So here we are; one year on from the best day of our lives and we can't imagine spending the first year of married life in a better way than travelling around the world together, on one big adventure. In celebration of our one year anniversary, we have returned to where it all began, Lake Como, to write an article about getting married abroad and packing up your lives to live the dream.
Like a lot of couples from the UK, we dreamed of marrying abroad but the inevitable question was: where? We didn't want to make family and friends trail half way across the world nor did we want to stay in a country a lengthy amount of time before marrying. We envisaged an intimate ceremony, a picturesque backdrop and fabulous food; and where else can offer all of this and more, other than Italy! Did we mention pizza, prosecco and gelato!? We spent the early days researching Italian wedding destinations and enlisted the help of Italian Wedding Company to assist us in the planning. Together we found the stunning Lake Como and we instantly knew that this was the destination for our dream wedding, after all we prefer the mountains over beaches every time. Italian Lakes Wedding, as part of Italian Wedding Company, were on hand from the very beginning of our planning and answered every single one of our constant emails efficiently, even after Philippa's transition into bride-zilla. That being said, getting married abroad can add extra stress to any couple as part of the control is instantly taken away for someone else to organise, so having a good wedding planner is essential... having a good local pub for the stressful moments helps too!
Fortunately, at the start of our planning we managed a long-weekend break to Italy, where we met with wedding planner Davide and he kindly escorted us around Lake Como visiting our potential wedding venues. We know it's not always possible, especially during the arduous wedding saving period, but if at all possible, we would highly recommend visiting your choice of destination and venues before booking, just like you would in England. We were nearly settled on one venue before our visit to Lake Como and Davide suggested a visit to Villa del Balbianello anyway and that's when we fell in love with the fairytale-esque, ivy-clad arched, grand villa overlooking the lake and we knew we could not settle for anything less.
So the venue was set and we'd decided on a boat trip around the lake, the star of the show, after the ceremony with copious amounts of prosecco to toast and a reception at the highly regarded Lido Di Lenno, a restaurant located right on the lake with a man-made beach, a trendy bar and grand marquee on the lawns. Best of all, was the food and we still insist that our wedding meal was the best food we've ever tasted. When the wedding planner sent through this exciting list of options for five different courses, who else could we ask for help but our Italian friend and owner of a local Italian deli, Mark De Luca. Together we chose the perfect array of dishes for our wedding meal and he even introduced us there and then to burrata, just when we didn't need any more of a reason to love Italian food!
Ok there are a few legalities to deal with when getting married abroad. The good news is that the wedding planners will hold your hand through the whole process and with Italy, there is not a period of time in which you must reside in the country before you are legally allowed to marry. The bad news is some of the paperwork can be difficult to obtain and there are fees for each. The first documents required are copies of passports and birth certificates authenticated by an apostle. Secondly, you will need to obtain a certificate of no impediment, for which you register at your local town hall and two weeks later you receive; all of this was then posted to our wedding planners in Italy. Once in Italy, all we had to do was visit the registrar for half an hour, the wedding planner escorted us of course, and the rest was dealt with on our wedding day.
We departed the UK on the Saturday along with a large number of the wedding party, before our wedding on Tuesday. We flew to Milan, the nearest airport to any of the lakes in North Italy and with Milan having three airports it is easy to find cheap flights. Plus, the flight is only around 1.5 hours from the UK which meant our wedding guests could come for as long as they liked, as it is easy to come for a long weekend break. The guys stayed over in Milan for a bachelor party as the Champions League final was held there on the same day. The ladies continued directly to Lake Como, 1.5 hours by taxi, and congregated at one of the family villas for a party.
Our wedding day started off in a perfect way, having breakfast with our respective best men and bridesmaids and any last minute nerves from the night before had disappeared and we just felt a great sense of calm and excitement, despite the few drops of rain.. okay, a lot of rain but still not enough to dampen the mood. The worst of it happened during the travel to the venue which offered a scary boat crossing but a dramatic ceremony as the thunder roared during our vows. Definitely something that made our day more memorable! Rain is obviously not ideal for anyones wedding day, however it is important to remember to enjoy your day regardless as you cannot control the weather, we certainly did. There is an old Italian saying "Sposa Bagnata, Sposa Fortunata" that loosely translates to 'wet bride, lucky bride' and I certainly feel like the luckiest of them all.
As a wedding gift, Liam surprised me, and our guests, with a traditional Italian gelato cart to enjoy after the ceremony. Everyone enjoyed at least 2 (or 3) scoops whilst our wedding photographers worked their magic on us in the surrounding grounds.
Back at Lido Di Lenno, after our hour long lake cruise, an aperitif was served with mouth-watering canapés and aperol or prosecco to wash it down with before a formal sit down meal. We'd chosen buffalo milk burrata with vegetable charcoal focaccia as antipasti, culatello ham and mozzarella ravioli with tomato coulis as primi piatto, mustard and coffee marinated suckling pig, or seabass as pescatarian alternative, as secondi piatto, passion fruit and mango sorbet and then Sicilian cannoli as dolce. All served with a perfect selection of free-flowing red and white wine before a traditional Italian wedding cake loaded with cream and fresh fruit, and yet more prosecco.
Best-man Tom played our first dance, a medley of Noel Gallagher, Pigeon Detectives and of course Kanye West, on the beach whilst we danced within a circle of candles. Then it was our guests turn to dance as the DJ played our preferred music choices deep into the early hours which was enjoyed with Lido Di Lenno's extensive Gin and garnish selection.
One of the best factors about getting married abroad is that you don't just have a 'wedding day' but in essence a 'wedding week' in which you can enjoy the build up and reflections with your closest friends and family in a beautiful setting. We have to say it was the best week of our lives and it didn't end there... After a week of celebrating the two of us vacated for a mini honeymoon in Verona and Venice. We explored two of the most romantic cities in the world, from Juliet's balcony to a gondola ride on the Grand Canal, whilst indulging in Italian cuisine and more Prosecco of course.
One of the draw backs of marrying abroad is that you can't invite everybody, much to our mother's disapproval, and although we wanted an intimate affair we wanted to share our happiness with those who weren't able to come to Italy. More celebrations I hear you say? We rented out a barn and hired a surprise brass band for a huge celebration with everybody back home in the UK. After such an extravagant affair in Italy, we planned this whole event ourselves in order to stick to a small budget, plus our mother footing the bill of course. We decorated the barn ourselves, sourced flowers from a local market and ale from a local brewery.
Only a few days later we were packing up our home and moving in with the parents. We sold our car, most of our belongings and rented out our home. Divorce so soon? Of course not! We were packing up our lives to begin our dream of travelling the world together. We managed to save around £10,000 from arduous saving, wedding gifts and selling our belongings. A month later and we were heading out on our first flight, of many, to New Delhi India, the beginning of our life on the road.
We just want to say a massive 'Thank You' to Veronica at Italian Lakes Wedding, whom nothing was too much for and to Davide, who even though he'd left the company, attended our wedding and acted as translator for our ceremony. If you're interested in getting married at any of the beautiful Italian Lakes then we cannot recommend our wedding planners enough; check out their website for advice and information: www.italianlakeswedding.com
Our thanks also extend to our fabulous family and friends who do nothing but support our journey and to our followers who help make travelling a way of life. Thanks for following! xxx