Reception Photos by Glenn Guiao
Disclaimer: The photo above does not depict the couples mentioned in this article. It is included solely for illustrative purposes, while certain Reddit threads I discovered online have proven useful.
How did we afford this? I’ll put this right at the top because I know this will be the one of the most asked questions. My husband and I are a little older (mid-late 30’s) and are very established in our careers. I’m an accountant at a Fortune 500 company, he’s VP of sales in a very niche market. Our original budget was $150k and his parents filled in.
*Most of these prices are converted from Euro
Venue: Villa Erba, $24k. This price was JUST for the villa – nothing else came along with it.
Even before we got engaged, we decided we were going to get married in Italy. My husband was born and raised in Milan and his family still lives there. I originally wanted to get married in Tuscany (idk to me when I think Italy, Tuscany is what I think of – rolling hills, wineries, old villas). It also would’ve been a lot cheaper. But since nonna (his grandma) is 92 years old, there was no way she could make the trip. Lake Como is 45 minutes away, so this location was perfect! We got pricing for different villas – my husband originally wanted the Star Wars villa (Villa Balbiano) where they filmed a couple scenes, but they wanted $60k lmaooooo. Other cheaper villas did not have a Friday/Saturday/Sunday in September available.
This villa may look familiar to you – it is where Ocean’s 12 and Murder Mystery (with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler) were filmed. Gwen Stefani also filmed the music video for “Cool” there.
Food & Beverage: $73k. Yes, this is a ridiculous number. But Italian weddings are known for the amount of food they have.
I am Filipina and obviously my husband is Italian, and we met in America. We wanted our food to reflect our cultures. So we had Filipino, Italian, and American food for the cocktail hours, dinner, and cake. We flew in a friend of mine that is a Filipina chef to cook the Filipino food. The caterers provided her the ingredients and tools she needed plus a professional kitchen to work in (for an additional cost).
Cocktail Hours (3 hours): welcome drinks, dedicated gin & tonic station, 3 mixologists (in addition to bartenders), 6 passed finger foods, 6 different kind of fried chops, traditional Italian buffet with different cold cuts, cheeses, fruits, jams, breads, American BBQ station, fish buffet (our guests went crazy for this!)
Seated Dinner: 3 courses, dessert bar, 3 tier cake, top shelf open bar, 2 signature cocktails
Midnight Snack: pizza cart and gelato cart
Photographer: $5,700. We did our engagement shoot ($1,500) with them on a trip to Portofino in December and loved them so much. Husband and wife team, wife is American and husband is Italian – perfect for us!
Videographer: $2,400. 2 videographers and 2 drone operators. I was really surprised at the low price, but we liked their portfolio a lot.
Tables, Linens, Décor, Table Settings: $6,200. This included the lounge chairs and tables during cocktails hours.
Decorations & Floral: $16k. I had originally not wanted any flowers at all because I thought, we can save money on this! The venue is already so beautiful! Boy, am I glad I got talked into flowers. No idea how I went from $0 to $16k though.
Entertainment/Music, Audio, Lighting: $20k. We had a violin/harp duo for the ceremony, then a jazz band for cocktail hours. As previously stated, the villa was just the villa – vendors had to set up all the audio equipment (vows outside, speeches inside, music outside for our cake cutting, music for inside). We also could have just gone with the lighting that came with the rooms in the villa, but our wedding planner suggested to have a little more for the ambience.
DJ was free, friends of my husband’s.
Favors: $165. We had a photobooth and I bought $1 magnetic frames off of Etsy that people could take to put their photos in. I ordered enough for 1 per person, but quickly ran out because people took multiple lol.
Photobooth: $1,350. Loved having this. The attendant also airdropped photos to guests as their photos were printing so they could post to socials right away.
Place Cards/Programs/Menu Cards: $2,200
StDs, Invites, Thank You Notes: $1,700
Both of the above were designed by my MOH and she used moo.com to print.
Shuttles: $4,400. Most guests either stayed a walking distance from the villa or across the lake in Como, which was a 20 minute drive away. Taxis/Ubers are non-existent at 2am, when our wedding ended.
Welcome Dinner and Brunch: $10,700
Weddings Rings: $2,200
Ring Insurance: $330, includes my engagement ring
Gifts for Bridal Party: $550. I gave robes, slippers, and bracelets to my group. My husband gave cuff links.
Bridal Gown: $5000 + $1000 alterations. Brand is Martina Liana.
Veil and Accessories: $165 for veil that I didn’t even end up using. Jewelry was pieces I already had.
Tux: $3,900. Custom from a suit shop near us.
Hair and Makeup: $3,300. 2 artists for 4 ladies. The main MUA stayed the entire night for touch ups and a 2nd look for reception.
Wedding Planner: $9,000. I found a planner that grew up in Italy and is based where we live now – match made in heaven. She was worth every single penny we gave her. She worked with her partner in Italy and they had 1 more assistant at the wedding. This wedding would not have happened without her.
Dance Lessons: $1,650. We worked for 6 months on our first dance with an instructor.
Flights for Filipino Caterers: $3,000 for 2 people
AirBnB for Filipino Caterers: $500
Car Rental for Filipino Caterers: $330
Hotel for family: $8,500. 4 rooms, 2 nights (one for me night before wedding, one for my husband, one for SIL, and 1 for MIL/FIL).
Flights To/From Italy for me and my husband: $6,500. We flew Polaris as we were hand-carrying my dress and his suit – you get dedicated overhead bin space in Polaris.
Trip to Italy in March for tastings and trials: $5,000.
Flight for my sister: $1,000
Things I didn’t include:
Tips. Tips are not really a thing in Italy, but my FIL wanted to tip all the severs anyway. He took care of it, so we are not sure how much he gave. Probably another $1-1.5k?
Chicago Wedding: $10k. We got legally married in Chicago (where we live) in July. Just easier to do it this way from a legal standpoint. I did a recap of this here.
Honeymoon: $42k. We are going to Australia/Fiji for 3 weeks in January/February. This includes Polaris airfare, which was like $19k alone. This was fully funded by our guests.
yes! food and bev were def a priority for us because our relationship has revolved so much around food.
we told our guests, if you aren't bursting out of your pants and wasted by the end of the night, we didn't do our jobs :)
It's very interesting, and really awesome. I live in a LCOL area and basically had no budget in the sense that like.. I didn't have to vendor shop or compare quotes or anything like that because we are financially fortunate.. and STILL we didn't spend more than $65k all said and done. I could have gotten it up to about $80k$90k if I'd have gone hard with the florals and candles, but otherwise you have to try really hard to spend more than that where I live.
Like, the 6 figure weddings that wealthy people have here require work. Like, covering the entire venue's walls, ceilings, floors. Bringing in completely different furniture than the venue offers. Hiring full service wedding planners to transform everything. Etc.
It's impressive, but way more work than I would have wanted as a "meh, just make it pretty" type of bride. Haha!
42k in cash gifts from your guest, that’s incredibly generous. I’m asking of genuine curiousity, as a white person who got kitchenaids and new plates…I’ve heard of different cultures having expectations more around cash gifts (and even very very large cash gifts). Does Italian and Filipino culture tend to sway that way?
we did not have a traditional registry, just a honeymoon fund. we got only 1 physical gift - it was a personalized/signed copy of chef stephanie izard's cookbook (from my sister, who used to work with her), so definitely not something you can just buy!
for italians, for sure it's a thing just to give cash - sometimes, they put bank account #s (for wire transfers) directly on the invites!
filipinos are the same. one tradition (which i find super cringe and didn't do it) is a "money dance" - the bride goes around all the tables and people pin money on her. it's also 'tradition' to let parents know how much each of the relatives gave so they can judge lmao. i also did not do this.
Looking for a Destination Wedding Photographer?
Fill out your info, we'll text you in 24 hours.
Let’s get to know each other
I hope y'all enjoyed the article. If you want to book an appointment to talk about pricing, features, etc. click on the button below to get y'alls sorted out!
If you're in the early and beginning stages of wedding planning, my friend Devon who owns a wedding planning business might be able to help out!