Tuesday 1 June 2010

Getting married in Tuscany

'Rod proposed to me in December of 2009, following a gorgeous day of skating in London,' says happy newlywed Jenny. 'He had planned to propose in the restaurant but a group of loud tourists made him wait until we got home to our flat, where he presented me with a ring- a beautiful solitaire set in white gold.'

Jenny, English, from New Castle, and Rod, half Italian and half English, were married this spring in Tuscany. Soon after the engagement, they agreed they’d get married Italy, partly because Rod’s father would be unable to travel to the UK, but most importantly, because Rod grew up near Cortona which was the perfect setting for a wedding. I am very organised,' says Jenny, ‘some might say a control freak! And I like to have things well planned. With 80 guests arriving from various locations, we decided to set up a website via http://www.weddingsinitaly.it/ and gave the address to all our guests via the invitations. The website gave lots of travel advice, a list of local hotels at various costs and information on how to get from the airports etc. It also had a forum where our guests could co-ordinate shared lifts, travel together and so on.

Jenny and Rod both agreed they didn’t want a religious, church wedding so they immediately knew it was going to be a civil ceremony. Originally they had set their hearts on doing everything in one venue (i.e. ceremony and reception), but this wasn’t possible for the date they wanted. However, after some research, they came up with a good alternative. Now all they had to do was finalise the details.

But even the most organised souls have pre-wedding nerves. Jenny remembers: 'I think my big panic moment was about two months before the day, when there still seemed like a lot to do, but after our trip to Italy three weeks before the wedding, I managed to calm down. Though even then there were some iffy moments. Jenny and Rod wanted to visit the town hall in Cortona where they were going to be married. 'It was a gorgeous, rich red room,' says Jenny, 'but it was set up like a huge meeting room.

When we asked if they’d be reorganising the hall before our wedding, they said no, and that the room would stay as it was. I had sudden visions of my wedding photographs with people crouching behind microphones and with a fax machine in the background. I was trying to hold it together but could almost feel my bottom lip start to tremble. Rod saw the look on my face and said, ‘Just leave it to me.’ He went off to talk to the gentleman from the comune who listened carefully to him. He disappeared, then returned a few minutes later with a key, and let us view another room full of light and beautiful chandeliers and frescoes. And when he saw how much we liked it, his face lit up and he said, ‘Just leave it to me’. The gentleman’s name was Signor Fioravanti and he must have taken a shine to us, as he was as good as his word.

'I had decided early on that I didn’t want a strapless dress,’ says Jenny, ‘but at Berketex Brides, the assistant said she’d like to suggest a few dresses to me that she thought would suit me. One that she picked out was the Angelique model, but as it was strapless, I didn’t think it was going to be right. It was the first dress I tried and as soon as I put it on, I felt absolutely amazing in it! It had a Hollywood glamour feel to it that suited my personality and style and both my mum and I just loved it.

As it was too early to make a decision, I decided to look around, but 18 months and plenty of dress shopping later, I went back and bought the very first dress I had ever tried on. And it was so amazing to wear it on the day. It really was The One!

'The days running up to my wedding were part of what I enjoyed most,' says Jenny. 'My mother, my sister-in-law and I got to do lots of girly things, and pampered ourselves in Tuscany while my husband ran around ticking things off his husband todo list, like chasing up the best man, and rounding up errant DJs. And in the evenings we had lots of family dinners with Rod’s uncles and aunts who live near Siena, and I was happy and relaxed and not the least bit nervous. 'Jenny decided on a theme of deep red roses for her wedding, so she used the red detail for the bouquet, the flower-girl dresses, her hair accessories, the flower decorations at the Town Hall and the reception. She also had silk red rose petals scattered at the Town Hall and around the wedding cake.

'Our wedding in our beautiful hall at the comune was perfect, 'she says, 'and, much to our pleasure, our friend Mr. Fioravanti was present. And in a gesture of incredible generosity, he brought a bottle of chilled champagne from his own house to serve Rod and I and our two witnesses after the ceremony, and gave us special ornamental silver serviette-rings that used to be given to all couples that got married in Cortona as a memento. And at that point we invited him to our wedding reception and dinner and were delighted when he turned up later with his wife!’

Jenny and Rod’s reception was held in the gardens of a private Tuscan villa, a place they’d had their eye on for some time. 'To be honest,' says Jenny, 'Rod and I had visited the villa various times through http://www.abode.it/  and had really set our heart on getting married there, but it was booked solidly and it was impossible to find a date that suited us. We had really wanted to get married and have the reception all in one place.

'About half way through our wedding day, our photographer http://www.qimmagine.it/ said to us that if we didn’t get away for an hour or so we wouldn’t see each other at all. He was right. So we took off for a walk through Cortona. I slipped on a pair of flip flops under my wedding dress and Rod carried my shoes in one hand and our white wedding umbrella in the other! We stopped off for a coffee in a bar and everyone cheered. Then we went into the piazza where everyone clapped and shouted ‘Auguri!’ We just felt like superstars!

'You know, if I hadn’t come to Italy to get married, I would probably have had a really nice wedding day somewhere in England, but this way it really changed my whole experience. Looking back, I couldn’t have had a better day, and most of what made it so special was Italy, its wonderful generous people, and its unique heart.'

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