We at Dievole have hosted a lot of weddings – about a dozen each year! Each person’s special day is just that: very special. Over the years, we’ve pretty much mastered the art of satisfying every bride’s unique wish and of creating happy memories for the couple and their guests.
If you’re looking for the perfect destination wedding location in Tuscany, there are a series of questions you should ask of potential locations, essentially things to keep in mind to make sure it’s the right match for you. Before getting started, it’s useful to know how many people will be in your destination wedding party, and of course you’ll want to have an idea of the date or season. Start early – most locations book up 9-12 months in advance! Then, start asking questions!
Will I have exclusive use of the location?
If you’re hosting a destination wedding and intend to have guests stay at the wedding location, most of the time this will be booked for your exclusive use for the entire time of your stay. Most locations have a minimum stay requirement which may range from two to three nights upward. For example, at Dievole, parties of 30-50 guests get exclusive use of the villa and grounds and stay for a minimum of 2 nights.
Having a villa exclusively for you and your party has the major advantage of the staff being concentrated entirely on you and your needs. The hospitality chief, the chef, down to every chambermaid is at your service, making you feel like the Duke and Duchess of the villa! How often does that happen in your life?
For small wedding parties, some villas and wedding locations in Tuscany are available for non exclusive use. If you’re booking a location without exclusivity, ask them how spaces will be divided so that your party does not find itself with unwanted guests!
In Tuscany, there are a number of spectacular wedding locations that do not offer lodging but only villa rental and catering. Here, you usually pay a villa rental fee (averaging 3000-5000 euro) as well as a per person dinner fee. If you’re considering one of these, get clear information about the time limits for your party – if you book a lunch, can your group stay through the whole afternoon and see the sun go down, or do you have to vacate it for another scheduled dinner?
How many people and what kind of atmosphere?
At any wedding location, the number of people that can be accommodated either for lodging or for the meal is an essential and limiting factor. Try to find the location that best matches your needs: if you have 45 guests, a place that could fit 200 is going to look awfully empty!
On the opposite side, if a location is smaller, be aware of any maximum number limits, especially for indoor seating at the meal. Ask if there are overflow options nearby should you find your third cousin twice removed accepting the invitation to come when you thought she’d surely decline.
Connected to the sense of size, what is the atmosphere of the potential location – basically, what vibe do you get when you visit? Do you feel relaxed, and find the staff friendly? Is the place formal enough for your needs, or conversely, is it too formal? The choice of a location is a very personal one – go with your gut.
In Tuscany and in Italy, a wedding takes place over a whole day, not just in a short afternoon. Actually, often the lunch takes four hours! This is why it’s important to find out if your location offers multiple spaces for the party to move around during the various milestone moments of the special day. If you have the exclusive use of your location, can you pick from a few options for each part?
When surveying the location, it’s useful to think about: a romantic and beautiful place for the ceremony, another for the aperitivo, an assortment of options for photos, and both covered and outdoor seating areas for the meal. Usually you’ll also want the cake cutting moment to be held in a separate area, preferably with a great view!
What kind of menu?
Once you’ve fallen in love with a location, you’ll want to get down to the nitty gritty details of food – the most important thing of all here in Italy! Just about anywhere you go here, the food is going to be the subject of wistful memories amongst your guests for decades to come – trust us! – as they will have never had such a number of courses and such delicious food. One great thing is that a fancy wedding meal in Italy costs significantly less than it does in the UK and USA.
Ask the potential wedding location if they use a catering service or if they have an internal restaurant. The latter can be an advantage as the chef is on her own ground, and it’s also useful especially for last minute requests to accommodate any allergies or intolerances (though it’s a good idea to ask your guests in advance if they have special needs).
Most menus in Tuscany will start with an aperitivo, served banquet style, in the garden if it’s warm outside. There are almost always traditional items like prosciutto and cheese, bread and other finger food. This may be varied with food stations or additions like vegetables fried on the spot.
Guests then head to a formal seated dinner or lunch, where there may be an additional appetizer before moving on to one or usually two first courses (primi). These are usually pasta, rice or crespelle with in-season ingredients. To follow, expect a secondo, almost always meat and sides. If you or your guests are vegetarian, it’s easy to serve almost all vegetarian foods until you get to the secondo, where Italian guests certainly expect meat! Vegetarians may get a cheese plate and salad, or a soufflé or other substitutes. Guests usually get up for the cake cutting ceremony, which is usually held in a different room or outdoor space, where there may also be a cake table and fruit, often self-serve. Dinner will of course be accompanied by a series of wines – a sparkling wine or spumante, white and red, and vin santo at dessert. Are you hungry yet?
The final question to ask at the wedding location is if they provide a reference person who can help you plan ever detail of the wedding if you choose not to use a wedding planner who will of course be doing that for you. Most locations in Tuscany have suppliers they work with for flowers, and they may also be able to satisfy special requests that you have about décor or anything else.
If you need help finding a hairdresser and makeup artist, photographer and musicians, they may have a list of local services that you can interview. In this post, for example, we’ve used, with permission, photographs taken at Dievole by two local photographers, Domenico Stabile and Riccardo Pieri – each has his own style, and we both thank and recommend them!
Having found the perfect location, all you need is the dress, the ring, and the man of your life to say “I do”!
For information about weddings at Dievole, feel free to contact reception at [email protected]