Choosing the location of your wedding is the most important and inspiring part of the process, even more so if you want to say yes in Italy. Historical palazzos, luxury hotels, fairytale villas and impressive castles… There are so many breathtaking wedding locations it won’t be easy to choose just one!
I have designed weddings in many locations, rustic ones in Tuscany countryside, like Casa Cornacchi and luxurious ones like “Four Seasons” and I have seen dozens of venues all throughout Italy. In this post, I would like to share my knowledge and experience to help you choose wisely.
The choice of the location is like the wedding gown – once you will see it, you will know this is the one! Yet, there are some best practices to follow, so your fairy tale venue doesn’t turn into a pumpkin way before midnight.
It happens to me too sometimes. I see a new location online and it seems so perfect I fall in love with it instantly. Then I visit it as I always do, just to realize it falls apart and makes a completely different impression.
If the chosen location is new for me, I always check it personally and send to the couple the actual photos and videos, so they can see how it looks in real life.
Nowadays every location can afford a good photographer who knows how to use Photoshop to make it look awesome even when it doesn’t.
Ask yourself what is not in there if you see too many pictures of a highlight, like a swimming pool or a view of the rolling hills and very few of everything else. Consider the bright colors might actually look a little different live. Ask for photos made after sunset to see if the location is properly illuminated.
I usually have at least one Skype call entirely dedicated to the venue choice, where I ask the couple how they envision their special day to understand what really matters to them. What kind of ceremony suits them better? City or countryside? Casual or luxurious? Do they want all the guests to stay at the location or just the close family?
If you want to have a destination wedding, consider the flight length too. After a 14 hours flight the last thing you want is to drive across Tuscany for 2 more hours to reach your location.
If dancing until morning matters to you, ask in advance if the venue allows it. If you are close to other buildings, loud music after midnight might be an issue. Some locations ask for the wedding fee, others don’t allow fireworks, or can have some house rules unsuitable with your priorities.
Check the street that leads to the venue with Google Street View before choosing it. Some villas with amazing panoramic views might be located on narrow roads or not have parking spots. In this case, the best thing you can do is to provide transportation to your guests and hire a wedding planner to coordinate the vendors.
This process reminds me of a perfume choice: after a few, you just can’t tell the difference anymore. This is why after the priorities are well defined I only propose a few venues to the couples I work with.
There are hundreds of gorgeous locations in Tuscany, you can’t possibly check them all, so my advice is to make the process as stress-free as it can be and choose the location that fits your needs better.
If you want to get an outdoor wedding, consider the plan B in case of rain. There is an average of more than 200 sunny days a year in Tuscany but you can never know.
Ask the property if they can accommodate all your guests indoors and don’t rely on marquees unless these are part of the design since the very beginning. A transparent one that will show you actually got married in Italy, not in an anonymous white tent, but remember, these are expensive!
Consider not only the reception itself but also how plan B will affect catering, dancing, or cutting the cake. Do you still like how it looks? Then this is the right location for you.
This part is often overlooked at the beginning, yet it can become quite an issue later on. Be sure to check how flexible are the people running the venue. If they are too rigid and you will have to fight for every smallest detail or change in the program, or on the contrary, if they are too shallow and don’t care to reply on time or handle the event with precision, just choose another venue.
This is not something I knew at the beginning of my career but after 10+ years of experience, I can affirm it loud and clear: there’s no view or historical location that can compensate for inflexible or superficial owners.
If you organize your wedding without a wedding planner, be sure to ask all the questions in detail before signing the contract. If all you hear is “no”, you can be sure it will be a source of stress in the later stages, and trust me, it’s not worth it!
Wedding venues might have different ways to deal with contracts. My advice is to make sure it is as detailed as it can be, to protect both you and the managers.
The time schedule of your event must be stated clearly in the contract, as well as what is included in the service and what is extra. Even something that looks like a detail now: breakfast the morning after the wedding, or cleaning staff during the event, will matter later.
In uncertain Covid times you might want to make sure you won’t have to pay a penalty or lose your deposit if your wedding will be postponed for reasons that don’t depend on you, like travel bans and lockdowns.
This is another thing you can’t possibly know in advance. Even if you can’t stay for 3 nights, at least make sure your wedding ceremony and reception don’t take place on the check-in day and don’t plan your check-out for the day after the wedding.
It is not recommendable to have the ceremony on the same day you check-in because there are decorations to put in place, usually 5-6 hours before the ceremony and the rooms aren’t usually available before 1-2 PM.
The check-out the day after the wedding is not a good idea because some of the guests might not be in great shape after the open bar you provided, others will surely want to sleep in after a night of dancing, and you don’t want to ruin their amazing impression of your big day by making them pop out of bed too early.
Another thing to consider is that your wedding decorations have to be disassembled after the event. If you check-out on the next day, it has to be done at 4-5 AM – a service that may cost more than an extra accommodation night.
Now that you have all the knowledge, you can start looking for your perfect wedding location for your destination wedding in Italy. Or contact me, I know a few hidden gems in Tuscany you will fall in love with too!