All the Things I Wish I’d Known Before my European Destination Wedding

I wrote a post prior to leaving for our Italian destination wedding that detailed how I planned for it. However, things don’t always go according to plan for a European destination wedding! The good news? Some things went better (and yes, some things went worse). So here are some things I learned after all is said and done, so you can avoid my pitfalls and relish in my wins.

Pay more for hair & make up

Yes, I thought I was totally winning when I found an Italian salon that offered wedding hair and make up for less than half the price of hair and makeup artists that came to your location to do it. I was so confident in my choice, y’all. Man, was I wrong about this one. Kathy and I went to my hair and makeup trial the day before the wedding. First, not a single person spoke English. If you’ve been to Italy, you may already know that pretty much everyone speaks both English in some capacity and Italian (Y’all, practically everyone outside the US knows multiple languages. We need to up our game in the US).

This was the only place my entire trip that not a single person spoke any English. So we get there and I google translate to let them know why I was even there. I show her a photo from Pinterest of pretty loose braids and curls for hair. She immediately starts doing the tightest braids ever and a big poof on the top of my head. I’m sitting in the chair trying to keep a straight face but for one, I have no way of truly expressing how I feel to this woman. I try to smile and tell her it looks good. I tell her I want to do the makeup trial today too. She takes my hair out, washes it, then her and another lady ask if they can pluck my eyebrows (asking via hand gestures since they can’t communicate any other way). I say no because having someone who doesn’t speak your language plucking your eyebrows doesn’t seem like the best of ideas).

Then she takes me downstairs and into this small room in the back that has no windows. There’s barely enough room for Kathy to be in there with me. In the middle of the room is a chair that reminds me of a spa table but it’s angled like the chairs at the dentist. She tells me to sit and I am practically laying down. The lights are an ugly translucent and I see her picking up make up that is sold at convenient stores. I already know this isn’t good. After putting color on my eyebrows, both ladies ask me again if they can pluck them. I give Kathy a look and then finally give in, praying they leave me with eyebrows and don’t pluck them all away.

About fifteen minutes later, she tells me she is finished with my makeup. I stand up and walk to the mirror across the tiny room and try to hold in my disappointment. Homegirl has made me Italian. My eyebrows are plucked fine but she has filled them in WAY too dark for my complexion. The eyeliner under my eyes only goes halfway. The lipstick is an ugly princess pink color and overall the makeup quality is subpar. I smile politely and she says she will do the eyebrows lighter tomorrow, knowing she has made them too dark.

They tell us to pay tomorrow so Kathy and I leave. We both cannot believe what just happened. There is no way I can go back the next day.

So for the next couple hours, I search through emails trying to find someone and Francesca answered me and was able to get a makeup artist too. Mani di Forbice Cavriglia really saved the day for me. She gave me a discount since I wasn’t doing a trial and while it was still about double what I would have paid in the salon, it was more than worth it for me to have the hair and makeup that I wanted for my wedding. I’ve learned my lesson and I hope to save others from the same. You’re paying for the quality. And you WANT quality on such a big day. Plus, she came to the villa versus me having to go to a salon in the city. This also meant I could sip champagne while I got ready, too. 😉

Photo cred: Mani di Forbice Cavriglia

Don’t make things too complicated

The less complicated your schedule is, the better. Don’t expect to have everything go according to plan, and don’t stress if things change. We had to go from the villa to photos at Piazzale Michelangelo and then dinner at Il Chichibio, BUT we finished photos early. So instead of going to dinner, we went back to the villa for about 45 mins. This worked out fine for us since we could drink a little champagne, but if there had been a lot more guests, this could have been awkward.

Weather is unpredictable

I never considered the possibility of rain on my wedding day (silly, right?). I just expected everything to be sunshine and rainbows. While we were getting married indoors, we had planned to take pictures outside. Unfortunately, it rained as soon as the ceremony was over and my curls were gone by the time we had dinner. I wish I had planned for rain and brought some clear umbrellas for everyone. Our photographer had one that we used, but it would have been nice if everyone had one for photos. So take this note: have a rain plan for your European destination wedding!

Don’t buy a wedding cake if your meal includes dessert

If you’re going the nontraditional route with your European destination wedding like we did and not having a typical reception, there are a few things you can do without. One of those things is a wedding cake. The day before my wedding, Kathy and I went around town looking for flowers and a wedding cake. We got a bouquet in downtown Florence and then our driver Marco took us to a shop in the small town outside of where our villa was to order a cake. Jordan’s favorite is tiramisu so I ordered a tiramisu cake that would feed 12 people. Jordan picked it up the next morning before the wedding. I had brought a cake topper from home. However, we had dinner after the wedding that was 3 courses plus dessert and wine. By the time everyone got back to the villa, we were all SO full and no one touched the cake! We ended up eating it the next day with breakfast! I’d say this was a good 30 euros we could have just pocketed and used somewhere else for our European destination wedding.

You don’t need to do the cheesy things

I brought a garter and it is still sitting in the packaging. When you’re doing a nontraditional European destination wedding, you won’t get all the usual traditions. There wasn’t enough single ladies for a bouquet toss and no single men for a garter toss. That’s fine, we still had other fun things like a photo booth and dance party. No DJ? No problem – we had a small portable speaker and Spotify. It all worked out but I wish I’d left that garter at home!

Everything will fall into place

I stressed a lot about the cake and flowers since I couldn’t figure those out while still in the states. As I said, the cake could have been skipped. The flowers were definitely needed, though. We ended up walking around Florence and I put “florist” into my GPS. We found the cutest little florist tucked inside a restaurant. They had these beautiful bouquets with lots of greenery (my favorite). I bought a bouquet that really only had a couple flowers but lots of greenery. I loved it. I also bought a mini bouquet which I took apart and made a boutonniere for Jordan with. They were cheaper than ordering a specific wedding bouquet and I just love how it fell into place the day before.

In addition to the flowers and cake, I also had to get wine. Our driver took us to a grocery store near our villa and I got 8 bottles that were only 2.50 euros each and I had made wine labels and stuck those on there. Bam. There are our guest’s gifts – Tuscan wine with our pretty faces on it. J

All in all…

All in all, our European destination wedding was absolute perfection. I’ll write a separate post about those details once I have wedding pictures back from our amazing photographer. There really wasn’t a single thing I would change about our day. Everyone had a great time and we were so thankful for everyone who came. It was really a magical, special day for us. <3