I was never one who daydreamed about getting married from a young age, nor one who played dress-up in white wedding dresses. I was more interested in dressing up in pink ‘turn-around’ skirts and eating as much honey as I could get my hands on. It was only after the Great Dane knelt on his trembling knee one evening in December 2014 and asked if I wanted to be his ‘Mrs Great Dane’, that my mind started to fill with ideas of rolling Tuscan hills, olive groves, vineyards, wine barrels and rustic barns. Most of us have seen the advertisements for Tuscany in airplane magazines; the cypress trees delicately placed with perfect spacing, on a hillside leading up to a yellow-tinted house, engulfed by gentle rolling hills. Tuscany looked serene. Romantic. Was having a wedding there even feasible?
After a few weeks of research, I felt in despair as the quotes for a 40-guest wedding rolled in for up to €40,000 – HUGELY over our budget. We started to look into the option of renting a house to hold the wedding at, plus working with a wedding planner to help organise and coordinate from afar. Also incredibly expensive. We started to realise two things: 1) We wanted to be involved in planning many aspects of this wedding (or rather, I did), and, 2) It was extremely important for us, that everyone could stay on site. Since our friends and family were flying in from all over the world, we wanted to know that they could roll up, park their cars and stay put for a few days, without the added pressure of late-night cabs, finding accommodation etc.
We decided to fly down to Tuscany for a last-minute weekend in January 2015 to view a few prospective places. Our third stop was at a charming, rustic, inviting Agriturismo called Il Piastrino. Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves near the famous town of Vinci, we instantly got a warm feeling in our hearts. We were met by the receptionist, Erika, a beautiful and petite woman, thereafter by the owners, Daniela and Luigi. Daniela oozed warmth and love, whilst Luigi had a gorgeous, weathered appearance, indicative of all the hours dedicated to tending their wine and olive groves under the Tuscan sun. We were immediately treated as friends they had known throughout life. Typical Tuscan hospitality, one might say, but something felt different about this. Not only was everything possible, but it was within our budget. Our simple ideas of hay bales and wine barrels were met with enthusiastic hand gestures and hearty smiles. Our minds were made up; our wedding would be here.
We visited the farm again during the month of April to discuss the details of the day and taste their homemade food – OH MY GOODNESS! The flavours! The simplicity! – and sip on of each of the three different wines produced by the farm. Along with wine, they also produce their own honey, fig jam, olive oil, Vin Santo and grappa, which we also tasted. Delicious! And, ridiculously romantic.
We are still to this day, overwhelmed by the hospitality and generosity of Erika, Daniela, Luigi and Martina (the daughter of Daniela and Luigi). They helped us to secure every detail, from hay bales, wine barrels and table cloths, to connecting us with the local flower shop and hairdresser. Erika speaks excellent English and was our life-saving translator during these days (amongst many other things!). Martina, who also speaks very good English, jumped head-on into designing table signs, the seating plan, painting wooden pallets for guests to sit on during the evening and creating beautiful glass candle holders to hang on the fence (amongst so many other things). Alongside Erika, Daniela and Luigi were the glue that held everything together. A remarkable combination of people.
Made up of numerous farm buildings, there was ample space for all 40 guests to stay on the farm in cosy, clean rooms (some with kitchenette). There was also an extra restaurant, which, by the time the wedding came along, had received numerous face-lifts (much to our total surprise and delight!). The result was a stunning outdoor roof made of chunky beams of dark wood, a tiled floor and sliding plastic doors, which was perfect in case, god forbid, it might rain on our wedding day.
Many of our guests arrived on the Thursday before our wedding on the Saturday, coming from far-flung places such as Australia and the USA, plus Holland, the UK and Denmark. Some stayed until the Monday, choosing in their free time to be by the pool or explore the beautiful surrounding area. Erika is a tour guide at the Leonardo Da Vinci museum, 2 mins up the road, and can easily arrange a tour. We chose to welcome our guests with a pizza party and wine tasting at Il Piastrino on the Friday evening. The following day, Il Piastrino provided a delicious light lunch, followed by the wedding celebrations later in the afternoon and late into the night. Il Piastrino had a number of their own staff who were on-hand to help with every part of these celebrations. They were an extremely efficient group of people. One of them was Daniela’s ‘mamma’, who was an integral part of the kitchen. She served up delicious smelling coffee every morning whilst preparing and tending to the breakfast spread, before then disappearing upstairs with her cleaning trolley to get going on the guests rooms. An impressive woman!
The Wedding itself
The wedding was exceptional, beyond our expectations and precisely in the simple, rustic, beautiful style we had wished. The ceremony was held on a stretch of grass prevailing before the swimming pool; the scene set by gentle guitar music playing in the background, and the guests sitting on hay bales covered with a pale coloured cloth. An unbelievably special moment, walking down the aisle with my father, to the man that I never knew I would ever be lucky enough to meet.
After a very emotional ceremony hosted by our fantastic wedding celebrant, a close family friend who flew over from Australia to hold the ceremony, guests threw handfuls of lavender mixed with dried rose petals over us, making the air smell SO sweet. A champagne ceremony was followed by photographs amongst the vineyards, then our pre-dinner cocktail – ‘pimp your own G&T’! Dinner was a four-course extravaganza of delicious Tuscan specialities, intertwined with speeches, unending laughter and tears. Cupcakes, cake pops, Grappa, Vin Santo and sparklers lead to dancing, and finally, to bed.
I have never experienced this type of hospitality. We will always be grateful. We came as friends, and left as family. I hope our story will not only inspire you to hold your wedding in Tuscany, but to hold it at Il Piastrino. And if you run into Erika, Daniela, Luigi or Martina, be sure to give them a GIANT hug from us 🙂
Here is a list of the services we used, mostly connections through Il Piastrino, others I found myself. (Feel free to ask if I have missed something!)
Photographer: Federico Testi
- Federico was someone I eventually and luckily found through about five different connections. He is an incredibly talented photographer, who captured the emotions of the wedding in a very special way. Not only is he a great photographer, but he was extremely patient and not in the slightest bit pushy (as many I have witnessed at weddings). He was also funny, sweet and spoke excellent English. We have a hard time remembering his presence during the ceremony and dinner, which speaks volumes. We had a skype call before we chose him, which helped to get an understanding of whether we were on the same page. We HIGHLY recommend him!
Lighting: Franceso Bianchi
- A friend recommended Francesco and his company, and they were an EXCELLENT choice to set up the lights. They do a huge variety of different lighting for different types of events, yet they captured the romance and warmth at our wedding in a way we didn’t know possible. We also hired speakers from them, and they have microphones for hire too. Francesco speaks excellent English.
Flowers: Firoi E
- This flower shop is located in Lamporecchio, about an 8 min drive from the farm. Il Piastrino know them well and they are an excellent choice. The flower arrangements we had were simple, elegant and beautifully done and were delivered on the day free of charge. We ordered herbs (rosemary, thyme etc) and wild flowers for the tables, and a simple rose and babys breath design for the wedding bouquets, amongst others.
Hair: Simona, Nondilunedi
- Simona is a sweet, talented woman, well known to Erika. She did an incredible job with both mine and the bridesmaids hair. Included in the price was a 2h trial plus hair washing and setting the day before the wedding. Simona came to the farm on the wedding day. I was extremely satisfied and highly recommend using her.
Makeup: Cristina, Beauty Planet
- Also well known to Erika, the very beautiful Cristina did a super job with my makeup. Despite the traditional heavy make-up usually plastered on the bride for weddings, I was determined not to look like a Barbie doll, and Cristina did a great job using only very natural makeup. The price included a trial a few months before, plus the day before the wedding. She came to the farm on the wedding day. I highly recommend her.
Cupcakes and Cake pops: Victoria Bakery, Empoli
- We decided not to have a traditional wedding cake but instead, cupcakes and cake pops! The bakery, recommended to us by Il Piastrino, told us to pick whatever flavour took our fancy, so we chose chocolate and Nutella (Pete’s favourite) and salted-caramel cupcakes, along with lemon and poppy seed cake pops. Our good Italian friend, who lives in Copenhagen, helped us order these. These went down a storm and are a great idea! Located a 20 min drive from Il Piastrino, they also deliver for a charge.
Wedding Website: Wed Pics
- We used ‘WedPics’ as our wedding website. Guests can also upload their photos and then download any of them free. A great way to share pictures and share information about the wedding beforehand. Very easy to use.
Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero
- I bought my wedding dress from a romantic little shop in the UK. It was hard to find this designer in Denmark, but I got lucky at this little shop near where my Mum lives. There is a tailor associated with the shop who is also excellent.
Bridesmaids Dresses: Davids Bridal. Based in both UK and USA, they have a huge selection of dresses. Order in good time!
Retro Campervan Guest Book: The Paper Bird Company. Love this! You can pick the colour of the ribbon and edit the front page as you please.
Confetti: The Confetticone Company
Lavender: Purchased by my dear Mother at Downderry Nursery, UK.
Personalised Framed Guest Book: Red Heart Creations. AMAZING idea! In addition, something on your wall for life.
Invitations and menu cards: Zazzle. I chose a very simple design and then re-buffed it myself. A lovely product!
Wedding Flags: Inspired 4U. Excellent company, able to personalise anything you want. We chose the ‘Just Married’ and ‘Sweet Table’ flags.
Burlap Table Runner: Our Warm
Wooden Wine Charms and Name sign for Head Table: I create Laser Cutting. The wine charms are a wonderful gift for the guests to take home, and a lovely personal touch.
Wedding & Engagement rings: Dirks Design. Based in Copenhagen, we LOVE their products. They stock many in rose-gold, our choice for our rings, which is not always easy to find!