After recently returning from our trip to Europe to photograph Kristine and Joey’s absolutely amazing wedding in Lake Como, Italy, I started thinking, who wouldn’t want to get married in this absolutely amazing place?
A wedding is about celebrating the union of you and your amazing fiancé with the people who are absolutely closest to you. Being that is the case, wouldn’t it make sense to turn your wedding into the experience of a lifetime?
Truthfully, many of you would love to have a destination wedding, but you are unsure about where to start. I know when we got married, I threw the idea out to Jennifer a few times, but when we started thinking about the costs and logistics, it was an idea that was put on the backburner. I am sure that many of you have run into this yourselves.
Well, planning a destination wedding in Italy is probably easier than you think, and, dare I say it, a lot more affordable then you imagine. First I want to talk about some of the simple steps to get you started.
Step 1: Choose your region
This may seem obvious, but there are a few things to consider when planning a destination wedding. However because the area will likely be foreign to you, it’s best to choose the initial region you would like to get married before picking a specific venue. Some of the most common and most beautiful locations in Italy are The Almafi Coast, Sorrento, Florence, Rome, and Lake Como, where we photographed Kristine and Joey’s wedding. Once you can narrow down the location, proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Hire a destination planner
It’s imperative that you hire someone who specializes in destination weddings, if you are here in the United States and you don’t speak the native language, I cannot stress how important it is to hire someone who is trustworthy, easy to communicate with, and knowledgeable with the laws regarding planning a local wedding. We were so lucky to find Francesca from The Italian Wedding Event. I honestly wanted to bring her home with us after seeing how well she helped Kristine and Joey, she was one of the best coordinators I have had the pleasure of working with throughout my career. She spoke absolutely perfect English and will be available for a Skype call if you are interested in inquiring about your wedding. Once you hire a planner, they can help you choose a local location that fits your budget.
Step 3: Plan your local reception
This is one thing that many people thinking about planning a destination wedding are worried about, not having some of their friends and family available to celebrate their day. Obviously, not everyone will be able to come with you to Europe to be witness to your vows. That’s ok, our recommendation is to plan a local reception back at home. Choose an affordable venue, within your budget that will allow you to have you friends and family present. You can choose to make it informal or formal, and my recommendation is to make sure that you tie in your destination into the theme of the reception party. Show pictures and video from your trip, believe me, your friends and family are dying to see them. Your photographer will be willing to make you a slideshow from the trip to show your friends and family everything that happened on your trip.
Step 4: Hire your Vendors and a travel agent
Most of your vendors can be found locally, you should definitely find a local caterer, and florist. I would however recommend hiring a destination wedding photographer (I am not biased, there are reasons for this!) to bring with you on the trip. Make sure your reach out to them ASAP because a destination wedding can include multiple days of travel so it’s best to make sure that your vendor of choice has this time available.
Why hire a destination wedding photographer?
It’s really simple, your engagement session, reception party and meetings will all take place locally. Your photos are going to be the absolute most important part of your trip. You are planning your wedding halfway across the world, you definitely want to meet and get a feel of your photographer before you have them document this incredible journey. It is an awesome thing to have a photographer be able to work with you from start to finish during your entire process.
Also, more than anything else, there are subtle intricacies in the language we use to get expression out of our clients and direct poses, that could get lost with a language barrier. These small intricacies can make the largest different in the outcome of your photographs.
While I can’t speak for every destination wedding photographer, we actually bundle travel costs into our destination packages, and as far as affordability goes, our love for travel and our busy local schedule allows us to offer destination wedding packages more affordable than you may think. Right now we are able to photograph 2-3 overseas weddings per year, and because our schedules book up quickly it’s always a good idea to reach out early.
But wouldn’t a local photographer know the locations better?
Truthfully, in photography, what is new, is usually inspiring. We have done some of our best work in brand new locations because we are approaching it with a fresh eye. We have tools such as Google Earth and The Photographer’s Ephemeris that can help us plan locations and light for places we have never been to before. Francesca helped us determine which locations needed permits and which ones didn’t as well so planning was that much easier!
Step 5: Plan your honeymoon!
This should be the easiest part for you! There are so many amazing places to see in Italy, but my favorites were Florence and Bellagio. Jen and I will be heading back in April 2016 to explore more of the amazing places in Italy. I recommend spending a minimum of 2 weeks traveling with 3 nights in each of your chosen regions. From the wine in Tuscany to the awesome food in, well everywhere, you will not regret planning your destination wedding in Italy! It will be an experience you will never forget.