Today’s real wedding takes place in a magical wedding venue and utterly dreamy location. Imagine getting married in an Italian castle on Lake Garda surrounded by beautiful mountains and overlooking a pretty port! This lovely couple did exactly that, planning their dream destination wedding in a place they had never even been too!
So enamored with the beautiful Italian castle Katie found on line, she decided to go ahead and book this historic and majestic wedding venue for her big day! So, if you’re looking for some romantic, fairy tale wedding inspiration, in an incredibly beautiful location with breathtaking scenery, this just might be it!
Words by Katie. Images by Married to my Camera.
I’d always wanted to get married abroad but a beach wedding didn’t appeal to me. My first thoughts were Italy or France as they are both such beautiful countries with so much history.
I began researching weddings in Italy and my focus soon steered towards Verona. As I began searching for wedding venues in Verona, Lake Garda began to crop up (it turned out they are under the same province).
Anyway, I happened to stumble across a picture of a wedding at Malcesine Castle and I fell in love. Decision made – that was where I was going to get married. I booked the castle before we had even visited!
I initially debated whether or not to hire an Italian based wedding planner. I had heard great things about Lake Garda Weddings and even contacted them for a quote. But in the end I decided I’d rather save the money and plan it myself. I don’t speak Italian, but I do love a challenge!
I always knew I wanted a big princess dress and when I took my Mum and bridesmaids shopping with me I tried on loads of them. I narrowed them all down to three. None of the three were perfect but they each had a quality which I loved:
The first dress had a corset back which I adored. Aside from a big princess dress this was the second main feature I wanted my dress to have;
The second dress had a lovely belt around the middle pulling the waist in, giving the dress a lovely added touch; and
The third dress had a beautiful lace pattern on the bodice which ran seamlessly into the skirt.
Ideally I wanted to combine all these three features into one dress so I went home and hit the internet. That’s when I stumbled across my gorgeous Ellis gown and located it to a local bridal shop, Fleur De Lys Bridal in Saffron Walden. Even though the dress I tried on in their store was a size 16 (I am a size 8) I could see it was everything I wanted.
I had always loved the short Allure dress from Coast in sage green. When I first began wedding planning the dresses were a little out of my price range so I started to look elsewhere.
I had to postpone buying the dresses though because Lara was pregnant and due in February, so buying their dresses was a bit of a last minute affair. Although shopping for their dresses last minute was a stressful prospect, by the time I was able to purchase them the Allure dress had come down in price so it was well worth the wait.
When looking for ideas for bridesmaids hairstyles I came across a picture of a French plait coming over the left shoulder with pink flowers entwined through. I loved this style and found a set of little rose hair accessories in pink from New Look.
They looked so pretty in their hair.
I decided to do my own make-up. Getting married abroad means you have much less choice when it comes to hair and make-up artists and I was nervous that without being able to have a trial I wouldn’t be happy with my make-up on the day.
I decided instead to visit Mac at Stratford a few months before the wedding for a professional make-up lesson and to purchase what I knew would be good quality make-up. This way I was able to play around with it leading up to the wedding so I knew exactly how I wanted it.
For my hair I used a local hairdresser, Tiziana Stefani, who was recommended to me by the owner of La Pace. Tiziana didn’t speak much English but luckily a lady where I worked was fluent in Italian so she assisted me in booking my hair appointment. Tiziana was absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t have been happier with mine and my bridesmaids’ hair.
This was the hardest decision of my entire outfit. Like most girls, I love shoes, so the fact that my wedding location was hilly and cobbly (not stiletto appropriate) was the only downside to stunning Malcesine. But aside from that, my groom is only an inch or two taller than me and given my preferred heel height is generally no less than 3 inches he didn’t want me towering over him on the day. I therefore started hunting for flats.
It took me until a couple of days before we flew out to find flats that I liked. They were pale pink covered in pink diamantes from Next. However, I couldn’t resist buying a pair of gorgeous lacy, ivory heels from David’s Bridal… just for a few photos!!
As part of our package with the restaurant we were provided with a tuk tuk to transport my Dad and me to the castle. Neither of us had anticipated how much fun it would be trundling through the town with the locals and tourists taking our photo, wishing me luck and offering their congratulations.
It was a lovely touch which made us feel very special.
Surprisingly, the groom’s outfit was probably the biggest nightmare of the whole wedding. Dave only had two requests for the wedding and one of them was that he didn’t want to wear a tie. I was happy with this given that it was likely to be hot and our wedding had more of an intimate, informal feel.
We decided we wanted the groom and best men to wear light coloured linen trousers and waistcoats with white shirts. This turned out to be extremely difficult to find as because we were having a May wedding, light coloured linen wasn’t being brought into stores until the very last minute.
It was only a matter of weeks before the wedding that we finally found the perfect outfits from Asos.
I walked down the aisle to a song called The Book of Love by Peter Gabriel. There are two reasons why we chose this song. Firstly, we love the meaning. The song describes how love is deep and complicated but it’s the small things which make it real.
“The book of love is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing. It’s full of charts and facts and figures, and instructions for dancing. But I, I love it when you read to me. And you can read me anything”.
The second reason why we chose it, and this reason is slightly strange, but because it was the last song in the very last episode of Scrubs!! The main character, who is a dreamer, ends the episode envisioning his hopes for the future whilst The Book of Love plays in the background. He explains how his future could be whatever he wanted it to be, and who can tell him his fantasies won’t come true…just this once.
This struck a chord with us. We’re not believers in fate, or destiny or that things are meant to be. Therefore, having this song on our wedding day was like a symbol that our future is purely what we make of it but for this day all our fantasies have come true, at least, just this once.
My Dad gave me away. This had extra meaning for me as four years previously my Dad suffered a stroke. During his time in hospital they had difficulty thinning his blood and at one point I was uncertain whether he would see the day I got married. But he has since made an excellent recovery and having him walk me down the aisle was my biggest wedding wish come true.
As a side effect from the stroke he still suffers with Aphasia, which is a speech condition in which he struggles to form the words he wants to say, so although he wrote the father of the bride speech my brother gave it on his behalf.
Our florist was Lara Saglia who was also recommended to us by the owner of La Pace. Like Tiziana, Lara also didn’t speak much English but La Pace’s owner’s secretary assisted us in booking her and I sent her pictures via email of the flowers I wanted.
We didn’t have a very big budget for flowers but I wasn’t too concerned by this. Given the location and beautiful scenery I figured flowers would be overshadowed anyway.
I decided on roses as they are simple, classic and romantic and I had a mixture of cream and pink for my bouquet, the button holes and the bridesmaids’ corsages.
Our photographer was David Weightman of Married to my Camera. The photographer was one of the most important aspects for us. They are the ones who are providing you with your memories in 10, 20, 30 years time.
I had to make a decision whether to hire an Italian photographer who was experienced at photographing weddings at our venue but where there would be a language barrier and less choice on our part on the style of the photography, or flying out an English photographer who although wouldn’t be familiar with the venue, communication would be much easier. In the end I decided it would be worth paying extra to fly a photographer out in order to ensure we got the memories we wanted.
I spent a lot of time online looking through different photographers’ websites. We’re not really fans of posing so we wanted a photographer who specialised in natural photography. It was only when I came across Married to my Camera that Dave completely switched his attention from the TV to the laptop – to capture Dave’s interest I knew I was on to a winner.
David’s photos were exactly what we wanted; natural and genuine. Each photo is of a real memory which in years to come will trigger each and every emotion we experienced on the day.
Dave and I had the option to travel in the tuk tuk from the castle to the restaurant after the ceremony but we decided it would be more fun to lead our wedding group through the town on foot.
This was definitely the right decision as it gave us some great photos.
For wedding favours we gave our guests CD’s of our first dance song. I made a collage of Malcesine to use as the CD labels and included our names and wedding date to give it an extra personal touch.
Due to how unique our first dance song was it felt like a very special gift to pass to our guests as it will always make them think of us and our wedding whenever they listen to it.
We decided not to have any venue or table decorations. Aside from the fact that we didn’t want the extra load to have to transport to Italy we thought that when you’re having dinner on a lake with a backdrop of mountains no one will notice a few table crystals.
The cake was provided by the restaurant as part of our package. Unfortunately straight after the cake was cut I had to have my dress loosened as I was struggling to breathe so I missed out on eating any of it! But the guests tell me it was delicious!
I had always wanted my brother to sing our first dance song, but when Dave and I got engaged it occurred to me how special it would be if my brother not only performed it, but wrote it. I had heard songs he had written in the past and knew he had a talent for it so I had every confidence he would write something we would love. We gave him a brief of the type of song we wanted, the feel of it and the meaning and as I knew he would, he wrote us the perfect song.
It is called Just This Once and it is a reflection on why we chose The Book of Love as our walking down the aisle song. It speaks about the expectations of love and how you can get mixed up with “tokens feigning sentiment” when the real importance is the small day to day things which you barely stop to think about.
“I love that I’m excited by the things you have to say, and I find I’m being careful just to see another day…
So it’s alright, it’s ok, there’s inspiration for the world and it’s today. You take my word, I take your name, and just this once sit back with me aboard this train. And we’ll live as one Hart, in our own way”.
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a Bride to Be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
For a destination Bride to Be I would advise her not underestimate the loyalty of their friends. Our restaurant held a capacity of 35 inside and 40 outside but we honestly believed we’d have around a dozen people attend our wedding – 15 at the absolute most. We invited 46 people and ended up with a final number of 39.
I was more stressed than most brides at the prospect of rain! One of my friends, Emily, who has a crippling fear of flying even drove all the way to Italy with her boyfriend so they could share our day. We were overwhelmed with gratitude at the amount of people who made the effort to attend our wedding and we wouldn’t change it for the world, but we were lucky that our budget stretched to a higher number of guests than we expected.
If you’re on a tight budget don’t assume people won’t come otherwise you could end up paying out more than you can afford.
My second piece of advice is that any bride going abroad needs to be a nice balance of organised and easy going. It takes a lot of research and planning to go abroad but as you can’t visit your venue regularly and when there is a language barrier and cultural differences a lot of your day involves going with the flow and seeing what happens.
I was organised enough to know that my day would come together, I just didn’t exactly know how! You can’t start planning too early either. If you space it all out then not only will you enjoy it more but, like me, you could be having the time of your life on a speed boat with the rest of your wedding guests on the eve of the big day!
What was your most memorable moment of the day / evening?
I find it impossible to pinpoint a single most memorable moment as the whole day in itself is such a fantastic memory!
Massive thanks to Married to My Camera for sharing this idyllic Italian Castle wedding with the blog and huge congrats to Katie and David, we hope married life is treating you well!
Wasn’t that the sweetest little tuk tuk ride ladies?! Oooo makes you just wanna plan an amazing wedding like this one too! Are you planning a destination wedding ? Tell me all your goss.
wedding credits / wedding photographer: married to my camera / wedding venue: malcesine castle followed by la pace restaurant in malcesine, lake garda, italy / brides dress, veil, tiara, pearl necklace and bracelet: fleur de lys bridal in saffron walden / grooms suit: asos / bridesmaid dresses: coast