The wedding guests of San Francisco couple Sadie and Nowell were in for a big surprise when they received the couple's wedding announcement. When the bride and groom, both originally from the east coast, realized that their families' flights to California would take nearly as long as a trip to Italy—their honeymoon locale—they thought, "Why not move the party there?" So the couple alerted the troops of their Tuscany destination wedding in a save-the-date e-mail. "We gave everyone eight months to plan for such a big trip," says Sadie. "They were so excited to learn they would be traveling to Italy!"
The pair worked with Tuscany-based planner Monica Bali on the details of their big day, as well as coordinating the travel logistics. "Nowell and I wanted to take care of everyone's accommodations in Italy," says Sadie, so the couple rented Villa Cerretello and Villa Vignola, two neighboring estates set against the rolling hills of Tuscany, to house their 26 guests.
They invited all to arrive on the Saturday before their Monday wedding—giving them time to see the area and adjust to the time difference—and arranged for a catered welcome dinner of pizza so that guests could relax and unwind. On the big day, everyone gathered for the outdoor ceremony on the lawn near Villa Cerretello, where Sadie and Nowell exchanged vows under a bamboo arbor. Afterward, they accompanied their guests back to the villa for a banquet-style dinner beneath a covered patio overlooking the hillside. Wanting their dinner and dessert to feature traditional Italian fare, the couple had their Florence-based caterer, Convivium, present authentic dishes like fried zucchini flowers, handmade ravioli with spinach, and tuna carpaccio with grilled vegetables. —Cristi L. Hansen
Learn from Sadie and Nowell
Plan a Pre-Wedding Visit: To make sure that all of the elements were up to par, Sadie and her mom traveled to Tuscany five months before the wedding to do a walk-through of the villas, and also met with her caterer for a tasting.
Spotlight the Locale: Sadie and Nowell wanted to incorporate aspects of their location into the reception, so they printed the dinner menus with an image of their villa on the front and served Tuscan wines throughout the night.
Schedule Group Activities: Because most guests stayed for a week, the couple gave them fun ways to spend their time: They offered a cooking class, a horseback ride through the town and a wine tasting during their stay.