HOW TO HOST A ‘BELLISSIMO’ WEDDING IN ITALY!
When you think of the word Bellissimo it conjures up images of beauty and timeless charm. And that’s exactly what a destination wedding in Italy is all about.
As an accomplished destination wedding photographer, I spend about a third of my time capturing weddings in Italy. It’s a great privilege since it means guiding the wedding party with some of my experience over the years.
Top Destination Wedding Destinations
As one of the top international destinations for saying ‘I do’, Italy is also increasingly popular with couples looking for all the hallmarks of a perfect wedding. From the sweeping views of Sorrento, to the natural beauty of Lake Como and the romantic rolling hills of Tuscany, it’s hard not to be seduced by its striking beauty.
If you’re one of the many couples hosting a wedding abroad, there are a few points to keep in mind for an Italia style wedding.
This isn’t so much a ‘how to’ or ‘step-by-step’ guide for organising a wedding abroad. Think of it more as a wedding prompt to remind you of all the rich qualities that make Italy a magical destination, to create the perfect Bellissimo touches for your big day!
What’s your Story?
What brings you to Italy? Is it family or romance, the weather or the people? Whatever inspires you to come to this charming country, keep it as your focus for your wedding day.
For most it’s the great food and stunning scenery. If this is your vibe, then be sure to find a venue that celebrates this in all its glory – there’s many to find.
Italy is a vast country, each pocket with its own story to tell. Deciding on where to have your destination wedding is an important reflection of your own day.
For instance, the hustle of city life in Milan is great for those seeking an electric buzz and some of the best foodie spots. While the slower pace of Tuscany with its quiet retreats, make it ideal for those seeking solace. For all the coastal feels, Sorrento is unbeatable, especially for striking photos with the wow factor.
This is an important point.
When considering your chosen destination, give some thought to the sort of wedding photos you’d like to achieve. A destination wedding photographer will always look for good lighting, clear backdrops, and breath-taking scenery. Italy has no shortage.
As a pro-tip; when you visit different venues, take some time to explore the local area. Get off the beaten path, speak to locals about quiet unexplored spots. You might come across a beautiful tree or some coastal rocks that offer a dramatic backdrop for your wedding photos.
A Local Touch
One thing I’ve learnt about destination weddings is the power of local. In many of these close-knit communities, having a fixer on the inside can get you exclusive access to hidden gems, and sometimes a helpful discount too.
By a fixer, I don’t mean the Goodfellas kind either – more like a local wedding planner! It can make all the difference to your big day, so consider it an investment well spent.
Italian Wedding Luxury is one of the wedding planners I’ve worked with on my travels. Their discreet touch is invaluable in taking care of all your special arrangements and personal needs, from favourite flowers to personalised cupcakes and last-minute jewellery dashes across town. Since you can expect to travel across to your wedding venue from once to several times before the big day, it’s worth having a local team to help with all the organizing.
For a recent wedding I shot, the happy couple chose the stunning location of Porotonovo for their vows and flew all the way from Australia. They brought in local specialists to bring their vision to life. This included my help as a destination wedding photographer. I often find that couples still prefer wedding photographers from home. This is because of the quality and high-standard you can expect, as well as the comfort of overcoming the language barrier.
In a people-facing role such as a wedding photographer, it’s important to be able to converse with friends and family. You have an infinite amount of time and limited opportunities to capture a moment in time.
The Food of Love
If Italian’s are famous for anything, it’s their love of great home-cooked food. Each region has its own proud recipes, passed on from generation to generation, and a local wine to serve with each dish. Indeed, this is a wine lover’s paradise, especially in Tuscany and Sicily where you can find some of the best vineyards in the continent.
For true authenticity go local when it comes to food. Rich intense flavours and local produce are the perfect fusion to impress guests and make a memorable mark on your palette.
In Italy, it’s quite typical to serve pasta and meat separately. I’ve always thought this was a great way to explore and appreciate simple flavours and textures, it’s something you can bring to your wedding party too.
Speak to your wedding venue to discuss the option for local catering, you won’t regret it,
Utilising the Natural Beauty Of Italy
At a previous wedding in Portonovo in Torre Clementina, Ancona, I was struck by the natural beauty of the grounds. Every element was used to celebrate the setting in all its glory. Bright blue flowers to add a punch of colour, an incredible tower leading to the views below coupled with luscious green lawns set against azure blue waters. It was Italy at its best.
Hosting a wedding abroad allows you to differentiate your wedding day from one at home. Instead of trying to recreate what you know, go with what’s in front of you. Luscious grounds, glorious weather, coastal views, far-flung fincas. Work with it, not against it. Your wedding planner can help you with recommendations.
When in doubt ask to see photos of previous guest’s nuptials for inspiration.
It’s hard to talk about weddings in Italy without touching on glamour. Known for their elegant sense of style, most wedding parties keep with traditions we’re accustomed to. Brides in pure white gowns with long bridal trains and grooms in suits. Guests should come equally as styled, and although black-tie is becoming more popular, unless it’s explicitly mentioned, this remains a faux-pas.
With it being a destination wedding, it’s likely that it will be a more intimate party with nearest and dearest. This allows you to maximise your budget on lots of elegant touches that exude Italian chic – from flowing champagne to live music in the evening.
Bring the Romance
One of the main reasons couples chose Italy to elope is because of its authentic romance. Naturally, it’s a prerequisite for your Bellissimo wedding!
Sorrento, Venice, Positano, Florence and Verona have all be named in the top five most romantic cities in the country. It’s always lovely to pay homage to their romantic links in your big day.
For instance, offer a nod to Verona’s star-crossed lovers with a copy of Romeo and Juliet, gifted to guests as a wedding favour. Or perhaps go full Italian with the ‘That’s Amore’ soundtrack, made famous from the movie Love is All You Need! Maybe you’ll even be inspired to name your tables after some of its famous artists; Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael.
Speak to your destination wedding photographer about capturing a romantic mood in your photos too. With some subtle lighting and careful angles, it’s easy to weave into your wedding narrative.
Love is in the Air
One of the great gifts of a destination wedding in Italy is the glorious weather. Known for its sunny disposition, the best time to visit is in spring (April to June) when temperatures are comfortable for any type of wedding dress.
In the peak of summer be prepared, the weather really heats up. You might also find that many locals are on a prolonged summer break, especially in some of the more remote parts. If you dream of a long floating wedding dress with all the touches, this may not be the best time of year for you.
September through to October is another lovely time to visit. The weather is moderate, and so are the tourists, making it a more affordable too.
Touching on Tradition
Make no mistake, Italians are big on tradition.
While you have the luxury of being a guest and doing things your way, some of the local traditions are not to be missed. I’ve seen many local traditions weaved into an otherwise English wedding to create some of the biggest talking points of the weekend. It’s one of the unique ways that only a destination wedding can bring.
One of my favourite Italian traditions is also one of the most romantic. The night before the big day, it’s customary in some parts, for the groom to serenade his wife-to-be from her balcony window. Don’t despair if you have the singing voice of a parrot, it’s quite common to hire a band to see you through it! It’s typical for friends and family to gather around to witness the sweet gesture. This is considered a festive moment accompanied with of course… plenty of food!
If you’re however not feeling quite brave enough to singing publicly, here’s another great tradition. It’s a tradition for the groom to supply the bridal bouquet for the big day. It’s supposed to be a final gift to his girlfriend before she becomes his wife.
Something for the Weekend…
One of the great appeals about hosting a destination wedding in Italy is the ability to make a weekend of it.
Since most guests will have travelled from afar, it’s a nice touch to offer some post-wedding celebrations in the following days. This is actually great fun, allowing you to extend the happiest day of your life – a luxury very few get to enjoy.
If you’re staying in a hotel, speak to your concierge about what special events they can line up, or alternatively, your wedding planner will be well connected. Have a search for hotels in your preferred destination wedding location below.
If you’re hoping to make a weekend of it, give some thought about hosting your wedding on a Thursday or Friday to give everyone enough time to spend the weekend.
Italy has no shortage of great entertainment. From local bars and hilltop restaurants to wine tasting and bread making. If you’re in a coastal retreat, there may be boat trips out to sea which are always popular with guests. If you’ve hired a private villa, you can even keep it low key with a post-wedding BBQ the next day
If you keep your destination wedding photographer on for a few extra days, they can even capture it for you.
Start your Honeymoon
When all the fun is over and your big day is but a memory, take comfort knowing that you’re honeymoon starts in earnest!
One of the benefits of having a destination wedding in Italy means that there’s no packing up or jetting off since you’re already abroad.
Italy is one of the top destinations in the world for a honeymoon, with the Amalfi Coast catering to all your romantic needs.
Treat yourself to a five-star bolthole in one of the many luxurious villas in the region. Mr and Mrs Smith have a great choice of accommodation for inspiration.
A final word on Bellissimo!
Magical, marvellous and memorable – there’s nothing quite like hosting a wedding in Italy.
Bringing a touch of Bellissimo is easier than you may think. It’s about creating elegant touches for your guests, romantic gestures for each other, and keeping an authentic feel to proceedings.
Use local suppliers for food, drink, and planning, to maximise everything that Italy is known and loved for. Personalise your big day with local traditions and special memories that only a wedding in Italy can afford.
Finally, make the most of your time abroad. Weddings go quicker than saying ‘I do’ and before you know it the most magical day of your lives is over. Therefore, do take the opportunity to extend the celebrations into the days after your wedding, and create special memories for everyone involved.
Gary is a destination wedding photographer in Milton Keynes, please reach out to discuss your special day!