Author Archive

Exchange of rings

Saying ‘I do’ in Italy

The legal, civil ceremony in Italy is fairly basic. The registrar will read three articles from the Civil Code and read the declaration in the marriage register. The ceremony doesn’t actually include any vows or rings.  But this allows you to personalise your ceremony to the max with readings, music, vows – traditional or written personally by yourselves – and promises as you exchange your rings…

We can provide you with suggestions, a copy of the basic ceremony as well as a sample ceremony so you can see where it is appropriate to add your own ideas to make the ceremony more personal. You really can be as creative as you like so your wedding ceremony is all about you.


The Abbey of San Galgano

Civil ceremony at San Galgano

Many couples contact us asking if we can arrange a legal, civil ceremony in the grounds of a villa or in a park, but it is only possible to marry where the venue belongs to the town hall.  For this reason lots of couples opt for a low key civil ceremony in the town hall followed by a symbolic ceremony at the venue of their choice.

The Abbey of San Galgano just south of Siena is available for civil ceremonies, and if you choose to get married here the deconsecrated church will be closed to the public for an hour so you can have your wedding and photographs in absolute privacy. And this is what Joe and Mariko decided to do.

They booked a week’s holiday at Villa Podernovo in the small town of Monticiano – a beautiful setting and ideal for a wedding party. Extra accommodation for friends and family was booked in a family-run hotel and self-catering apartments, both of which were just a 5-minute walk from the villa.

The theme for the wedding was travel,  and the table plan represented some of the countries Joe and Mariko have visited over the years. The flowers were a mix of yellows, greys and whites, as were the bridesmaids’ dresses and paper pompoms which were hung from the ceiling.

The ceremony was held at 5pm on a very warm, August afternoon, followed by photos in the abbey, an absolutely stunning backdrop. Guests were taken back to the Villa for the aperitivo in the gardens while Joe and Mariko had some photos and drove back in a 1964 Alfa Romeo. The speeches took place before dinner was served, and after dinner everyone moved down to the porched area in front of the house for the first dance, a buffet of desserts and an open bar, with Mariko and Joe in charge of the playlist :-)

Official photos are here – wonderful memories of an absolutely brilliant day!


A cool alternative to wedding cake

Over to the bridegroom…

We usually work closely with the bride as we plan a wedding, sharing colour coded lists, excel files and pinterest pages, but Ruth and Sean’s wedding in August was a wedding with a difference: we did 99% of the planning directly with the groom.

‘Simplicity’ and ‘no fuss’ were the key words right from the outset and we worked via skype and email (no shared documents in sight) to create an event in a stunning location with a laid-back feel.

The  symbolic ceremony was held in the courtyard at Villa Casagrande in Figline Valdarno, followed by photos in the gardens with Livio before the aperitivo and dinner. Table decorations were mini olive trees and candles, and buckets of personalised lego to make fridge magnets. Sean is a graphic designer and had taken care of the seating plan, name cards and guest book.

Rather than opting for a traditional wedding cake, we had looked for something a bit different and just before the speeches were about to start an icecream van pulled into the courtyard – a great surprise and perfect for a very warm August evening. Music and dancing followed, with a late night buffet with fresh fruit being served at 11pm.

 

 

 

 

 


Courtyard

Down Under the Tuscan Sun

Kim and David contacted us a year ago for help with organising a 5 day event which would see guests flying in to Tuscany from Australia and Europe.  As the weeks went by the guest list grew so extra accommodation and coaches were booked to transport the guests to and from the three different venues.

As well as organising the wedding event, we arranged:

  • a welcome dinner with porchetta
  • a day of sightseeing and wine tasting in San Gimignano,
  • an informal BBQ the evening before the wedding in the gardens at Ozio in Collina,
  • an afternoon of shopping at the designer shopping mall the day after the wedding,
  • a farewell dinner with ‘micro buffet’ with various pasta dishes and pizzas in a local taverna.

The wedding took place at Agriturismo San Leo where the bride and groom had stayed 3 years previously. The ceremony took place in the gardens of San Leo. Food was provided by Luciano, Antonio, Alessandro and their team, with the aperitivo by the pool accompanied by a folk trio followed by an informal Tuscan meal with sharing platters in front of the villa. After dinner, Kim and David took to the dance floor and amazed their guests with their first dance. As the evening went on, ice cream was served in the courtyard, there was an open bar with whisky and cigars, and music and dancing in the wine cellar with Umagroso. Flowers by Stiatti Fiori and photos with Livio Lacurre. A winning combination – despite the heat! :-)

Official photos are here

 


Numbers

Number crunching…

Our last few weddings have seen a significant change – more and more couples are contacting us once they have chosen their venue already, often because they have already been there or because they have already done some independent research online.

Here are a few things to be considered along the way to avoid hidden costs which may catch you out along the way:

Accommodation & catering

How many people can the venue cater for? Not just in terms of accommodation but also in terms of kitchen staff – can they provide the food and service, or will you need to involve an external catering company?

Venue fee

Is there a venue rental fee or an extra charge for exclusive use of the venue?

Drinks

What is included at the aperitivo and what drinks will be served with the wedding meal? How much will extra bottles cost if your guests are enjoying the wine? And how much will extra bar service and drinks cost after the meal?

Meal

How much will children pay and at what age are they expected to pay the adult cost? Last minute changes do occur – what is the latest date possible for making changes?

Transfers

If guests are staying in more than one venue due to limited accommodation capacity you will probably want to arrange transport for your guests, and this in turn can see higher rates for transfers after midnight or after a certain number of hours of service when the driver will need to be substituted. Taxis in small villages are not as easy to come by as they are in cities like Florence and Rome!

Music

Does the venue have a sound system you can use and  if so, do they charge for rental? Is there a microphone available for speeches?

Do they take care of the music licence fee or is this an additional extra?

What time will the venue allow the party to continue until? And which areas will they allow you to use for dancing? If you want to dance outside will you need to rent a wooden dance floor?

Lighting

Does the venue have their own lights and if so, do they charge for rental? Will lighting need to be organised if you want to eat outside?

Ceremony

Is it possible to get married at the venue or will you need to have the civil wedding service in the town hall and then have a symbolic wedding ceremony at the venue?

Terms and conditions

Are all of the basic extras included or are there extra charges for linen changes, breakfast, cots/high chairs, air conditioning etc?

Booking online

Yes, guests may find cheaper booking deals online but it really is best to book directly with the venue to ensure they get the best rate possible, and to avoid the risk of overbooking….it has happened in the past!

It really is worth sitting down and going through all of these points with the venue as early on as possible to avoid disappointment or unexpected expenses as the wedding date gets closer. And this is where we can help…

 


wedding hair fresh flowers

Wedding hair and make up

One of the top concerns of our brides – after the dress! – is hair and make up. We work with a carefully selected team and there are a number of options available.

Hair

While some brides have been lucky enough to have a hairdresser friend among their guests, others need the help of a pro while they’re here. It is generally cheaper if the bride goes to the salon, but most hairdressers will come to the venue. It is important that this is booked as far in advance as possible, especially if the wedding is on a Saturday. Most hairdressers in Tuscany are closed on Mondays.

It is a good idea to have a trial in the UK and have photos taken, which can be sent in advance so the hairdresser knows what style you are aiming for.  If you haven’t yet discovered pinterest we recommend you take a look – there are hundreds of ideas and it’s easy to be inspired.  We generally book an appointment for a quick trial here too, so the hairdresser can get a feel for your hair and advise you on when to wash it before the wedding – some advise the day before so your hair is easier to handle.

If you are bringing a veil or a hairpiece it is important that the hairdresser knows how this needs to be attached – with clips or a comb. Fresh flowers are generally provided by the florist and can be woven in or attached with grips. Alternatively you can bring silk flowers with you.

Makeup

Again, you may have a makeup artist friend in your wedding party, but if this is not the case don’t worry.

Manicures and pedicures are generally done the day before the wedding, along with a makeup trial, and again, it is cheaper if you go to the salon.  The makeup artist will bring everything with her so you don’t need to worry about supplies. However, it can be worth considering having a trial at home and buying the makeup to bring with you in order to recreate exactly the look you want – and you get to keep the products too!

Some brides do a makeup course with one or more of their bridesmaids and so are happy to let them take charge, others look for tutorials on youtube and experiment in their own homes, preferring to do their own makeup.

As with the hairdresser, it is important that you let us know well in advance if you want us to book a makeup artist, especially if your wedding is on a Saturday.

 


photographer in action

How to choose your wedding photographer

Your  wedding photos will be a huge part of your day, as will your photographer, so here are a few pointers to help you.

1. Style – are you looking for something traditional with posed shots or something which captures moments behind the scenes which would otherwise go unnoticed, pr perhaps a combination of both? Do you want a DVD or a series of photos to tell your wedding story?

2. Service – most photographers offer a basic service starting with 3 or 4 hours, and this can build up to a full day service with assistants as well as engagement sessions and more recently ‘trash the dress’ sessions after the wedding is over.

3. Proofs – the days of having to wait to see the proofs before making your selection are long gone and everything is digital. The most basic package will include all pictures on DVD and you can choose for yourself which pictures to print off when you are home. For an extra fee your photographer will select some of the best images and edit them using postproduction software to provide you with some truly stunning photos.

4. Prints and albums – you can opt to have your postproduced images printed and mounted, or to have your photos displayed in an album. Some photographers provide gift boxes with a limited selection of images which are perfect keepsakes for your families. A slideshow is another option, with a number of images set to a track which tells your wedding story from start to finish.

5. Budget – how much do you realistically want to spend on your photos? While the cost for a basic 3 hour service is certainly accessible it might be better to stretch the budget to cover as much of the day as you can – the day really does fly by and you are unaware of so much which is going on. Think about whether you want photos during the preparations – what is the groom doing while the bride is having her hair and makeup done? What are your guests doing as you get dressed?  And do you really want the photographer to have finished before the speeches and after dinner dancing?

Where possible we always try to arrange a meeting to introduce our couples to their photographer before the wedding day, so you have already met and know who will be working with you.

 


sunset

Matt and Paula, 20 September 2014

Paula and Matt first came to Italy for a venue visit in October 2013, looking for somewhere typically Tuscan, with breathtaking, panoramic views. Terre di Nano in Monticchiello had made the shortlist and as they walked around the gardens and the terraces with their views across the rolling hills to the Tuscan villages of Pienza and Montepulciano I knew it was the right venue for their wedding.

There were around 60 guests in the wedding party so we also booked apartments and rooms at Agriturismo Nobile and Albergo San Biagio.

The wedding weekend started on Friday evening with a prosecco reception, pizza party and quiz night and finished with an informal brunch on Sunday.

Saturday saw the early morning rainclouds give way to warm, autumn sunshine much to the relief of everybody involved!  The guests were seated and the wedding party came down to the lavendar garden accompanied by a traditional folk trio, much to the delight of friends and family. As the ceremony finished the wedding party moved round onto the terrace in front of the main villa for the aperitivo which was served as the sun set over the hills. Dusk faded into dark and dinner was served in the olive grove with hundreds of fairy lights and candles before guests moved into the wine cellar, transformed into a disco for one final wow factor.

Official photos by Livio Lacurre, flowers by Stiatti Fiori.

 

 


confetti and rice in the gardens at Villa Casagrande

Brian and Alison, 21 August 2014

Having worked at Camping Girasole in Figline Valdarno many summers ago, Brian wanted to bring Alison to Tuscany to get married here, and they chose the stunning backdrop of Villa Casagrande in Figline to share their special day with family and friends from both the UK and Italy.

Brian and Alison had an informal engagement photo shoot in the grounds of the Villa and in the town centre with Christian, the photographer, who also arranged for them to have a short video made, a couple of days before the wedding.

Brian has many Italian friends in Figline who had worked together to come up with a series of surprises: a wedding car to take Alison and the bridesmaids to the Palazzo Pretorio, prosecco and strawberries in the town square after the wedding, and as the evening went on they played several practical jokes on the groom.  I was horrified to see them take Brian’s tie and hack it into pieces to collect money for the bride and groom – as per the Italian tradition – but later found out he’d been half expecting it and had changed ties before dinner, just in case (phew!).

The whole run up to the wedding was very informal and laid back, and this was exactly how things were on the day.  The morning was spent relaxing with friends and family and at 3pm the hairdresser arrived to start getting Alison ready.  After the civil ceremony, Brian and Alison went for some photos at San Martino, just above Figline, before coming back to Villa Casagrande to join their friends and families for the aperitivo with piano bar.  After the meal and cutting the cake, everybody went to Aqva, Casagrande’s pool bar for drinks, music and dancing and the celebrations went on into the early hours.

Congratulations to Brian and Alison, Katie and Livia, and thank you to the fantastic team who worked with us to make the wedding such a success!!

 


Happy!

Siena wedding, 26 July 2014

This summer has been a wash out with thunderstorms and temperatures well below the average and it seems that every wedding we have had so far this year has had the threat of rain (or rain!) and there have been lots of emails from worried brides about the forecast!  Today was no exception but the sun managed to come out and stay out this morning for Amy and Kris and their wedding.

Amy and Kris contacted us just over 18 months ago to make the arrangements for their wedding – their dream wedding backdrop was the Piazza del Campo in Siena. The ceremony was held in the Palazzo Pubblico, the stunning building which has been Siena’s city hall since the Middle Ages. The guests came up the three flights of stone steps and into the huge room with frescoed ceiling and spectacular Murano glass chandeliers - absolutely beautiful.

Amy and Kris’s 8 year old son gave his mum away and there were a few tears but these turned into smiles as the vows and rings were exchanged  and the exit song – ‘Happy’ – summed up the vibe perfectly.

A prosecco reception in the Piazza del Campo followed, before the coach took everyone back to the reception venue for an afternoon of relaxation before dinner and dancing with a beautiful sunset…

http://www.liviolacurre.it/en/kris-amy-weddings-stories/

Siena Here comes the brideA poignant moment P7260140  Happy groomHappy brideAperitivoHappy guests

 

 


For a stress-free day which is all about you

Elope wedding with a difference

When I met up with a good friend over lunch in Arezzo last October we caught up on all our news and we joked about her eloping to Italy to get married. When I told her I’d organise it for her I was sincere but I didn’t really expect that our chat would actually culminate in a wedding!

By the end of December there had been a proposal and the decision had been made – they really were going to elope to Italy to get married!! Families were informed, the town hall was available so the florist, hairdresser and photographer were contacted, appointments were booked to get the paperwork sorted. Accommodation was arranged in a medieval tower in Figline Valdarno – the groom had wondered about a castle so we came up with the next best thing! In the space of three months everything was in place and we were ready to go.

We’ve organised and assisted on elope weddings before but this elope wedding was slightly different. Giacomo, my husband, is usually on hand behind the scenes at our weddings but this time he was one of the witnesses and I was going to be a guest.

The morning of 4th April was cool, grey and rainy but we had plenty of umbrellas on hand, and nothing was going to put a dampener on Jane and David’s special day. Once we were all ready, the witnesses arrived at the tower and we wandered down to the Palazzo Pretorio in Figline for the civil ceremony which was followed by photos and a cappuccino – the bride’s only ‘must have’ photo request! An aperitivo was waiting for us at Villa Casagrande and then we went down to the restaurant for a wonderfully relaxed lunch.

It was a really lovely day. I could do with a wedding every Friday to start the weekend like this – friends, sisters, anyone else thinking about eloping – drop me a line!

Click here to see Torre Forese


2014 wedding trends

Wedding trends for 2014

As 2013 draws to an end our 2014 brides are getting excited because this is finally going to be the year they get married!

So what are the trends going to be for 2014?

We predict:

- a shift from shabby chic to vintage glamour
- shorter dresses with higher necklines
- hairpieces without veils to show off dresses with dramatic backs
- bolder colours in floral decorations
- more and more use of pinterest to showcase and share ideas
- more symbolic ceremonies with the legal ceremony taking place before the wedding itself
- more couples opting to keep things simple and simply elope!

All of this aside, one trend which we are sure will continue is the bride and groom wanting their wedding celebrations to be all about them and doing things just the way they want to – a trend which we are happy to take into 2014 and beyond!

2014 wedding trends

2014 wedding trends


Wedding photographer

How to choose your wedding photographer

You’ve chosen your venue and confirmed the date. The next important thing is to choose and book your photographer. No doubt you’ll be looking for someone who can provide you with shots which capture the essence of the day,  the emotions and expressions of you and your guests, as well as recording the smaller details, so you can look back on them for years to come.

First of all you’ll need to think about the kind of style you like and what you are looking  for.  Do you want something contemporary and maybe slightly arty, or do you prefer something more traditional? Do you want a photo album for yourselves as well as keepsakes for close family members? Do you want to have a slideshow with music or a DVD with a film of the day?

Online portfolios will help you, as well as brochures and recommendations – we work with some fantastic photographers! Some couples opt to bring a photographer from home and pay for their flights and accommodation; others prefer to have an Italian photographer.  The language barrier doesn’t have to be an issue at all – Italians tend to use gestures when communicating most of the time and the images speak for themselves!

Once you have made a selection you’ll need to decide what exactly you want.  Do you want engagement photos to send out as a save-the-date card or to use as the front cover of your guest book? Do you want the photographer to capture all of the preparations as well as the moment when you arrive for the ceremony, as well as documenting the reception, perhaps with a photo booth? Or do you want to rely on friends and family for the ‘behind the scenes’ pictures and have a photographer on hand for just a couple of hours to take photos before, during and after the ceremony?  You’ll probably want to avoid a paparazzi style photographer who will be there taking photos and close ups at every step – and I speak from personal experience – much better to find a photographer who will melt into the background and not invade your day!

Many couples opt to have some time out after the ceremony and before joining their guests for the aperitivo in order to have some more intimate shots which make the most of the local backdrops – these are the shots which you’ll really want to have framed. This also allows you to have some time together before heading back for the group shots – if you want them.

It is a really good idea if you can meet the photographer in person before the wedding day. This way you know who you will be sharing some of the most special moments of your lives with, and also to give them a chance to get to know something about you. The more information you can give them about you – as individuals and as a couple –  the better they will do their job on the day.  A good photographer will also want to visit the venue beforehand to assess how the lighting will change during the event, to check out angles and locations for the best pictures, and to look at contingency plans should it rain.

Budget wise, wedding photographers tend to offer packages depending on the number of hours of service and the number of post-produced images you want.  If using an Italy-based photographer you will probably opt to have the images sent to you via web or on CD Rom which you can then take to have printed when you are at home to save on shipping the album – or albums.


Paul's engraved ring

Paul and Jan, Elope wedding 19th September 2013

Paul contacted us at the end of June because he and Jan had booked a holiday in Italy in September and he wanted to surprise Jan with their wedding when they were here! Unfortunately, the legal procedure meant that he couldn’t do things without her finding about it so he broke the news to her – but she was thrilled with the idea and Paul set the ball rolling!
Paul and Jan had both been married before and they wanted the day to be as laid-back and as stress-free as possible, doing something they love – horse-riding!
We organised the ceremony and a bouquet – Jan’s request was for something blue – before going to the local riding stables where we produced a bag with some spare clothes for them to get changed and sent them off on a trek through the vineyards with Maura and Silvia from Vecchio Texas. Paul and Jan had been to Florence and chosen their rings and had them engraved the day before the wedding – Paul chose to have his engraved on the outside rather than the inside, a really lovely idea.
When they returned they had worked up an appetite and had a wonderful aperitivo waiting for them, and they called their families and close friends to tell them their news (which took a while!). They went on to enjoy dinner under the stars, and then had a week of honeymooning in the Tuscan hills.


champagne and fruit

Congratulations to Sarah and Thomas!

We have collaborated with Gio from Accent Events on several weddings and when she contacted us because she was organising a wedding package for Sarah and Thomas, a young couple who were eloping to get married in Tuscany, we were more than happy to help with the arrangements.  We assisted her with the creation of the wedding package, which included flowers, photography, champagne reception and transfer as well as accommodation, spa and evening meal before the wedding.  We were on hand to interpret at the verbal hearing and the civil ceremony, and we provided the two witnesses necessary for the legalities!

At 6.30am on the morning of the wedding it was pouring with rain, by 7am there was a rainbow and by 9.30am the sun was shining. The wedding was very relaxed and informal, and the focus was – as to be expected – on the bride and groom. They met the photographer at 10am, had some informal photos in the hotel and then made their way on foot to the Palazzo Pretorio in Figline for the ceremony, much to the pleasure – and interest – of the locals. After the ceremony they walked back to the hotel for an intimate champagne reception before gathering their belongings and heading to Florence at 1pm to begin their honeymoon.

Congratulations Sarah and Thomas, and good luck for your new arrival in October!


elope definition   Google Search

Let’s run away and get married in Tuscany…

This summer has seen the start of a new trend – for us at least – with couples eloping to Tuscany to get married.

More and more couples are opting to elope and get married while they are here on holiday. This way they keep their wedding as stress-free, as intimate and as personal as possible  - and why not – it keeps the costs down too.  Then when they return home, sunkissed and glowing, they can choose how to break the good news to their families and friends.

If this idea appeals to you read on…

In terms of legalities, you will need to procure all the documents required as for any wedding in Italy, and you should allow sufficient time for this process (meaning your elopement won’t be a rash decision!). You will also need two witnesses present at the ceremony, and we are happy to provide them for you if necessary.

In terms of booking a date let us know the dates you’re planning to come on holiday and we will check availability with the town hall of your choice. If you are happy to have a mid-week wedding it will probably be easier to get a slot.

And then the rest is entirely up to you, whether you decide to be whisked away by limousine to your honeymoon destination, or to do something fun that you will both remember for years to come, like a trek on horseback through the vineyards as the sun sets. By eloping you really can make your wedding all about you and your new husband or wife!

Drop us a line if you’re interested…

 

 

 


P7210378

Lisa and Richard, 21st July 2013

The venue for Richard and Lisa’s wedding in July was Hotel Villa Casagrande in Figline Valdarno, where Richard had proposed to Lisa on a recent trip to Italy.

The wedding ceremony and reception were held in the Cloister and the focal point was the well which was adorned with flowers, candles and fairylights.

A string trio was playing to welcome guests as they arrived for the ceremony and the bride and groom made their entrance down the stone steps into the courtyard. Photos in the gardens were followed by an aperitivo while Lisa and Richard went into the main square of Figline Valdarno for some informal pictures, accompanied by lots of ‘Auguri!’ from the locals!

Dinner was followed by the first dance and a surprise solo performance from one of Richard’s closest friends on the saxophone, before the cutting of the cake and fireworks!

On the evening after the wedding guests were invited to a relaxed ‘apericena’ with drinks and buffet dinner at the pool bar.

Click here to see Livio’s slideshow (and some award winning pictures!)


Documents must be legalised and translated

A new procedure for getting married in Italy

This summer sees the end of the Nulla Osta for British nationals who are resident in the UK who wish to get married in Italy. As of the end of August there will be a new procedure which couples will have to follow but it sounds more complicated than it is!

You cannot start the documentation process more than 6 months before your wedding date, or 3 months if you are resident in Scotland.

1. CNI

You both need to get a Certificate of No Impediment from your local Registry Office.  Please take your passports with you to avoid any potential problems with the paperwork.

2. Statutory Declaration

While you are waiting for your CNI you should make a statutory declaration before a solicitor or public notary in the UK. This declaration is required by the Italian authorities. The solicitor or public notary will charge a fee for this service. Fees will vary so it might be worth shopping around. Download the bi-lingual statutory declaration.

3. Legalisation

When you have your CNI and you have made your statutory declaration, you need to send them both to the Legalisation Office for each to be legalised with a Hague Apostille. The Legalisation Office will charge for this service.

4. Translation in Italy

Once all of your documents have been legalised, you will then need to have the legalised CNI translated by a translator based in Italy who will take the translated documents to the Italian courts to legalise the document here in Italy. If you send us your legalised CNIs and Statutory Declarations we can organise this for you. The translator will charge a fee for this service but we have negotiated competitive rates.

And then?

Once the Italian documentation is ready we will need copies of your passports and those of your witnesses, and we will arrange everything with the town hall of your choice here in Italy. A day or so before the wedding we will need to do a verbal hearing, and on the wedding day itself there are some parts of the ceremony which must be read by the Registrar in Italian by law. You can personalise as much or as little as you want to, with vows, readings and music.

Here is a useful link with further details – and more scenarios! https://www.gov.uk/marriage-in-italy


P3090031

Venue of the month – April

Traditional oak beams, terracotta floors, soft cotton bedlinen, simple furnishings and light, airy rooms. Woodland, stunning sunsets and the sounds and scents of nature. Low key and laid back, enjoying the great outdoors and spending quality time together.  If this is your idea of a Tuscan backdrop for your wedding, Villa Toscana is the right place for you.

The villa is located between the small towns of Faella and Castelfranco, in the Province of Arezzo, and just a short drive to the nearest station in the town of Figline Valdarno.  The property was renovated in 2006 and with the addition of 3 new apartments it is possible to sleep around 40-45 guests in single, double and triple bedroomed apartments, each of which have a terraced area, overlooking the woodland or pool area and extensive grounds.  A stunning wedding photo opportunity is just around the corner with ‘Le Balze del Valdarno’, one of the most unusual features of the valley and a protected area of local interest.

The villa is ideal for couples who are looking to relax and spend quality time outdoors with family and friends. The venue is especially suitable for families with children as there is a large play area, table tennis tables, a tennis court and a shallow pool for smaller children as well as the larger swimming pool. There are 3 large barbeques and a clubhouse with tables and chairs meaning mealtimes can be social times. For the wedding reception there are numerous solutions, maybe starting with an aperitivo at the pool before having dinner under marquees in the garden area below the pool and then dancing by the clubhouse, which could also be used as emergency back up in the case of rain.

An important added bonus at this venue is that the owners are happy to accept mid-week arrivals, and bookings do not have to be Saturday-Saturday, extremely unusual during high season in Italy! This makes it easier to make travel arrangements with budget airlines and have your wedding on the day which suits you. Please contact us to arrange a quote if you are interested in renting the villa for your exclusive use.

Visit Villa Toscana’s website

 

 


Wisteria-covered walkways in the month of May

Venue of the month – March

It was a miserable February morning the first time we went to visit Fattoria di Mandri with one of our 2014 brides, but even though it was raining the Villa, the grounds and the panoramic views were wonderful, and it was not difficult to imagine how stunning it would be  in the sunshine!

If you are looking for a Medici Villa in Tuscany with self-catering accommodation options for around 55/60 people, this is an ideal location. The owners live in the villa which they have furnished with style and elegance, and the building and grounds will impress your guests at every turn. The main villa and its private gardens can be rented for the wedding reception, and the 10 apartments and 2 cottages in the small hamlet in the grounds of the villa itself can be used by guests who have travelled to Italy to share your wedding celebrations with you. It is also possible, upon request, to rent bedrooms in the villa itself.

Flexibility is one of the key features of this venue, and while the villa is elegant it also feels homely and welcoming.  Marina, the owner is happy to assist with the organisation of buffets and meals for up to 50 guests, while  it would be necessary to use a catering service for the wedding reception. The grounds provide endless solutions for your wedding photos and reception, perhaps serving an aperitivo on the terrace as the sun sets to the front of the villa or under the porch to the rear, followed by a sit-down meal in the gardens with panoramic views over the Arno valley, or by the pool before returning to the private gardens with their wisteria-covered walkways and lawns for your guests to kick their shoes off as the live band starts start to play.

Another bonus is that the mayor from the town hall of Reggello would be prepared to come to the Villa to officiate at your wedding ceremony. You  just need to decide on which part of the villa and its grounds are the best place to hold your ceremony!

Visit Fattoria di Mandri’s website


Wedding at La Selva

Venue of the month – February

When you describe your dream wedding, are the words ‘rustic’,  ‘relaxed’ and ‘ romantic’ at the top of your list? If so, this is the place for you.

La Selva is a private, family villa located in 32 acres of grounds, which offers absolute privacy and intimacy. As you enter the villa you immediately feel the welcoming atmosphere, and it is not hard to imagine how relaxed you would be after spending a week of your life enjoying the Tuscan sunshine and scenery on offer here!

The venue is ideal for small wedding parties as it can sleep up to 16 guests, with 7 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, perfect if you are looking to spend a week with your closest family or friends.  The fact that you will be the only guests means you have no restrictions and you can do exactly what you want – there are no neighbours to complain if the music is still playing at 3am!  For added magic, there is a small cottage with a domed roof which can be used by the bride and groom.  There are plenty of accommodation options in the local area if you are inviting other friends and family members to celebrate with you in Italy.

Tuscany is famous for its hospitality, and the intention of Francesco, the owner, is that you move in and make the villa your home for the week. A welcome dinner is included on your first evening,so it really does begin to feel like home from the moment you arrive. There are plenty of extra options available to make your stay as relaxing and enjoyable as possible, including grocery shopping, breakfasts and evening meals, wine tasting and cookery classes.

The gardens offer endless possibilities for creating your wedding, with plenty of different areas where tables can be set up, whether in front of the house, under the pergola or overlooking the pool. If you are looking to do something informal, there are two pizza ovens and a barbeque.  The amphitheatre is perfect for your symbolic  or civil ceremony, and the fact that the local mayor is happy to come to La Selva to officiate is an added bonus!

Visit La Selva’s website

 


Thank you cards

Grazie!!

You may still be in the early stages of planning your wedding but as we are super-organised we like to plan ahead!! When you plan your guest list it is a really good idea to save names and addresses on an excel file so you can add a column with details about the gifts you receive and another column to show you have written your thank you cards.

When ordering your save- the-date cards and invitations you can order your thank you cards at the same time. It may work out cheaper because you are placing a bulk order, and your theme will be complete from beginning to end. But there are lots of ways to personalise your thank you cards using official or informal photos from your wedding celebrations, and with lots of great websites such as moo.com and snapfish it has never been easier to upload your photos and create your own designs.

A lot of our couples who choose to get married in Italy ask their guests not to buy them anything because the very fact that they will be coming over to share their celebrations is the biggest gift they could give them. But a lot of guests bring presents and cards with them anyway!  In the excitement of welcoming guests and on the wedding day itself it can be easy to lose track of who gave you which gift, especially if the cards get dislodged from the parcels. Try to keep all the cards together with the gifts, tearing open a corner of the wrapping paper to put the card inside the parcel if necessary, and as you open gifts keep a running list of who has given you what so you can refer back to it once you are at home again.

If you receive gifts before your big day then it is a good idea to write thank you notes as you receive them, and once you come back from honeymoon and sit down to write your thank you cards you will almost certainly find it easier to write them in short bursts, rather than attempt a marathon session! Cards should be hand-written, as should the envelopes, and both the bride and the groom should be involved in writing them. In today’s world of computers and technology the personal touch really does make a difference.

As for the wording, refer to your list so you can mention the gift specifically and say why you appreciate it. If you have received cash, you can say how you are planning to spend it (or how you have spent it!). If your guests put money towards your honeymoon you could mention something you saw or did and that you thought of them while you were there. And thank your guests for coming to your wedding and for sharing your special day with you. Gifts may get lost or broken over the years to come, but your memories will remain.


from newly engaged to newly wed

From newly engaged to newly weds – how we can help

You’ve got the ring and made your happy announcement to friends and family…now what?

First you need to decide if you want to get married in Italy. If you are unsure, do a quick brainstorm of pros and cons – we find it helps when making big decisions ;-)  Getting married in Tuscany has so many things going for it – the atmosphere, the food, the landscapes, the weather, the people –  all of which will make your wedding celebrations unforgettable for you and your guests.

And getting married with Weddingsmiths can help reduce the list of cons. We can help you save money by negotiating the best deals possible with our trusted suppliers. We can save you time by doing the legwork for you. We can remove any worries about language barriers and communication issues because after 15 years living in Italy we can speak the lingo. We can help you organise the logistics, from how to transport your guests to the venue to having their welcome packs ready and waiting for them when they arrive. And this means we can reduce the stress, allowing you to focus on the fun side of things like choosing shoes, bridesmaid dresses, and your honeymoon!

You will need to think about a date which will work for you and your guests, and talk about the kind of venue where you can envisage your reception taking place – do you want something rustic and informal or something elegant and formal? Do you want a Church wedding or a symbolic ceremony? Do you want a small, intimate reception or do you want to celebrate with as many friends and family members as possible?

Then drop us a line! We will take time to talk to you, to get to know you as a couple and to get a feel for what you are looking to create on your wedding day. Then we will give you some ideas and suggestions to start the ball rolling, and we can take it from there.

 

 

 


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A wedding with bambini?

It’s one of those difficult questions which all couples have to consider when planning their budget and guest list.  Shall we invite children or not? If we don’t invite our friends’ children what will they say when they see our nephews and nieces dressed up as pageboys and bridesmaids? Getting married abroad might cause even more of an issue – can you expect your friends and family to leave their children at home for a weekend while they travel to Italy to celebrate with you?

In terms of childcare, we can help organise English speaking babysitters and entertainers, and it might even be worth considering whether it will be better to bring someone with you from home to keep the children occupied, especially if you are planning on having more than one meal with your friends and family.

Here are a few ideas to help you make your wedding enjoyable for the smaller members of the party, so the adults can relax and let their hair down!

Food and children’s table - All venues we have worked with are happy to provide special children’s menus, and to serve them their meal before the adults are seated if necessary. In Italy it is unusual to sit down for an evening meal before 7pm, which can cause real problems for parents who have worked so hard to get their children into a routine!  Children will not be able to cope with a long meal with lots of courses, and it may be an idea to provide a few trays of finger food which may be more appealing to your younger guests. Fruit kebabs and fruit flavoured water are healthy alternatives to sweets and fizzy drinks. If you want the children to sit together at a separate table you may want to leave space for an extra chair at their parents’ tables, just in case!

Help the parents plan - If you can provide the parents with a rough idea of the itinerary in advance they will be able to plan feeding, naps and nappy changes around photos and first dances…

Get the children involved - They will enjoy the day so much more if they are involved in some way, whether assisting the ushers with Order of Service booklets, having their photo taken with you, having their artwork on display, joining you with a ‘special’ drink for the toasts, or catching a mini bouquet thrown by the bride!

Babysitters and entertainers - The number of babysitters you will need – and therefore the cost – will depend on the ages and needs of the children in your wedding party. Will you be needing someone to look after the babies and toddlers during and after the wedding ceremony or once they go to bed in case they wake up? What time will they be needed until? And will you need someone to look after the older children during the aperitivo, the photos, the meal, after dinner? There are plenty of options for professional entertainment, from magicians to bouncy castles, from face painters to jugglers, but these may push your budget up, especially over a 3 day wedding weekend.  We do work with English speaking babysitters and entertainers, so the language barrier will not be a problem. 

Activities - With some careful forward planning it will be easy to keep the children occupied. A paper tablecloth or placemats can double up as a drawing board, just add a few packets of crayons. A piece of string and some clothes pegs can be used to display their artwork. Make up activity boxes for each child to keep them busy; for younger children you could include bubbles, pencils, colouring pictures or small notebooks, stickers, a small toy or finger puppet and a snack; older children can do puzzles and wordsearches in wedding activity books, and play games such as Uno and Jenga – ask their parents to bring a lightweight board game with them.  Other ideas include traditional party games such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Pass the Parcel, Musical Statues and Simon Says. Or organise a craft table with materials for T-shirt decorating, mask making, stone painting or jewellery making. Another fun activity is a wedding scavenger hunt – provide each team with a cheap, disposable camera and a list of things to find and photograph…

Quiet time - a room with a TV and a DVD player and some comfortable chairs will allow children to calm down and maybe have a nap…and recharge their batteries!

See our board on Pinterest for more ideas


bride

Venue of the month – January

A new year, a new venue. For our first blog post of 2013 we have selected Hotel Villa Casagrande, the venue where we organised our first ‘big’ wedding in 2004 and a venue which played an important role for us in 2012.

The original Villa dates back to 1392 and the interiors are adorned with priceless paintings, frescoes, furniture and coats of arms. Outside, the walls of the medieval town of Figline Valdarno provide a backdrop to the Italian gardens, perfect for wedding photos during the aperitivo, and the cloister, with a sweeping stone staircase which is perfect for your grand entrance and symbolic ceremony.

With 60 bedrooms as well as self-catering apartments, accommodation for your wedding party should not be a problem! Guests can enjoy the swimming pool and health spa (booking necessary), and the hotel is a 3 minute walk from the centre of Figline. There are regular trains to the cities of Florence, Arezzo and Rome, with Florence just a 20 minute train ride away. The restaurant offers typical Tuscan dishes, as well as international dishes, with plenty of Tuscan hospitality!

The hotel can organise one-day cookery courses in the farmhouse kitchen and wine tastings in the extensive wine cellars, should you wish to offer something extra for your guests.

We like working with this venue because they are flexible, they work hard to ensure their guests are happy, and because they have so much to offer all kinds of wedding couples! Whether you are looking for a complete wedding package in one location to make it easy for your guests or whether you are looking for a stunning outdoor location for your symbolic ceremony, whether you are looking for somewhere for the bride to prepare for the wedding or whether you simply want to use the health spa and have a glass or two of chilled prosecco the day before the wedding, you will not be disappointed!

Visit Hotel Villa Casagrande’s website 


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Venue of the month – December

December is a magical month and we so wanted to present a venue with a special atmosphere – not only this month but all year around.

Villa Barberino is located on a hill top in Meleto, a small village in the Province of Arezzo. As you enter the hamlet and walk through the grounds to the reception it is hard to believe that the property was in ruins just over 20 years ago. The owners have lovingly restored the buildings and their passion for hospitality comes across as you speak to them. We will work with Tiziana and her team to ensure your special day is the day you have been dreaming of.

Villa Barberino is unusual in the fact that it is possible to have a civil or a symbolic ceremony in the grounds of the villa, and there are no charges for the exclusive use of the villa.

The reception can be held either indoors in the restaurant, or outside in the courtyard or in front of the villa. There are plenty of opportunities for stunning photos with a terrace overlooking the Chianti countryside, as well as the Italian gardens, the woods, and the wine cellars which are over 1000 years old!

During your guests’ stay it is possible to organise wine tasting, as well as sampling the locally produced olive oil, honey and cheese, and guests can enjoy the pool, the gardens or walks in the woodland. Accommodation for around 100 people is available in the hotel and apartments, and due to the layout of the complex it is also suitable for smaller groups of 30-35 people who wish to be together in relatively private settings.

Visit Villa Barberino’s website


Christmas cake topper

Winter wedding?

While the wedding season tends to be busiest between May and September, there are a lot of good reasons for having a winter wedding.

Winter is ‘off-peak’ and this means it is possible to negotiate for special deals as suppliers are happy to have the business when they are relatively quiet. Some venues do close for the winter months but others are open all year round, and many have promotional packages for short breaks. While many insist on weekly bookings during the summer months there is much more flexibility in low season and this can also help you with your budget.  The fact that schools are closed means it should be easier for your friends and family – whether with children, or whether they are teachers –  to join you in Italy.

Dusk comes early, and it’s cold, so you can use candles, fairylights and open fireplaces to provide soft lighting and create a romantic atmosphere. Your theme should be easy to develop, using seasonal colours and decorations, and you can save money as internal decor will be the main focus.

The warm temperatures which can be a concern for some guests in the summer months won’t be an issue, and while they won’t be able to enjoy balmy afternoons sunbathing around the pool, they will certainly be able to do a lot more sightseeing, visiting the local cities of Florence, Siena and Arezzo, as well as sampling local products and visiting the Christmas markets, and this will make their trip to Italy for your wedding even more special and memorable.

So, if you are looking for ideas for a wedding in Italy, why not consider a winter wedding?

 

 

 

 


www.sia-homefashion.com

Flowers or fakes?

Flowers are one of the key features of any wedding, and with brides requesting sunflowers in March and peonies in September it is not always possible to source your dream flowers while keeping to budget!

Silk flowers today are often so realistic it is impossible to tell the difference – especially if you put them in a vase with water.

One of the benefits of using silk flowers means that they won’t wilt in the warm sunshine, so you know your bouquet, the bridesmaids’ flowers and your groomsmen’s buttonholes will  last through the ceremony, the photographs, and the evening celebrations, well into the early hours and beyond.

Silk flowers are less expensive than the real deal and can be purchased well in advance so you know they are going to be exactly the right shade to match your shoes, your bridesmaids’ dresses or the bridegroom’s tie. You can have a say in selecting them so you can be 100% you are getting what you are hoping for, and you can have them made up into floral arrangements before your big day so you can also have a say in the results.

And after the wedding celebrations are over, you can take them home with you – a special reminder of your special day which will last for years to come. And when you head off on honeymoon you don’t have to leave all your table decorations behind at the venue, but give them to special guests as keepsakes.

http://pinterest.com/weddingsmiths/the-real-deal/

 

 

 


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Venue of the month – November

Sitting inside on a cold, rainy November afternoon, summer feels like a long way off, and thinking about hot chocolate and log fires brought us to think of this venue!

Residence San Leo is a country house with character in the Chianti hills which has been converted into 9 holiday apartments for 2-6 guests, each of which has its own individual feel and charm. The courtyard is ideal for warm summer evening receptions, and the huge indoor room with open fireplace is ideal for creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere on cooler spring or autumn evenings. Downstairs there is a converted wine cellar which can also be used for your reception if you are looking for something unusual and typically Tuscan. And if it should rain on your wedding day like it is doing here today it won’t be a problem!

Patrizia and her family run a farming business from San Leo, producing excellent olive oil, honey, jam, fresh fruit and vegetables, and it is possible for guests to visit the oil press and sample some of the products. Patrizia is a wonderful cook and can provide breakfast and evening meals, as well as freshly baked bread and farm produce for your apartment.

San Leo can provide accommodation for approx 36 guests and can cater for groups of around 60-70 people. The food is excellent, with homemade pasta and produce from the farm. All apartments have air conditioning, and there is a pool and jacuzzi with wonderful views over the Chianti hills. The Limonaia is a cottage with private garden, and not being attached to the main building is ideal for the bride and groom.

Visit San Leo’s website

 

 

 

 

 


Invitations available from www.celebrationsplus.com

How can you involve your own children at your wedding?

More and more couples are choosing to tie the knot after having already started a family, and aside from the obvious choice of page boys and bridesmaids there are lots of ways in which you can involve your children.

Invitations – Use a family photo and make your own invitations (for example using moo.com, snapfish.com). Or have the children draw a picture of you in wedding attire and let them write the wording inside the card – a lovely touch which will make all your guests say ‘Ahhhh’ when they open them up.

Giving the bride and groom away - the children could accompany the groom down the aisle before the bride arrives, the children could accompany the bride, the family could arrive together – the combinations are endless!

Personalised vows – you could include the children’s names in your vows, or you could even ask them if they accept their new family and invite them to say ‘I do’ too.

Symbolism – Whether you are planning a Church wedding or a ceremony in the town hall, there are lots of ways to include a symbolic action to show the unity and creation of a new family unit. Ideas range from lighting a candle to joining hands, from scattering petals around the bride and groom to a sand ceremony, from planting a tree to tying balloons together and letting them off into the sky.

Table plan – you could have a family-only top table, or allow the children to choose the guests who they want to share a table with.

Toast – if you have older children they might feel confident about standing up in front of your guests and inviting them to toast you.

First dance – involve your children! If you can choreograph a short part of your favourite song together this can really add an element of surprise, and will be a special memory for you, the children and your guests.

Honeymoon – why not have a few days away with the children as a ‘family-moon’ before heading off to somewhere just the two of you? Or vice-versa, have a few days away together before taking the children on a special family holiday.


Gav 4

Venue of the month – October

Gavillaccio is a medieval hamlet which has been lovingly restored by Lorna and Eugenio to provide 8 beautiful apartments which can accomodate approx 35 people. Their mission is to provide Courtesy, Quality, and a Personalised Service, and having worked with them on several weddings we can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. You will be able to relax completely, knowing that the smallest details have been taken care of.

The residence has a pool where you can relax with your guests in the run up to the wedding, and it would be possible to hold the reception around the pool for smaller parties. For larger parties of up to 70 guests the Pavilion is available, with huge panoramic windows overlooking the hills.

Weddings can be held in the Catholic church at Gaville, or in the town hall of Figline or San Giovanni Valdarno, and it is also possible to hold a symbolic ceremony in the grounds of Gavillaccio with a hidden grassy walkway providing the perfect aisle for a bride who wants to make a grand entrance. The panoramic views and woodland provide stunning backdrops for your wedding photos, and the combination of the venue, the setting and the hospitality mean that your wedding will be a day (and a week!) which you and your guests will never forget.

Visit Il Gavillaccio’s website 

 

 

 


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Congratulations Simon and Caroline!

When Caroline and Simon contacted us last October they had already booked their venue and accommodation and were looking for someone to assist at their civil ceremony. We also arranged some of the smaller details – flowers, hairdresser and music.  Caroline had  booked a small complex of villas for a group of around 50 friends and family members, as well as a coach transfer to and from the ceremony and again at the end of the evening to take guests back to their accommodation.

On a sunny September afternoon they had their wedding ceremony at the Palazzo Pretorio in Figline, with music, vows which they had written, and 3 emotionally charged readings! The reception was held at Villa La Palagina where guests enjoyed an informal aperitivo in the gardens before the wedding meal by the pool.

Congratulations Simon and Caroline, and we wish you a lifetime of happiness together!

 

 


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Venue of the month – September

Villa La Palagina is in the hills just above the small town of Figline Valdarno, in the Chianti countryside between Florence, Siena and Arezzo. The track to the villa leads up through age-old olive groves and vineyards, and as you enter the grounds you are met by spectacular views from the terrace.  You can have your aperitivo served by the fountain in the gardens, and then choose whether to have your wedding meal served by the pool or in the gazebo, both of which provide breathtaking views over the valley.

If you wish to book the villa so your guests can enjoy a weekend of celebrations, accommodation is available for approximately 100 guests.  The friendly hotel staff all speak English, and the restaurant staff will work hard to provide you and your guests with excellent service, and this is reflected in the glowing reviews on Tripadvisor.  The chef adds a modern twist to traditional Tuscan dishes with mouthwateringly good results, and with numerous menu options and fine wines to choose from, your Italian wedding meal will be unforgettable, both for the food, the people and the location!

Visit Villa La Palagina’s website