Real wedding – Siena – Dan & Marie

Last Friday, Marry Me In Tuscany kicked off the wedding season in Siena with a beautiful wedding for a fabulous couple Dan & Marie from America. They brought with them 17 family and friends to help them celebrate their wedding.

Dan a man always on the go decided that lots of activities were the order of the day to make sure that they made the most of their trip here and trust me they did! They had guided tours of Florence & Siena, a cooking class with Elena at Fattoria Corsignano, a Chianti wine tour and a rehearsal dinner at the superb restaurant Taverna di San Guiseppe in Siena, where they were treated to a surprise by the staff, won’t spill the beans on that just in case you go there too for a special occasion but I can honestly say that the food and service is wonderful and it’s well worth a visit if you are in Siena even if you’re not celebrating something special.

So after months of emails the BIG day finally arrived, and I went up to the fabulous venue Fattoria Corsignano, which Dan & Maire had chosen but which I know well as a great wedding venue to meet with a very relaxed Marie and her mum Susan & sister Rachel who was the MOH, they’d just had a massage and the wine was flowing!

Fattoria Corsignano is situated about 8km from Siena and is run by Elena & her husband Mario, a wonderful couple that will do everything and more to ensure that your stay is memorable and your wedding is the best day of your lives, the wines that they produce are wonderful too and with lots of wonderful areas to use for the wedding you’ll be spoilt for choice as to where to hold the wedding breakfast.

The hairdresser and make-up artist arrived and set about making everyone look a million dollars, when I asked about putting ribbons on the wedding car, they decided that perhaps it might need a clean, so I set off with Dan’s dad to take it to the local car wash, while I organized that, he nipped into MacDonald’s for a quick chicken burger and chips! So with a clean car I drove back to the Fattoria to put on the ribbons and see how we were getting on with the preparations, as I imagined everything was going according to plan. Amy had arrived and she was busy photographing the preparations.

So with everyone looking absolutely fabulous we set off for the short journey to the beautiful church La Certosa di Pontignano, which is situated a couple of kilometers from the Fattoria. This is a wonderful church which has beautiful cloisters and gardens which are perfect for photographs. On arrival at the church I lit the candles in the aisle and made sure that everything was OK with the harpist and the priest and that Dan wasn’t too nervous. And then the harpist started to play and bridal party procession began. Marie came in on her proud dad’s arm looking gorgeous in her beautiful Italian lace wedding dress that she had bought in the States and call it fate or destiny but her wedding consultant was from here!

Religious wedding, Siena, Tuscany

La Certosa di Pontignano, Siena, Tuscany

The wedding service was very touching and there were a few hankies at the ready for those moving moments and as they were declared husband and wife they walked out into the sunshine for some lovely photos in the cloisters with their friends and family while I dismantled the church to take the flowers and vases filled with candles back to the Fattoria.

The guests went on ahead to freshen up while Dan & Marie stayed on with Amy for some photos in the gardens and then they joined their guests around the pool for an aperitivo and some delicious food prepared by Elena and the chef. Before going into dinner Dan & Marie took to the dance floor for thier first dance, they had been taking dance lessons secretly so they wowed their guests with a fabulous display. Marie then danced with her dad to the song “footprints in the sand” which made everyone cry including me, the words are so beautiful and are just so perfect for a first dance although do be prepared to sob heartily.

The wedding colours were chocolate brown and fushia pink the florist pulled out all the stops for some wonderful wedding flowers the girls are amazing and never cease to amaze me with their creativity I’m sure that you’ll agree the wedding flowers were fantastic.

Italian wedding flowers

Wedding flowers, Siena

After a veritable feast, speeches and cake cutting, the guests all took to the dance floor to let their hair down and danced the night away till the wee small hours.

Dan & Marie had a wonderful Tuscan wedding and am so pleased that I helped them make it all possible, to see what they say about me and Marry Me In Tuscany check out their lovely testimonial under “What people say“.

As you know from my previous blog on “why you should have a professional photographer at your wedding”, for more evidence of why you should the photos here are mine and really don’t do the day justice so to see some truly great photos of the day, check out Amy’s blog from Imag1ne as always Amy has captured the day perfectly and they are way better than mine 😉

Marry Me in Tuscany loves Il Palazzone – Adopt an olive tree scheme

I had the pleasure of meeting Laura the weekend of Benvenuto Brunello at the vineyard she runs with her husband Marco in Montalcino. This bubbly Scot is extremely knowledgeable about wine and having been invited to a tasting it would have been extremely rude not to have taken at least a few sips (glasses) of the wonderful nectar they produce which would also be great to serve to your guests for your wedding breakfast.

Although I love wine and anything remotely related to it, while we were tasting I met a couple of Americans who had come to collect their olive oil from their own personal tree which they had adopted, this is such a great idea and would make a perfect gift for a couple getting married here that I asked Laura to write me a guest blog about it, read on to discover how you too can have your own olive tree in Tuscany.

Your own olive tree in Tuscany, your own olive oil at home

Il Palazzone is close to the centre of Montalcino in the heart of postcard Tuscany. Cypresses, sunsets, chanting monks, delightful wine, rolling hills, cheese and oil … you name it, Montalcino has it in spades.

The main business of the farm is making prestigious Brunello wine, but we also have three beautiful olive groves and a miniscule production of very high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Four years ago we decided to put our olive trees up for adoption and Club100 began. Members have a hand-painted ceramic plaque with their name on it on “their” tree. They receive a certificate of ownership with the altitude and GPS. Most importantly they receive three bottles of delicious oil, usually before Christmas, since we ship “cold” off the press.

Brett & Claudia's Olive tree

Not surprisingly giving a membership of Club100 is a popular wedding and anniversary gift. For those who have had special experiences in Tuscany it’s a wonderful way to remember them every time you dress a special salad or serve a great dish of pasta. Nearly all of our members seem to become addicted to their own supply of fresh oil and renew from year to year. Many make a point of visiting their tree from time to time or of sending friends to visit.

Alex & Summer's Olive tree

The longer that olives stay on the tree the riper they get. This means that they are easier to harvest and that they yield more oil. The only thing is quality is inversely related to yield. We pick preposterously early – usually almost straight after our grape harvest at the end of October or early November. We pick by hand which is better for the olives (and therefore the oil) but this is perhaps the most tedious agricultural operation in our calendar. Wearing wicker baskets around the waist, each olive is plucked one by one. This might sound romantic but two or three days up a ladder in the same tree with the wind whistling around your ears might have you change your mind.

We press at the award-winning mill, Frantoio Franci and we take our olives there within an hour of them coming off the tree. We use small crates so there is no risk of the olives suffering in transit.

After all this, of course our yields are puny – around 9 litres of olive oil for every hundred kilos of olives picked. Its no wonder that we consider the oil to be liquid gold – all 700 500 ml bottles of our annual production.

I was pleased to see that Angelina gave an olive tree to Brad Pitt last Valentine’s day. I’d like to think she got the idea from us….

For information about 2011 membership, please contact

Laura Gray

You can also follow Laura on Twitter and Facebook

Wedding Photography for Tuscan Weddings

As a wedding planner in Tuscany, I don’t pretend to know that much about photography, having seen lots of weddings I can probably set up a great wedding shot and I do see lots of the special moments that if I wasn’t doing my job and had a camera at the ready would perhaps capture  ‘the shot” but you only have to look at some of my own personal photos for many people to say ‘don’t give you your day job love!’

Just compare these two…. and you’ll see what I mean!

tossing the bouquet by Jackie


Tossing the bouquet by Carlo Carletti

Whilst we all think that we are great photographers the truth of the matter is that while we may capture a few great shots we’re just not consistent. So why on one of the most important days of your life would you trust uncle Bob to take your wedding photos just because it might save you some money??

Your wedding day will whizz by so quickly that a good wedding photographer will take those all important shots, all the details of your day, flowers, table decorations, the dress, the groom looking nervous before the bride makes her entrance, those moments when someone says something funny during the speeches that sends everyone into fits of genuine laughter, those romantic moments when you think no-one else is watching – to the formal shots of the family. I know brides that missed the all-important photo with Granny only to regret it when Granny died, these are moments that only ever happen once and without a time machine you can’t get them back.

A professional wedding photographer will capture all of these moments for you, it’s their job. They record so many weddings that they are always ready for a shot that many of us by the time we’d turned the camera on we would have missed. They are artists and create a story of your special day through magical photographs, ones that will last forever and which you can look back on and name all the people who were there and your children can look at and laugh at the fashions of the day.

I’ve had brides bring photographers with them that have been too lazy to do a recce of the area and on the day of the wedding look to me to tell them where to go and where to go to get some good scenery shots. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a professional wedding photographer checks the area before the big day, where to park,  where the fields of sunflowers are and where’s a good place to stop with the couple for some private shots on the way back to the reception, even how to get to the wedding venue.

I personally can’t think of anything worse than a photographer jumping in the car with a couple and potentially ruining those private moments where they have the chance to take a deep breath and enjoy being just married. I’m sure that photographers would argue that they might miss some important shots by doing this but the couples have so little time alone on their wedding day to gather their thoughts that I think we can allow them a short car journey to savour the moment can’t we?

Although I truly do want the couples to have the best day possible and realize that they should have fabulous wedding photos, and will of course help photographers before the big day, the wedding day for me is the culmination of many many months of hard work and planning and probably the busiest and most important day for me when I sometimes need to be in 2 places at once and my priority on the day is to ensure that the bride and groom have an amazing stress free day that exceeds their expectations. Baby sitting a photographer that can’t do their job seriously is not top on my list of priorities.

I once had a bride whose father, being a wedding photographer, wanted to photograph his daughter’s wedding. Wonderful, but honestly shouldn’t you just be happy being the proud father of the bride rather than racing around capturing the details of the day? This also turned sour when after a family row he refused to give the couple their album so they now only have photos of their special day that their friends took, how sad is that?

By all means do bring your favourite photographer but do also consider that if they are not from the EU they will  need a work permit to record your special day. It’s well worth checking that they are 100% legal to do the job here. Having your photographer stopped from working on your big day is not something that I even want to contemplate – it would be my worst nightmare. Weddings are hardly inconspicuous and do naturally generate quite a bit of attention in Italy, thankfully it’s never happened to any of my couples but I have heard of couples where it has and that must be so devastating. Not only have you paid a huge amount of money to get them to your wedding, but you won’t have the wedding album you dreamed of.

Investing in a good wedding photographer is well worth the money, having someone editing your photos and producing a wonderful wedding album is definitely worth it’s weight in gold, if you scrimp on your wedding photos after the day has gone trust me you really will wish that you’d spent a little extra to have a fabulous record of your special Tuscan wedding day.