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Affordable Wedding in Italy?

Hello everyone,

My future daughter in law is thinking about having a wedding in Italy. Does anybody know a good location/ town where it is possible to have a beautiful and affordable wedding? Do you think having a wedding in Italy might be cheaper than having it in the US? Did anybody here have a wedding in Italy?

Any kind of tips and suggestion are welcome! Thanks in advance :)

Posted by
6524 posts

affordable wedding

What is that? What Bill Gates would find affordable, is probably not what I would find affordable. Really need a number, not an adjective. Catering for 20 or 200?

Do you think having a wedding in Italy might be cheaper than having it in the US

Not likely, especially when all the travel costs are factored.

Posted by
5399 posts

Some people have found it simpler to have the "legal" wedding in their home town and then a "symbolic" wedding / celebration in the other country.

Posted by
26 posts

How many people? Do you want a church setting, outdoor setting? What time of year? There are a lot of variables. Google "Italian wedding venues" and you'll get many websites. But I can't imagine that having a wedding in Italy is inexpensive, considering the cost to travel there. If the goal is not to spend much, a small wedding party would be necessary.

Posted by
106 posts

We were married in Rome 35 years ago. Simple, just us and my father-in-law and sister -in-law. Would I do it again? Yes!

But, we kept it simple---flowers from a street vendor and dinner afterwards at an outside restaurant where we were serenaded by the wonderful musicians. Plus a 3 week honeymoon in Italy.

Things may have changed but it took us 3 days just to get the necessary paperwork before we were able to get married. That on top of the paperwork which we needed from the Consulate here in the states. Make sure you do your homework.

If you are talking a full blown wedding, yes it will be pricey. Plus your doing everything long distance. The stress level will be high.
On top of that if you do want family and friends to come you are putting a huge cost strain on your guests. Not sure why you think it would be cheaper there then here?

Posted by
2997 posts

I appreciate that you are asking a sincere question and are eager to help with this special family event. The truth of the matter is the cost of a wedding is not controlled by where it takes place but by the expectations of the bride and groom and how much money is available.

My advice to you, not knowing anything about your relationship with your future daughter in law, is to proceed cautiously with advice on the wedding. When I was mother of the groom I decided I had three jobs.
1. Show up. - be there and support them in their plans
2. Pay up - clearly communicate what my financial contribution to this event would be early in the planning
3. Shut up - allow the couple to make their own decisions.

Posted by
6959 posts

Carol--so true! Parents of sons.
My husband and I found out we were walking down the aisle as part of the procession the morning of. Hands off, mouth shut, wallet ready.
My wonderful co-MIL and wonderful DIL did it all.

Posted by
11734 posts

Wise words from Carol and the rest. There are too many unknowns working here, and in the end it's up to the bride and groom and their budget. But it's also not just about THEIR costs. The cost for friends and family of attending a wedding in Italy is likely to be prohibitive for a number of them, and there are senior family members who may be too frail for that sort of travel. From that perspective, it comes down to the importance of wanting those people to share in the special day or not?

Consider that unless the bride/groom or their parents are picking up more than just the usual reception and a dinner the evening before, guest costs would include airfare, passports (I'm assuming not all invitees will have them), ETIAS authorization (starting in 2021), transport to/from the venue (can be complicated/expensive if it can't be reached via public transit), accommodations, meals not provided by the wedding hosts, trip insurance, and any sightseeing they plan to do while in the country. If they have children and no one to leave them at home with, that cost becomes even more substantial/prohibitive. Oh, and pet boarding if they've no one to otherwise attend to their critters.

While destination weddings have become a "thing", the time and cost - especially to cash-strapped young people who are invited to a multiple of weddings every year - eats up vacation time (not everyone wants to spend their personal time on someone else's honeymoon) and creates cash-flow challenges. For the people who simply can't afford go - and this can include close family/friends - it can also create hard feelings. I've personally heard from some of those folks who simply couldn't understand why the brothers/sisters/friends said they couldn't make the trip. Also from grandparents hurt that they couldn't see beloved grandchildren tie the knot, as they were in no physical/financial shape to make a trip abroad. Again, decisions and priorities the bride/groom have to make?

Anyway, there is a lot of info out there regarding the costs and logistics of a wedding in Italy for the happy couple to research! Just a couple of sources that came up on a quick search:

https://www.weddingsabroadguide.com/cost-of-a-wedding-venue-in-italy.html
https://www.ouritalianfairytale.love/single-post/What-Is-The-Cost-Of-An-Italian-Wedding
https://www.theknot.com/content/how-much-does-it-cost-to-get-married

Lastly, due to many friends and family members being unable to afford to attend destination weddings, many couples have two events: a small wedding abroad and a larger local reception afterwards.

Posted by
4150 posts
  1. My sister and her then fiance wanted to get married in France, until they started researching it. Different countries have very different laws regarding marriage.

  2. A good friend was recently delighted to learn that her 50-year old son and his long-time partner were finally getting married. She and the bride's mother immediately jumped in with plans. My friend was told (gently) that as mother of the groom she had two jobs: a) shut up and b) wear gray. The mother of the bride was given similar advice, although I don't know what color she had to wear.

  3. How about an Italian honeymoon?

Posted by
71 posts

My daughter, (US Citizen), met her future husband, (Italian Citizen) while each was studying abroad in the UK. They decided to marry in Italy and the bureaucratic adventure began.

At the time, they had to get permission from the US, UK, EU, Italy and the Roman Catholic Church. It took months of gathering documents, having them translated and notarized. They had to take classes to satisfy the the church. Perhaps things will be easier if one chooses to have a civil service while travelling as a tourist. and not need to attain citizenship, maintain immigration status, church membership, etc. Their path might be easier now, Post-Brexit - or impossible.

In any case, Villa Lagarina in Trentino was lovely. Good luck.

Posted by
2493 posts

How could it be cheaper than a wedding in the US for the guests who have to fly there?

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everyone!

Fortunately or unfortunately, all of the family members and friends live in different places, on the opposite coasts. 80% of the guests will end up flying to the wedding, so why not fly a little further? I saw flights to Europe for as low as $500 roundtrip, just like MIA-Seattle and back.

I would say that $10,000 is our absolute limit for the wedding venue, ceremony, food and drinks.

I love the "3 rules" that some of you mentioned! May be I better back off and let the couple do their own planning :)

Posted by
3507 posts

Carol’s advice is spot on!

To balance the idea of a wonderful, romantic wedding that they can tell people they were married in Italy, here’s a few cons since you mentioned expenses: Speaking from experience, a $500 price-range RT plane ticket from Seattle will be difficult to find when the actual dates and location are decided. Plan for a $1000-1500 range. And there’s so many more expenses than plane tickets that guests will have to pay. Another consideration is that these people are using up several more work vacation days for an international trip. The couple need to be realistic that a smaller subset of their original guest list will say yes to coming.

Posted by
46 posts

My son is getting married in May in Florence, Italy. The bride and the groom are both from Louisiana. She is using a wedding planner from Savory Events Studio, Florence. The wedding planner is from the US but now lives in Florence. We have met with her in Houston (when she visits her parents) and are in constant contact with her. We are pleased with her work. I'm not sure the exact cost of the wedding since I am the grooms mom. The brides parents are taking care of the wedding part. We are taking care of the rehearsal dinner and the celebration here in the states. so sorry. I can't help with prices, but I would assume it would all depend on what you want.

Posted by
89 posts

I agree with what Jean just said.
A destination wedding in Italy basically forces people to make that their annual vacation versus a long weekend to a US destination. Italy is a very long trip from the West Coast. Italy may not be people’s choice for a European vacation.
You didn’t say where a US wedding would take place but it’s got to be a cheaper flight than any flight to Italy.
My children are at the age when their friends are getting married. It is so expensive for those attending any wedding. I’d take a long considerate look at the guest list.

Posted by
1137 posts

One of my daughter’s best friends had a very small-only immediate family destination wedding. Her parents are having a reception here in two weeks that we and our daughter have been invited to attend.

That sort of arrangement is another option.

But I can’t imagine an equivalent type of wedding would be cheaper in Italy than US. I think for a reception as opposed to going out to dinner as one poster did you would have hire a wedding consultant.

Posted by
1 posts

I'm going to a wedding outside of Florence shortly. I can tell you that the wedding budget is $22K. The venue is http://villadarteagriresort.it/ . I would recommend getting legally married in the states first. Too much red tape over there. I'll report back in June with my first hand experience.

Posted by
1008 posts

I had friends who did this and a month or two before the wedding most of their family and friends canceled. It ended up that 10 out of 50 attended.

Posted by
6959 posts

travel_bug, you’re a quick study, joining the mother-of-groom club.

That $500 from Seattle blossoms to $1,500 from non-competitive markets.

Posted by
11734 posts

I'm thinking the same, Bets. We've never been able to get to Europe for less than $1,100 from MSP, RT coach, but were always constrained by our work schedules. Now that we're retired, we'll have more flexibility!

But working folks can fly to a weekend wedding in the U.S. on a Friday night and be back to work on Monday: no vacation days, passport, trip insurance or ETIAS required. I'd also look carefully at what it takes to get to those attractive villas out in the countryside? Many require a rental car, and not all guests are going to be comfortable driving in Italy. I'd also look at the minimum required booking nights during high and shoulder seasons.

The happy couple should have the wedding THEY envision. It's just matter of knowing what will be expected of their nearest and dearest if sharing the day with lots of them is a priority?

Posted by
114 posts

@Carol. Yes, that is what the women in my family have told me to do.

Dear Bug. I think you and your daughter-in-law are courageous. I mean this in a nice way.

My idea of a wedding in Italy is like the one in The Godfather that took place at the village of Corleone in Sicily. A poignant scene juxtaposed to all the crime and violence. The whole village took part, celebrated and contributed. Sadly, weddings seem to have become a display of one’s wealth as opposed to a celebration of amore. Except royal weddings which are special as they are also the celebration of the county.

Doing the calculations, 100 guests at $100 a head: 50 guests at $200 a head. Food, drink and location.

Again, in the nicest possible way, if you manage to pull this off you will be headhunted by your Federal Budget Office.

I think even Solomon would have difficulty with this decision.
Sincerely best wishes for the big day. Ron

Posted by
114 posts

Dear Bug.

The women in my family are planning our Italian biennale, August to October. My daughter-in-law (whose ancestry is Abruzzo) and my wife have come across this delightful castle in Umbria. Castello di Giomici. Are considering 2 nights in late August for 6 adults and 2 children at about $50AUD per adult per night. The website advertises its availability for weddings and other events. Will need a car to get to it. Maybe what you are looking for?

Regards Ron

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you everyone for your honest opinions and valuable advice!

Italian wedding doesn't seem impossible, but it does seem to be able to cause all kinds of drama.

Posted by
1473 posts

My daughter’s sister-in-law had a May wedding in Ravello. They did the legal one in the backyard of the bride’s parents first. My son got married in Cancun and I think that was actually more expensive because everyone had to stay at the same venue, and that was supposed to be cheaper than Hawaii. I know the groom’s grandmother (some mobility issues) made it to Ravello. The guests that went just made it part of a vacation. I don’t think they got caught up in things like extra flowers, favors, large wedding party, etc..because the setting had natural beauty. Those extras can drive up the cost.

Posted by
12 posts

We spent 2 weeks in Italy in September, the second week we were in Tuscany for the wedding of my husband's cousin. I don't know all the costs, but here are my thoughts more generally. I think 26 people made the trip.

The bride and groom facilitated a villa rental in Poggibonsi that had a gorgeous outdoor space that they used for the reception, so no additional venue costs for the reception.
https://www.villaellerone.it/en

We paid for our own room ($450/person for the week) so their rental costs were minimal. The reception was catered by a local chef/restaurant, and was amazing. I have no idea what it cost, but that plus the transportation to/from the ceremony site was their major expense for wedding-day activities. They did plan and host another dinner and had a chef come in for that also. I think it was all arranged through the Villa owners.

The ceremony was held at the Abbey of San Galgano, outside Sienna. It was beautiful. I have never seen such a beautiful venue! It is open to the public during weddings (at least the when we were there) . quick google search says 1000 euro to reserve it. They had to do a TON of paperwork to make it official - both before they left and in the days before the wedding. It was a huge pain. The local mayor did the civil ceremony, and they had to have a translator.
https://www.discovertuscany.com/what-to-see-in-tuscany/the-abbey-of-san-galgano.html

In the end it may have been cheaper for them to do it in Italy than in their hometown of San Francisco for a large crowd, but I'm not sure. They brought/shipped a lot of stuff with them, and it was definitely a logistical nightmare at times for them (though they could have done with a lot less).

It was obviously a LOT more expensive and logistically difficult for us to coordinate than a long weekend trip to California from Ohio. We don't live in a hub area, so had to get to another airport in US, and can't get anywhere to Europe for less than $1000 typically (like other posters have commented). They did tell us in January, for a September wedding so we had plenty of time to plan. In the end it was a great family trip and I'm glad we went.

Also, I would appoint a friend or family member who is good at trip planning or leadership to be the key point person during the week. Trying to coordinate that many people without a "leader" was super hard, when only the bride had the info and she wasn't always available or thought she had shared but we never got word about events.

A good local wedding planner who is an excellent communicator and is on top of all the details is key. Their planner didn't tell them about the need for a translator until the day before, and she didn't make sure the bus with the guests went to the right place (so we missed Happy Hour in San Gimignano).

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you bethb for your detailed reply!

I have checked out the villa in Poggibonsi. It looks gorgeous! If the wedding doesn't end up being held Italy, I will for sure suggest this villa for the honeymoon trip!

Posted by
11983 posts

Prices vary widely depending on where you get married.
Yes, it is possible that a wedding in Italy is less expensive than at home because given the high cost of travel just a handful of guests might show up. So wedding expenses for a party of 5 to 10 in Italy will likely be less expensive than catering a wedding at home for 200 guests.

Also it is an easy way to weed out a lot of guests that you feel obliged to invite but that you don’t care for much. That is why my wife (whose family is mostly on the East coast and Puerto Rico) and I (whose family is in Italy) got married in Hawaii. Cheapest wedding ever, but gorgeously on a cliff with the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean behind us.

Posted by
12 posts

travel_bug,

I don't think the villa would work for just a couple on their honeymoon -I think it's only rented to large groups. Staying in/near Siena would probably be better, or if they want to be out in the countryside, an agriturismo somewhere.

Good luck!
Beth