Having experienced the ins and outs of planning and hosting a wedding in Italy… Here are some tips that you will probably not see anywhere else, and will help your international wedding go on without a hitch.
Make it ‘stick
Stock-up on waterproof foundation, eye-shadow, mascara, etc. and smudge-proof lipstick before leaving the United States (many brands may not be available internationally or if they are, not in the same color!) Your dress and veil will stay white and you out of the bathroom for touch-ups. It works! I cried rivers when I got to the church and walking down the aisle but when it was time to take pictures, and the veil was off, all the color was where it’s supposed to be! If you are planning an outdoors or seaside after party – make sure to remind all invitees to bring eco-friendly sunscreens with them (go with the trend and ask them to use sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate!).
Take it with you
If you’ve purchased your wedding dress at home, and it has to end up in Italy with you… Carry it onto the plane. Remember, you’ve spent lots of money and time making sure that it would look and fit just right so don’t let it out of your sight! Advise the airline when you’re checking in so that they can add that note to your ticket in their computer and board the plane with the first group of elderly and family travelers. Then, ask the stewardess to hang it in the first class closet (yes, even if you’re not in first class they make exceptions for wedding dresses). A garment bag that is either see-through or clearly states the that it’s from a Bridal Shop adds to your credibility and the fellow passenger’s understanding.
Don’t take it with you
Cake topper, party favors and accessories can all be fragile and cumbersome to bring on the plane. Mail them ahead of time to your wedding location. Usually, a retail shipping service will guarantee that your item will get there whole if you let them wrap it. I made the mistake of bringing them with me and was loaded with odd-sized packages and garment bags to balance in the airport, during stop-overs, in the bathroom… you get the idea. Send as much “stuff” as you can in advance so that you can travel light and worry about one thing at a time.
Get there early
Arrive at your International wedding location at least three days before the wedding. Spend those three days confirming everything with each vendor and supplier. This will help prevent any “wedding” emergency that might arise and… remember, if you can’t fix or change it in three days.. it can’t be fixed.
The plane ride there and back will be long, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be productive! Bring “Thank You” notes and begin writing them for the guests who have already sent you a gift. For the rest, address envelopes to the guests who have RSVP’d — you can thank them for their gift on your way back and toss them all in the post office box as soon as you return. Then, you’re done! BTW, send all your thank you notes at once– this will help alleviate the political minefield of which relative was thanked first.
Get it down in B&W
Put the contact information for the florist, driver, photographer, priest, etc. on one piece of paper, along with what you agreed-to and how much you have already paid in a deposit. Then make two copies. One for you, one for your husband, and one for a good organized friend who can help make sure everything is happening as it should. For any help from the US embassy in Italy, don’t be shy to get in touch, just call them and ask for advice.
Weddings can turn the most rational, intelligent family-members and in-laws into ranting maniacs who want their way at your wedding– this will be particularly true with the Italian side of your families. Choose your battles. If it’s going to completely ruin your relationship give in-let them order multi-colored party favors. If it’s not, stand firm and make sure to get what you and your future husband want. Enlist your future spouse in mediating and negotiating the situation. I almost stopped speaking to my future mother-in-law until my husband stepped in and made our choices clear to her.
Best of luck, and let me know about your wedding experience!