Getting married abroad: 1 year to go!

On the 5th September next year, I will be feeling like the luckiest lady in the world as I celebrate my marriage to my gorgeous fiancé! As we’ve got 1 year to go, I’ve had some time to reflect on what I’ve completed so far, and some of the lessons that I’ve learnt along the way…

Early on, we came to the realisation that I’m sure a lot of newly engaged couples do: “Christ, weddings are really expensive!!!” Therefore, having over two years to shop around was definitely a great benefit.

Against advice, to keep costs down we have refused to hire a wedding planner – which is a little difficult considering neither Chris or I are fluent in Italian. However, I have managed to arrange the venue, food, photographer, officiant and musician without too much hassle. I’ll also hopefully be able to speak conversational Italian by then *fingers crossed*!

Here are the bits that I’ve had to learn along the way, so far:

1. Having a wedding abroad doesn’t mean less people will come.

When you picture destination weddings, you often picture small, intimate parties… well not for us! Obviously we are grateful that everyone can come – but with it being so far – we didn’t expect an 85% positive return on the RSVPs. In hindsight, we should’ve maybe sought a venue in a busier location. Despite being beautiful, the venue is in a small village in the Tuscan countryside; halfway between Florence and Perugia. There’s a good chance that our wedding guests will sell out the village, and some. Hopefully the beauty of the location will make up for the lack of hotels!

2. Be wary of foreign taxes that don’t exist in the UK.

Italy have a music tax which is referred to as SIAE tax. This means that you have to register and pay tax for ANY music played out loud at an event. The amount you pay is dependent on the size of the party, and the type of music played (live or prerecorded). It is fully the responsibility of the party host – not the venue or musician – to pay this, so we are expecting this to cost us about €300.

3. Carefully assess the true cost of a civil/religious ceremony abroad.

This was quite an early realisation for us, and hence we have opted for a symbolic ceremony. You’ll need to consider the paperwork required in your home country, the paperwork required at the destination, and the hire of a government recognised translator to translate the documents both before the wedding, and on the day. I think we tallied this up to €3000 or so. We have opted for the services of TWO to act as the officiant for the day.

4. If you decide to go for a symbolic wedding, search for venues that don’t advertise as wedding venues.

You’ll soon realise that anything with “wedding” attached to the title increases the price tag by about 250%. Both of the venues that I went to visit in Tuscany were hotels that I had found on Booking.com. I emailed a great number of hotels simply asking if they could accommodate symbolic wedding with 50-70 guests – easy!

5. The above principle also applies to wedding stationary!

I ordered 50 invitations as business flyers on a Black Friday preparation discount. I was so happy with them, and even happier that they only cost me about £25.

Of course I still have all the exciting things to come; in fact, I’ve got my dress appointment booked for the end of this month. I still have to find some local services (e.g. a cake maker), of which I anticipate will have a larger language gap. But all in all, so far been an absolute pleasure to plan and I’m so happy that I can finally start getting excited for it!


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