The first 5 steps to plan your Destination Wedding in Italy

The Covid-19 emergency has really marked this 21th Century. A terrible 2020 and for some reasons a 2021 which is not yet able to give a solid reply to one sole question: When all this is going to end? Like the Pandora vase, the only thing left on the bottom of the vase is the hope and we are holding her in our hands taking care not to break it. This hope is slowly bringing us into a shinning light. Vaccination program is on in many Coutries and among those we have Italy, named also “la dolce vita” and “il bel Paese”.

Italy is one of the most reqursted destination for those couples who want to get married abroad and most probably is the Country that more than anyone else has suffered from the Covi-19 flight and stay restrictions.

A lot has been said already about event regulations, restrictions do’s and dont’s but in this article we  would like to give everyone the chance to start dreaming again about planning a wedding and why not a Destiantion wedding in Italy. We need it. We all deserve it.

The Tv was our main companion during these months, with its series and cult movies and so I decide to wathc a movie called “Destination Wedding”, starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Riders among my favourite Hollywood actors. It is a comedy movie about a couple of strangers, Lindsay (Ryder) and Frank (Reeves) who are going to take part to the same wedding in California. From the moment they met at the airport they complained all the time and actually never stopped.

Let me say that the movie title moved me to an idyllic idea of what to expect and at the end I’ve got totally disappointed. I was expecting a emotional movie, with amazing surrounding to dream of, an unique story, Iconic characters, hyper romantic garnished by laughs( lot of those!) with an unexpected extraordinary ending!

I just described your ideal destination wedding vibes, isn’t it?

But how to fulfill the expectation of your wedding day and avoid to see yourself in that surly couple on their way to a weird adventure instead of a lifetime event?

We ask this question to an italian wedding professional, Maria Pia Carbotti, owner of Puglia Ever After a destiantion wedding agency based in Puglia, Southern Italy.

“Planning a wedding is always a strong emotion, but organizing a destination wedding is the most excited experience you can achive as a couple, deciding to say “I do” in Italy is a life time experience, not only for them but also for their guests!”, Maria Pia said.

“My suggestion is always to hire a professional local planner, even if you decide to have youre wedding few miles away from your area, but if you have the time and the will to dive into this unrepeatable and unique journey, then I’d like to give you a ideal map with the first 5 steps to plan your Destination Wedding in Italy.”

FIRST STEP: GET TO KNOW ITALY A LITTLE MORE

Italy. When this name crosses your brain, automatically it recovers to at least 8 related Italy facts and all worthy for a Destination Wedding Planning.

The amazing food experience is for sure the first things that come into your mind, than the fashion industry, the relaxing and enjoyable lifestyle, the fresh Mediterranean air, the culture, the history along with the artistic heritage and those amazing landscapes and surroundings which are the perfect frames for your day.

Oh yes,it is always easy to fall in love to the smooth surface of things, but as you do for the person you are going to marry, you have to get to know more about Italy if you want to keep the love up.

The first thing you have to know about Italy is the language barrier. Communication is everything, specially when you are out of your Country. Unfortunately you might find some difficulties if reaching places which are not used to tourism, unlike Rome or Florence. This cons do not have to stop you from planning your wedding in Italy, but instead be informed about how to get around with Italians. If you are planning to visit a venue or a church, make sure you have an appointment with them as they have the time to call an interpreter eventually. A vocabulary is always very helpful in these cases,but we are in 2021 and Google is your personal Santa’s helper.

Another important thing you should know is that, especially in high tourist area, prices might be quite high and become more higher if you are an outsider. It is something that me too, as Italian,I totally disagree with and that is why I suggest you to follow the locals’ habits. Always buy where local buy like  specific shops or weekly markets, greet everyone with “Ciao” e “Grazie” and at the end of the day you will have new friends!

SECOND STEP:BE ON THE SAME PAGE WITH YOUR PARTNER

So you going to get married in Italy!? Great choice! Where exactly? That’s the question my dear:Where are you going to get married in Italy? Will it be a Lake area or a city pick? Are you thinking about a beach or a romantic castle as ideal scenario?

The more deeper you go,the faster the headache will come and you know what? When it comes with Italy,it is hard to decide what will be the ideal background for your stunning pictures.

Here is my suggestion for you.Take a weekend,and dedicate it to you as couple. Silent your phone ringtone, put some music on and talk about your wedding: What you want and what you don’t. What to expect and how your guests will figure it being part of your wedding( don’t forget you are planning a vacation for them!).

Search on best Wedding Platform or site where you can find all info about the locations you select as “possible winners” of this loving race and go from there.

It might be hard as you will collect a lot of information, but time by time you will be able to skim few option and proceed with the venues selection.

At the end of the journey, when your wedding will be on your back, you will still remember that weekend searching for ideal location while you were eating pizza …and you will smile because for your rehearsal welcome party you had an authentic Italian Pizza party with all your guests…but this is another story! 

THIRD STEP: CHOOSE A EASY TO REACH DESTINATION

Hopefully during the same weekend (LOL!) and possibly while you are selecting the right location, you have to make sure there are flights, trains and buses connections to your wedding venue: without those connections a dream can be easily turn into a nightmare.

The most important factor of course are the flight connections. If you and your guests have to take about 2-3 flights in a row and spend half day to reach your destination, the journey will be really exhausting..

If you have to change from an international flight to a domestic one to reach your destination, try to look for those companies whose flights timetable are perfectly manageable for everyone.

It will be a good option to combine as much guests as possible on the same flights. In this way, once they landed, a transfer cab will bring them straight to hotel where a nice and fresh cocktail, ready to be sipped is waiting for them!

Puglia, for istance, is well connected with domestic and interational flights with Bari and Brindisi as main airports. With a good travel plan and few tips, you will be able to assure a save and stress free vacation to your families and friends.

FOURTH STEP:PASSPORT IS NOT ENOUGH. GET INFORMED ABOUT LEGALITIES

Whether you choose Puglia as your Destination Wedding or not,it is import you know what kind of wedding and celebration you can have in Italy.

If you are planning to have a civil wedding ceremony, you have to contact your embassy and make sure they can issue all docs the Italian Government might ask as those change based on your nationality.

If instead you are going to have a Catholic wedding ceremony, along with the Civil Procedure you have to follow also their requests.

Let me add, based on my personal wedding planner experience, that a lot of bureaucratic procedures depend on the efficiency of the person in charge. Some of them are very strict on procedure, specially if you American or Australian.Infact there are extra documents that must be collected from you only directly at the embassy and there is no chance for the documents to be mailed to anyone,not even your planner.

Finally, if you want to get rid of all these tricky steps, you can go for a symbolic wedding ceremony. Sometimes,especially when you decided to get married in a couple of weeks, it is the only option you have. I’m talking about the possibility to plan an elopement or an intimate wedding in Italy. As a matter of fact, you need several months to collect (and make sure not to miss any!) all documents you need for a legal bound in Italy. For this reason, better if you get married in your Country (it is just a couple of signature on a paper…you can do it!) and have your amazing celebration surrounded by your loved ones. Love is more than a signature on a paper. Emotions will get alive while living a dream and believe me…you will have those! 

FIFTH STEP: MAKE SURE YOUR WISH LIST RESPECTS THE BUDGET

I put the budget issues at the last journey step simply because I wanted to give you as much as information as possible to start thinking about Italy as the right Destination Wedding.

Of course budget is a main component of a wedding planning, but after all you have  dreamed about this day since you met your partner.

Now, as I’ve said before, a destination wedding is more than a simple event, it is a vacation not only for you as couple but for your family and friends too. An important part of the budget is to have clear in your mind what you want to cover in term of guests’ expenses and what you will let your guests pay for.

Part of this planning step is surely the season you want to get married in. If you consider summertime, then you have to increase a plus 30-40% on your initial budget: flights and stays might increase a lot.

My tip to you, in regards to the stay, is to look for a private villa renting, specially indicated for small groups instead of all inclusive offer as those are more easy to manage and gave you more opportunity to visit the area with no stress on timing.

So, how was this 5 steps journey to your Destination wedding in Italy? Has it been better than the one the movie characters had? I hope so, at least it has been useful.

Quoting the movie,I want to leave you with a citation from it, which is actually a question all of you  have to answer, no matter if you are planning a home backyard wedding or a destiantion one: “What if the real destination is to fall in love?”.I’m sure it is so. This is the destiantion we all dream of, after all.

Shabbir Ahmad

Student & writer. Eat > Write > Sleep > Repeat.