- I’m an American living in Italy, and I got married to my Italian husband here.
- The background for our ceremony was vineyards and olive trees, and we had homemade food.
- Our friends still talk about how much fun the wedding was, and we didn’t go into debt for it.
A little over five years ago, when I excitedly announced to my parents that I was engaged, they very generously offered to throw me my dream wedding: the one at the Plaza Hotel in my hometown of New York that I’d imagined as a child.
While I appreciated the offer, that wedding was no longer a fit for who I’d become.
As an adult, I find the idea of spending so much money on one day ridiculous. I think that money could go to much better use.
The wedding I was picturing was fun and casual, with friends laughing and running around barefoot. I wanted to remember the intimacy of our wedding and what a blast it was.
I was living in Italy at the time
My husband and I wanted to get married at an agriturismo, a working farm where many of the products served are made on the property. At the time we lived in the Campania region of Italy, famous for its beautiful vineyards and olive trees. We were lucky to have found the perfect spot — a stunning family-run agriturismo — on our first try.
The setting looked like it was out of a movie. Our ceremony would start with a gorgeous aperitivo that guests would enjoy on the veranda while listening to live Italian folk music. Then we’d move to the pool area, surrounded by a dance floor, while looking at the stunning mountains.
There was no cost for renting the space, just for the dinner, which was 45 euros a person.
The evening started with a buffet in the courtyard with homemade arancini, frittatas, bruschetta, and quiches. Once guests were seated, the dinner continued with antipasti — fresh and homemade cheese, salami, and olives — homemade cavatelli in a zucchini-and-mint sauce, and stuffed pork breast with roasted baby potatoes. The wine that was served was also made on the property, and it was unlimited.
We had a live Italian folk band that serenaded us and a DJ who played all our favorite songs; the group cost 800 euros, and the DJ was 100 euros.
At the end of the evening, all our guests were sent home with a bottle of prosecco from a local cantina. Each bottle was 6 euros, and the total cost was 240 euros.
I envisioned a wedding cake inspired by one of my favorite books, “Alice in Wonderland.” A local pasticceria brought my vision to life: a fabulous cake complete with teacups, clocks, Alice, and the Mad Hatter. The cake was a little over 200 euros.
For my wedding dress, I wanted a soft, flowing gown with off-the-shoulder sleeves. When I was visiting New York, I went shopping at Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord and Taylor, and Macy’s for my dream dress, but nothing worked.
One day I decided to search online and came across a dress that was exactly what I wanted. When it finally arrived, it was as though it had been custom designed — and it cost only $189. My husband found his perfect suit from a well-known English brand on sale for just $100.
It was the wedding I wanted
Our wedding was exactly what we had envisioned. We wanted people to have fun and not feel pressure to constantly be on or to bring a check. We wanted our guests to enjoy our day just as much as we did.
Friends of ours still talk about how ours was the best wedding they’ve been to because it was so real. We weren’t putting on an act. For my husband and I, our wedding was about celebrating our love and sharing that moment with family and friends. It wasn’t about spending a ton of money and letting people know just how much we spent.
I sometimes can’t believe we managed to have our dream wedding at a stunning location in the south of Italy, with excellent homemade food, overflowing house-made wine, live music, a DJ, a gorgeous wedding cake, gifts for our guests, and my dream dress, all for under 5,000 euros.
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