Thursday, 24 September 2009

How Much Does An Italian Wedding Cost?

My role here at as a wedding planner started over 15 years ago. In our blog series, we have decided to share the joys and woes of being a wedding planner and with each series different services, items and experiences will be shared. I hope you enjoy the series and all feedback is appreciated. In this specific chapter I want to discuss the cost of an Italian wedding as this is a question I get asked quite frequently. An Italian wedding can cost as little or as much as you like. It all depends on the event you are trying to create and the budget you have available. A wedding planner needs to know your budget and also needs to know approximately how many guests will be attending the wedding so that they can advise accordingly and suggest suitable venues.

Couples have to try to be realistic with their budgets and it is important to do a comparison with the UK. You will find that the average Italian wedding is more expensive than the UK wedding. An Italian getting married in Italy can pay on average between £20,000 to £ 30,000, and this is often due to the number of guests invited to the wedding who then decide to attend. This means that Italian couples are forking out the equivalent of a 2 year salary to pay for their wedding day and this comes from a report by the consumer's association Federconsumatori. As the 2010 wedding seasons kicks off, the price of tying the knot in Italy has increased by about 40% to 45% in the last seven years to an average of about 30,000 euros which if we go with today’s exchange, we are looking at about £27,600. These calculations have been worked out on the basis of about 100 guests attending a simple ceremony, a good meal and a wedding dress. For the Italian couple who dreams of a Hollywood style wedding, they can usually pay over € 47,900 (£ 44,068) with the main outlay being the reception. The reception is an Italian epic and it becomes an endless marathon of numerous courses which keeps guests at the table for hours. If you get the reception wrong, your newly wed life together is not worth living. Even with the recession in place, the Italian wedding is all about LA BELLA FIGURA…. Which translated in a semi literal way means … making the right impression.

The way the Italians do it is not that different from the UK. In 2002, the average UK spend was about £ 11,000 and then it went up to a huge £15,000 to a staggering £25,000, with the cumulative average figure settling around the £18,500 mark. In 2008, it was reported that the cost of the average wedding broke through the £20,000 barrier for the first time. Couples now expect to pay an average of £20,273 tying the knot, nearly 8% more than the £18,781 they spent in 2006. So taking all this into consideration, there is a slight similarity between the UK and Italy. Costs for the UK couple wishing to tie the knot in Italy may end up costing less than the Italian or UK wedding, and this will largely be due to the number of guests attending the wedding. However over the past 5 years I have personally noticed an increase in the number of guests attending UK couple’s wedding. Where as in 2002 the average guest numbers were 25 to 30 persons, over the past few years guest numbers have reached 100 and 170, this increase of course has an effect on the average wedding budget.

Taking all the above into consideration, when deciding on getting married in Italy, your main reason should not be about budget, it should be because you want to get married here and because it is romantic and beautiful. You must also be aware that services and items do cost in Italy and when the word wedding is added, the costs can sometimes increase by 200% but this is the same the world over and as your wedding planners we need to say wedding to ensure that the quality, care and service is there and with that comes your Italian VAT (IVA) which can vary between 10% and 20%, and this is entirely on top of the cost of the product. Of course it would be cheaper if you deal directly with the supplier, however there is no guarantee that your flowers for example will be delivered on time or that they will be as you requested …..Oh yes and by the way you need to pay for it all in cash.

There are ways of curbing costs and as wedding planners we create a financial file for you to review and amend on a regular basis so that costs can be kept in check, however the budget must be set and must reflect what you have in mind. If you think you will have approximately 80 guests attending your wedding for example and wish to marry in a church and then enjoy a reception in a Florentine villa, then your budget cannot be £ 7000.00 sterling or less. If you have 100 guests and wish to have your ceremony and reception in a private villa in Positano, then £ 10,000 sterling will not suffice. There are of course many Italian wedding venues where getting married is possible and which would be within the budget provided by you however sometimes compromises need to be made. Costs start to escalate when your requirements start to change and you may suddenly require a luxury photographer to create a wedding book, or you may want a luxury Ferrari to pick up the bride, or how about a horse and carriage and the horse must be white, floral decorations to follow a particular theme you have in mind however the flowers you have selected are not in season, for the evening during the open bar you may want a cheese and salami corner, or how about some sweet delicacies “Piadine alla Nutella” and mascarpone or sweet crepes or chocolate fondue corners throughout the venue so that at about 2300 your guests can help themselves. You may now decide you really wanted a jazz band all along or what about a Latino band with dancers. It is these types of changes and additions which allow your budget to start escalating. You will also need to consider the costs that we do not get involved with and they can be the dress, the rings, the suit for the groom, shoes, underwear, perfumes, jewellery, invitations... so when setting your budget do not forget to add all this to the mix. You may also need to consider your accommodation and flights and then your honeymoon and your budget will also be hit hard if you also have to pay for flights and accommodation for your guests.

Here is a fine example of the expenditures which can take place, both reported in the media however to be taken with a slight pinch of salt. Match of the Day presenter and former Tottenham Hotspur and England player Lineker married his girlfriend Danielle Bux in Ravello and reports state …”at a cost of £ 400.00”, which to be honest does not make sense because apart from the town hall fee, there is also the consular fees and interpreter costs which work out a little more than the cost reported. In addition to the ceremony, reports state that an elaborate reception was planned at the Hotel Caruso, where the main menu including canap├ęs and aperitifs starts at € 166 + 10% Italian VAT, wedding cake and drinks not included. If you compare this wedding with the wedding of Wayne Rooney and Rod Stewart where reports state “…millions” then it just goes to show that different budgets can be catered for.

In one of our series we will look at a luxury wedding with all the frills that we put together for one of our couples and in another series we will look at how to create a wonderful event in Italy without spending a fortune. All feedback would be greatly appreciated at: