Destination Weddings

Destination Wedding Cheat Sheet: Tuscany

Jo Bertolino of Tuscan Pledges shares some of her favorite wedding venues and vendors in Tuscany. Plus, a few location-specific wedding style ideas to help jumpstart your destination wedding planning.

Locations

In Tuscany, renting a villa is the best way to go. You and your guests can take it over completely, and use it to host all your wedding events. One of my favorites is Castello del Trebbio, in the Tuscan countryside, which dates back to 1184 and is family owned and operated. The estate is perfect for small events of up to 40 guests. Hold the ceremony in the private courtyard or the garden, then celebrate with an alfresco reception at the property's restaurant (top, left). Alberto, the owner's cousin, personally hosts a wine-tasting tour that includes a visit to the castle's dungeons and a history lesson. Cooking classes, Italian lessons, and day trips to Florence are easily arranged.

I also love Villa Pitiana, a posh 19th-century villa with a gorgeous view of the Arno river, which is just 30 minutes from Florence. Hold your ceremony in an archway of the villa's medieval cloister or rococo chapel, and follow it with a tented reception on the villa's expansive lawn, with delicious fare like saffron risotto catered by the on-site restaurant. A cheese or olive oil tasting is a wonderful option for a rehearsal dinner. During your guests' stay, they can lounge by the pool overlooking the surrounding hills or wander through the property's arboretum; the villa also offers archery lessons and horseback riding.

If you'd prefer a city setting, I recommend the Red Hall of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence for your ceremony—its deep crimson walls, gorgeous frescos, and dramatic chandeliers mean you don't have to add a thing to get gorgeous photos. Afterwards, hold your reception at Terrazza Brunelleschi restaurant in the Grand Hotel Baglioni. The panoramic views of Brunelleschi's dome and Giotto's Belltower are breathtaking—during the summer, you can also host your cocktail hour on their rooftop terrace. And, if you're planning a wedding in city, I also recommend the authentic Tuscan fare and cozy setting of Ristorante Il Desco, a family-run restaurant in Florence, for your rehearsal dinner.

Florist

Franco Fiori is one of the oldest flower shops in Florence, and designer Gianluca Pancani is the only florist I know who always delivers exactly what a bride is looking for.

Cake Baker

Pasticceria Rocca Tedalda does a fantastic mille foglie, an Italian wedding cake that's delicious and much lighter than typical American wedding cakes as it's made with puff pastry and sponge cake.

Wedding Favors

The typical Italian favor is a little tulle satchel with five sugar-coated almonds, symbol of prosperity and luck. Mini olive oil or wine bottles are also make great keepsakes.

Wedding DJ

Betty DJ is my go-to company—they work a lot of American weddings and really know how to read a crowd and get everyone dancing. And, they can also provide event lighting.

Ceremony Musicians

All the musicians provided by Tuscan Music have graduated from Italian music schools and their repertoires include a wide selection of classical or modern pieces to select from for both the ceremony and cocktail hour.

Style ideas

1. Sonia silk organza gown, $6,900, Carolina Herrera

2. Style G591 bridesmaid dress in ocean, $290, Amsale

3. Floral Refinement, $174 for 100, Wedding Paper Divas

4. Lemon-scented Italian soap favor, $11, Saponificio Artigianale Fiorentino, lotusco.us

See destination wedding cheat sheets for: NEW ORLEANS, PARK CITY, KAUAI

Photos: Corbin Gurkin Photography (countryside, centerpiece, reception); Kyle Ericksen (dresses); Steven Torres (stills); courtesy of Castello del Trebbio (toasting)
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