Meet Hannah, a gal who came into my life via her fiancé, and now I can’t imagine my life without her. Do you remember her epic proposal story? She and her soon-to-be hubs, Steve, in total have two full-time jobs, two rental properties and two kitties while somehow managing to sneak out for the occasional date night in the Milwaukee area. She’s gracefully entering her 30’s and looking to mark yet another life milestone– a wedding in ITALY next year! Learn how she’s grasping the pandemic with both hands (& high heels, of course) to make it a special event, no matter what is thrown her way.
- Give us the basics- where, when, about how many people? Santa Margherita Italy (northern Italy, on the Italian Riviera coast), approx. 60 people are invited. Next Labor Day!
- Describe your wedding in one sentence. What vibes are we after? A long weekend, nonstop celebration, amazing views & food, la dolce vita!
- What are your non-negotiables? I didn’t compromise on the venues or the photographers that I wanted. Food was also important. We partially picked the reception venue based on the menu choices.
- Given the international scope, are you hosting other weddings or wedding activities in the states before or after the big day? Yes, there are many family members who we already know cannot make the trip, so the plan all along was to have a local reception dinner a few weeks after we get back. We don’t want to wait too long after the wedding to do this. I’ve been in contact with some local venues but we’re also considering an outdoor, backyard reception with catering – we’ve got a few friends with really nice back yards, haha.
The Timeline & Milestones
- What have you already done? Hired a planner, booked both ceremony and reception venues (catering is hotel restaurant so that was easy), and booked photographers. Right now I’m dress shopping and getting close to a decision…I hope! I’ve also worked with the planner to outline the welcome dinner, rehearsal dinner, and day-after activity. The save the dates were sent out in late September, and the wedding website it up with some basic info for guests.
- What’s left on the to-do list? We hit pause on making any more big decisions (or deposits) when the second wave of COVID started to hit Europe in October. Our planner is on board with this, we plan to circle back early next year and then start looking at florists, music, and transportation. We’ll need to hire an Italian celebrant. The invitations would ideally be designed and sent out in spring, and I plan to use the same designer who did the save the dates.
- You’re not only planning a wedding, but it’s also an international one. During a pandemic. Talk about stress. How are you managing? My personal philosophy for years has been to let go of things that are out of my control. I’m pretty good at actually practicing this, and it definitely applies here! My fiancé has the same mindset which is super helpful. Of course there were times when I Googled “italy covid cases” almost daily during summer, while I was in the process of spending a lot of money on custom letterpress save the dates! On that note, letting myself indulge in that process was a good thing. I couldn’t handle uncertainty coupled with cutting corners on my dream wedding. Talking with friends also helps a lot. I have such supportive women in my life!
- Have you had to “re-plan” anything based on the pandemic? So far no, but we’re mentally and financially prepared for that. I requested pandemic clauses in the contracts I have so far, and also negotiated lower deposits. I feel like we did the best we could to protect ourselves considering the state of things.
- How has your planner helped navigate? Tell us more about her. She is really wonderful. Steve and I Skype interviewed about 10 planners (all Italian) before deciding on this one. That was quite a stressful process. But as soon as we met her we both knew it was a done deal. And she’s been awesome. She wasn’t afraid to negotiate on our behalf and she really played hardball! I think she really enjoys what she does, haha. She has a law degree and does this for fun on the side. My kind of person!
- What advice do you have for any international pandemic brides? Or brides in general, no matter where they are getting married? Letting yourself indulge in the things that you can is a good distraction, and you deserve it for even trying to plan a wedding in a pandemic. Smaller weddings mean savings, so use that money on the parts of your wedding that you get excited about. For me it’s paper and the dress! I’m also not worrying about who won’t come if we can move forward with having the wedding in Italy. This day is about us as a couple, and I will be understanding of any guests who either can’t come or don’t feel comfortable with traveling next fall. If you want less uncertainty, pick an international location that is currently open to US citizens, like Mexico or the Dominican Republic.
- Have you found any positives through all of the craziness? Sure, I think I’m definitely getting better prices on the vendors than I would during a pandemic-free wedding season in Italy. In some cases I didn’t even have to ask – I just told them “that’s too much” and they came back with a lower price! I also think that these circumstances will be eye opening for couples and how each partner handles the stress and uncertainty. Steve has been super supportive and we brought each other back to earth when either of us were having a panic moment a few months back. The excitement of marriage itself is in the foreground now, and my “what will be will be” attitude might be a little too much because sometimes I want to just have Elvis marry us in Vegas and make it official, the wait to September feels too long! Don’t worry, that’s not happening.
Stay tuned for updates on Hannah’s big day! In the meantime, give her a follow on Instagram: @montepulcianogirl.
[Photos taken in Miss Ruby Bridal Boutique in Milwaukee].
Looking for more wedding content? Check out Hi, Im Anna Marie’s wedding posts.