Ok, time to tell you all about our venue! I can’t really take any credit for choosing to get married in Italy. It was Simon’s idea. When we tell people where we are getting married, the question we are usually asked is “is that because of Sophie’s Italian family?”, my Italian surname being the first clue. Our response has often gone something like…”Err, yeah I guess so. That would make sense”. But really, the Italian family was merely coincidental to this decision. The real reason is simple – we LOVE Italy. Like, seriously adore the place. Giuseppe Verdi (of Atilla Opera ‘fame’) once said, “You may have the Universe, if I may have Italy”. I would happily take that deal.
When Simon and I first started talking about how we’d like to get married he was quick to suggest the idea of a small wedding in Tuscany. It seemed such a glaring and obviously perfect idea that I wondered why it had never occurred to me before, during those many years Prit-Sticking pictures of English country manors in to my wedding file (remember the file??).
Cypress Trees & Rolling Hills
After getting engaged, we quickly decided on how we wanted this to go –
- A small group of nearest and dearest, 30-40 max;
- A venue that was big enough to sleep everyone;
- Views of Tuscan hills and cypress trees. I had tunnel vision, rightly or wrongly, that there was simply no point getting married
- In Tuscany if we could not see those beautiful rolling Tuscan hills unfolding right in front of us;
Exclusive use for a long weekend, to give us maximum time with our friends and family and make it worth their while flying over.
After hours and hours of research (and some terrifying quotes!), we whittled it down to 3 options and decided the time had come to get ourselves over to Italy and see them in the flesh. This was a fun weekend!
The first venue was big – way too big! Sure it had gorgeous views and ticked all of the boxes, but somehow it lacked a soul. We were holding out for the next 2.
As we drove up the long winding driveway of number 2, lined with Cypress trees (tick), and pulled in to the courtyard, we were greeted by, in my humble opinion, the most incredible view of hills that Tuscany has to offer (double tick). Getting out of the car, we were struck by the absolute silence. As clichéd as it sounds, it was just bird song and wind brushing through olive trees in the surrounding fields…this place had soul. Cue a phone call to cancel appointment number 3 – we knew we had found the perfect place before even stepping a foot inside.
And so after meeting its wonderful manager Giacomo, having a tour around, and spending a night there, we promptly booked Casa Cornacchi for 23-26th May – perfect timing for the bank holiday and allowing all of our guests to stay for 3 nights. We spent the next day having a long lunch in the late September sunshine on Siena’s main square, feeling thoroughly proud of ourselves, followed by running around the town like something out of Challenge Anneka looking for matching post cards of Tuscany to use as Save the Date cards (Simon would like me to point out that the post cards were also his idea, and the second of many good ones to come…).
A Bump In The Cypress-Tree-Lined Road
Venue – done. It would be small and intimate but we could throw a party back in the UK afterwards for extended family and friends………ah, problem. Within 2 weeks of booking our dream venue Simon got the call about the job in Houston. This would make having an after party more difficult due to our now limited vacation allowances, and more than anything it just emphasised that we wanted to have as many of our closest friends there as possible, knowing how much we would miss them during our time away. Our guest list jumped from 35 people to 60 almost overnight and we had to book 4 extra villas down the road to accommodate everyone! Oops!
But anyone having a wedding of any size, be it 30 people or 300 people, knows the problem of the dreaded guest list. It’s surely the one thing that every couple getting married has in common – that and the even more treacherous table plan (God help me…). Every couple feels the pressure to invite everyone and to please everybody but it’s simply not possible. Even with the extra villas, the poor “Mama” cooking our Italian feast was going to struggle with any more than 60 mouths to feed.
So we took the difficult decision to prioritise with friends who are a part of our lives on a daily basis. This is difficult, and no doubt will upset some. But we figured that those who really cared about us would understand and just want us to do whatever makes us happy. There are people we simply cannot imagine not being there, and the fact that they’re not family is not going to change that. Hopefully one day we’ll have the chance to celebrate with everybody.
Invitations Dreams Are Made Of
So with the venue booked and Simon’s Save the Date postcards sent, I set out on a project that gave me huge excitement – the invitations!! I have had a thing for stationery for as long as I can remember. I loved nothing more than stocking up my pencil case before the first day of school (I’m not doing anything to dispel my geek reputation here am I?). Not having the creative-DIY-genius gene of either Sarah or Stef, for me it was time to turn to the professionals. I knew that I wanted something unique and special, and I knew exactly the place to go – Momental Designs. I had seen the work of Kristy Rice and her team for the first time on these very pages and have stalked her blog ever since. Every single one of their invitations is hand painted. HAND PAINTED!!! What a talent these ladies have! I can’t paint for toffee.
They are absolutely stunning and we are thrilled with them. Hmmm, what else can I get them going on…? 😉
We finished them off with a wax seal of an olive tree brushed in a little gold (another genius idea by Simon over lunch in Siena). This took a little practice but was great fun. What was even more fun was how much Simon got involved in the design process – who knew he would be so fussy? Get your grooms involved ladies, they have a lot to offer and the planning process is so much more fun if your do it together.
So that’s all from me for now. Next, it will be time for the girls to make their grand entrance, before I fill you in on results of the big dress hunt!