Chic Weddings/Destination Weddings

Beautiful Destination Wedding in Tuscany (Planned on a Budget)

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I never really like the term ‘budget wedding‘. Because whether you spend $5000 or £50,000 on you wedding day, it’s still a lot of investment in one occasion, and it still requires careful planning and prioritisation.

So while today’s gorgeous destination wedding isn’t what most might refer to as a budget wedding, this creative bride and groom do show us how to pack a lot of punch with whatever you have to spend.

Chelsea & Grant’s Tuscan wedding at Agriturismo La Lucciolaia was stylish and romantic, with food, wine and decor that paid homage to their setting.

With the help of their venue, they gathered olive branches, planned quintessential Italian desserts, and sourced a local florist (on a Vespa, the day before the wedding!). The pair also designed their own invitations and DIY favours.

Chelsea was gorgeous in a flowing BHLDN gown that was perfect for their breezy hilltop ceremony, and Grant looked positively charming in his grey three-piece suit. And despite being a little camera-shy, Jenna of White Rabbit Photo Boutique captured the two of them beautifully.

Scroll down to read more about this well-travelled pair, and their five days of festivities in the Italian countryside…

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Our Love Story

Grant and I met on the 4th of July in 2012.  I was celebrating at Black Bull Chop House in Downtown Huntington Beach with a couple friends.  Grant came up and introduced himself we got to talking.

While we were talking, an inappropriate old man approached me, and Grant stepped in and saved me.  I could already tell he was different, and felt like he was my knight in shining armor. From that day on, we were inseparable.

Grant schemed with my best friend, our roommate Kim, to take me out to lunch at the Rooftop Lounge in Laguna Beach on my birthday, May 30th, 2015. Laguna Beach is very special to Grant and me as we have spent many dates, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Days down in that area.

Grant got down on one knee, and both of us were overcome with emotion. Grant popped the question, and I of course said, “Yes!”

The ring he designed for me is just gorgeous, and resembles one of my favorite rings I got in Venice, Italy when I was 16 (which he knew was my favorite!).  He couldn’t have picked a more perfect ring.

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The Setting

My mom, Grant and I stayed at the other Niccolai property a couple years before.  When we were there, we all fell in love with the area, the food, the wine, and the staff at the Niccolai properties.  

We kept saying how nice it would be for our friends and family to get to experience that place with us. Once Grant proposed, I couldn’t get my mind off of wanting a destination wedding at that location.  

We definitely had some obstacles to sort out, but we were able to compromise by having a small beach ceremony in Laguna Beach, CA to officiate our wedding in front of those who would not be able to make the journey.

I wanted something romantic, with simple elegance that could compliment the natural beauty of Tuscany. I went with soft pinks, mauve, sage green, plum, and gray for the colors.

For the décor, I wanted to incorporate handmade pieces that I could design, along with items from the vineyard. For the place-cards, I used wine corks from the wine-tasting room.

Deanna also gathered olive branches from their olive groves, and fruits from their property to dress the table. We also used wine barrels from the vineyard to frame the spot where we would say our vows.

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The Ceremony & Music

Our friend Benji (Matron of Honor’s husband), married us in both Laguna Beach and in San Gimignano. He got ordained just for us! It meant a lot to us to have one of our closest friends, and old roommate be the one to marry us.

Also, I was thrilled my dad made the trip to Europe to walk me down the aisle. It meant so much to me that he agreed to go to Europe as he has never wanted to go with us before.

One of my favorite moments was when Grant was reciting his vows he wrote for me.  They were so touching and thoughtful.  I could barely pull myself together to recite mine afterwards!

Processional: ‘Rome’ by Brian Crain

Bride & Groom First Dance: ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ by King Harvest

Father Daughter Dance: ‘Sweet Pea’ by Amos Lee (Chelsea’s dad called her Sweeter Pea as a little girl). 

Mother Son Dance: ‘Could You Be Loved’ by Bob Marley

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The Photography & Flowers

Grant and I are both shy people, and aren’t usually very comfortable in front of a camera.  For us, it was important that we had someone who could make us feel relaxed and allow us to be silly.  White Rabbit Photo Boutique was perfect for us.

We wanted to be able to be in the moment and focus on each other during our wedding, but be confident that in the end we would have everything we could ever want to remember our special day.

We also love the look and feel of Jenna’s photos.  You really experience the joy and love felt in the moment by her use of lighting and framing of the shots.

The day before the wedding, I hopped on the back of a Vespa, and went on a 30 km roundtrip adventure with my Maid of Honor and a couple of our friends to Ikebana, a local florist recommended by Deanna.  The gravel roads and winding vineyards made for a gorgeous and exciting journey. When we got to Ikebana, we were greeted by a sweet older woman who showed us the flowers she had available.  

Between our broken Spanish/Italian/English attempts, Google Translate, gestures, smiles, a few screenshots, and laughs, we were in and out in about five minutes, fingers crossed that “no red or yellow” made it across.

When the flowers arrived the next day, we were in awe.  They were more beautiful than we had even imagined.  

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The Budget

We had a budget of around $10,000.  For a wedding in California, this wouldn’t have gone far, but be deciding to opt for a destination wedding, we were able to put together such an amazing experience for our guests.  

We set three priorities for our budget: tasty food, local wine, and a real Tuscan experience. Rather than having only a few hours together, we planned about 5 days of activities. Some of them were optional for the guests, like museum tours in Florence, but some we worked into our budget.  

We had a wonderful wine tasting day where we arranged for charter buses to pick us up in Florence, and take us to a couple of our favorite wineries for a private tour, tasting, and pairing with local cheeses and meats. We also had a wine tasting combined with lunch inside one of the wine cellars which was really special.  

We planned a welcome barbecue for our second night at the Agriturismo during which we had the local specialty of the region, Bistecca alla Fiorentina. We also had breakfast each day at the Agriturismo for all of our guests. Our choice in venue really helped us save because they already had tables, chairs, linens, plates, cutlery, and glassware that we didn’t have to rent.  

We didn’t see the need for a full bar since the dinner was paired with amazing Tuscan wine. The venue allowed us to buy our own beer and store it in their fridge for no additional cost. We also saved by not hiring a DJ or videographer, doing my own make-up, enlisting our hairstylist friends to help with hair, and designing and printing our own invitations.  

Even though the cost of travel wasn’t factored into our budget, by sticking to our priorities, we were able to stay pretty on point even with all the events we planned.  

If you get creative, you still can execute just about everything you envision for your wedding, and it still can be perfect and magical!

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Favourite Moments & Advice for Other Couples

What really made our wedding so “us” was that we opted for creating an experience rather than your typical evening wedding.  We are pretty frugal with our money, so to spend our budget on one night where you barely get to interact with your guests, or enjoy the moment ourselves just wasn’t our style.

In addition, we LOVE traveling, and we have always wanted to share some of our favorite places with our close friends and family so this was our opportunity to do so.

We loved having so much time with our guests leading up to the wedding, and being able to experience Florence and Tuscany with them.  Our only regret is not factoring in an extra day after the wedding to spend with them before running off on our honeymoon.

Always remember this is your wedding.  Many people will offer their opinions, or even try to force them on you, but once the day arrives, for the most part everyone puts their personal thoughts aside and goes with the flow.

If you are planning a destination wedding, definitely do your research.  If it’s going to be at a place you haven’t been before, you’ll want to make sure you have a coordinator from the area or the venue is able to help guide you.

Our guests really appreciated that we had a well-planned itinerary, arranged for transportation to and from the venue, and had booked the accommodations. It made everything run smoothly, and took a lot of stress off the wedding day since everyone was already together.

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  • Jess Woodhouse

    Such a beautiful setting! Italy is magic.

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