Wow, wow and wow. Sara looks so hot in her Sottero and Midgley gown. That lace. Also, her hair might just be the most perfect half up half down bridal do ever.
She married her beau in the beautiful Tuscan countryside with 40 of their closest friends and family. Pratello Country Resort had never hosted a wedding before. This was their very first. And what an incredible job they did too. Julia & You transports you there with her beautiful photography and Sara has some great words of wisdom for all you brides planning on marrying abroad.
Sara The Bride: We had always spoken about getting married abroad. We originally looked at Turkey as this is one of our favourite holiday destinations, and is where Ross Proposed to me, however we soon discovered that they are not as prepared for weddings as they are in other countries, particularly Italy. The Italians can cater for all your needs, especially if you find the right wedding planner. We love Italy as well and had heard of some wonderful weddings being held in Tuscany, Lake Garda and the Almalfi Coast but also knew that these were very busy places. We read somewhere that there were hundreds of weddings in Lake Garda each month during the summer months.
We chose Tuscany as there seemed to be so much more variance in the choices. You could get married on a vineyard, or a small farm cottage or even a huge castle catering for 1000 people. We contacted Infinity Weddings & Events and very soon had an enthusiastic response from Sara Mazzei (one of there partners at Infinity). After a few emails back and fourth we started to plan a trip in December 2013 to view shortlist of 6 venues. We wanted somewhere small and intimate but it also had to be big enough to sleep all our guests for a couple of nights. Pratello Country Resort was perfect and we knew it was the one as soon as we saw the spectacular views, met the owners son Luca (who is also the head chef). Sara and Luca very kindly guided us around the resort and showed us all their facilities and as many of the rooms we could get in to see. We booked the date that weekend, based on Pratello’s busy summer diary, and were offered exclusive use of the resort and all the staff and all its facilities (including the outdoor infinity pool, tennis court and mountain bikes) for a whole 3 days. And better still, we were able to accommodate all of our 45 guests.
I wanted a lace and fish tail style dress with a laced trimmed veil for a romantic/vintage look. My shoes were beige pointed Jimmy Choos. I wore minimum jewellery. I wore my hair half up off my face with a very loose curl again going for that romantic look. The bridesmaids wore a pale pink strapless chiffon dress with pearl necklace, bracelet and earrings with there hair ‘back in a 50’s’ vintage style.
Ross wanted a brand new 3-piece suit so had it tailor made, choosing everything from the lining colour (to match the bridesmaids) to the colour of the buttons and even the style of the lapels. The suit was finished in a charcoal grey cloth with a brown tie and hanky to give an Italian vintage the look. The groomsman were dressed in a light grey 3 piece suit with tie and hanky which where exact colour match to the bridesmaids dresses (also purchased from BHS).The three pageboy’s had a smaller version of the suit but without the jacket and with a pink bow-tie instead of a tie. We favoured the modern smart look with skinny trousers.
The wedding was a small affair with just our close friends and family, rather than the traditional larger English wedding. Just what we wanted. We also wanted the weather to be nice to treat the closet people to few days away in a beautiful environment. We were able to have everything outside, form the cocktail reception to the ceremony and even the evening meal followed by dancing late into the night. The place was perfect. The amazing thing was, this was Pratellos first attempt at hosting a wedding. Most of the organisation was done by Sara at Infinity Weddings but whatever was asked of Maura and her staff, they firmly obliged. They were brilliant and really accommodating for all our guest for the 3 days we stayed there. Me and Ross and our 2 year old son George, along with both sets of parents stayed an extra couple of days before the guests arrived and were able to sort out any last minute preparations as well as having the official legal ceremony at the local Town Hall in Palaia. Pratello even put on an amazing welcome BBQ for all our guests the evening they arrived with the most beautiful food, drink and great waiter service. Best BBQ Ever!!
The Colour Scheme
The colour scheme was quite neutral. The flowers where with cream, blush and pale pink roses. Brown recycled luggage tags, favour boxes.. Hessian bunting, table runners.. Lace runners.. Hanging paper lanterns.. glass lanterns.. We only had 6 children but didn’t want to forget them so had a ‘Kids Cave’ built in amongst the trees where they could play games, do colouring in, balloon making etc. We also had a children’s entertainer who stayed until the children where asleep, leaving the parents to relax and enjoy the evening.
My bouquet was cream & blush roses and my bridesmaids had exactly the same but slightly smaller with hessian and lace round the stems. The groom and groomsmen had a cream rose button hole. The table centre pieces were cream, blush & pale pink roses in a glass fish bowl.
Maisie our 8 year old niece who was a flower girl read a poem out during the ceremony. The Celebrant also asked me and Ross to complete a secret questionnaire about each other and she read some of the answers out at the ceremony, which was a little bit emotional but a sweet thing to do.
Before our wedding day, we had to get legally married in the local Town Hall in Palaia a couple of days before. It was a real surprise how beautiful the setting was and what we thought would be a simple signing of paperwork, turned our to be an hour long ceremony in the garden of the Town Hall over-looking a beautiful valley, being married by the Towns Mayor (with our own interpreter). It was amazing and a real treat – a surprise from our Wedding Planner!
During the ceremony and cocktail reception we had a solo acoustic guitar player who played a mixture of classic Italian music, as well as a few well known favourite love songs. Our guests were able to enjoy this entertainment whilst sipping Prosecco and cocktails and eating the array of canapés which were being served on platters by smartly dressed waiters from the catering company employed by Infinity Weddings.
We always wanted to have a live cover band but keeping in with the Italian, vintage theme and they where just that! Brilliant! Ross actually found them on the internet and they have hundreds of videos on YouTube from the many weddings they have performed at around Italy (mainly for British and Irish weddings). We also had a vintage styled ice-cream cart with attendant, serving many flavours or Italian ice cream.
Sticking with the Italian theme we had to choose from an array of choices for four separate courses! In March, we had flown back out to Tuscany to stay at Pratello and also meet with Sara to discuss flowers and decor and go to a food tasting afternoon in Florence. Although it was an Italian menu and we wanted to try and please everyone so tried making it a little bit easier on the pallet of those who like a traditional meal. For the starter we had melon and Parma Ham. This was followed by the traditional Antipasti dish of Ravioli stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil. For the main meal we had two options of Fillet Steak in a Chianti wine sauce or Sea Bass. Both main dishes were accompanied by French beans in butter and roasted potatoes in rosemary and crispy bacon. For dessert we ate our wedding cake. Instead of an evening buffet, we had “Pizza at Midnight” – which was as it sounds: Freshly cooked Pizza served around midnight. This went down really well with the guest who had been helping themselves to the complimentary cocktail bar and despite the four courses a few hours earlier, I think most of the pizza got eaten.
We chose Julia & You Photography as our photographer as we just knew we would be getting a first class job with her. We first met Julia when she photographed our son at a few months old in her famous new born shoots. Then again a year later when George was 1 year old. Julia photographs weddings and children and is as talented with both genres. Infinity Weddings offered us a number of Italian Photographers for the wedding and although we looked at their website and were pretty impressed with their work, we always knew that it was Julia we wanted to capture the most important day of our lives. When we asked Julia if she could do it and she accepted, we immediately booked her flights and were able to accommodate her and her Assistant Hannah at Pratello with the rest of our guests. We believe the photographs are one of the most important things of the day and when you see Julia’s work form that day, you just know she is one of the bets out there. Her photos are just gorgeous, the best I’ve seen.
We had some very unique aspects of the day.
1) The kids cave was a great idea. One of my bridesmaids had seen it at another wedding and suggested it but when we saw the location of the bush with table and chairs, we knew it would work perfect here. It was ideal to look after the younger children and they loved the balloon making.
2) Exclusive use of the venue was a great asset. Many other venues do not allow this as they are big hotels or castles but we had the whole of Pratello and its facilities for there whole days.
3) The owner of Pratello owns his own helicopter and offered our guests private excursions around the Tuscan countryside and over some historic local towns. On the morning of the wedding, whilst the Bride was getting ready, the groom was off on an hour flight exploring the beauty of Tuscany from above. Many of the guest also took up this offer and were able to wave at their friends and family in the outdoor swimming pool as we circled Pratello upon our descent. This was an amazing experience, particularly for my 82 year old Granddad who had never been in a helicopter who thoroughly enjoyed it.
4) The night before the wedding we had a big BBQ to welcome everyone to Italy and also give them a chance to let their hair down and get to know each other and start the celebrations early.
5) Another unique aspect was the choices we had. We had choices in everything. Infinity Weddings allowed us to chose everything from the colour of the flowers to the waiters tie colour. We tasted everything on the food and drink menu (even the individual canapés), the cutlery, the chairs, the wording at the ceremony, the music played during the day and the evening by both forms of entertainment, the ice cream flavours and even the locations on the resort for the various parts of the wedding. The wedding was totally unique to us and exactly how we wanted it… And more!
If you are going to get married abroad, make sure you use a wedding Planner. You can do a lot of it yourself but the language barrier can be a problem sometimes and the planners are doing this all the time so they have the contacts and the organisation skills. We had a great experience with Sara at Infinity and would recommend her company to anyone.
If your going to expect guests to travel abroad for your wedding and take time of work and away from their families, you need to treat them for their efforts. This is something we wanted to do and make sure that it wasn’t just a wedding for us to enjoy but for all our guests to enjoy as well. We wanted to make their experience one to remember as well and tried to pay for as much as we could as weddings can be very expensive for guests, let alone being a wedding abroad.