Archive for the ‘wedding ideas’ Category

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.






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.


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.


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.


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.

Thank you cards


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 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.


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

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?


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.




Invitations available from

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, 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.