Many brides have the lifelong dream to get married in the fairytale setting of Tuscany, Italy. While it wasn't exactly a lifelong dream of ours, we jumped at the idea when it presented itself. So a week after our courthouse wedding in Seattle, we packed our bags and found ourselves on the other side of the world in Italy. This was where our more ceremonial wedding would take place. All photos below were taken by Studio Bastianoni. Neither Martin nor I are "wedding people." In our eyes, a wedding is to celebrate the unification of families, so that was the only audience we wished to have. The mere idea of a having a large wedding with lots of people made us want to elope. Not to mention, this would be the first time that our immediate family met in person, so we wanted it to happen in an enchanting place that was new to everyone in our family.
Planning a Wedding Italy
As you might imagine, planning a destination wedding in a foreign country has its challenges. We found it hard enough to plan for a wedding of 7 people and don't even want to think about how a larger wedding would fare. In terms of wedding planning, we did a fair amount of it ourselves. Thus, it was hard to justify hiring a wedding planner as many in Italy insist on planning your entire wedding, from transportation and accommodations to the whole ceremony and reception. To us, a wedding planner is ideal for large destination weddings, but not for small, intimate weddings.
Our Wedding Villa in Tuscany
Tuscany itself is a large region of Italy, and there are many towns to make your home base. After some online research, we chose the town of Cortona as our wedding home base. The main reason was proximity to other major towns in Tuscany that we wanted to visit. It wasn't until much later that we realized Cortona was of Under the Tuscan Sun fame. Our villa in Creti (a town just outside of Cortona) was found on Airbnb. We rented out this beautiful villa that was modern with classic designs. Our particular unit offered 4 bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, and many gathering spaces. There were nearby villas in the complex that had more rooms for bigger parties. In fact, we spied at least one other wedding taking place in the villa while we were there.
Renting a Car in Italy
Since we all landed and met at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, we simply picked up our rental cars there and drove about two hours directly to our villa in Creti. We used an American car company, Hertz, to rent our car and made reservations online. It was reasonably easy to locate the car rental area in Fiumicino Airport. A few things to note about renting a car in Italy online:
Note whether the car you're looking at is a Manual or Automatic. We were initially going to rent a Fiat and quickly discovered it was a Manual. Needing an Automatic transmission (and deciding to treat ourselves), we rented a 4-door Mercedes Benz C-Class Sedan. That ended up having its own challenges (see the suitcase problem below!).
Legally, you need an international driving permit to operate a vehicle abroad. These permits can be very easily and quickly obtained in the United States for a reasonable fee. Both Martin and I got our driving permits, but never once had to show them to anyone while in Italy. We still recommend getting one anyway, just in case.
Many car brands and styles offered in Europe differ from those in America. For one, many take diesel rather than gasoline. Also, luxury vehicles like our Mercedes Benz operate very differently from our Subaru Impreza. It took a few days to figure out where all the buttons were.
Finally, be sure to choose a vehicle with large enough storage space. For the first time in our travels together, Martin and I each brought large luggage . We had much more clothing and gifts to pack and couldn't just bring carry-ons as we did in Hong Kong and Belize. The problem was that these suitcases barely fit into the trunk of our Mercedes-Benz rental car, especially when we had to fit similarly sized luggage from our parents. We barely made everything fit by sharing trunk space with Martin's brother's car rental (a Fiat).
Finding Wedding Vendors in Italy: the Officiant
Even though we decided to forgo a wedding planner, we still needed to hire two vendors. The first was an officiant to conduct our wedding ceremony. After much research, we chose to hold our legal wedding ceremony in Seattle. There were too many horror stories online about trying to coordinate legal wedding paperwork abroad. But we still needed someone to lead our formal wedding ceremony. We ended up working with Jo and Sofia of Tuscan Pledges and highly recommend them. They did a wonderful job leading our symbolic wedding ceremony, and we appreciated their quick communication via email and Skype.
Finding Wedding Vendors in Italy: the Photographer
The final piece of the puzzle was finding an Italian wedding photographer. Since we are photographers, this was an easy process. Essentially, we wanted a local Italian photographer since they would be familiar with the area and style of "Tuscan wedding photography" that we were seeking. From there, it was a matter of doing a Google search for "Tuscany wedding photographer" and clicking through as many online portfolios as we could. After evaluating and eliminating about 20 photographers, we chose Studio Bastianoni. We loved David Bastianoni's use of light and his overall style of wedding photography, and his WPPI accolades certainly helped. David himself was unavailable, but we worked with one of his associates (for a lower price!) and love the results. Looking at our wedding photos evokes the feeling and memory of the day as it unfolded, and that was exactly what we were hoping to achieve.
Beyond the two wedding vendors we hired, the rest was DIY. I bought my dress and shoes on Amazon, and Martin got his suit and accessories at Nordstrom. We purchased wedding flowers at a local market and our parents handled the lovely floral arrangements. The wedding venue was our own villa. Pro tip, be sure to check with your host before planning a wedding on private property. Finally, our reception was held in the nearby town of Cortona at Osteria del Teatro restaurant. We simply took a walking tour of the town earlier in the week and made in-person dinner reservations at the restaurant we liked the most. The wedding dinner was delicious, and we were even seated in a nice semi-private dining area.
In the End
At the end of the day, our special wedding day of September 7, 2017 was flawless. We were surrounded by some (but not all) of the most important people in the world to us and we were able to happily celebrate the unification of our families. And to our delight, our wedding photos beautifully capture the magic of our fairytale day. Want to see more from our trip to Italy? Check out our travel photos from Italy, or see our honeymoon photos from Milan.
Are you or someone you know planning a Tuscany wedding? Hopefully, you found this post helpful. Feel free to contact us with questions! We're happy to help however we can.
Can't see the video above? Click here.
Like this post? Share it with friends or pin it for later!
Looking for more travel planning inspiration? Follow our Best of Italy Board on Pinterest for more ideas for your next adventure!