Follow Bridalwave’s real life, step by step guide to having a wedding in Italy by bride-to-be Victoria in this wedding series. This week Victoria picks a venue.
When we decided we were getting married in Italy we knew we would have to see the venue in person before we booked. You can see in my first post in this series why we decided to choose Italy but now I want to take you through how we chose our venue.
Before we left we had shortlisted 3 venues:
As we departed the UK our hearts were set on Villa Catignano with a wedding ceremony at Sienna Town Hall. On arrival we checked into our hotel, the stunning Villa Curina – http://www.villacurinaresort.com/ita/. Curina would actually make a pleasant wedding venue in itself but was a little too modern for our tastes. It did however have a rocking view over Sienna and the most courteous staff. After a scrummy breakfast we headed to Gaiole-in-Chianti to check out our first venue – Villa Vistarenni.
Vistarenni was actually our least favourite venue ahead of the trip (due to some quite dubious photography from the wedding planner who first introduced us to the venue) but on the way there we soon changed our minds. As you drive along the windy Tuscan roads about 5 mins out of Gaiole you can make out Vistarenni in all its old school glamour from your car window. It is a 16th Century villa and a great venue for weddings owing to its fairly isolated (great if you want to have a noisy wedding like ours) location and space for 37 people. Once we arrive, the smiling owner Elisabetta greets us and takes us on a tour of the house and grounds.
We are overwhelmed by stunning room after stunning room. The Villa is filled with interesting curiosities and valuable antiques – so much so you feel like you are in a film in a completely different time. As we were shown round it soon became apparent that this was the venue for us. It really reflected the European faded glamour we were after and also has a very laid back feel – I am sure this has a lot to do with Elisabetta. When we asked about noise restrictions or curfews she just laughed and said if we hire the venue it is ours to do what we want – our kind of place! The wonders continue outside with a fantastic pool with views overlooking the rolling Tuscan hills. The pool has a great location and basks in sun all day. There is a large BBQ by the pool and a couple of minutes walk away two tennis courts. In front of the Villa on the terrace there is a wall of lavender and from then you can just see miles and miles of vineyard. Lucky for us still managed by Elisabetta and her family – a bottle of Chianti Classico from her vault is just 6 euros.
Another bonus is that Elisabetta does not charge for you to host your wedding there if you are hiring all the bedrooms – beware as many venues do. We have heard of quite a few venues that want an extra £2/3K just to use the gardens for a wedding breakfast.
Although this is Tuscany we were concerned about the weather and wanted to be sure we could go inside if the weather took a distinct British feel. And we were very pleased to know that on the day we can decide to use the converted barn for our sit down meal for an extra 985 euros. It was great to not have to book this in advance and then not use it. Elisabetta is very much focused on her guests and offers to help with many things. In fact since booking the venue Elisabetta has recommended to us photographers, florists, interpreters etc.
The venue had all we wanted and we both knew it was for us instantly. I think my advice would be to go with your gut feeling when choosing a venue. We did go on and look at the other venues and I would highly recommend Villa Catignano if you wish to marry in Sienna. We found Sienna Town Hall was too opulent for us. It is truly stunning but I did find it overwhelming. Villa Ulignano was a pleasant venue with stunning facade but very, very far away in Volterra. This somewhat put us off as it took hours to get there.
Once we decided on Villa Vistarenni we had two options for the actual ceremony. Vistarenni has a chapel on site, which can be used for religious and symbolic wedding as well as blessings. It is located only a few yards away from the villa, in a romantic location protected by cypresses. Or we had an option to marry at a local town hall. You could in theory marry in Sienna and have the reception at Vistarenni but it is quite a distance – about 45 minutes drive. From Vistarenni you can see the hill top town of Radda and we went there next.
I will forgive you for thinking I am an impulsive girl when I tell you that as soon as we parked the car in Radda we knew we would have the ceremony there. The views from the town are out of this world and it has a very quiet feel. There is one narrow, car-less street up to the town hall with peppered with few shops and bars. At the top is a small square with the town hall on one side and the main church on the other. When we enquired at the town hall we were shown the ceremonial room and also informed we could marry outside in the courtyard. That had us straight away. We were very keen on a marriage open to the elements and the courtyard to the town hall is particularly stunning owing to the large archways, which spill onto the town square.
You can marry at the town hall from 900 euros but remember that you need to add the cost of an interpreter to that which is essential under Italian law – approximately 1000 euros all in. If you would like to book or find out more information call the Anagrafe – details can be found here. A little tip is to ask for Letizia who is extremely helpful.
In my next post I will spill the beans on one of the best things about getting married in Italy – the food!