Carmen and Darrell’s Cortona, Tuscany Wedding

When was your wedding?


How and when did you meet?

We met via an internet dating website. We “clicked” straight away and met in person a week after first getting in touch. On our first date, the conversation flowed effortlessly and we laughed a lot. We had a lot in common and we seemed to have the same sense of humour. I knew straight away that I wanted to see him again.


How old are you both?

Carmen is 43 and Darrell 42.

Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?

Darrell proposed when we celebrated our 3rd anniversary with a weekend away in Bath. He was waiting for the right moment all night, during dinner and later while salsa dancing. In the end he did it when we were just about to go inside after our night out, in front of the door of the romantic country hotel where we were staying. I really didn’t expect it but said yes straight away. We celebrated the next day with cream teas at the Pump House in Bath.

Did you have hen and stag celebrations? If so, what did you do?

At my age I didn’t feel like going wild on my hen night. I had a day & night out in London with my closest friends: ride on the London Eye, meal at a Cuban restaurant and dancing at a Salsa Club. It was great fun! I think the stag night was a bit more embarrassing for Darrell as he had to dress up as an overweight tart “Dolores” in a padded suit with huge boobs. They also went out in London and the night was themed the 3 C’s of Carting, Curry & Comedy.

How did your groom help with the wedding planning?

He was a great help and also had a lot of good ideas. It was suggested getting married in Italy, which he thought was a brilliant idea. I did a lot of the initial organization, simply because I have more time and also enjoy that part. He printed the invitations and managed the budget. A lot of the organization was a joint effort, such as picking the music for our party.

Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?

Confetti was great for inspiration and I also bought a few things from the store in Reading. I found some useful information on the website and spent too much time on the Forum. It was a good idea to launch the “Wedding Abroad” forum from which I got loads of ideas and tips.

Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?

I visited the Confetti shop in Reading.

Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it

My main wedding dress was from Eden Bridals which I bought via the internet from House of Brides. It was floor length with a little train, had a low neckline with straps and was low cut in the back. There were some sparkly bits, but it was mostly straight and simple. The main material was chiffon. It was beautiful and just was I had dreamed of. I also had a second, shorter dress for dancing which was from the bridal range at Marks & Spencer, which was knee length and made from silk. It was perfect for dancing, but still looked like a wedding dress. My shoes where ivory satin dance shoes from International Dance Shoes. My jewellery was a wedding gift from my groom, a gold necklace with a single pearl and matching drop earrings. He chose it himself and was exactly what I had in mind!

Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?

I had 3 bridesmaids. Two were my husband’s teenage daughters and one was my 18‐year old daughter. To match the sunflowers, we decided that brown would be a good colour for their dresses. However, the dresses were all different, two were brown and one mainly ivory with some brown panels.

Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?

We didn’t really have ushers and the “Best Man” was a woman, his best friend who helped bring us together. My husband wore a Hugo Boss shirt and his suit was tailor made by a tailor in Hong Kong. His suit was chocolate brown to match the bridesmaids’ dresses and he looked very handsome in it! All the other male guests wore their own suits.

Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?

Civil ceremony

Where did you hold your ceremony?

The Ceremony was at the Town Hall in Cortona/Tuscany. Cortona is a beautiful Tuscan hill town and has hundreds of romantic photo spots.

Where did you hold your reception?

We had the reception at the villa where we were staying with our guests in nearby Corciano/Umbria. The 13th century hamlet is run as a holiday villa and the owner was helpful in a lot of areas of our planning. It’s a beautiful building with a lot of character and has a small tower. The dinner and dancing was in the beautiful garden and it was all very atmospheric, especially when it got dark.

Did you have any special wedding transport?

We hired a classic MGA from a guy we located over the internet. The car broke down when my husband collected it in the morning. I was blissfully unaware of this until just before leaving for the ceremony, when I was told about a change of plan to pick up the car on the way to the ceremony. The car owner was really helpful, got the car fixed and also offered us an alternative. The MGA ran fine in the end, apart from us getting really hot in the car as we couldn’t work out how to switch off the radiator.

How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?

We had invited 30 guests and everyone came. As well as attending both the ceremony and reception, most were staying with us at the same villa for the whole week. We had loads of time to catch up with everyone and it was more like a wedding week than just a wedding day. We had barbecues almost every night and by the time the wedding took place everyone had got to know each other really well. We are already planning to have our 10th anniversary party at the same place with the same people!

Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?

We didn’t have a specific theme. We had our reception in the garden and it didn’t need much decoration. The owner of the villa had put up some lighting and torches, and we tied some ribbons to the trees. There were also some sunflowers arrangements on the patio, near the dining table.

How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?

We also kept the table decorations simple. Our table centres were made of sunflowers and we had a few tealights and candles. It looked great and was very atmospheric in the dark.

Did you give your guests favours?

We had 3 favours for each guest: sunflower seeds, 5 sugared almonds and the adults got a small bottle of olive oil with a personalised label. For the girls we had Sunflower perfumes and yo‐yos for the boys. The gifts were a big hit with everyone!

Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?

I chose sunflowers; I love them as they’re beautiful, cheerful and unpretentious. I call them “happy flowers”. In addition, they perfectly matched the location. The owner of the villa ordered the flowers through a local florist and my Maid of Honour made the beautiful bouquets and table arrangements.

What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?

We had a 5‐course Italian dinner that was simple but absolutely gorgeous. It included fried vegetables, antipasti, ravioli with gorgonzola/walnut sauce, Umbrian porchetta and panna cotta with fresh berries. When we chose our holiday villa, it was a great surprise that the owner was a chef as well. So he cooked the food with the help of some local staff.

What did you choose for your wedding cake, and who made it?

We had a traditional Italian wedding cake; a Millefoglie with forest fruits. It was delicious!

Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?

We had a classic pianist and soprano perform during the aperitifs and the pianist carried on during dinner. The soprano had an amazing voice and everyone was really impressed. For dancing we just played our iPod on which we had downloaded our favourite music.

Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?

No, we didn’t want gifts, although some people are incorrigible.

Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?

Our first night we spent in a nearby romantic castle. For our honeymoon we went to the Amalfi Coast for 1 week and spent 3 days on Capri. Beautiful area of Italy, we loved Capri especially. We didn’t do much sight seeing, just relaxed by the pool for most of the time. It was just what we needed! We booked everything directly through the internet.

What was your most memorable moment of the day?

The moment when we said our wedding vows, “Si, lo voglio!” We also couldn’t wait to do our wedding dance, as we have been dancing Salsa and Argentine Tango for a few years. We wanted to show off on our wedding day and we knew that our guests expected it. We impressed them with our Argentine Tango, which went really well considering how drunk we were by then. Then we had a special surprise when we made complete fools of ourselves by dancing the Ally McBeal dance to “My First, My Last, My Everything”. This is a very special song for us and part of how we got together! We both loved the TV series Ally McBeal when we got together and talked about that dance scene on our first date. It’s a bit of a blur, but I think we got some appreciative howls and applause.

Did you experience any “nightmare” moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?

We had 3 (the magic number!) nightmare moments: 1. When landing in Italy some of our luggage didn’t arrive with us. Luckily our wedding outfits and rings were safe in our hand luggage, but we were a bit worried about having to go shopping for everything else. Everything had finally arrived at the hotel by the next morning. 2. When we were picking up our hire car at the train station in Rome, we realised that we’d left our passport, money in wedding rings in the safe of our hotel room. So we had to drive to the other end of town through a maze of one‐way streets to pick it up. Luckily we got it back, and it only delayed our journey by about 1 hour. 3. This was our wedding car breaking down in the morning. Luckily it was fixed and ran fine for our wedding.

Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?

It was a fantastic day and everything we could have wished for! The only thing that we regret is that nobody videoed our wonderful speeches. If you get married abroad, definitely put your wedding outfit into the hand luggage, as the airlines seem to be getting worse with managing the checked‐in luggage. We had a wedding planner for our paperwork and legalities, which is a must, but we sorted everything else out ourselves, either over the internet or with the help of the owner of the villa. This worked very well for us; it saved us some money and made the event more personal. We loved the fact that we had most of the guest staying with us for the week, everyone was like old friends by the time the wedding came along and made the celebration very relaxed. A wedding in Italy is not cheap, but we got a lot more for our money than we would have got in the UK. We can’t wait to go back and relive the memories!

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