I love Italy. The food, the wine, the shopping and especially a ruddy pretty wedding. Laura and Gavin’s destination wedding takes us to Villa Catignano near Siena. Although they had over 70 guests it still feels like a very intimate affair. I love the stationery, the table decor is to die for and I the festoon lighting is perfect.
Laura The Bride: Gavin and I met 11 years ago on a college exchange to Lingen in Germany back in 2003 when we were just 17 and 18 years old. Even though we attended the same college in our home city, our paths had never crossed before. After 6 years together we became engaged during a round-the-world trip where we took a couple of months off work. Gavin proposed while we were lying in a hammock on one of the stunning Yasawa islands in Fiji.
We’ve never stopped travelling, and it’s our love of seeing the world that made the idea of getting married somewhere other than our home city so appealing. Also, I lost my dad when I was little so the thought of a big white wedding in England just didn’t seem right; I knew we should do something different and a bit out of the ordinary.
We started to plan our wedding in 2012, two years before our intended date. This meant we could invite people early on and give them almost two years’ notice! This most certainly helped as out of 73 invited guests, 72 flew out to Italy – we felt so privileged. We also discovered how few people had actually been to Italy before and it has been such a great feeling to know we’ve encouraged people to take a trip they might not have done usually, some even conquered a fear of flying! So many of our guests have told us this trip has inspired them to see more of Italy.
I’d seen Samuele from Il Cerimoniere’s work and got in touch immediately. From day one Samuele was brilliant. He emailed us with about 50 venues around Tuscany, and we sifted through and chose five to visit. We met Samuele and he drove us across Tuscany visiting stunning location one after the other. The first one we visited, Villa Catignano (about 15 minutes from Siena), was the one that stole our hearts! The location, the views, olive groves all around, pool, and the family feel (the villa is still owned by the same family since the 17th century). The set-up of the villa also meant that we paid one price and ALL of our 72 guests could stay with us on one site. The villa was perfect for what we wanted to do and they were so accommodating.
We also looked at two venues for our ceremony: Siena Town Hall, and the Town Hall of Certaldo – Palazzo Pretorio. It was the latter that we felt suited the relaxed style of our wedding. Plus we loved the idea of our guests having to take a funicular ride up to the Medieval hilltop village!
On our return to Villa Catignano form our ceremony we had our drinks reception in the vaulted tinaia room, and dinner followed outdoors in the courtyard which had been decorated with the most spectacular strings of lights overhead.
The meal was a real Italian feast. We took inspiration from the local cuisine with the menu including ravioli with game ragu, champagne and bacon risotto and beef steaks with Chianti Classico sauce. We were excited for the traditional Italian wedding cake delicately made in front of our guests – who were mesmerised! We also enjoyed delicious local wines – we were spoilt for choice!
Our guests are still commenting on the catering and can’t understand how such incredible food and perfectly cooked steaks seemed to appear out of nowhere! The caterers were so discreet and the waiting staff were amazing. After the cake, Spumante, coffee, dessert wine and cantucci biscuits, we had a surprise gelato stand, complete with gelato man dishing up four tasty flavours.
Our photographers were Emm and Clau, who our wedding planner put us in touch with. We had originally booked another photographer from the UK, but for one reason and another we decided to switch to Emm and Clau. We believe that this was the best decision we could have made with regards to our wedding planning. We could have used other vendors for other areas but I think Emm and Clau captured our day incredibly well and were a real pleasure to work with.
We know that we had the kind of wedding that was perfect for us and wouldn’t have dreamt of doing anything different. We feel such a connection with Tuscany now, and did from our first visit. We will be back!