Every bride wants her wedding to be perfect. The perfect dress, the perfect venue, the perfect food all come together on the day that she gets to marry her (almost) perfect man. Some brides want a destination wedding. This is less complicated when you are traveling to a place like the Caribbean where weddings have become a booming industry. When you marry in Europe or Asia, for example, more planning is needed. DIVINE Editor-in-Chief, Caroline Elie, recently got married in Tuscany and it was breath-taking. She gave us her tips for planning a wedding in beautiful Italy.
Why did you choose Italy for your destination wedding?
We chose Italy because my husband is Italian and he has a lot of family there. We were heartbroken that most of his family wouldn’t be able to come to Montreal to celebrate with us, so that made the decision to have the wedding in Tuscany easy for us. I am also not the type of person who wants to do things the way that everyone else does. I wanted my wedding to be different. We felt lucky because my family and some of my closest friends made the trip over. It was so special to have people around us who were willing to make the trip.
How did you select the venue?
I went to Italy on a press trip and was able to extend the trip by a couple of days. My husband’s cousin came with me to 6 different venues. It was a bit difficult, because I had to make the decision quickly – I didn’t have a lot of time at each place. When I saw my venue, I knew it was perfect. There was even a little church on site.
What challenges did you encounter planning from a distance?
The biggest challenge was getting the license. There was a lot of paperwork and we had to go to the Italian Consulate. The other challenge was the time difference. With a 6 hour time difference, we had to do a lot of very early morning calls. The language was not an issue – I speak and read Italian and my husband is fluent. If you are not fluent or do not have a working knowledge, that may be challenging.
What was your process in selecting the vendors?
I found an amazing website, . It lists all of the vendors that I needed for the wedding in one place. I found everything that I needed there. Budgets were a really important consideration since this was a destination wedding, we needed to manage the costs. If vendors wouldn’t negotiate with us, we automatically eliminated them as an option. If they were more open, and would work with us and suggest different budget options, we knew that they were a good fit.
Were their any costs that you didn’t consider?
Yes, there were a lot. It’s the same in Italy as it is here, in Montreal. You have to rent chairs, dishes, cutlery and a dance floor. Nothing is just included in the price. Every bride should buffer the budget because there are always going to be costs that come up that you may not have considered.
What advice would you give to brides if they decide to get married in Italy?
Do your research about each region of Italy. Each region has different characteristics, different food, different wine and even the language may be different. For example, there are parts of Italy where you can’t even get pasta – it’s just not part of their regional dishes. Choose the location based on the vibe that you are trying to create with your wedding. You should embrace the culture – that is why you are doing a destination wedding. You should get married incorporating the customs of the region that you select. That will make your wedding truly special. Finally, I would tell them to start getting the paperwork together for the license as early as possible. It is a lengthy process and you don’t want to save it to the last minute.
Did you select your wedding dress based on the location? Did you have any issues transporting it?
I got married in my dream dress. I knew that as soon as I saw it. It fit with the theme and the destination, but when I bought it, I didn’t even consider any of those factors. It just happened to fit. When you choose your dress, choose what feels right, don’t just pick something because you feel like it fits your theme.
Transporting the dress was so easy! We flew Air Transat and told them ahead of time that we were going to Italy to get married. They were so accommodating – they held my dress in a special compartment in the plane so that it wouldn’t get crushed. Make sure that you alert the airline ahead of time though.
Finally, what was the best part about getting married abroad?
Aside from the beautiful destination and having something that was uniquely our own, it also gave us a lot of time to spend with our family and friends. We had two full days with them before the wedding and were able to spend quality time with them and really enjoy their company.