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Louise and Dan’s Tuscan ceremony

Louise Mackintosh and Dan Tanswell married in Tuscany, Italy

Louise and Dan’s Tuscan ceremony – Why Tuscany?

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Why Tuscany?

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“Dan and I met in Italy in 1999,” says Louise. “We were both teaching English in a school outside Milan. Dan’s parents have some Italian connections and moved there a few years ago.

“Last year, Dan proposed in Rome and we bought my engagement ring on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. So, all in all, it seemed obvious that we should go back to Italy to get married! We chose Siena because the central square is one of our favourite places in Italy – happily the town hall is available for weddings.”

Louise and Dan’s Tuscan ceremony – What was the ceremony like?

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What was the ceremony like?

“It was a civil ceremony in the town hall and took about 30 minutes. Parts of it were very similar to an English wedding – we both declared ‘no lawful impediment’ and said “I do” – but a few things were different. For example, we didn’t repeat the full vows (“do you take… in sickness and in health…”) and the officiant (registrar) had to read out the whole marriage certificate before we signed it.

“The officiant spoke in Italian throughout the ceremony, and we had a translator – that’s obligatory, so you fully understand everything you are pledging/signing.  At the end we were given a token from the city of Siena (a little box containing some replica medieval Sienese coins) and the officiant insisted on having his photo taken with us! We used photographer Domenico Costabile.”

Louise and Dan’s Tuscan ceremony – What was the reception like?

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What was the reception like?  

“We held our reception in the grounds of a large Tuscan villa, where we had been staying with friends and family in the week running up to the wedding.  Our ceremony was at 12pm and our reception started at 4pm, due to the 45-minute drive between Siena and the villa – we wanted to give people plenty of time (to get lost on the way!) and freshen up if they wanted.  When guests arrived we had drinks and nibbles in the garden, ensuring lots of seats were in the shade, given the soaring temperatures.

“For the wedding breakfast we worked with a local caterer Gli Specialisti (recommended by someone local) to plan a Tuscan buffet. We didn’t hire any entertainment, but instead took an MP3 player loaded with playlists and hired the sound-system and speakers.

“We dispatched some of the decorations over with Dan’s parents along with various garden games, like croquet and swingball – and bought the rest locally. I knew I wanted everything to be very simple, rustic and in keeping with the context of the house and garden, so this was an easy look to achieve.”

Louise and Dan’s Tuscan ceremony – Was it easy to organise?

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Was it easy to organise?

“I organise events as part of my job, plus I speak Italian, so I was at a distinct advantage! Early on in the planning process we decided to employ someone on the ground in Italy to help co-ordinate the legal side and paperwork on our behalf (Pia Mayken at Invitoscana).

For the sake of a few hundred extra pounds in the budget, it’s not worth the risk of getting that wrong. It’s not necessarily true that it will be more complicated than in the UK, but there are bound to be protocol that aren’t immediately obvious – like when the right office is open, who is responsible for what, how long it takes and so on, so local knowledge is invaluable. In the end we tapped our wedding planner for other advice, like suggestions for caterers and companies hiring sound systems, so she was worth every penny.

“The only stressful aspect was the cost of everything – it went up and up with the falling Euro exchange rate. In the end, everything cost us 20-30% more than it had done when we started planning a year before! The extra expense ate up our honeymoon fund, so we had to forego a long trip and just went to Paris afterwards.

“This is one of the hazards of opting to get married abroad – you are entirely at the mercy of the pound! But, that said, we still had the most amazing holiday before during and after our wedding, so we didn’t care!”

Louise and Dan’s Tuscan ceremony – Any Tips?

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Any tips?

“Send out the date cards as soon as you make the decision to marry abroad. We only gave people the city and the date, but it meant people could plan for the trip and save money for the flights.

“When budgeting, allow a contingency for fluctuating exchange rates (because even if the pound weakens while you plan, you will still have to pay the same amount to the supplier in their own currency).

“If you don’t speak the language, employ a wedding planner to help you! If you do speak the language, or the country is English speaking, still get a wedding planner to help you with the legal side at the very least, as their local knowledge will be invaluable.

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“Aim to work with recommended suppliers and don’t just pick people at random (e.g. we found our wedding planner via the You & Your Wedding chatroom, and found our caterer via our planner. You might not get a chance to go out to the country you’ve chosen before you have to commit to the deposits, so you want to be sure you are employing reputable, reliable people.”