If you’ve dreamt about having your ideal wedding in Italy, I’ve provided you with the first steps you’ll need to plan your wedding in Italy! There are endless articles about planning your dream wedding in Italy, but they’re all from wedding planners. Although they could be somewhat informative, they’re not from the perspective of the bride to be and 9 times out of 10, they’re looking to get hired by you. So this is from a fellow bride on what you’ll need to figure out to plan a wedding in Italy.
I am planning my wedding in Positano, Italy (from the comfort of my home in the US), without a wedding planner at that (bless my ambitious heart). I am in no way, shape, or form an expert on all things wedding planning in Italy, this is just a somewhat detailed account of the logistics that go into planning your dream wedding in Positano, Italy that I have figured out firsthand along the way (and that you should be aware of upfront)!
Now let’s jump in!
Let me first start with, there are 3 different types of wedding ceremonies: religious, civil, and symbolic. Religious and civil wedding ceremonies have a list of requirements that need to be followed down to a T.
Matt and I are not getting legally married in Italy, simply because we are US citizens and don’t need our marriage to be legally recognized in Italy, but in the US! So for that reason (and to save time jumping through Italian legal hoops), we will have a symbolic ceremony in Italy and we will get legally married in the US 2 weeks before the symbolic wedding ceremony. Getting legally married in your country prior to your wedding day in a foreign country is pretty common amongst destination weddings. Planning everything is already hard enough, so unless you absolutely have to have a religious or civil ceremony, have a symbolic ceremony and save yourself the legal hassles.
If you must have either a civil or religious ceremony, reach out to me and I can provide you with some great resources I found on the subject. I will write a separate post about that at a later date.
Before you decide to have your wedding in Italy (really any foreign country or region that you don’t live in) make sure to do the proper research. So. Many. Google. Searches. Search in Google, forums, and ask questions in forums. Yes, the sound of getting married in Positano sounds marvelous and extravagant, but you must figure out the logistics and the vendors you’d like to hire. (I’ll be providing a long list of wedding vendors all over the Amalfi Coast in my next post so stay tuned for that!)
My personal favorite method of research is Instagram stalking. No, I’m not joking, your Instagram sleuthing skills are paying off. We figured out our wedding venue rather quickly so we just searched in Instagram for the venue and POW, hundreds of pictures of beautiful brides that had their wedding at that exact venue are now at your fingertips. See the photographer they used, the florist they used, how they set up the chairs for the ceremony, etc.
I personally reached out to a few of the beautiful brides and even spoke on the phone with one of them. This is your time to ask a flurry of questions directly with someone who has already experienced it all. Also, I followed a bunch of the highly recommended wedding planners from the area on Instagram and they almost always tag the vendors they hired.
But even with all of the Instagram sleuthing, there will be more logistical components that play a big part in wedding planning, such as: the fluctuating exchange rate, the difficulty of traveling to your desired wedding venue, the price differences during different seasons, the weather changes during certain months, and the price of plane tickets amongst other things. And now, to answer a few of those questions…
Transportation: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles… or Boats!
Although the closest airport to Positano is the Naples International Airport (NAP), it is also a rather small airport and flights directly there from the US aren’t very common (at least not from our desired airports/timeframe) so our trip to Positano will consist of flying into Rome, spending the night, then taking a train down to Salerno, and hopping on a ferry boat to Positano. Alternatively, we could take the train down to Naples and then take a bus down to Positano, but what better way to arrive to Positano than by boat (although I have read that if the sea is too rough, the ferry can’t dock – someone please tell me whether this is true or not). This may sound like a lot of hassle for some people so I’d be perfectly upfront with your wedding guests about the travel requirements.
Bonus Tip: How to find affordable airline tickets for a lot of people going to your wedding? Group Booking
I believe just about every airline can accommodate group booking arraignments, in which they have a minimum amount of seats (it’s usually 10) you can group book together. Since Matt and I have a lot of family members and friends that would be flying out of Florida, we coordinated with the Italian airline, Alitalia, and got 24 round trip seats from Miami to Rome and back (Side note: This also helps one of our main objectives of this trip, which is don’t lose any family members in Italy #keystosuccessfuldestinationwedding). Also, we requested the seats early on (10-11 months before the wedding) and got really affordable rates so I’d highly recommend doing that if you know that 10 or more people would be flying from the same airport anyways. The only con to this is coordinating that amount of people traveling together; but hey, that’s all part of the experience.
Timing is Everything
The month you decide to get married plays a major role in your expected wedding expenses, because of supply and demand. During the warmest months in Positano, expect to find a lot of tourists and high prices for accommodations and even vendors.
The seasons in Positano go as follows: high season is from June to August, mid-season months are May and September, and low season months are April and October. The high, mid, and low season months slightly vary by the city in Italy, but as Positano is one of the most visited cities within the Amalfi Coast during the summer it’s busy allllll summer.
For us, our wedding is at the end of August, so hopefully, there won’t be as many tourists around, but the prices for the accommodations are still relatively high. BUT have no fear; there are still great affordable hotels and B&Bs as well, even if your wedding is smack dab in the middle of July.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm (And the best prices)
On that note, book everything as early as possible; I’m talking flights, hotels, wedding vendors, etc. Once you’ve confirmed your wedding venue and picked your wedding day, the earlier you book as many things you can, the better! Especially wedding vendors, such as the: officiant, photographer, videographer, hair and makeup person, and musicians to name a few. Compared to weddings in the US, there isn’t tons of every different vendor in Positano so their availability is limited. And you’re going to want local vendors, mostly because they’re well aware of the logistics that go into preparing for a wedding in Positano (like traveling through narrow winding roads and steps, lots of steps).
Bonus Tip: Consider using one of your wedding guests as one of your vendors!
Do you have a friend or family member who: A) is definitely going to your wedding, and B) is an awesome photographer, videographer, makeup artist, or would make a great officiant on your wedding day, USE THEM! Discuss the idea over with them and see if they are up for it (consider it their wedding day present to you) and that would take care of one (or more) less vendor you need to worry about hiring.
The Occasional Laid Back Vendors
In true Italian laid-back fashion, you might not hear back from a few of your vendors as quickly as you’d like, but don’t panic, they’ll get back to you. If you’re emailing them during their busiest season, it might even take them months to get back to you (i.e. my florist) but as long as your wedding is far enough in advance, you should be fine. Maybe just send a follow-up email after waiting a few weeks (yes, that’s how long my florist took to respond, but they were busy and that’s understandable).
Steps, Steps, Steps, and More Steps
Brace yo-self (and yo-wedding guests), as there are lots of steps to go just about anywhere in Positano. The villa we rented for the week and the wedding is 180 steps above the main road and there are even more steps to go all the way down to the beach. So, make sure you and your wedding guests are ready and able to walk up and down all those steps.
Wedding Planner or Day Of Wedding Coordinator?
So here is where my opinion varies away from other destination wedding brides… I have planned everything up to this point entirely by myself! And yes, it is possible! Because I had thoroughly researched just about every vendor from the very beginning of my wedding planning journey, I knew exactly which vendors I wanted to hire and I did, all through email. Yes, I sent emails in English and the grand majority of everyone that I have emailed writes in perfect English. Yes, it takes a lot of work and sending lots of emails, but you’re any bit as much of a control freak as I, you’d actually enjoy the process! And you’d know for sure that the prices given to you by the vendors themselves are their best rate.
This task is certainly not for everyone so if you want to hand over the reigns to someone else that you’re confident and comfortable with, then by all means, do so! I emailed several wonderful and highly recommended wedding planners in the very beginning, but with all the research I had done, I no longer felt the need to have one. BUT a wedding day coordinator, on the other hand, I feel is absolutely necessary if you don’t hire a wedding planner. On the day of the wedding you definitely need someone else running the show and clearly it can’t be you (nor a friend or family member either, because well, emotions and stress are high on that day) and it should be someone who can communicate clearly with all the Italian vendors (most likely in Italian).
Edit: Unless you’re a professional and have done this before, save yourself the headache and splurge for a good wedding planner. It’s worth keeping your sanity.
And there you have it, everything I wish I knew from the very beginning of planning my wedding in Italy. I admit, it will be stressful at times, but it will all certainly be well worth it on the day of your beautiful wedding. If you’d like to see how my wedding turned out, please see my post My Dream Positano Wedding.