Today is my 3 year wedding anniversary! While I always get nostalgic around this time of year, I was recently asked for advice from someone who is planning a wedding in Lake Como (where we got married). So I thought why not honor our anniversary by posting my tips on planning a destination wedding. As well as my guide to staying in Lake Como here.
On Needing a Wedding Planner:
I would recommend a wedding planner if you are planning a destination wedding, especially if you do not speak the native language. I actually found this to be pretty therapeutic for me, since I am:
- a New Yorker
- a little EXTRA
- a TEENSY bit type A 🙂
On what I wish I knew:
Make a trip to meet your vendors:
Make sure you make a trip to test out hair and makeup and meet with your photographer. I did not meet with my photographer prior, it was a low priority for me, and it’s the only thing I regret!
A rental car may be useful for last minute errands or welcome bag deliveries. As a very PROUD New Yorker who regularly lugs her groceries several blocks and then up multiple flights of stairs, I did not think I needed a car to help with delivering my welcome bags. WELL.. lets just say that carrying roughly 40 lbs of wine in 90 degree weather, a car would have been nice. It ended with me getting hives on my forearms, and multiple walking trips needed. (It was pretty funny though, especially to my husband who did not help!!)
Do not overly trust your wedding planner:
Great planning doesn’t mean great execution. Make sure you are a bit hands on, especially once you arrive for the wedding. My planner did a great job throughout the planning process, so once I got to Lake Como I completely went into vacation mode. I really wanted to be a guest at my own wedding, and I was, but in hindsight, I probably should have laid down the law a bit more once I landed, this mostly would have just helped ease the stress of my bridal party and family 🙂 I was mostly v. chill.
DO worry about the photographer.
I hate taking photos. Like HATE, and since I was getting married in Lake Como (which is gorgeous!) I thought what could go wrong, right?! (WRONG). While I have plenty of usable wedding photos (a few for the wall, and enough for a wedding album) there were lots of missed photo opportunities, and a lot of really bad ones. I should have prioritized this! (And we all know that every wedding blog says to prioritize this, but seriously, do it)
A destination wedding is expensive for guests:
Your favorite uncle may not be able to attend, but that co worker who you thought would not come will be there! It’s a mixed bag with destination weddings, not all people love traveling and that’s ok. One perk of a destination wedding is that it can help keep the wedding more intimate. Once you have decided that a destination wedding is what you want, just be aware you may not have key people there, and be ok with it.
Consider your registry:
Weddings in general are expensive, destination or not and gifts are an added expense. Since these days many of us are getting married when we are older or after many years of cohabitation registries are becoming less of a necessity like they were in the past. This is a personal choice for everyone, my husband and I chose no registry. Especially considering Italy is very far, especially from California where most of our guests lived.
If your budget allows, it’s a good idea to invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner. Guests have travelled very far to see you! A little food and booze goes a long way!
Less is more though, don’t be offended if guests want do their own thing. You do not need to fell obligated to fill every minute of the weekend with events. They are on (an expensive) vacation after all, let them explore! (consider emailing a few cool things to try, while they are there).
- Make note of local jurisdictions and legal requirements for marriage. To have a civil wedding (not in the catholic church) as an American in Italy is very challenging. It’s a 6 month process. My husband and I legally got married at the courthouse in NYC.
- Each US state also has different requirements, so good to know what they are in advance, for example in New York, you must wait at least 24 hours after getting your license to get married. (This is to ensure you REALLY mean it!)