Kathryn & Ross
Kathryn and Ross successfully planned the most beautiful and relaxed DIY wedding in Lucca. It was their vision to have an outdoor wedding, with a rustic feel, beautiful views and to spend as much time as possible with their loved ones.
Whilst planning the wedding ourselves was a little challenging, particularly as we don’t speak Italian, it was quite important to us to know that we were getting value for money and we were able to research lots of suppliers and find the ones we wanted to use.
As a lovely member of our Weddings Abroad Guide Community Facebook Group, we are so excited to share Kathryn’s wedding with you. Her story is full of the most helpful information and advice for planning a wedding in Lucca and we just love her wedding images by Scottish based Thirty Eight North!
Nearest Airport: Pisa
Number of Guests: 60
Why a Wedding Abroad…
We decided to get married abroad pretty much immediately after getting engaged. We both have small families, some of whom we don’t get to see very often as they live overseas so we wanted to have more than just one day together with everyone. We are from Scotland where it rains all the time so we decided that Italy would be a much better setting!
Why a Wedding in Lucca…
We chose to get married in Lucca as it’s our favourite city. Most of our immediate family have been to Lucca too and it’s a really special place where we always feel relaxed. We thought it would fit perfectly with the relaxed wedding vibe we wanted and loved the idea of bumping into all our friends in the middle of Lucca throughout the week. It is also really easy to reach being a 30 minute train journey from Pisa Airport.
Our vision was to have an outdoor wedding, with beautiful views, amongst beautiful buildings with a relaxed vibe and Aperol Spritz’ a plenty. We were not disappointed!
Planning Our Wedding in Lucca…
Ours was a DIY wedding. Everything was self planned and we took 18 months to get everything organised. We visited Lucca twice before the wedding and decided after our first visit that we would minimise costs by not using a wedding planner. I think this is quite a daunting prospect for most people and I think planners can bring a lot of value if you don’t have the confidence or time to dedicate yourself or want complete perfection. But we wanted a super relaxed day and felt a good budget organiser, google translate and some time researching suppliers on Instagram and Facebook is really all you need to do it yourself.
We’re really glad with our decision not to use a planner as the day just went so smoothly and we didn’t feel we were being rushed around by anyone. We got to know our suppliers really well which was nice and we had some nice spontaneous moments too like when our photographer suggested doing our first dance outside under the fairy lights instead of indoors. Everyone gathered round us and started singing along to “Your Song” with us which was just amazing. Our ceilidh band also suggested last minute that they pipe everyone inside for dancing which was a nice touch too.
Weddings Abroad Guide Community (Closed Facebook Group) came in so handy for getting opinions on things like ceremony timings and recommendations for caterers. Another Weddings Abroad tip was to use a wedding website and we used www.withjoy.com to issue our invitations by email, track RSVPs, put together information on where to stay and how to get there with tips for our favourite day trips, restaurants and ice cream spots. It worked out really well and had a handy app that our guests could use too.
Whilst planning the wedding ourselves was a little challenging, particularly as we don’t speak Italian, it was quite important to us to know that we were getting value for money and we were able to research lots of suppliers and find the ones we wanted to use. We found that some suppliers were really great at recommending others. For example our celebrant, Carina at Tuscan Wedding Officiant recommended our harpist (Elisa Malatesi) and hairdresser (Pamela Leti) all of whom were fantastic and we would have struggled to find otherwise.
One decision we made quite early on was to fly out a photographer from the UK. We wanted to maximise our time with our guests who had travelled to be with us so not spending hours on staged photos was really important to us and our photographer, Thirty Eight North had the most amazing energy and blended in to be more like a guest on the day. I think this is quite a key component as we didn’t want to feel pressured into taking time away from our guests but still wanted beautiful photographs which we are beyond pleased with.
Advantages of a Wedding Abroad…
Being from Glasgow, the main advantage of Italy was the weather. Although on our wedding week there was a heatwave across Europe and it reached 39 degrees which didn’t go down great in woollen socks and kilts! Thankfully we managed to make sure that the ceremony and dinner would be in the shade so our guests would be comfortable.
The hardest bit for us was to find a wedding venue in Lucca that suited. We spent a week the year before our wedding touring round a shortlist of venues, none of which quite hit the spot. Whilst most venues we looked at were beautiful, they were a little too grand or required everyone to stay onsite for 3 nights which we didn’t really want the pressure or cost of organising. Good old google came in handy on our last day when we googled ‘vineyard wedding Lucca’ and up popped Tenuta Maria Teresa. We managed to make a last minute appointment and decided within minutes that it was the perfect venue for us.
Another challenge was that some things also seemed to be really expensive compared to the UK. I was quoted up to 300 Euros for bridal make up which was way beyond our budget. We had to prioritise what was most important to us and my sister and sister in law are fantastic at make up and ended up doing it all in the end. We also sacrificed things like favours and expensive invitations (we sent them by email instead) as having a free bar all night was more important to us.
- Join the Weddings Abroad Guide Closed Facebook Group.
- Think about the heat on your day and make sure your guest will be comfortable.
- Plan your event hour by hour and the location for everything and send it to your suppliers and wedding party in advance – it will save people asking you things on the day.
- Set a budget and don’t be afraid to prioritise.
- Rope in friends and family to help. We gave the groomsmen tasks on the day to help set things up. My mum helped us put up fairy lights the day before. My sister and sister in law did make up for me and my bridesmaids. Ross’s sister and husband are very arty and they created our table plan the day before the wedding. It was nice knowing that everyone played a little part in the day coming together.
- Don’t be afraid to Plan it Yourself.
What We Would Have Done differently…
We might have thought twice about the attire if we’d know there would be a heatwave. Hey, you can’t control everything!
We had the whole week to spend with family so we had some nice lunches together, took the kids to our favourite ice cream place and did a cycle around the walls.
We organised a pre-wedding meal at a pizza restaurant in Lucca which was a great way for our guests to get to mingle a little before the big day.
We also hosted a brunch the morning after in our apartment and asked our guests to pop in between 10am and 1pm. It was so nice to hear everyone’s stories from the night before.
Time in Italy…
We arrived 5 days before the wedding day and we stayed in Italy for 10 days after for our honeymoon.
We initially planned to have a civil ceremony but after hearing about some difficulties from the Weddings Abroad Community, we decided to switch to a symbolic ceremony, which was held at our wedding venue in Lucca. We met with our celebrant, Carina, 3 months before the wedding and she helped us put together a beautiful ceremony with personalised vows. Ross’s sister also read a Scottish poem.
Our ceremony started at 4pm and was 30 minutes long. We did the legal part the day before we flew out to Lucca with 3 family members and it really was just a formality. Having all our family and friends together in Italy was what made our ceremony special.
Wedding Venue in Lucca…
Tenuta Maria Teresa is a ten minute drive in the hills north of Lucca and is set on an estate which produces wine, olive oil and honey. The views from the venue were utterly breath taking and the buildings on site were effortlessly beautiful. It is quite compact so they only hold the occasional wedding and leave all the organising to you which we were happy to take on. We couldn’t recommend the venue enough if a relaxed beautiful setting is what you are after.
On the Day…
The bridal party started getting ready around 10am. Ross had a relaxed morning up on the walls of Lucca rehearsing his speech whilst the groomsmen had a relaxed morning and helped set up some last minute things at the venue.
We decided to start our ceremony at 4pm. It was still really hot but thankfully in the shade. We had Aperol Spritz and an amazing Tuscan buffet on the terrace afterwards overlooking Lucca.
We sat down for speeches and dinner at 7pm. We decided to have long rectangular tables set up in a ‘U’ shape which worked really well as we could look out and see all our guests and everyone could chat across the tables.
After dinner we had a traditional millge follie cake made in front of our guests so everyone gathered round in a circle. We decided at the last minute to have our first dance outside under the fairy lights.
The Ceilitaly Scottish Ceilidh Band then piped us in to some ceilidh dancing followed by the DJ party back outside and we danced our socks off until 2am!
One thing that was important to us was to make sure our guests didn’t have to spend any money on the day so we had a free bar which we made sure was fully stocked!
Our first dance under the fairy lights with everyone signing along was really special.
Unique Ideas & Personal Touches…
Almost all of our décor was DIY and we got lots of help from friends and family.
My sister in law and husband are both really artsy and created our table plan the day before our wedding on an A1 sized chalkboard which I had ordered from Amazon and got delivered to our apartment in Lucca.
We got friends and family to save wilted flowers which we dried out and crushed to make petal confetti.
We designed and printed our own wedding menus which cost a grand total of £4.
We loved having kids at our wedding and had set up little party boxes at their seats with bubbles, disposable cameras and colouring books which kept them occupied.
Rather than spend lots of money on vases we would never use again, I got friends and family to gather up used glass jars which I cleaned out, wrapped in twine and used as candle holders for the tables. It worked out brilliantly and cost next to nothing.
Bride dress: Essence of Australia.
Groom: Kilt in Scottish National tartan from Slaters.
The bridesdmaids wore dresses from TFNC and the groomsmen wore kilts hired from Slaters.
Transporting Our Wedding Attire…
Our alterations team packed the wedding dress into a dress box and everything else went in a suitcase. We used a steamer on the day to smooth any creases out.
A very big thank you to Kathryn for sharing her amazing wedding story and beautiful images with us, we wish you both a lifetime of happiness.
Tip: Pop over to the couples Real Wedding Budget Breakdown to see an itemised listing of costs.
The Perfect Partners
Wedding planner: Self Planned DIY // Wedding Photographer: Thirty Eight North // Ceremony & Reception Venue: Tenuta Maria Teresa // Wedding Videographer: Karma Wedding Video // Caterer: Giovanni Enterprises // Wedding Celebrant: Carina at Tuscan Wedding Officiant // Hair: Pamela Leti // Make-Up Artist: Friends and family // Ceremony Musician: Elisa Malatesi // Wedding DJ: Roberto, Wedding DJ Italy // Wedding Band: Ceilitaly Scottish Ceilidh Band in Italy // Flowers: Di Fiore in Fiore // Lighting: Wedding Music & Lights // Transportation: Ottavio Viaggi // Stationery: DIY // Bridal Dress: Eleganza Sposa // Bridal Shoes: Paradox London // Grooms Attire: Slaters Menswear // Bridesmaids Dresses: TFNC London
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