Photography by Giulia Santarelli.
Today we have a romantic destination wedding in the Italian countryside to share! As bride Karen tells it, “in comparison with traditional Belgian weddings, which usually happen in a rush to fit the whole wedding (town hall, church, reception, dinner, party) in only one day, we had a really relaxed atmosphere. We rented Castello delle Rocchette for a whole week. Jef and I arrived on Monday together with some friends and family. Every day, more people arrived, until Thursday when everyone had arrived. All 70 of our guests – our closest friends and family – were in a holiday mood, and this, in combination with the rustic, southern, Italian location and food was just exactly what we had always wanted.”
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We wanted somewhere outside, under the trees. Castello delle Rocchette had the perfect space.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We had our ‘big’ wedding ceremony the week before in Belgium, at the town hall. That was the most official part of our wedding celebrations. We are both, separately and as a couple, very active people in our town, so we had a lot of people there and the mayor and local politician made speeches. We also had our grandparents by our sides that day, which was very important (especially as we knew they were no longer up to traveling to Italy.) In Italy our ceremony was not a religious one, but more a symbolic start of the wedding celebrations. Our ceremony was – honestly – something we organized at the very last moment, so we don’t even have a copy of our vows; it was all very spontaneous!
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? The mother of the groom officiated our ceremony, she was just the perfect person for it, because she speaks very well for big groups of people.
What were your ceremony readings? The bridesmaids and the groomsmen made speeches, and our officiant read a poem.
What was your ceremony music? The brother of the groom played songs for us, and changed out the lyrics for personal ones he wrote just for us.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? The only traditional part was our vows and the exchange of the rings.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? We just loved having a nice quiet and symbolic moment together with all our guests before all the festivities started!
Your ceremony in three words. Non-traditional, spontaneous, rustic.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Your wedding should represent who you are as a couple. Don’t let it be all about compromises. It’s important to communicate this with all the other people involved from the beginning.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We chose this location because of it’s large capacity (we needed room for 70 guests to sleep!) and its unique location in the middle of the woods.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? The venue was an old castle, so it inspired us to go with a rustic theme. To visualize our ideas, we used Pinterest.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? All the decorations and details of the day were handmade: the menus, the table decorations, the signage… everything! The styling of it all was perfect, thanks to Parade.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We were very happy to have only our main courses sitting down at our table. The reception started with drinks and a gigantic buffet of meat, cheese, pizza and all kinds of Italian food. We chose not to sit down for this, so people could walk around and talk with everybody. Also the dessert was a buffet which made people circulate again, which was perfect as we wanted our wedding to be flexible. Later we had a great dance party, thanks to all our friends (for the dancing!) and the DJs (for the music).
What was the best advice you received as a bride? To keep things simple and not to stress on the wedding day. If not everything is perfect (and mostly it will be about a small detail that nobody but you will notice), just let it go and enjoy the moment because it will be over before you know it.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Make a realistic wedding budget in the beginning and stick to it! When you are deciding about the food, the venue, the wedding rings, the dress,… you will always find a good reason to spend more money than you estimated. At the time you make these decisions (at a visit, a tasting, a fitting…), there are so many emotions and influences that make it hard to think rationally so it’s important to do it in advance and force yourself to stick with it!
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? No. (Well, only try not to stress about the little things. In the end you realise that they weren’t worth it – they’re not what the day is about!) Our wedding was so unique and personal, we couldn’t have wished it to be better!