It’s hard to believe we got engaged over four months ago already. Since then, our commitment to wedding planning has steadily increased and, with flights to Italy for venue visits now booked, I would say that the process is very much in full swing.
So what we have we managed to do so far?
For one, a whole lot of research. We have a spreadsheet that is a mile long with 300+ venues across the UK and Italy. We can’t take all the credit for pulling that together though. Rory’s mom was, initially, even more excited at the prospect of our wedding than we were I think! It took us a good two months to even start thinking about wedding planning, yet no less two weeks after getting engaged, we had multiple lists of every kind of venue around the UK in our inbox waiting for us to review. She also started sending us wedding magazines and would ask a host of questions about dresses and colour schemes and types of ceremonies every time we got together. And it was honestly the best thing because it got us excited, sparked our curiosity and made us realise just how much work we were going to have to do if we did, in fact, want to get married in the next two years.
Speaking of… the date.
Here’s the thing… We don’t have one yet. All we know right now is that it will be 2024. The time of year is largely dependent on whether we get married in Italy or the UK. We both have our heart set on Italy so, assuming that works out, we’re open to May, June, September and even early October. The UK is a different story — I think we’d aim for late July or August when the weather is likely to be warmest simply because I’ve always envisioned an outdoor wedding with elegant tables and lighting for dinner al fresco.
Needless to say, the country and venue are fundamental details we need to sort out before we can progress with choosing a date. So, I’ve put all of the styling/design inspiration on hold while I (we) focus solely on narrowing down our list of venues and booking site visits which, I’m not going to lie, has turned out to be a whole lot more complicated than it sounds.
Looking for venues is all good and well, but you can only go so far down that road before you have to think about your budget and ask the tough questions like can we afford this venue? And I’m laughing writing this because that can be a difficult question to answer even when you know how much you’re planning to spend on your wedding purely because there are so many variables and hidden costs only a professional wedding planner would know to consider. So even though we have a rough budget in mind and a running list of costs for all of the essentials (catering, flowers, wedding attire, hair & makeup, music, lighting, a cake, etc.) it has been a bit tricky to strike the right balance between a venue we love and a guest list that don’t break the bank.
Because that’s the other thing we’ve learned: catering is exorbitantly expensive, especially when you’re looking at a two-day event to help make up for the fact that it’s a destination wedding and all of our guests will be travelling quite far to be there. We started with a guest list of over 200 and realised very quickly that it’s not only difficult (and limiting) to find venues for groups bigger than 150, but also very expensive to feed that many people. We’ve since narrowed it down to a list of 120-140 which is both more affordable and intimate (also my preference), but this is by no means final and we may need to dial it down further depending on how some of the other details shake out.
All of this is to say, we’re now in a position to start visiting some of the venues we think we like. We have a spreadsheet of costs mapped alongside wedding venue fees and approximate numbers of guests for every place we’ve reached out to so far. We’ve eliminated the ones we love, but definitely cannot afford and now have a shortlist of venues that we’d be more than happy to get married at. And, as of last week, we will be visiting all of the Italy venues at the end of this October!
It’s all very exciting and real now. I can hardly contain myself. I promise I will share all of the venues we’ll be visiting but only after we have booked our venue and know where we’ll be on our special day(s). For now, the only thing I’ll give away is that our Italy venues of interest are in Sicily and Tuscany! I was thinking it would be fun to share some of the venues we really love but haven’t included on our shortlist. Let me know if you’d be interested in that and please do comment with any questions about wedding planning and/or personal experiences you would be willing to share. There is so much to learn and nothing beats the insight of someone who has gone through it all already!
I’m planning to turn this into a mini series on the blog so keep an eye out for the next post!