What our Events Director Learned Planning Her Wedding in Rural Italy

June 14, 2016

My grandparents' house in Italy was a magical place for a kid growing up. Completely isolated on the top of a mountain in a small town where no one visits, its yard was the only place I ever wanted to get married. And so I did.

In the end, our wedding day really was everything I hoped it would be, but it was not without a snag or two. Here are the top five things I learned planning a wedding in the middle of nowhere, all of which would have been great to know before trying to pull it off!

Photo by Independent Pictures Photography

Budgeting is possible.

Since we were using a backyard as a venue, we had to bring in expensive, atypical resources like ice and lighting—unexpected costs are pretty much unavoidable when planning a remote wedding—so we had to creatively cut costs everywhere else. A few things that worked better than the original plan:

  • Instead of a DJ, we had two music-savvy friends help us put together playlists for cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. It was fun to make and the vibe all night was personal and sentimental. One recommendation if you do this however: Hide the iPad, especially if your dad loves the latest Pitbull song enough to play it four or five times. Not that I'm speaking from experience.
  • Instead of centerpieces, we asked the florist for small arrangements of seasonal flowers, some just one or two stems, in a variety of small glass jars.
  • We served beer, wine, and a spritz for cocktail hour and dinner—but for the dancing we wanted something more potent without spending on full bar service. So we found two huge glass canisters and filled them with pre-batched cocktails (Negroni and Pimm's Cup) and guests helped themselves.
Photo by Independent Pictures Photography

Coordinating lodging might require some creativity.

After a fruitless and frustrating hotel search, we switched gears and looked for apartments and houses that we could rent in town, grouping people together into combinations that made the most sense. Despite the accommodations being less than glamorous (think: shared bathrooms, scorpions in the hallways—no, I'm not kidding) our friends appreciated being close by and strangers became fast friends, which is just about the best feeling in the world for a bride and groom.

Photo by Independent Pictures Photography

There will be hiccups—and that's okay!

The plumbing is dicey in this particular old house, so to avoid a malfunctioning toilet disaster, we rented porta potties (lovely, I know). And then, adding insult to injury, we completely forgot to add lights—everyone had to feel their way around a porta potty, in fancy clothes, in the middle of the night. But the crowning moment was when a huge troop of Boy Scouts out for a walk mistook them for a conveniently-placed public rest stop, in the blazing heat of July, 3 full days before the wedding.

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Luckily, wedding-day bliss was saved—thanks to either good ventilation or all those spritzes we drank. My husband and I were none-the wiser until days later.

There's no better time to serve local food.

We wanted everything served to feel really authentic to the area, so we asked our local caterers for help. They were excited about the plan, and sent us a menu of regional favorites—including their personal family recipes. We served almost everything family-style, a genius recommendation, so the food stayed hot and it felt like a festive holiday dinner.

Photo by Independent Pictures Photography

The place can be the theme.

Amidst the added complications and snafus that naturally come along with planning a large event in a rural place, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were having a wedding in the middle of nowhere because it's a place that is special to us. We made maps of the town with our top recommendations. We also sent an itinerary of where we would be and when, so our guests could meet us wherever—at the public town pool, at the coffee shop, at dinner, etc. The whole weekend felt like a vacation in our favorite places, with the people we love most.

Tell us: Is your dream wedding location far away from everything—or right in the thick of an urban setting?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • ChefJune
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    Megan Lang Butler
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    Courtney C
Pasta lover, food history nerd, baking disaster culprit


ChefJune June 14, 2016
That looks just about as close to perfect as anything gets! So glad it worked out for you.
Megan L. June 14, 2016
That view! So, so beautiful.
Courtney C. June 14, 2016
Thanks for sharing! I just got engaged and am hoping to get married in Italy as it is somewhere I have always felt at home. However, the logistics seems daunting at times. This really helped! Your wedding looked lovely - congratulations!