If you are here it’s likely that you have chosen Italy, my beautiful country, to get married in. My friend, you have made most of the work to achieve a beautiful wedding! I haven’t traveled the whole world but I know that Italy’s scenery, food (oh the food), hospitality and atmosphere, are very hard to beat! If you are thinking of a relaxed and classy affair, then just picking the right location will do most of the work for you!But there are a few things you should know, too. Because if you have chosen another country, you should be conscious of some of ins and outs and be able to navigate around them if you are planning for something different. So here are my top 7 things you should know about your wedding in Italy before you start to plan it.
This might sound obvious, but English isn’t the main language here, Italian is! And sometimes, not even Italian is the main language, but one of our many and colorful dialects 🙂 Even though things are getting better with the younger generations and especially among wedding professionals working constantly with couples coming from overseas, the vast majority of the population isn’t fluent in English. Sometimes your questions via phone or emails might not get answered simply because the recipient doesn’t understand a word! Don’t get discouraged and look harder for people who can help you (that’s a big part of my job, actually!)
2. Embrace the time difference.
I am not just talking about the time zone difference! Consider that here our days follow a different rhythm: our working hours rarely begin before 9:00 am, lunch is at 1pm (and it is not a light snack, it is a proper meal!), dinner could end up around 8pm or later. And the souther you go, the later things tend to happen. So, showing up at a restaurant at 6pm for dinner will get you a complacent smile from the waiters setting up the tables, but no actual food until much later.
We have a totally different holiday calendar, aside from the major religious holidays. Each town has a different day for their Patrono, the local saint the town is devoted to, and on those days facilities, offices and shops might be closed. We also have Ferragosto on the 15 of August, May the 1st, November 1st, December 8th and other days that are mostly not working. Let’s not forget that August is an entire month when most of the country goes on holiday collectively, and that most places will also close from December 23rd to January 7th, when schools re-open. We also obviously don’t have Thanksgiving and other festivities you might celebrate. This is to say that the times for correspondence with your vendors might be influenced by these calendar differences. My advice: don’t panic and expect there to be longer times for responses to come back to you in general, but especially around these times of the year.
Lenny Pellico Photography
4. Vat, SIAE and other unpredictable taxes
Italian fiscal system is a jumbled mess. Oops, I said it. To be sure you are budgeting correctly, always ask if the prices and quotes that are shown to you include taxes and Vat. Vat can be 0, 4, 10 or 22% depending on the category the vendor works in and their specific situation. Don’t be shy about this, ask!
Siae is another expense you might not be aware of. It is a local organization that protects the right of authors and publishers, and if you are throwing an event with music, they collect a fee that should go towards them. It is unavoidable and a little tricky to figure out, so better ask for help with this!
Another expense you might not be thinking about is the transaction fee you’ll need to add on the payments you’ll make from abroad to Italy. They look like small fees one at the time but when you add them up they don’t look so innocent anymore. Keep a 5% of your budget to cover for these expenses!
this should be a no surprise, you should know that Italy as a country is about FOOD. We love our food, we cook every day (I do twice a day actually!), every social occasion revolves mainly around food. It is only natural for food to be a big part of the wedding too! It’s very rare that you’ll get awful or scarce food at a wedding as caterers are really really good at their job and their products are usually super fresh. Unless the price is suspiciously low, be sure your guests will be happy with the food. Italian classic weddings used to have excruciatingly long seated meals, but luckily we have caught up a little and made them a little easier on the guests. Now a typical wedding menu will have abundant appetizers, served buffet style during cocktail hour. Then antipasto, one or two primi piatti (carbs galore) one or two secondi (main dishes with protein) assorted salads and dessert. That brings me to the next point….
Our cakes are different. Traditional wedding cakes are one tiered millefoglie pastries, or crostatas with cream and fruit. Delicious? Yes. Pretty? Well… not as much as the tiered perfection pieces of art I see floating around the web. Local pastry shops have evolved a lot during the latest years, though, and they are starting to offer delicately decorated tiered cake. But they remain different from what you would have abroad, they have softer and lighter dough and can’t stay out of the fridge for long. That is why you won’t find the cake displayed from the beginning of the reception and cake cutting spot is so important. It should be well lit because the cake cutting pictures are going to be the only ones where the cake is going to be at the center of attention!
7. Traditions are different
You might want to replicate the American or British wedding here in Italy, but you need to be prepared to explain your own traditions a little. Most vendors that work constantly with foreigners couple will get them right away, others will need a little bit more explaining. Some examples? We don’t have rehearsals, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, Mc’s to guide the guests through the wedding days, speeches aren’t really a thing. But we have other uses that you might find amusing, like your friends plotting practical jokes to you through your wedding day and night; some of your personal items, like tie and garter, being auctioned to your guests to raise money to begin your married life on a better foundation; showering the newlyweds after the I Do’s with rice or farro seeds (pasta too in some areas!) to wish them abundance. Also, these customs change from region to region!
That’s it, these are just a few things you should take into consideration when planning a Destination Wedding in Italy! Want to know something more or something specific? I’ll be waiting to hear from you!