, you can go to the Ufficio Matrimoni and officially declare your intention to marry in front of a civil registrar.
Once this is done, you can set your wedding date.
Note that, once the Declaration to Marry has been filed, the marriage has to be publicly announced for two weeks if either party is a resident of Italy. If neither is, this waiting period is generally waived or shortened, but it depends on the comune where you’re getting married.
Having a civil ceremony in Italy
A civil ceremony will be performed by the mayor or one of the mayor’s deputies. You must have two witnesses present and an interpreter if you, your spouse or the witnesses do not speak Italian.
You have to rent a marriage hall, which can vary in price greatly depending on the time of year.
Having a religious ceremony
According to the US Embassy’s website, the only type of religious ceremony that is also legally binding in Italy is a Roman Catholic one. Any other type of religious ceremony will require a civil ceremony beforehand.
Does this sound like fun? I promise you, it’s not! My advice is to just get married ahead of time at home and then do the fun stuff in Italy!
Italian wedding traditions
It is not common in Italy to have a large bridal party in which everyone wears matching or coordinated outfits. Generally, each person will have one or two testimoni, or witnesses, and that’s it.
You can, of course, do whatever you want. Jeremy and I decided to cap our party at two each, but we did ask them to wear matching clothing.
Note that an Italian friend recently told me that her daughter was in a wedding here in Italy that had a large bridal party and that the women wore matching dresses, so perhaps it’s catching on.
At Italian weddings, baptisms, and other celebrations, you’ll generally be given a little box or container of Jordan almonds. At weddings, they are believed to symbolize fertility, health, longevity, happiness, and wealth.
Given the fact that our wedding had mostly international guests since we’re both from overseas, and the fact that we had a couple of people coming who have serious nut allergies, we decided to skip them.
When I told my caterers that I didn’t want confetti, they were taken aback a bit, but eventually let it go.
The bomboniera is a little gift that’s given to guests in addition to the confetti.
We gave out little Rome-themed candle holders and magnets that we ordered from Italian craftspeople on Etsy.
Another cute idea that we considered was giving out little bottles of olive oil or wine, or perhaps little ceramic cups or ornaments.
Length of the meal
Like I said above, the meal is the most important and lengthiest part of an Italian wedding. Again, we worked with our caterers to get it down to what we thought was a reasonable amount of food and a reasonable amount of time (~90 minutes).
If you want to go full on Italian, let your guests know so that they can dress accordingly to accommodate their inevitably expanded bellies. I once had to remove my Spanx and store them discreetly in my purse at an Italian wedding. The food is no joke.
We did our wedding paperwork ahead of time, so we had a rito simbolico (symbolic ceremony) in front of our loved ones, which meant that we could have a dear friend carry it out and we didn’t have to coordinate or pay for the involvement of an officiant from the Comune di Roma.
If you get married before coming to Italy, you can consider having a friend or family member do your ceremony too. It doesn’t have to be legally binding, because that part will have already been taken care of.
Dancing at Italian weddings
The dancing is more of an afterthought at Italian weddings, again, just in my experience, although it surely depends on the couple.
We told our caterers that we wanted to keep the meal to 90 minutes to allow for plenty of dancing, and we worked out a plan that we were happy with.
I’ve only been to a few weddings in Italy, so it’s possible that some people have a first dance, but in general, there’s isn’t one, and there aren’t any special dances with family members or anything like that, because, like I said, the meal is the focus of the day, and it generally takes several hours to get through.
Cost of a wedding in Italy
It would be great to be able to generalize here for you, but honestly, it’ll depend completely on your budget and taste. Here’s some information that might be helpful.
Certain things are cheaper
Like I said above, we were shocked at how affordable the open bar was, and we were also surprised by how much cheaper the flowers were than we thought they’d be.
We also decided to not spend a lot of money on transportation, instead booking a private car service for ourselves and our families rather than luxury vehicles or the Fiat 500 of my dreams.
Budget for unexpected expenses
Like I said above, if there’s any way that you can set aside a few extra thousand bucks for unexpected expenses, I’d highly recommend it. This cushion will be super helpful when things crop up that you hadn’t counted on. For us, it was the tent.
Don’t forget to take your “look” expenses into account
I wish Jeremy and I had budgeted the cost of our outfits, as well as the other things I didn’t even think about.
I found that my “look” cost a lot more than his. My shoes, jewelry, makeup and hair, other accessories and nails all really added up.
Our spectacular, highly recommended service providers
If you want to use any of our service providers, please go right ahead! Other than DJ he-who-shall-not-be-named, I absolutely would recommend any of them in a heartbeat.
Oltre il Giardino – venue
The minute we walked into Oltre il Giardino, located off Appia Antica (the ancient Appian way), we knew we had found our venue. It’s close enough to get to from the city center, but it gives the impression that you’re in a secret garden in the countryside.
We loved the structure where the dancing would be, we loved the space for the ceremony, which was once a Roman basalt quarry and now looks like a kind of open air cathedral thanks to the umbrella pines that ring the edge, and we loved the sprawling lawn. The owner completely got what we had in mind for our wedding, and helped us with all kinds of decisions throughout the planning process. He also loves making cocktails and offers the stellar open bar service that I mentioned above!
Magnolia Eventi – catering
From top to bottom and beginning to end, the staff at Magnolia got us. They turned our ideas into reality during the most magical night of our lives.
What we weren’t expecting were all the little surprises they had for us. I get tears in my eyes when I think of what they did! We had casually mentioned that our parents would be meeting for the first time, so they set up a special table for them so that they could sit together during the aperitivo and put a “Reserved for the parents of the bride and groom” sign on it. They whisked Jeremy and I away to a hidden hillside while our guests got seated for dinner and served us a tray with all of the antipasti on it, along with a glass of prosecco, so that we could sit together for a few minutes and just take it all in. They set up a beautiful area for the cutting of the cake that was full of candles and twinkling lights.
Aside from all that, the food was delicious. Multiple guests told us that it was the best meal they had ever had at a wedding!
Matteo Genovese – photography
Ok, you may be sensing a pattern here, but I’m going to rave about our photographer, too! We went for the package that included two photographers, a videographer, and even a drone, and we are so happy that we did.
The day goes by SO FAST – you have to trust someone great to capture it all, especially the moments that you might have missed!
I sob when I watch our video or look at our photos. Matteo and his team took so many beautiful photos of us and our guests, and the two videos (one long and one short) surpassed my expectations by miles. I will treasure them for the rest of my days.
Bedouin Italia – tent
The tent also surpassed my expectations. It made the ambiance at once elegant and cozy, and shielded our evening from any sprinkles.
La Floreale di Stefania – flowers
Again, I wasn’t expecting to get my dream flowers, but I did. I sent Stefania some photos of what I liked, and she delivered and then some.
Element Salon Rome – hair and makeup
Jill (hair) and Muna (makeup) were so much fun to work with. Everytime I look at the pictures, I admire the curls Jill gave me and the way Muna knew how to make my eyes stand out. I highly recommend them to be your glam squad!
Make Nails and Beauty Studio – nails
I LOVED my nails. I kept them for weeks after the wedding, wishing that I could keep them forever. It took a long time for them to be done, because they HAND PAINTED EACH ONE, but omg, was it worth it. Many of the women working there speak English.
Jerelyn Creado – shoes
This isn’t Italy-specific, but I have to mention my wedding shoes. I can’t remember how I came across them, but I’m so glad I did. I am obsessed with them. They are the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever owned.
Not only are they aesthetically dreamy, I had to contact the company to get the right size, and it was the absolute best customer service experience I’ve ever had. The person I corresponded with was incredibly understanding and kind, and he even offered to ship me a sample size so that I could wear them to my dress fitting if the pair I had ordered wasn’t ready on time. Luckily, they were, so I could wear them around a bit before the big day.
I’d recommend Jerelyn Creado and their unique designs to anyone. I love how they gave my look a pop of color.
BHLDN – dress
Like the shoes, this one isn’t Italy-specific, but I had a great experience shopping for and purchasing my gown at BHLDN. I’d recommend them too.
Things I wish I had done/known before planning my wedding in Italy
Hired a wedding planner
I mentioned this above, but I’m mentioning it again, because I really wish we had done it. Making phone calls and appointments, sending deposits, following up with people, and actually deciding which service providers to go with is really exhausting, especially if you happen to have, like, a normal life that also involves other stressors.
2022 knocked me out emotionally and mentally, in large part because there were just so many extra things to think about because of the wedding. And I didn’t even have to do all of it alone, because Jeremy was really involved!
I think that a wedding planner would have really helped me to feel less overwhelmed, because presumably they make a lot of the calls and appointments, they arrange when payments are due and just take care of a lot of the logistics in general. If it’s in your budget, get one.
Decided our budget before requesting information from service providers
We really didn’t know where to start when we began planning our big day, so we got some names of caterers from friends and found some venues that we liked online, and they all turned out to be way over our budget. We wanted a nice evening, but we also didn’t want to blow our life savings.
If I could do it over again, I’d start on matrimonio.com and find vendors that advertised in our price range and contact them, indicating our budget in the initial email. This is what we ended up doing and it worked perfectly. I only wish we had done it sooner to avoid wasting all that time receiving those stratospheric proposte.
Vetted the DJ
I have perhaps dwelled on this enough above, but really, make sure you speak to whoever is doing the music beforehand and make a deal on exactly how the night will unfold. I can’t believe we didn’t get our first dance, and I didn’t get to dance with my dad (not officially, anyway, although we did cut a rug to other songs).
Again, I mentioned this above, but the night of our wedding, there was a massive rock concert that let out around the same time that our older guests started to get tired. We had a hell of a time finding taxis for them, so I really wish that we had had an hourly shuttle service back to the city center, starting around 10pm.
Trust me, you don’t want to be pulled away from your special night to find taxis for people.
Gotten more sleep
This cannot be understated. Do your very best to sleep well before your wedding, because if you don’t, you will get to your day a frazzled mess, like me. Everything went off without a hitch, luckily, but I was so tired that certain things were a bit of a blur. Especially the night before your wedding, try to get at least eight hours! Your mental and physical health will thank you.
Things that really helped
Awesome friends and family
Our friends and family were so supportive and helpful in the week leading up to the wedding, I don’t know how to thank them!
Our siblings and friends trooped around Rome, taking our parents and other family members on tours and making sure they were fed while we napped or ran errands. It was so helpful knowing that they were together sightseeing and having fun while we rested or took care of things.
Another friend went over to our venue early to set up with gifts and the seating chart – I don’t know what we would have done without her!
A wedding website
We made a free wedding website on the Knot and filled it with information not only about the wedding itself, but about Rome. If anyone asked for suggestions or tips, we directed them there. It’ll save you a lot of time, and your guests will have a great resource to consult while they’re planning their trip.
We asked our friends with kids if they wanted a babysitter at the wedding, and we got back a resounding, unanimous YES! We hired someone’s trusted nanny and set her up with crafts and games. The kids could come and go, hanging out with her and playing a bit and then eating or dancing with their parents. I think it worked out well for everyone! It certainly worked out well for me, because I got a pipe-cleaner bracelet and several little cards made by tiny hands.
This was such a good purchase – a friend of mine who studied fashion design recommended ordering it and I’m so glad she did. It meant I didn’t have to worry about getting my dress pressed, therefore taking one more thing off my very long to-do list! Test it out beforehand to make sure it works on whatever material your dress is made out of.
Jeremy and I did a first look for one main reason: we didn’t want to miss any of the reception! We decided to meet a few hours before the ceremony with our photographers and videographer in tow, and I’m SO GLAD we did!
The morning of the wedding was hectic. I took my family to brunch at Marigold, which was a dream, but we had to start getting ready early, so we couldn’t linger.
The hairdresser and makeup artists showed up around 11, and we were off. I was nervous about so many things – would the cars arrive on time? Would everyone be ready to go? Would the grass be wet? What if I couldn’t get my earrings in? Why didn’t I get contact lenses? What if I fall in my wedding dress and it gets all dirty? What if no one likes the food? And on and on and on.
My sister and best friend were with me, keeping me calm and entertained and refilling my prosecco upon request, but something was missing that morning, and I didn’t realize what it was until I climbed the stairs to the terrace on the rooftop of our building and saw Jeremy.
In all the preparations and exhaustion and excitement, I had kind of forgotten that it was our wedding day, and that all of this was to celebrate our love. When I saw him, my heart started to hum, and I was so glad we had those moments just the two of us (and our team of paparazzi) to hug each other and just take a deep breath together.
A few more tips for your wedding in Italy
Focus on the people that can come, not the ones who can’t
I said this above, but don’t be surprised if lots of people can’t come to your destination wedding in Italy. I was heartbroken that certain people couldn’t make it to ours, but that’s just the way it goes. Things come up, plans change, people get new jobs, people get pregnant, etc.
Luckily, some of my close friends had gotten married in Italy before me, and they both told me what I’m going to tell you: on the day, you’ll just focus on the people who are there, not the people who aren’t. I found this to be very true! Of course, I missed my family members that couldn’t come in particular, and I wished that they had been there, but I didn’t dwell. Instead, I focused on the people who were there, who had made the journey for our special day, and just focused on having a ball with them.
Have a friend to help with questions and trip planning
If you can delegate a friend to help with guests’ questions and trip planning, perhaps a friend who travels a lot or is very organized, do it. Our wedding website helped, but people will inevitably have questions that aren’t answered there. Responding to everyone individually will be time consuming!
If someone in your bridal party or another close friend can help with the logistics of helping guests find accommodation or flights, booking restaurants, tours and visits, do it. This friend will prove invaluable in the lead up to your big day.
Remember that it’s about you two
Jeremy and I were both surprised to find that we kind of forgot that it was our wedding. It sounds weird to say, but we were so focused on making sure people had fun, choosing food that everyone would enjoy, booking family dinners and planning a family trip for after the wedding that we forgot that it was our special day. I might have stressed less if I had remembered that!
Luckily, once we arrived at the venue, all of our worries melted away. Some guests had already arrived and they started clapping, and we just took in the scene of all these people that we loved standing there cheering for us. After hugs, we realized very quickly that our service providers had truly gone above and beyond to give us our dream wedding.
The ceremony was short and sweet, but it was so meaningful for both of us. The aperitivo was exactly what we wanted – people mingled, our parents and friends met, old friends saw each other for the first time since COVID, and new friendships were formed.
When we walked into the tent for dinner, everyone burst into applause again, and we felt like movie stars. The food was just as delicious as it was the day we tasted it. Even though the DJ is my sworn enemy for life, he did play several bangers that I had a blast dancing to.
After the night was over, the only thing I wished was that it had been longer! I hope your dream Italian wedding is the same!
Are you getting married in Italy? When and where? Share in the comments!