It’s been a while since my last post so you’re probably wondering if wedded bliss has rendered me unable to keep up with my usual frequent blogging schedule while traveling around the world. And the answer is unequivocally…YES! Wedded bliss, honeymooning and wanting to spend every waking moment with my new husband has definitely taken its toll on my writing time. But fear not…I will catch up!
It was an amazing week in Tuscany with our family and friends leading up to our ceremony. From our base at Villa Poggio Tre Lune (30 minutes outside Florence) we took day trips to Rome, Pisa and Florence by train, did wine tastings and even hosted a cooking class at the villa. But mostly we just enjoyed our spectacular surroundings and, especially, each other’s company. It was so wonderful watching our families meet for the first time and bond so quickly and effortlessly. And our friends who made the long journey to join us rounded out our joyful group of 17 in all.
Getting Married in Tuscany
It’s no secret that destination weddings are hugely popular these days, but you may wonder what’s involved to get married in Italy. When Dave (whose family heritage hails back to just outside Pisa) first mentioned that he’d always thought it would be amazing to get married in Tuscany, I nearly jumped at the idea. Vineyards, rolling hills, sunflowers…I knew holding the wedding in Tuscany would provide an incredible backdrop for our celebration.
Our first step was finding a location. We knew we wanted to rent a villa in the countryside where we could hold the ceremony and host our guests for the week. So, as a frequent user and big fan of Airbnb.com for international rentals, I started there. And as it turns out; yes, you can find a Tuscan villa to host your wedding on Airbnb! (If you haven’t rented through Airbnb before, click here for my discount code. You’ll get $40 off your first rental and, when you book, I’ll get $20 off my next rental…that’s a win-win!)
We narrowed our options down to half a dozen but knew we’d need to see them in person to make a final decision. So, in February (a great time to get a deal on flights to Italy!) we made a scouting trip to Florence.
Poggio Tre Lune was the 3rd villa we looked at and we knew instantly that it was the ONE. Not just because the grounds were lush and the views spectacular but because of the owner, Enrico. As soon as we met him and the rest of his family (who live on property and take care of their guests’ every need) we knew we’d found the perfect place.
Hire an Expert
Next, because our original plan was to do a legally binding ceremony in Italy, we knew we needed an expert local wedding planner to help us navigate the red tape (and there is a lot of it!). Our planner was Bonnie, from Distinctive Italy Weddings, and she was fantastic. There is a lot involved in doing a legal ceremony in Italy – first, you must either hold a religious ceremony in a Catholic church or hold a civil ceremony in a town hall or one of a few other locations designated for civil ceremonies.
Once we got deeper into the costs for the paperwork, civil ceremony locations and fees, we decided to go the same route as most couples who get married abroad and stick with a symbolic ceremony that we’d make legal upon our return to the US. Not only did it save time and expense, it allowed us to hold the ceremony at the villa and really personalize it the way we wanted to. And looking back now, I’m so glad we went that route, our ceremony was everything we hoped it would be and didn’t involve a single Italian official!
The Wedding Week
I arrived in Florence with my family (my parents, sister and brother-in-law) one week prior to the wedding. Dave’s family arrived from Seattle the following day and he finally arrived that night after working the past month in Germany. Our friends trickled in over the next few days. None of our family members (except Dave’s sister) had ever been to Italy before so we really wanted to show them as much of this beautiful country as possible using our central location in Tuscany as a base.
Our first day trip was to Rome on the high speed train from Florence. While we were lucky that we never had any rain the whole week, the flip side of that was an unseasonably hot first week of June with temperatures into the 90’s. If you’ve ever been to Rome in the middle of the summer I’m sure you can appreciate just how hot that city can be. It was a sweltering day and a challenge trying to keep 11 people together while wandering the streets but Rome’s ancient sites were a big hit with the families.
After a much needed day of R&R at the villa, we ventured out again the following day on the train to Pisa for a glimpse of the Leaning Tower before spending the rest of the day exploring the streets of Florence. Our group had swelled to 15 by this time and keeping everyone together was even more of a challenge but it was a great day and Dave and I both enjoyed watching our families having so much fun together.
Our Wedding Day
Before we knew it, it was Tuesday and our big day had finally arrived! The villa buzzed with activity as Bonnie dealt with the florist and caterer while Enrico ensured that the villa and grounds were in immaculate condition. Afternoon showers threatened but never developed and we were able to hold our ceremony and reception outdoors just as we’d hoped.
I don’t really know how to express what the day meant to me other than by saying that it was simply the most perfect day of my life. They say something always goes wrong on your wedding day but, honestly, ours was effortless and flawless. At least to us.
It’s hard to believe that at this time last year Dave and I were just colleagues. What a crazy series of events has conspired to bring us to this beautiful place to profess our love and declare our lifelong commitment to each other before our family and friends. What a difference a year can make in your life, huh?
The Honeymoon Begins…
The morning after the wedding we said our tearful goodbyes to our family and friends while they all talked of getting together again soon for another trip. I dare say our families will definitely be spending more time together despite the fact that they live on opposite coasts. And we can’t wait for the next family trip.
But for now, it’s time for the bride and groom to finally have a little alone time. We’ve got a few more days planned in Italy before continuing on to Santorini, Greece. Today, we board the train for the first stop on the honeymoon tour…Cinque Terre!