After their fairytale wedding in Tuscan a Castle and extended honeymoon throughout Italy, Sarah and Matt tell us their Tuscany wedding story. Five adjectives describing their experience:
Matt & I met in London, got together in France, moved to Sydney … so in keeping with our worldly relationship, we were engaged in Belize and got married in Tuscany!
We had had a fabulous holiday in Italy in 2013 when we drove around Tuscany and fell in love with the landscape and pace of life; it stuck with us. Living in Sydney, with so many friends & family still in the UK, it made sense to opt for a destination wedding, and Tuscany fitted the bill perfectly.
On the con side, a destination wedding means that not everybody would travel to join us for the weekend, but we had many more people say yes than we ever anticipated, in the end we had 70 people at the wedding, including 20 from Australia.
On the pro side, a destination wedding also means that you get to spend more than a few hours with your guests – we were able to make a weekend of it and found that our guests were super relaxed as they were on holiday.
The wedding venue
Our venue was Castello di Vicchiomaggio and it was perfect, checking all the boxes: chapel for our ceremony, accommodations for most of our guests, and a winery onsite. All within our budget.
We wanted to keep things relatively simple in terms of flowers & decorations as the location is so stunning. We stuck with white and olive green colors in keeping with the venue. We did spend a bit extra to have lighting, including paper lanterns, hanging across the terrace where we had dinner and the evening party which looked stunning and was absolutely worth it.
Our ceremony wasn’t until 4pm, so we had the morning to relax by the pool and enjoy the atmosphere. The team of hair & makeup stylists arrived at lunch time to work their magic on me, the bridesmaids and my mum. We had a lot of laughs getting ready and Duccio, the photographer, was there to capture it all.
It was easier for us to be officially married in the UK. There is some documentation required to have a legally binding wedding in Italy, requiring trips to the embassy and it is not a straightforward process. As a result, we opted for a symbolic ceremony in the church and from our perspective, that will always be our wedding day. A local pastor delivered a fantastic sermon on the day.
One of the members of the band we had hired played music on a keyboard in the church. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel Canon in D and we walked out of church to an instrumental version of Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love With You. Matt’s brother kindly prepared a reading – we had no idea what he was going to say which was a nice surprise in contrast to the rest of the day which went just as expected.
After the ceremony, we moved to the cocktail reception on the scenic terrace where the band played an acoustic set and there was an array of amazing food stations including cold cuts, bruschetta and fried options. Matt & I were whisked off to the vineyard for some photos amongst the vines – whilst we didn’t want to spent too much time away from our guests, these were our favorite pictures of the day, with the castle in the background. We later moved to the dinner area which was arranged in banquet-style tables arranged in a E-shape to make the most of the space but also to make the most of the table shapes/sizes that were available at the venue without having to hire separate tables. The setting was superb, from the flowers to the lighting and the band set up with the dance floor at the other end of the terrace. We had speeches before dinner, expertly emceed by one of two best men at short notice!
The food was very important to us, so we went with the most expensive dining option. Having visited the venue a year earlier, we had complete confidence in the chef & kitchen staff who churned out 70 hot meals of three courses and catered for a multitude of dietary requirements including vegetarian, gluten free & dairy free. The venue package included a traditional Italian wedding cake – millefoglie with strawberries & cream. Later in the evening, the kitchen delivered an enormous cheese display which was hardly touched by our guests – there was so much food all day!
We chose The Waistcoats as our band because they are based in Italy but with band members from Italy, Germany & Ireland. They have a huge & varied set list that we could chose from, and they were very affordable – we certainly got our value for money from them as they played in the church, at the cocktail reception and after dinner, followed by a DJ set. Paul, the Irish front man from the band, was so great to deal with. He recommended a variety of options for the DJ set after their live set, but in the end, we put our trust in Paul to DJ for us for a couple of hours; he did a fantastic job gauging the audience and keeping the party going til the wee hours!
The band offered to learn the song we had chosen for our first dance, but Gregory Porter’s Real Good Hands is a jazz/soul track that would be hard to do it justice, so we stuck with the original.
What did your guests tell you about the day?
Picture-perfect; such a fabulous location; everything ran like clockwork; impressive menu & food; so much fun!
What else would you like to add about your wedding in Italy that you think would be of interest to couples planning their own wedding?
I would recommend that couples put their trust in their wedding planner – there may be individual quirks that you want for your wedding, but the wedding planner has been through it hundreds of times and will have it running like clockwork on the day. Our planner was a dream, especially on the day itself when she managed everything at the venue, getting all the guests – and us! – to the right places at the right times, coordinating the food, the waitstaff, the photographer, and generally freeing us up to enjoy the excitement of the day.
We had a website which we used for RSVPs and song requests for the band/DJ set. We also updated it regularly with information for our guests so everyone knew, more or less, what to expect on the day. We had so many questions from dress code to accommodation requests, that the website was a great forum to broadcast the information to all involved. I would also suggest that you decide how important it is for you to stick to a budget. We never really had a set budget, so the expenses just got bigger & bigger. In hindsight, we wouldn’t change much – we spent far more on flowers, lighting, chairs, food, drink and transport than we ever anticipated but we don’t regret a moment of it. If you can stretch to it, then it will be absolutely worth it.
The most stressful part of our wedding was getting everyone to the venue. We took far more responsibility for this than we should have and ended up spending a fortune on multiple shuttle buses between Pisa airport & the venue. People had delayed flights which made it all the more complicated. We should have left it up to our guests to make their own plans to get to the venue.
Most of all, my recommendation would be to enjoy the day/weekend and try to remember every moment of it. We spent so many months organizing it and then it was over in a flash; try & take in every detail. Things won’t go exactly to plan but who cares when you’re in a fabulous location surrounded by all your friends & family.
See more pictures from Sarah and Matt’s wedding plus a list of local Italian vendors by clicking here.