Trip Report: An Italian Wedding
by Jan Gordon
When I first heard the news that my niece was getting married in Italy, I immediately thought 1.) huge expense, 2.) gargantuan hassle, and 3.) try to talk her out of it. It seemed like a logistical effort the likes of a foreign military invasion to get all the Gordon clan coordinated, mobile, and transported to a hillside town in Tuscany… Why couldn’t the Tuscan groom’s family come over here instead? I schemed to extort her out of this destination wedding idea by offering my Newport country home and a cash contribution toward the wedding as an alternative. “Molto bene, grazie,” she and her Italian fiancé replied… An Italian destination wedding it would be!
The site for Miranda and Luigi’s June wedding would be Poppi, a medieval walled village high in the hillsides (they seemed more like mountains than hills) and forested slopes of the Arezzo countryside. By March my husband and I had become supportive of this upcoming Italian wedding and were eagerly seeing the opportunity to combine a Florence long weekend (neither of us had ever been to Florence) with the Tuscan wedding activities. With huge tactical support from the bride and groom over their wedding website, the planning for the wedding itself was done for us; all we had to do was show up and spend all our creative energies on the before and after wedding travel planning.
Miranda is an American Managing Director for a London and New York based medical marketing outfit that enables her to live in New York and travel frequently to London. From there cheap intra-Europe flights had enabled her to hop over to Italy frequently for romance and also essential wedding planning. In spite of my encouraging her to retain an Italy-based wedding planner to take over the myriad details involved in a complex wedding bringing guests together from London, Germany, various US regions, Italy, and as far away as Australia, she competently undertook all the details and event planning herself while continuing to work full time out of New York and London. It certainly helped to have Luigi’s family living in the nearby town of Bibbiena, but the fact remains that Miranda and Luigi personally worked out all the multi-day plans and details themselves without even being there until a few days prior to the festivities.
The legalities of an American/Italian marriage take place in a US civil ceremony, and the Italian church wedding is in fact the blessing ceremony, not the official contractual union. To meet this requirement, Miranda and Luigi’s civil wedding took place in late April in the US Courthouse in New York by a Federal Judge known to the family. It was serendipitous for our family’s circumstances that this contractual ceremony was required, as it enabled Miranda’s more senior grandmother and my pregnant daughter who were unable to travel to Italy to participate in the actual marriage ceremony. The bride had chosen one tea-length daytime wedding dress for this ceremony and had another traditional bridal gown on reserve for Italy!
As June approached, more and more details appeared on the website, and in April a lovely formal wedding invitation with velum overlay and reply card arrived in the mail. It turns out that Italians never use the familiar Emily Post kind of American wedding invitation we had received, so Luigi had his own Italian format invitation sent out to the European guest list. (I was keeping track of the accounting: two wedding invitations, two wedding dresses, what else?)
Fast forward to the wedding day… After three art-filled and food-filled days touring Florence (see WIMCO Trip Reports You can Never Get a Bad Meal in Italy and Florence as a City Break), my husband Jeff and I had pre-arranged through WIMCO for a chauffeur and car to take us from the Hotel Sofitel right in the heart of Florence out to Poppi on the day of the wedding. In hindsight, the chauffeur couldn’t have been a better idea. Although the website had thorough driving instructions, we couldn’t have anticipated the conditions… Hairpin switchback turns, mountain roads, no guardrails, rainy weather, later than expected departure due to a cool DJ and great dancing. Even Francesco, our driver, had to keep referring to the printed driving instructions to locate the venue.