By Martine DeMartino of La Newyorkese
Although it was over 10 years ago, I can still remember the finite details of planning my destination wedding in Italy like it was yesterday. The decision to get married in Italy was very easy for us. I am Italian-American from New York and my husband’s family lives from Naples, Italy. He spent his childhood living in Naples before coming back to the US for high school and college. We both have relatively small families and the fact that we would be getting married in Italy made his Mom the happiest person in the world!
Based on all of this, you might wonder why we chose Rome. Well, first of all, we both fell in love with the city during our first trip to Italy as a couple. To this day, it is our favorite Italian city. Secondly, we knew that our then childless friends from New York and most of our families, including his family in Naples, would love to make a vacation around our destination wedding. We could have chosen Naples or the Amalfi Coast, but Rome was much more convenient, as far as travel goes, from the US. It turned out to be one of the best choices we have ever made!
As soon as we got engaged, we decided on getting married in Rome. I set out to find a Wedding Planner, a must in my book. Our Wedding Planner took care of many details, most importantly made sure that we were legally married in Italy. She gave us a step by step guide on all of the paperwork and rules that come with getting married in a foreign country. She also helped us navigate church and venue selection. About a year before the wedding, we went to Rome to visit a curated list of churches and venues. I highly recommend this to anyone who is planning a wedding abroad.
We wound up picking Castello della Castelluccia as our reception venue. A 13th century castle 20 minutes right outside of the city. We loved the dramatic and beautiful castle, the food was also amazing. For our church, we chose Santa Maria in Aracoeli. It was the most uniquely beautiful churches I had ever been in and it’s is right in the center of Rome, next to Campidoglio and in front of the Roman Forum. The impressive staircase made up of 124 steps would make for fantastic photographs and views of the Eternal City from the top.
With our venue and church chosen, we headed back to New York. Over the next year, we relied heavily on our Wedding Planner in Italy who helped us pick our photographers, plan hotels for our guests and pick a florist. This is where we really saw the value of having an advocate in Italy. She was able to find us very talented photographers, who took the most amazing pictures. The cost for the caliber of work was incredibly affordable as well. From the band and planning our welcome cocktail party, our wedding coordinator was invaluable.
Our wedding took place on April 7, 2005. In case you don’t recall, this was the week that Pope John Paul II passed away. When we got on the plane from JFK the Saturday before our wedding, they just announced that the Pope had passed away, we were unsure whether or not we would actually be having a wedding. When we landed, our Wedding Planner was once again a huge help. She explained that we had to wait to see when the funeral would be, if it was set to take place on Thursday (our wedding day) our wedding would be canceled since all churches in Rome would be closed. I tried to stay calm, but I was kind of freaking out. I had 50 people traveling to Rome from all over and my wedding was possibly going to be canceled! The next day, we got the call that Thursday was safe. The funeral would take place on Friday. After we found out that the wedding was on, we took a step back and really took in the city at a very historic moment. Millions of people traveled to Rome that week to pay homage to the Pope, it was a beautiful time to be in a beautiful city. Our guests were glad to be there during this historical time as well.
The night before the wedding, we threw a welcome cocktail party for everyone who traveled to Rome. We held it at Boscolo Exedra Roma, which was beautiful. The terrace overlooking Piazza della Repubblica was just the right size for our guests. This was another amazing suggestion by our Wedding Coordinator.
The wedding and the reception went off without a hitch, it was magical. To this day, our guests still talk about our wedding in Italy and how beautiful it was. Not surprisingly, the food was amazing. We had an intimate traditional Italian dinner. In Italy the dinner is the center of the wedding reception. We danced and celebrated, but not until we ate a four course meal! For our cake, we went the traditional route and had a Millefoglie, which was amazing. At first, I was upset that we weren’t going to have a traditional American wedding cake, but then I tasted it and realized why the Italians use this cake/pastry for weddings. We also went the traditional route and gave out Bomboniere (Italian wedding favors), which was very important to my Mother-In-Law. In choosing which Bomboniere to give, I learned that in Naples there are specific stores dedicated to all kinds of Bomboniere for many occasions. We chose small silver frames since I am not one to collect ceramic statues. My Mother-In-Law approved.
My advice to anyone who is planning a wedding or thinking of getting married in Italy is: do it! You will not regret it, BUT hire a local Wedding Planner. As you can tell from my story, many things can go wrong, you will want someone there who knows Italy, the local venues and vendors well. Pick someone you trust, travel to Italy at least once before you get married and make sure you see your venue in person. Celebrate your guests, they traveled to celebrate you. Enjoy your magical time, I know that we did.
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About the writer:
Martine is Italian-American. She loves food, New York and Italy. Her blog, La Newyorkese, is a documentation of her life in New York as an Italian-American with roots in Naples, Italy.
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