Real White Wedding – Villa, Siena

Siena is a wonderful place for a wedding, as a wedding planner I think it’s one of my favourite venues in Tuscany, plus I live here so am slightly biased! It’s smaller than Florence and so less chaotic, with its beautiful buildings, the magnificent duomo (cathedral) and the most impressive shell shaped piazza, Piazza Del Campo a  definite WOW factor and perfect backdrop for wedding photos. This is where the famous horse race (il Palio) takes place over 4 days in July and August each year. It is here that weddings take place in the Palazzo Publicco the town hall (which is also a museum) in the Sala di Razze a spectacular deep red room, with Murano glass chandliers where the 9 Governors of the Republic of Siena met to make important decisions, so it’s rather apt that weddings take place in this historical room.

Helen & Nick had their wedding here in Siena last August surrounded by family and friends, but our story starts almost 18 months before the wedding. Nick and Helen contacted me to be their wedding planner help as not speaking the language they realized that if they were going to pull off the perfect wedding unless they had some expert help. After the initial emails they flew out to have a look at some potential venues, as we whizzed through the Tuscan countryside looking at villas and agriturismos (farm holidays) for them and their guests to stay and potential wedding ceremony venues I knew that working with them was going to be fun and that we would become good friends and I wasn’t wrong.

Siena Wedding, Palazzo Publicco

Helen & Nick had some clear ideas about what they wanted, a definite was a Scottish piper, not a problem to organize as there is a real live Scottish piper living in Tuscany, I suggested that it would be fun for Nick and the guest to be piped through the streets to the Piazza, a complete surprise for the guests but they all throughly enjoyed themselves as they walked through the streets and people came out of shops to see what was happening and to shout  “auguri” (congratulations) as they passed by.  After the ceremony the Piper piped the guests a full turn round the piazza before heading off back to the bus to return to the villa. Something I’m sure that the guests will never forget especially the girls with high heels!

Scottish Piper, wedding Siena

Nick and Helen came out for a second visit in February to do a tasting for the wedding breakfast, meet the florist and for Helen to have a hair trial at the hairdressers. I met them on a Sunday evening in the Piazza and then headed off to meet with the florists and discuss the flower requirements, Helen brought some ideas with her and wanted beautiful white roses so we discussed how we could develop the idea to put an Italian twist to it and returned to the Piazza for a few drinks and dinner.

wedding bouquet, Siena, Tuscany

The following morning when I went to pick them up to go over to Cortona I was happy to see that they too were feeling a little worse for wear! I love going to the showroom with couples, it’s like a sweetshop there are so many wonderful things to chose from, lots of different colours and styles, after an hour and half of trying different looks, Helen decided that white would win the day! And so onto the tasting, the hard work was choosing the wine, thankfully I was driving but I could see that it wasn’t going down as well as it should do!!  But after some delicious food and a decision on the final menu, Nick got his second wind and had a grappa to finish off his lunch. Way to go Nick you’re a better man than me!

The following day we had the hair trial, as Helen was having an up do, she bought her pet rat with her (actually a hair roll) to make the bun look bigger, we had some very strange looks from the hairdresser who doesn’t speak English as we collapsed into a fits of giggles over the rat…!

They went home and the emails continued until they came out for the wedding, after the verbal hearing they were free to spend time with their guests and I organized a wine tasting tour for them in the afternoon and while they were enjoying themselves I sorted out car hire for one of the guests.

On the morning of the wedding, I met Helen and the girls at the hiardressers and then went to pick up a beautiful bouquet of roses and a surprise picnic that Nick had asked me to organize for Helen, so romantic I love it when the grooms do something so unexpected. Then headed up to the villa, organized the caterers and made sure that Nick wasn’t too nervous.

At 2pm we herded the guests onto the bus and set off for Siena, Helen followed with her dad and her bridesmaids a little later.

Weddings are always emotional and there were a few tears during the ceremony, after spending so much time getting to know the couples during the planning process I always feel a lump in my throat when the bride comes in and watching Nick as Helen came in was no exception. The wedding ceremony was lovely and the registrar asked if she could read and dedicate a poem to them, again another thoughtful touch that makes getting married in Tuscany so special.

After the wedding they headed back to Villa Catignano for the wedding party, aperitivo and harpist in the Italian gardens.

Villa Catignano, wedding venue Siena

Followed by dinner in the courtyard, beautifully set up with yes…..white umbrellas, white table linens and crockery and with the tall martini glasses filled with fabulous crisp white roses it all looked stunning.

Villa Catignano, wedding venue Siena

As the tables were surprisingly named after Italian wines, I devised this table seating plan for them.

wedding seating plan idea, Siena

And so the happy couple made their entrance….

Villa Catignano, wedding venue Sienaand after a wonderful wedding breakfast they headed into the Tanaia to dance the night way… the perfect end to a perfect day…another successful Marry Me in Tuscany wedding.

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Scrummy Yummy Wedding Cakes…

Wedding cakes play such an important part of the wedding and is possibly the most photographed part of the day! It’s the perfect end to the wedding breakfast just before the fun begins and the couple take to the floor for their first dance as Mr & Mrs….

Italian wedding cakes are so different from the traditional wedding cakes we have in the UK, we’ve all been to weddings at home where the cake looks beautiful, is fabulous for the photos but sadly no one eats it, such a waste and they are so expensive. Thank goodness couples are deciding that the fruit cake has had it’s day!

I love the fact that wedding cakes in Italy are so light and delicious and a perfect end to a delicious meal, it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t like them, usually everyone eats them and more often than not will also ask for seconds!

The traditional Italian wedding cake is a Millefoglie (a thousand leaves) made of layers of puff pastry with Chantilly cream and strawberries or you could go for the chocolate chips! Is your mouth watering yet? Or you could have a sponge base with Chantilly cream and topped with lots of colourful fruit like Helen & Nick did last August……not only do the taste good they look wonderful too!

Whatever your choice the chances are it’s going to be big! Italians love putting on a show and the cake is certainly going to steal the show when it’s carried out. Check out the one below, which Amy & Luke had at their Tuscan wedding in a villa near Siena, the size of it even surprised me…

At Tom & Claire’s wedding last September we had to change the location of the cake cutting as the cake was so big it just wouldn’t go through the door!

The trend for 2011 in the UK seems to be BIG cakes something Italians have been doing for years and thankfully not a pedestal in sight!

But I’m happy to report that they have stolen an idea for wedding cakes from us and are starting to have cup cakes at their weddings. Although, it’s still rather difficult to find an Italian “pasticceria” who doesn’t look at you as though you have gone completely mad when asking for them, assuming of course that you can actually make him understand what it is you’re looking for, which is where a good wedding planner comes in, I know exactly where to go for the best cakes and not just traditional Italian ones so when you ask for cup cakes you’re not met with a hearty laugh and  “what in Italy??”

If you don’t want to have a traditional Italian wedding cake at your Tuscan wedding don’t loose heart  I have a secret a wonderful gal that can create the most amazing cakes that will leave you all licking your lips!  Melanie is an American living in Italy who makes the most fabulous wedding cakes imaginable, she makes the lightest cup cakes with thousands of flavours and toppings and frostings to chose from.

This cup cake tower was done for Ali and Ade last October, as Ade is a graphic designer he and Ali designed all the stationary for the wedding including the cupcake wrappers, they came out and had a tasting to chose their favourite flavours and toppings and then my best kept secret, set about creating a theme to go with the stationary. As you can see the result was amazing.

But she doesn’t just do cup cakes, she makes the most amazing wedding cakes, elaborate cakes with intricate designs which match your wedding theme and can even reproduce the lace from your dress, with the added bonus that every last crumb is edible she is as amazing as her cakes and no two cakes ever look the same.  Here are just a few of those fabulous creations.


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If you would like more details of wedding cakes or weddings in Tuscany please drop me a line.

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Flowers speak the language of love

When Jo and Dave came out for a visit before their wedding one of the things we had to do was to meet up with the florist and discuss flowers.

Jo’s only request was that we use “Sweet Avalanche”roses, beautiful delicate pink roses (you can see Jo’s and her bridesmaid’s bouquets on the home page). They wanted lots of candles on the tables, two large floral decorations outside the restaurant she left the table plan up to me. They had decided to use the different Contradas (districts) in Siena as the table names .

Having a blank canvas to work with gets the old creative juices flowing, as I have worked with the same talented florists for years once we get going all sorts of ideas come in to play it’s great fun!  So with me translating and all of us throwing our ideas into the ring in two languages  and very little time we pulled some ideas together take made Jo and Dave very happy.

As light was important to Jo and Dave we decided to use square vases on the tables filled with beautiful bouquets of Sweet Avalanche roses  and small pink rose buds placing a delicate string of water lights inside the vases, the lights then reflected off the water, to create height we used beautiful stem glass candle holders with tea lights and brought the whole lot together with rose petals and tea-lights on the table, the final result was stunning.

Wedding Photography Siena - Table Decoration

For the table plan, we decided to follow the design for the two large arrangements which were placed outside the entrance of the restaurant,  but on a smaller scale. We used white branches to create height, small pink rose buds and the Sweet Avalanche roses and some greenery brought it all together.

Wedding Photography Siena - Table Plan

Having bought a poster of the contrada emblems I set about cutting and sticking (good old Blue Peter style, you’ll need a pair of scissors, glue and good quality card) We then hung the table cards from the branches, as the table plan was placed just inside the door we created more atmosphere by adding tea-lights and petals thus continuing the theme.

The day before the wedding, when I popped into see the girls at the florist’s there was a pile of the off cuts of the white branches on the counter “and what are you going to do with these?” I asked Carla. Always one to accept a challenge she created this wonderful effect by draping them over the vase by connecting the branches with pink wire….genius!

The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.”
 – Unknown

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