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This past October, I had the absolute pleasure of traveling with one of my couples for their elopement in Italy. They did such an amazing job with the planning and helping their loved ones make the big trip as well, that I had to share some of the things I’ve learned.

There’s a lot you might not have thought of when it comes to being an American planning a wedding in Italy, and it can absolutely feel so stressful! Where do you even start? Hopefully, these tips will take a little pressure off and allow you to get thinking and planning for your amazing Italy elopement or wedding.

Italian village in countryside

Start with the kind of backdrop you want

With any elopement, you have so much flexibility that it can initially feel overwhelming. But trying to narrow down to the backdrop and overall feeling you want can be a great place to start. Are you more city or nature people? Do you want to go out on the town after the ceremony and explore? Or hike around some stunning nature?

Specifically with Italy, don’t forget that it’s a whole country: full of varying backdrops, climates, geography, and cultures. So Northern Italy will look and feel different from Southern Italy, and even cities fairly close together geographically will potentially be very different. If you are looking to have a beach wedding, there’s Fregene Beach just outside of Rome. A Northern Italy wedding in the Dolomites will likely be your best bet if you’re looking for an intense mountain backdrop. Bustling Renaissance city vibes can be found with a Florence wedding. And a Rome wedding would be a wonderful blend of ancient architecture and modern culture.

There are incredible natural wonders and architectural marvels, so it just comes down to what appeals more and feels right for you.

destination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in ItalyItaly photographed by Raven Shutley Studiosgarden in Florence Italydestination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in Italymoss covered wall in ItalyDon’t forget, you can do whatever you want

This is something I constantly tell all of my couples, not just the ones that are eloping to Italy or having another kind of destination wedding. There really are no rules, so you can do whatever you’d like! There’s no blueprint you have to follow for your wedding or elopement! What sounds awesome to you? What sounds like a great time? Think about what a perfect day look like, just in general. And then you can start adding in the wedding bits.

Another helpful thing to think about is what you definitely don’t want. Check out some inspiration and see what feels right to you, but also what would feel wrong for your elopement. Do you want guests to watch your ceremony or to keep that part private? Or, do you want some friends and family to join you for dinner and celebrate after the ceremony? Do you want to exchange vows privately but have the rest of the ceremony with loved ones? It’s all up to you.

Roman ruins in Italy photographed by Raven Shutley StudiosColosseum in Rome photographed by destination wedding photographer view of city in Italy photographed by Raven Shutley Studios destination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in Italybeach in Italy photographed by Raven Shutley Studios Think outside the box

Because you’re eloping, you’ve got tons of flexibility when it comes to your locations. You don’t need a space designated as an official wedding venue, so think outside the box! This is definitely something to discuss with your vendors, especially your planner and photographer. Consider parks, especially National Parks like San Grasso and lakes like Lake Como. You can also consider getting married at the rental you’re staying at as my couple did for their Italian villa elopement. Think about getting married at a national monument or another public place, like a touristy spot {double check permissions!}.

Thinking outside the box goes for what you do during your elopement in Italy as well! Before and after the ceremony are equally as wide open for you. What would a dream day look like? What have you always wanted to do, but could never find the time or excuse for? Riding bikes on the beach? Hiking to a tall mountain? Stargazing at night out in a wide-open plain? Visiting a waterfall? Riding in a hot air balloon?

Or what if you want it much more low-key? What if you just want to wander around some amazing places in Italy eating everything amazing food and seeing truly spectacular sights? You can do that, too! The options are endless!

Our first day for elopement in Italy had us traveling to Tivoli Gardens with my couple, where we did their pre-wedding session. Then we explored the streets of Tivoli until sunset when we headed back to Fregene, where we were all staying. Then we explored Florence together the day after the wedding, which was a completely different experience!

destination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in Italydestination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in Italyriver in Italy with yellow and green treesdestination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in ItalyBring your most important vendors with you

This might come as a surprise – or not, I don’t know you – but bringing your photographer or planner with you on your elopement in Italy can really relieve a lot of stress. Those two vendors tend to be the people who you deal with the most and spend the most amount of time with while planning your wedding {and on wedding day, as well} so it’s most important that you jive well. Make sure you get along and have the same goals in mind, that your values align, etc.

For your photographer especially, it’s often important to people that they choose someone they’re comfortable with, that they feel safe with. And this goes triple for LGBTQ+ couples. Though there are plenty of photographers in Italy, it can be such a relief to not have to vet any of them. You’ve already found the photographer whose style you like, who you know is affirming and supports & celebrates your relationship, so bringing them with you to be your wedding photographer in Italy can absolutely be the right choice.

Speaking from experience, I had been looking for a photographer for myself while I was in Italy. While I was there, I figured, it would be fun to get headshots or a couples session done {since I brought my partner with me}. This proved to be one of the most disappointing experiences for me, since not only could I not find any photographers whose style I was looking for – there are plenty of talented people, but I had specifics in mind – I couldn’t find very many at all, if any, who were LGBTQ+ affirming and even fewer who would actually write me back when I reached out.

So, keep it stress-free and bring your wedding photographer with you to Italy instead!

destination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in Italydestination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in Italy nighttime city photography in Italy Spread out your photos

Because you’re the boss of your elopement, you can organize it however you want. Maybe, as my couple did, you have a pre-wedding session the day before the wedding or a day-after session the day after the wedding. Either way, you can visit an entirely new place, different from the wedding day plan itself, and add in even more excitement and activities. {Or keep it chill and just go walking/exploring.}

This kind of planning gets you the most relaxed and laid-back itinerary while also still capturing some truly amazing moments. Not only could you plan for a pre or post-wedding session, but the day of the elopement itself can be whatever you want it to be.

Maybe you wake up early and head into Rome proper for breakfast, then come back to your rental to start getting ready with the people you’ve brought with you {or just your partner}. Then you have your ceremony, party a little, and go out somewhere else to explore and grab dinner!

view of mountains on foggy day in Italy destination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in Italydestination wedding photographer Raven Shutley Studios shares tips for elopement in ItalyI hope these tips for planning an elopement in Italy it gives you a starting point! I have so much more advice to share from both my experience and directly from my couple, and I can’t wait to share it.

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Raven is an Atlanta Wedding Photographer who captures real people on their totally unique and awesome wedding day, specializing in people who feel awkward in front of the camera. She travels throughout Georgia, including Athens, North Georgia, and beyond.

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