Bride-to-Be? Read me.
"Going to the chapel and you're.. gonna be maaa-rried...!"
So, you've said YES to tying the knot... how exciting!!!
If you're like most women I know, including me.. you have some idea of what you want. Even if you're too shy or maybe embarrassed to say it aloud, I know you've thought about it. Atleast once.
Let's be real. Most women have been programed to fantasize about their dream day since childhood. Watching Disney movies and hearing "they lived... happily ever after" at the end of storybooks is the norm for little girls. Who doesn't want to be swept away by a good-lookin' prince charming who throws you on the back of horse and gallops far into the forest to live happily ever after in some gorgeous castle with a butler and chef? Maybe it's the kind of dress you've dreamed of.. or the kind of venue you'd like, or even the specific flowers you'd love in your bouquet... whatever it may be, I'm sure you've thought about it.. which is probably why you're here now reading me. :)
Being engaged and planning a wedding is one the most exciting times in your life (as of yet) and you're probably overwhelmed with love, excitement and... tons of nerves as you realize you're a "COVID-19 BRIDE-TO-BE"... whyyyy???! I know your pain. Trust me! I really freakin' do. Although you've lived through one of the worst years of your life: 2020; the hell ain't over. I 100% understand the rollercoaster. You get really excited.. just to get really sad... you get really hopeful, just to get really emotional and bless your partner as you drag them through the highs and muddy lows. I guess if you can make it through a pandemic with your partner, there's a really great chance you can make it through just about anything!
Planning a Wedding during a Global Pandemic is not a walk in the park.
It's a rugged maze you struggle to make it safely out of through blazing dessert heat, followed by disastrous hurricanes with moments of sunshine and roses that give you hope "it might be okay."
If you're planning a bilingual wedding ... add on International destination wedding ... add on during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, then buckle up! You're going for a ride!
Planning my wedding was hard. It was emotional. It was stressful.
But it wasn't impossible. Please don't give up hope! Looking back, every bit of stress was a billion times WORTH IT so keep reading. My hope is that you have a magical, beautiful and memorable day full of love like I did. Everyone deserves this and you're no different! ❤️
First things first: As you may already know if you've been with your partner for a few trips around the sun: relationships require work. I don't care how in love you are with your partner and how wonderfully patient, caring and communicative you both are. Planning a big wedding during a pandemic will require real, honest, constant communication, compromise and patience, with none other than, your soon-to-be: S P O U S E!
In an effort to save you some level of stress and anxiety (I know you'll still worry), read below and apply yourself as you go. Take what works and as with everything I share, leave the rest behind!
Nail down your top 3-5 Goals: If you're like me, you'll have many. I recommend you narrow it down to just a few. Why? So that at the end of your special day, you look back and remember that you truly did what you set out to do! Here were mine:
Having our closest family and friends present ✅
Having my father-daughter dance (he traveled from Nicaragua (5 long flights) while healing from pneumonia... to be there). ❤️ Constant reminder that if something or someone is important to you- you move mountains to make it happen. No excuses. I love you, dad.
Getting married in a beautiful ancient cathedral with bilingual priest and celebrating in a gorgeous castle covered in flowers and candles ✅
Performing our special SURPRISE dance ✅ (I have never been more proud of my guy. After begging him for a year... he FINALLY gave in and we made it happen (I'm persistent to no end!) In 3 months we practiced to a remix of 4 songs I created and to dance moves I choreographed! Who knew I had it in me?! Phew it was hard work!! Dancing with him at the end of the night with friends screaming and jumping up and down, cheering us on was one of the most memorable moments... I'll never, ever forget it! 🥰
As with all things in life, follow your gut. I followed my gut on many decisions, even when they sounded irrational to my husband. If something is truly important to you, stick to your word and believe in it. Ex) When our wedding was cancelled/postponed due to Covid and our venue wasn't available on the third date, I made it non-negotiable to have our wedding planner go back to find a date that worked for all vendors. Sure, it required more work, but if I had settled, I would've never had the wedding I truly wanted. So stick to it if it means the world to you! Guess what, we had our wedding on a Tuesday and only had 2 people not show up so there's that! Don't feel the need to pick a Saturday or Sunday simply because it's convenient for them.
Wedding Planner: Two words: Worth it! Skimp on the invitations or place-cards but never the planner! If you have a wonderful one (or duo like we did) you'll thank yourself. Sure, Vito and I did a lot of work, but having someone helping to ensure all went smoothly overseas is something money truly cannot buy. The last thing you want to do on your wedding is get all sweaty and stressed decorating seating for 100+ guests, calling the musician, florist or following up with the cake delivery guy. Invest in getting professional help. My wedding was gorgeous and so perfectly, well planned out all thanks to our beautiful and caring wedding planners, Lia & Carmen!! If you plan to get married in Southern Italy, give them a call! You'll be so glad you did!!
Invitation Cards: Pretty, but not worth it. After our wedding was postponed again.. and again, I thought it was pointless. We live in a digital age and decided to email our guests and guess what - it was fine! I still have our original invite card but it's just a keepsake.. trust me, 99% of the cards you mail, end up... that's right, in the trash! Save a tree and if you can, email your guests. It's just so much more convenient and you can use that money on more meaningful things, like a band, dj or your honeymoon!
The Dress: The dress I ended up getting was 100% nothing like I had imagined. And guess what, it was perfect.. for ME. At first I had such mixed feelings but after I made some custom changes, it felt RIGHT. I'm so thankful for my dear friends Nicole and Ninwa for being there for me when I felt so overwhelmed with choices. I never wanted a ton of family and bridesmaids there, and knowing I made the decision with a few trusted friends made me feel better. If you have complicated relationships with family or friends, do what feels right to you. At the end of the day you'll be the one wearing the white, purple, red, green dress, jumpsuit, overalls or tux if you choose! Do you. It's YOUR day, so do what feels right to you.
Decide together what traditions are most important: We didn't do a garter or bouquet toss. At first we disagreed so much about something so silly, but looking back, I'm so happy we didn't! The night flew by so quickly. You blink and it's over! The time we had wasn't spent doing something traditional just for the sake of doing it, which meant we had more time to actually enjoy our wedding, which brings me to my next point:
Be present. Hire a Photographer & Videographer! Do your research and find an incredible one like we did with Marco Odorino Photography. Don't rely on being free or having friends and family to take the best footage. I'm so glad we invested in a professional photography team. A team of 4 joined us around from morning till night! Although we haven't received our photos or video yet, I can't wait to see them. I know they'll be perfect memories we've captured forever.
Hydrate and Eat: Both are equally important. Eat before the wedding, you'll need the energy with emotions so high! And, if you're marrying an Italian.. or just love food and are spending a pretty penny on it, ENJOY IT! I was able to have bites here and there in-between guests asking for photos, so trust me - you'll want to eat! If it wasn't for me slicing the cake and hand feeding each other a piece, we would've never tried it! Yep, that was the only bite we had of our huge three layer, beautiful cake!
Music is life! It brings your entire event together. Our life band and DJ, Mauro Liuzzi were wonderful and they even surprised us with special live songs including one from Game of Thrones! It was perfect! Trust your team of professionals to deliver and if you have special requests, speak up and ask. They'll be more than accommodating to make your day as you want it to be. We wanted our music to start romantic and then end off being so much fun. I loved seeing so many people getting down on the dance floor and that was thanks to our American Bar... but mainly our fun MUSIC!
Things won't go as you planned. Go with the flow! I had a number of things not go my way.. but you know what, they turned out even better! As a little girl I always dreamt of having a white peony bouquet... and guess what.. those arrived to the florist completely destroyed due to being out of season! Not their fault at all! So, I went with the next best choice. Our florist, La Mia Fioraia was incredibly kind and so helpful and they did an incredible job making my vision a reality. Our wedding was so gorgeous and the flower arrangements were truly unforgettable!
Makeup and Hair: Don't do this yourself! It's your one day, so please get pampered! After all that planning, you deserve it. Invest in a team of talented professionals. Marilena, my hairstylist from Roma 2.0 Salon, and Monica Tonelli, my MUA were both the absolute BEST! They were so kind, caring, loving and had such a beautiful energy. They went above and beyond to make me look and more importantly FEEL beautiful and I'll never ever forget it.
Some people won't come... and as hard as it is to accept - it's for the best! Some say they will come and then last minute won't be able to.. some may fall sick which is unpreventable or situations may arise which are out of their control and yes, some will make ridiculous excuses! I think by the third or fourth time we updated guests, we knew the ones who'd be there and the ones who wouldn't. Remember this as you plan a destination wedding during a global pandemic: let it go and just go with the flow. Looking back, all the loving people in my life locked eyes with me as I walked down the aisle and embraced me as we met in the venue. All is well in the end.
Prep your overnight bag. We stayed our first night in the castle venue which was so romantic and perfect, and I'm so glad I had comfy clothes to dress into the next day! I did forget makeup wipes, so take notes. And don't forget comfy shoes! My feet had blisters from dancing all nigh, so comfort is KEY! Prepare for your day... and that includes your night. If you aren't regular or stress causes irregular havoc on your body (totally normal while planning a wedding), bring all the things you may need, and hand them to a trusted friend or bridesmaid to hold (just in case!) This includes: lipstick, concealer, tampons (just in case), advil and your cell phone! 🔑
Manage stress in ways that feel good to you! Take breaks and do something fun and light. Do whatcha gotta do, even if that means going to bed and skipping the table seating for the night, or grabbing wine and pushing music selections to the following week. You're doing something really big, life-changing and epic, during one of the most stressful and chaotic times on earth. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your partner. Do the best you can and then rest. Planning a wedding is emotionally draining and exhausting. Ask for help. Don't be shy. Cry if you need to. I cried a lot! Call a friend. Say what you mean and when things don't go your way, breathe and remember why you're doing this.
I can go on forever... but the biggest one I'll say is this: nothing I say will prepare you for one of the best days of your entire life, because it truly is. Even if it rains.. even if your friend can't be there.. and even if your bouquet isn't what you pictured it looking like. Remember why you decided to get married and you'll know it's for no other reason than to express your genuine love for the human you choose to spend the rest of your life with., in sickness and in health, for better or worse, till death do us part: That's it. There's nothing more beautiful or important that that - nothing.
One more thing, stop overthinking it and buy the damn shoes! Just don't leave them behind at the castle like I did... I guess this was my Cinderella moment. FYI, the venue has promised to hold onto them till I return to Italy for Christmas! :)
With so much love, you newly, happily married friend,
Getting married in Puglia? Below are the incredible contacts who made this day happen! Wedding Planner: https://www.apuliaweddingplanner.com/test/
Castello Marchione Venue: https://www.castellomarchione.it/
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