After attending several 200+ guest weddings during their seven year relationship together, Sarah and Jared came to realize that going the traditional wedding route simply wasn’t the right choice for them as a couple. Since they love to travel, a small destination wedding felt far more appropriate, and having the opportunity to travel to Italy with their families to celebrate their union seemed too good to pass up. The couple fully embraced the old world charm of Tuscany as they exchanged their vows in a 12th century old church before celebrating at the picturesque Villa La Poggiolaia set deep in the Tuscan countryside.

Special thanks to Cristinao of Facibeni Fotografia for sharing all the gorgeous photos with us!

Tuscan wedding

Sarah, 28 & Jared, 30

Certaldo, Italy

Wedding Date: August 20th, 2013

Number of Guests: 17

Wedding Reception Location: Villa La Poggiolaia

Tuscan countryside

bride portrait

bride hugging her father

bride and groom portrait

bride and groom kissing in Tuscany

bride and groomlooking out to the Tuscan countryside

Tuscan sunset

Why did you have an intimate wedding?  

During our 7 years of dating leading up to our engagement, we attended several traditional, 200+ guest weddings. While we always had a great time, as our relationship got more serious, we thought about how our ideal celebration would compare to a traditional wedding reception. We never felt that a big party represented who we are as a couple. A small destination wedding was more our style. We enjoy traveling and having the opportunity to travel with our immediate families to celebrate our union seemed like an impossible dream… only it wasn’t impossible!

wedding dress hanging up

bride getting her make-up done

bride's necklace

bride's diamond earrings

orchids in bride's hair

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding? 

None, our wedding planner was amazing and gave us great recommendations for everything we needed.

groom adjusting bow tie

groom holding wedding rings

groom in vest

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?  

We tried to be as fair and practical as possible when considering who to include in our big day. While we would have loved to have our extended families and our closest friends by our sides that day, that just was not a sensible option for a Tuscan wedding. We decided to include immediate family and grandparents only. We had a few additional guests that were carefully considered, one of which was Jared’s cousin who lives in Italy. We couldn’t have our dream Italian wedding a couple hours away from his home and leave him off the list.  Generally, everyone understood the boundaries and respected our wishes, as they appreciated the difficulties involved in planning an intimate, destination wedding.

Tuscan wedding portrait

intimate bride and groom portrait

bride and groom about to kiss

wedding portrait

bride and groom kissing in Tuscan countryside

bride and groom walking in Tuscan countryside

bride and groom portrait

bride and groom walking down Tuscan Villa driveway

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?  

We did not struggle too much with the guest list for our destination wedding; however, some of our family would have liked to extend the invite to celebrate with the rest of our extended family and friends. As a compromise, we decided to do a low key barbecue celebration when we got home from Italy. No wedding dress, no first dance, no cake cutting; just a chance to catch up with everyone and share our experiences.

Tuscan Church

wedding harpist

What were the highlights of the ceremony? 

The ceremony was held at Santa Maria Assunta a Chianni, a church that dates  back to the 12th century! It was a beautiful ceremony officiated by Father Brian Lowery. We had a harpist for the music, our flowers were beautifully placed around the church, and the details of the church were breathtaking.

tuscan church wedding ceremony

church wedding ceremony

bride and groom recessional

What were the highlights of the reception? 

Many people think of an intimate wedding and feel that it would be more calm and restrained, but that was not the case. We had an amazing cocktail hour by the pool with tons of delicious food and our signature drink, followed by an elegant sit down dinner under the setting sun, ending with an intense night of dancing under the stars! The DJ kept the music upbeat and the party was going strong until 1am!

Tuscan Villa pool

Tuscan villa at sunset

wedding tablescape with chandelier

table setting with purple flowers

wedding tablescape with purple flowers

silver and purple table setting

purple orchid centerpiece

chandelier over reception table

table setting with candles and purple flowers

monogrammed bottles

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding? 

I think the best thing about having an intimate wedding was being able to enjoy the entire day without spending the entire time catching up with each guest. We have special memories with all of our guests at different points throughout the day that came naturally; nothing was forced. The focus was our marriage and our families, and that is what we feel is most important and is often overlooked when planning a bigger, traditional wedding.

Tuscan Villa reception dinner

bride at reception dinner

bride at reception dinner

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?  

Consider what your marriage means to you as a couple and make that your focus. It is quite easy to get caught up in the hype of planning a big party and neglect the reason why you are planning the party. My advice would be to discuss what you envision for your wedding with your partner only and do not request opinions from family, as that often complicates things. Once you’ve made a decision that works best for you and your partner, present your final decision to your families and stress how important it is to you that they respect what you’ve decided.

bride and groom first dance


Wedding Planner: Ilaria Menichetti

Photographer: Facibeni Fotografia 

Caterer: Guido Guidi 

Music: Simone Alinari  

Flowers: Il Giardino delle Fate 

Hair/Makeup: Silvia Gerzeli