- Real-life weddings by Tuscan Dreams -


Your full names : Ryan & Stacey

Tell us about the proposal! Ryan took me to Vilamoura in Portugal for my birthday. On our 1st night on our hotel balcony overlooking the harbour, he got down on one knee and asked me the question, I said yes of course – but only after checking that he had asked my dad’s permission!!

About your wedding

Wedding date (and why you chose it): July 11, 2012 – Because we wanted a summer wedding before the School holidays and it normally has very little rain (unlike in the UK!!) – average temperatures are in the 30s.

Ceremony and reception venues: All held at Villa Gambassi

Why did the venue appeal to you? It was important to us to be able to have the ceremony in the grounds of the Villa in such a beautiful location. The restaurant just outside the grounds was also very handy for all of our guests during there stay. It was also great that our guests could stay in apartments surrounding the main Villa.

What did you think of the job that Erica and Nicoletta did and were you pleased with the planning? Yes, very pleased from start to finish. They both made it very easy to plan the wedding from such a distance, they came up with many ideas that would not have crossed out minds and their attention to detail was first class. If you are thinking of getting Married in Tuscany rest assured you will be in safe hands with Erica and Nicoletta.

Fantastic work guys – Thank you both so much  !!!


- Weddings in Style by Tuscan Dreams -

When Jon decided to take a rucksack for his walk on the beach with girlfriend Nicola she knew something was definitely not right because he never carried anything!
But the beach was teaming with people so they returned to their hotel in Scotland. It was only when he suggested a walk on the beach at midnight and she firmly refused because it was cold and wet that he showed her the contents – a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their engagement. He gave up and proposed on the hotel terrace!

The couple, from Scotland, had their first holiday together in Italy so wanted to return to Tuscany to create their perfect Wedding day. Erica Bellini from Tuscan Dreams, www.tuscan-dreams.co.uk , organised everything for the busy couple, he is a director of sales travelling the world, and she is an events organiser for a medical charity.

The 33 year old groom and 30 year old bride married in June with 45 friends and family guests in the medieval hamlet of Certaldo with a stunning reception at Villa Paola.


- Weddings in Style by Tuscan Dreams -

Deborah and Ray from Birmingham, wanted to really raise the roof for their wedding celebrations in Italy!
As the English lecturer and motor technician said their vows they could look up and see the blue Tuscan sky through the beautiful roofless chapel at San Galgano in Tuscany – just one of the reasons they chose to marry in Italy.

The beautiful setting is said to be the scene of the Italian legendary sword in the stone and was just a stone’s throw from where the happy couple held their Italian themed reception.
Surrounded by organic local lemons and white orange blossom the couple could see the chapel from their villa where they stayed and held their reception.

The couple were determined to have a small wedding without fuss and invited only 21 close family and friends. The biggest extravagance for the day was the string trio who played at both the ceremony and the wedding breakfast.

The wedding was arranged by Erica Bellini, Tuscan wedding planner with Tuscan Dreams, a company renowned for its beautiful celebrations for 2 to 200 guests and with years of experience and more than 50 weddings.

Deborah says: “We would not change anything about our wedding, it really was perfect. If I was giving advice to anyone planning a wedding I would say remember it is all about you and your partner so plan what you want rather than what is expected. The very last thing we wanted was a huge ‘do’ where my husband and I would hardly see each other for the whole day!”

Deborah wore a dress from Phase Eight and her accessories were also from the high street. Her family made the favours and her Aunt made the invitations. She made the cake herself but the Italian florist completed the look with the beautiful lemons and white flowers.
Erica says: “Deborah and Ray really enjoyed their wedding day and their time with the family in Tuscany. It was lovely to work with a couple who really did want the wedding to be about their special day and people who really mattered to them. It was a beautiful wedding and shows that simple really can be stunning in Italy!.”


Aimee and Roger wedding was planned and organised by Tuscan Dreams Photographer was Ann Lewis


- Real-Life Weddings by Tuscan Dreams -

Name: Mawgan and Tom
Age: Mawgan - 28, Tom - 27
Profession: Mawgan -Mother to Caleb 15 months , Tom - Banker
Where do you come from : Mawgan - Nottingham, Tom - Surrey

1. How did you meet?
We met at Bath University in 2001 when I was in my final year of my Economics degree, and Tom was in the third year of his five year Structural and Civil Engineering Masters degree
2. How did you get engaged?
Tom proposed early one morning at home. I was so shocked I made him ask me again!
3. How did you choose where to conduct the ceremony and have the reception?
We looked at various places in and around London but none suited what we wanted.  A family friend had got married the previous year in Italy and that inspired to look into the possibility of getting married there.  We went backpacking in Italy in 2002 and had a wonderful time so it seemed like a great place to get married.

4. What research and planning did you do before the wedding?
We looked at lots of websites and then contacted Tuscan Dreams.
We got married in the magic Medieval hamlet of Certaldo and the venue was Villa Gambassi.
All the guests were also staying on site which made things very practical logistically.
5. How many guests attended your wedding?

6. What did you ‘make from scratch’?
We put together a booklet with information on the surrounding area, travel, car hire, restaurants and sent them to all our guests.
7. What was your biggest extravagance?
Photographer and wedding dress

8. Where did you save the most money?
Compared to the UK, the food was incredibly good value.  We also did our own music so that we had complete control and only paid for the soundsystem.
9. Would you change anything about your wedding?
Nothing at all!
10. What advice would you give to someone planning a wedding?
Enjoy it and don’t get too caught up in the little details.
11. Colour scheme of wedding : FLOWERS - white and light pink calla lillies in tall vases.
As favours we had lovely bottles of Limoncello for the ladies and Grappa for the men to give it that Italian touch.

12. Music/entertainment: String quartet during ceremony and canapés then own music for the evening.


- Weddings in Style by Tuscan Dreams -

More and more brides build their special day around a theme and Demetria Maratheftis of Greek origin and her groom Alex Alibert, were no exception. They were determined to have a wedding in Tuscany themed around the celebration of the senses.

The day began with a beautiful catholic ceremony in the Santa Maria a Chianni, followed by a gorgeous reception in the beautiful Villa Gambassi, situated in a small ancient hamlet in Tuscany.
The luxury villa with a private pool is steeped in history and surrounded by idyllic countryside with several acres of oak forests. The property has been completely renovated and it is the ideal setting to organize small to medium size weddings.

Erica Bellini, founder of Tuscan Dreams, planned the couple’s wedding, with a request to cater for all the senses throughout the day. With over 10 years experience organising weddings in Tuscany, Erica knows that with careful event planning couples can achieve their perfect day in a perfect setting, no matter how elaborate or different their desires!

Erica says: “This wedding was very much a feast of the senses. Demetria had bouquets of ivory, lavender, rosemary scents. Candles were placed everywhere as the smell of wax is connected with the Greek Orthodox religion as well as the notion that the flame of a candle is a symbol of passion, and it points towards Heaven.”

There was also a Greek marriage ritual in which the bride’s mother placed incense sticks around the room and wrapped a red scarf around the bride three times. “This symbolises fire and was thought to protect the bride from evil spirits in ancient times” said Erica.
Their wedding was held in September, a time when the vineyards will either still be full of ripe grapes or without grapes but the leaves will have turned into a million shades of colours, either are a feast for the eyes.
Other months perfect to get married in Italy are:
• May/June when the countryside is still green and poppy fields still in bloom.
• July if you love the sound of sunflower fields and golden wheat fields/

Demetria and Alex’s guests dined on a feast of fresh and organic food from local suppliers. Erica says: “If your wedding is being held in or near a small town there should be plenty of local suppliers to support. By buying local, organic food you sacrifice absolutely nothing in taste and can show off the regions best produce.”
Entertainment came in the form of a string trio and soprano during the ceremony and during the evening a DJ played traditional Greek songs as well as English tunes that got everyone up dancing.

Other ways to entertainment your guests and to save money are:
• Spend money on an incredible band, rather than lots of entertainment.
• Live music as opposed to pre-recorded music makes a terrific difference to the party.
• Downloading music to an iPod is the cheapest option but make sure not to over use it. For the most emotional (the ceremony) or energetic moments (evening dancing) of the wedding day make sure that you have live music to make it unforgettable. You can use the iPod during canapés or as background music during the sit down dinner.

• It’s a great plus to have musically talented friends or family perform during the wedding day. It will make the day unique and special.
Reflecting back on her day, Demetria said: “We laughed and giggled from beginning to end and I wish we would do it all over again. Obviously the weather helped but everything else fell into place seamlessly – the church, the candles, and the fine wine!”


- Weddings in Style by Tuscan Dreams -

It was ball of wool that initially brought Richard and Kirsten Hossack together.
Kirsten, 37, had bought the wool to try and teach her niece to knit and on the way to the canteen began talking about it to fellow IT consultant Richard.
Within a year the wedding was booked despite the fact that Richard, 34, later admitted he hadn’t got a clue what Kirsten had been talking about but hadn’t said anything because he didn’t want to appear stupid!

Both loved Italy and wanted to marry in Certaldo, the home of the Italian language but realised very early on they needed expert help to make it happen and to make it happen for £2500!
Erica Bellini, Wedding organiser for Tuscan Dreams, specialises in Tuscan weddings of all sizes and has arranged more than 50 celebrations so she quickly arranged the small but exquisite ceremony, wedding breakfast and accommodation.

Kirsten says: “Once we had called Erica all the horrors of organisation simply melted away. The wedding was perfect. We flew both sets of parents out and had the most beautiful day. Half way through the ceremony the Mayor, who was performing the service, took a phone call and we heard him say he was in the middle of a wedding so could they please call back later!

“When we were declared man and wife we kissed and there was a huge round of applause. The whole town had come out to see us and had crept in quietly and then kissed us and shook our hands as we left. It was just amazing”.

Following the service the party of seven went to a local restaurant for a superb Italian dinner, complete with harpist.
Kirsten, from Ascot in Berkshire, says: “The wedding was the most amazing day of my life. I can’t relate to people who talk about weddings and stress, this just wasn’t the case at all for us. Erica took care of everything; she found us the most beautiful flowers and even helped at the hairdressers as the Italian weather treats English hair rather differently so insider knowledge was a godsend! She was like a fairy godmother – everything came together seamlessly and amazingly.”

Erica says: “Arranging a wedding in Italy can be difficult unless you know the customs and can speak the language and you really do need to use good local suppliers to get the best food, wine, flowers and transport. Every wedding is unique and individual so it doesn’t matter if you want a tiny wedding like Kirsten’s or a big celebration for 200 people, we work with you to make sure it is exactly what you want minus the stress!”


- Weddings in Style by Tuscan Dreams -

Jodie and Mike List, both from New Zealand but living in London, met over a game of football with friends on Clapham Common five years ago.
Once engaged the thought of going home for the wedding and planning everything from the UK seemed seriously stressful so instead, on the advice of a friend, they asked Erica Bellini, wedding organiser for Tuscan Dreams, to create the perfect week away for themselves and their friends in Italy.

Jodie says: “The main objective was to have a relaxing enjoyable week with everyone, including our parents, family and our friends. We haven’t had the opportunity to spend that amount of time with everyone for years so it was fantastic.

“My bridesmaids insisted on bringing over a suitcase full of pink fur items form New Zealand but apart from that the whole experience was so much better than we ever imagined possible!”

The couple held a beautiful reception and four course dinner for 50 people at the Villa Gambassi in Tuscany following their wedding in the grounds with an Italian priest. Babysitters were on hand for those who needed one for the evening disco and the cost included a personal hairdresser; beautician, fabulous flowers, heaps of outdoor candles and a photographer.

Erica Bellini, who has organised more than 50 weddings, says: “Jodie and Mike were a dream to work with, very relaxed and great fun. We arranged a wine tasting evening with canapés the night before the wedding and made sure everything went smoothly on the day, which of course it did”.

Villa Gambassi is situated in a small ancient hamlet in Tuscany. The luxury villa with a private pool is steeped in history and surrounded by idyllic countryside with several acres of oak forests. The property has been completely renovated and it is the ideal setting to organize small to medium size weddings. Villa Gambassi can only be booked through www.tuscan-dreams.com.

Jodie and Mike came back to the villa with their gorgeous baby girl last year and met again with Erica.


- Weddings in Style by Tuscan Dreams -

Adele and Matt Selby from Cheshire had been school friends for years  but when they left they lost contact.
Meeting again years later they discovered they had both recently broken up with their partners and started dating. Despite promising to take it slowly to ‘protect their friendship’ they soon moved in together.
Matt gave Adele a Christmas present of a holiday to Puerto Pollenca and having secretly asked her family for permission to propose he packed the ring amongst his toiletries. Adele decided he had packed too much and made him take them out; luckily Matt saved the ring and hid it again!

Once on holiday Matt packed a picnic and a rucksack and suggested a walk on the beach where he went down on one knee, amidst champagne, Rose petals and the sand and proposed to Adele.
Having decided to marry in Italy they worked with Erica Bellini from Tuscan Dreams to create the most romantic wedding in Siena, and held their reception at San Galgano in the shadows of a roofless abbey.
The stunning scenery, fabulous food, wine and flowers combined with the gorgeous bride and bridesmaids with their parasols created the perfect day for everyone.


-Real-life weddings by Tuscan Dreams-

Name: Julie Man Diccon Driver
Place and date of wedding ceremony AND reception: Castello di Marcialla, Tuscany, Italy. Sat 24th July 10 booked through Tuscan Dreams www.tuscan-dreams.com

1.How did you feel when you first met your husband?
Dumbstruck by his handsome good looks and boyish charm (yes he ‘helped’ me write this).

2.When and where was your first date?
We’d been friends for a while because we worked together. We first started going out after a night at a club in London called SoulSonic.

3.What’s your best memory or funniest story of your time dating?
There’s been many funny times, too many to choose a particular event.

4.Tell us about the proposal – how did it happen?
I was taken to New York for a surprise Christmas trip. He popped the question in a restaurant in Greenwich Village.

5.Were you surprised?
YES! We’d been together for 11 years and we’d always said that we were happy together. We weren’t that fussed about getting married.
6.Did he go the traditional route and ask your father’s permission? No. Although I think he mentioned it to my mum.


1.Where did you find your wedding dress?
I purchased my wedding dress in a shop in Bromley called Marianne Jessica.
2.Tell us the – boutique, material, designer, price, any style details…
I initially thought I’d find something on ebay.  But this idea didn’t last long! In the end I brought the dress in a lovely little boutique style shop near where I live. As I was looking through the rails I knew I’d found the dress for me the second I clapped eyes on it. This completely blew my original ebay budget, but what’s a girl to do?
As I was getting married abroad in Tuscany it had to be quite light weight, with not too much material so it was easy to transport and cool enough to wear in the heat.  It was a beautiful ivory strapless dress with a small train made from satin like material with organza over the top. It had delicate lace and beading on the edging of dress.  And the bodice was rouched and finished off with a row of pretty flowers over one shoulder, trailing down the back of dress.  It was from the collection from Augusta Jones called Kelly.

3.How did you feel when you put it on?
I’d already fallen in love with it just from seeing it. When I tried it on it just confirmed what I thought. I loved it.
4. What accessories did you wear on the day?
The dress was quite detailed so I didn’t want too many other accessories. I opted for simple studded pearl earrings, a corsage bracelet of flowers (which the wedding shop make up for me from my dress) and a few in my hair to complete the look.

5.Tell us about the – tiara, jewellery, shoes, underwear!
I was lucky to spot a pair of silver leather shoes in TK Maxx from the Paris Hilton collection as all the bridal shoes I’d been looking at looked were cream fabric which I thought were a waste as I wouldn’t get to wear them again.

6.Where did the groom buy/hire his outfit from?
He bought it from Emporio Armani

7.Did he choose it?
Yes. Being a typical man it was the first thing he tried on. At first I thought he was just being lazy. But when I saw him try it on, I had to agree, it did look nice.

8.Describe the colour/material/style
Grey fitted suit
9.How did he look when you first saw him?
He doesn’t usually wear a suit so I thought that he looked really smart.

10.Tell us about your bridesmaids – how many did you have and who were they?
2 bridesmaids.  My two younger sisters.
11.How did you decide who to ask? How did they help you?
Easy really, as I’ve got 2 younger sisters so I asked them.  I would have like to asked two of my other friends, too, but because there was only 30 guests, I needed to keep the numbers down so there would actually be someone there to see us get married.
12.Tell us about their outfits – where did you buy the dresses (boutique/designer/material/price/accessories)?
The wedding was in Tuscany, in summer, so I didn’t want them wearing something too heavy and restricted. I stared looking early in the January sales. We found exactly what we were looking for in Karen Millen and the shoes in Aldo. All with 50% off!
13.How did they fit with the theme?
There wasn’t really a theme but we wanted brides maids dresses and groom/ushers to wear grey suits/ties.

14.Did you have any other attendants?  Did you give your attendants a gift? We paid for a night’s accommodation for everyone so we didn’t spend much on presents. I bought my sisters some Selfridges vouchers. And the Bestman and Ushers got John Lewis vouchers.


1.Tell us about your make-up..
I opted for shades of brown.  Nothing too fancy. Just an ‘upgrade’ from my day to day make up.
2.What brands did you use?
Clinique quickliner for eyes brown/black eyeliner and Clinique Foxy 404 eyeshadow.
3.Do you have a make-up tip for other brides?
Thought that I was going to be very tearful on the day so I did a test of a few waterproof mascaras and decided on Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express Waterproof mascara.Highly recommend it!

4. How about hair – did you and your maids hire a hairstylist? If so who, and what did she do?
I knew roughly what I wanted and use the hairdresser that the wedding planners recommended.
It was lovely for me and my friends all having our hair done at the same time, with a glass of champagne before the ceremony to calm my nerves. Mine was quite simple with lose curls in a bun put up to the opposite side of the train of flowers on my dress. I also had some flowers left over from my dress which I attached to hair pins and then they were put in my hair.


1. Tell us about the ceremony …
The ceremony was a simple affair in the sunny grounds of an Italian castle ( Castello di Marcialla booked through Tuscan Dreams www.tuscan-dreams.com ).
As neither of us are religious so we opted for a celebrant rather than a priest.
2.Did you have readings and/or music?
We had my husband’s mum and our friend Mel do a reading.
3.Who walked you down the aisle?
My mum walked me down the isle


1. How did you create your fabulous big day look? So tell us all about the suppliers you used.
We used Tuscan Dreams wedding planners.  Erica/Nicoletta from Tuscan Dreams made planning our wedding very easy from booking our venue to making sure our day went smoothly. Their details are:- dream@Tuscan-dreams.com www.tuscan-dreams.com
As I didn’t know how I wanted to get married it took us a while to come up with ideas.  It wasn’t until someone at work said that they were getting married in Tuscany that I thought that could work for us seeing as we wanted a small wedding, outside in the sun, with tasty local Italian food.
2. What was your theme?
We wanted to use local flowers so there were lots of sunflowers and herbs for the table decorations and white roses and herbs for the bouquets.
3.Where did you get your stationery?
My husband works for an advertising company so he came up with the idea. For the invites he designed a 70s style postcard to invite our friends to come on a ‘holiday’ with us. The table plan and order service tied in with our sunflowers theme we had on the tables.

4.What transport did you hire/borrow?
No transport was needed as everything was under one roof.
5.What decorations did you buy and how did you decorate the venue?
Tuscan Dreams did a fantastic job of decorating the venue with lanterns, tee lights, ribbons, lights in jars on bird hooks and waxed candle bags.
6.Tell us about your cake – did you buy it, made it, order it? Tell us about the flavours/topping…
We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake we opted for a locally produced cake called Riccotta di Chocolate, which was lovely
7. Were you inspired by any celebrity weddings? If so, who?
If anything, seeing how some celebrities did it made us sure of how we didn’t want it to be.


1.Tell us about the reception – where was your venue?
The reception was in the old castle where we were all staying. ( Castello di Marcialla booked through Tuscan Dreams www.tuscan-dreams.com ).
2.How did you do the table plan – was it a traditional top table?
We wanted all our immediate family on the top table and then we just tried to spread everyone else out so they would be sat with people they knew.
3.How many people did you cater for? Did more arrive later?
We catered for 30 people.
Canapes and Prosecco to start with after the ceremony and a hogroast meal when we sat down.
No one turned up later.
4.Tell us about the speeches – what was memorable? What made you laugh/cry/throw plates?!
We kept the speeches to a minimum. My husband did an amusing ‘Thank-you’ speech and his bestman was very funny. But then my husband is a bit of a wally, so he plenty of material to work with.


1.What was your entertainment – music/band/DJ?
We had a DJ. But we gave him exactly what we wanted him to play. Wedding DJs can be pretty awful and especially in another country where we thought he might not speak much English. At first he was a bit reluctant to play our music but by the end of the night he’s liked it so much he asked if he could keep the mix we’d given him!
2. Tell us about the first dance – what song did you chose and why? Did you choreograph a routine?
We chose a song by the French band ‘Air’. It was a song my husband used to play to me when we first met. Our dance was more ’school disco’ than ’strictly’. We hadn’t really thought about until about a minute before the song came on.
3. Describe your favours (if you had them)… were they different for male and female guests?
Didn’t have any
4. Tell us your most memorable moment…
The whole weekend was unforgettable. Close friends and family. Great food. Bright Sunshine and the beautiful Tuscan countryside. I can highly recommend getting married in Tuscany. And can highly recommend Tuscan Dreams.


1.Based on your own experience, give us some top tips…
For brides - Keep it simple. Don’t panic. Enjoy it. If a little thing goes wrong, don’t let it ruin your day just have another glass of Champagne and go with the flow.
For grooms - Erm…pick someone you love.
For keeping to a budget - Get married abroad. It’s a lot cheaper than you think. The food is better and there’s no corkage!
“If we could do it all again, we’d…” wouldn’t change anything!

2.Tell us about the honeymoon – when/where did you go? what did you do?
As we were getting married in Tuscany we decided to have a few days after the wedding there, bit like a minimoon, which was lovely after all the rushing about. In September we’re off to Kenya for beach and safari. (I’ll be on the beach, my husband will be off looking for elephants!)