This time last year I was in the impossibly beautiful town of Positano, getting ready for our wedding. Surrounded by close friends and family, taking dips in the Mediterranean, eating late dinners and drinking red wine.
Cliche and absolutely, positively, incredible.
Looking back over our wedding photos from last year (for the first time properly) has left me in a somewhat warm and cuddly bubble. Feeling ever grateful and fortunate for all the blessings in my life.
With our 1st year wedding anniversary this week, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to filter through our photos, our memories, and put together a very special post for you.
Two very special posts.
It seems almost impossible (even with all of my words) to capture this oh-so-special experience in our lives. You see how I didn't say day there? Because this was so much more than one day and how lucky I feel.
Yes a little deviation from our regular food programming however food does feature (of course!) and through these posts I will share with you our healthy outlook regarding the entire experience of a wedding. Plus for anyone looking to get married overseas I hope it helps!
Many of you have asked for the story and here it is....
From the moment we were engaged, Tippy and I knew the kind of wedding we wanted to have.
We also knew that it would be in Italy. A country that's so close to both of our (travel) hearts.
To us, a wedding meant fun, food, music and lifelong memories. Intimate conversations with those who know us best and terrible (though awesome!) dancing that you can laugh about for years afterwards, together.
As a visual person, from the outset of planning I envisioned one long table. One long table of delicious food.
I'd pictured heartfelt words balanced perfectly with embarrassing tales and nostalgic reminders. Of being together. Of a week-long adult sleepover. Of love all around.
And boy did we get that.
We also received something we'd never counted on and that's the wonderful connection to everyone else's trip. Our wedding and our guests' love for us had brought them from all over the world to this one town on Italy's Amalfi Coast, mostly for the first time.
Before, during and after the wedding itself, our love weaved into each of their magical journeys culminating in Positano on that Tuesday morning. Forever bonding us to their awesome discoveries and experiences in a way we could never have anticipated. It rocked. It still does.
11 months prior to our wedding, Tippy had proposed in the most romantic of fashions. Atop our tiny apartment rooftop in Italy's north and in one of our favourite spots - Cinque Terre.
For a couple who'd been together 4 years at that stage, it was a dream and a day I'll never forget. The humility and vulnerability of this man that I loved with all my heart coming to me and asking for my acceptance to be his wife - beyond words.
From my yes, decisions were simple and do you know why?
We did what we love and chose what we couldn't live without.
For instance, we initially discussed a rustic, vineyard villa overlooking rolling hills in Tuscany. Epic right? Gorgeous beyond comprehension but... not us.
As Tippy said, "I grew up in a rural area, I've seen enough farms." Gosh I love him!
So what did we see for ourselves? What felt right location-wise?
Over and over again.
The crisp azure blue of the Mediterranean.
Jagged Italian cliffs.
Ocean breeze on our faces.
I'd visited the Amalfi Coast several years earlier on a solo trip and just knew that glorious Positano was the choice for us.
Luckily, I married a man who trusts my judgement.
Very lucky indeed.
Summer 2014. Positano. A private villa with our loved ones. Casual. Intimate. Special.
We were set. Almost.
THE INTERNATIONAL ELEMENT
Having an overseas wedding comes with its own specific requirements and for anyone contemplating it, very often it's far more work than you'd think.
For our wedding to be legally recognised everywhere, there was quite the paper trail commencing 6 months out. Toughest of all you'd think (for Italian weddings) was to gather 4 of our nearest and dearest non-relatives at the Italian Consulate in Sydney and sign their acknowledgement of us - mainly to prove we weren't related I was later told - on their midweek lunch break.
Our loved ones didn't even hesitate and that of course left us feeling ever more connected and grateful.
This post won't explore the specifics of international wedding paperwork though needless to say there was a lot of it and at no small cost either.
For us however, we were happy to do whatever we needed to do.
That's the thing about knowing what you want.
On the location front, despite having been to Positano before, selecting a venue sight unseen was a tad scary.
This was by far the most time-consuming decision we had, though also the most fun! Talking and dreaming about our week in such a glorious part of the world with people we love. Although not traditionalists, planning our wedding certainly brought us even closer together.
So how did we actually plan an overseas wedding?
By knowing what we wanted, doing loads of research, asking a heap of questions, prioritising accordingly and having faith that ultimately the bits and pieces didn't make the experience.
For instance, like most weddings, we had a budget. We also clearly identified our key desires to fall within that budget.
Those top wants for us were location, food and the surrounding trip/honeymoon.
Of course we dreamed of many things though whenever a decision became more complex, we just went back and revisited our ideals.
It was that simple.
Arriving in Italy 10 days before our wedding was by far one of the best decisions we made.
No jetlag, no rushing and plenty of time for us to adjust to Italian time.
Our wedding trip commenced in Rome for 5 blissful nights and our first time in the city together. We met Mum and stayed in the same Airbnb apartment block which was a wonderful idea.
Roaming the streets of Rome in glorious summertime heat. Shopping at the produce markets in the morning. Joining the masses on the Spanish Steps by midday. Daily aperitif time. Dinner at 10pm.
Our apartment was in one of my favourite parts of Rome, Monti and it was everything we'd hoped for, right around the corner from the Colosseum. In fact, the history nerds that we are, our walking tour of the Colosseum, despite not being our first visit, was a highlight of our time in the Ancient Roman capital.
After catching up with Tippy's family who'd since arrived to Rome, farewelling Mum as she took off for a few days in Paris, Tippy and I made our way down south towards the Amalfi Coast. Our first stop was the coastal town of Amalfi and our first opportunity to hit the water.
In fact I think it took us less than 30 minutes from arriving to our hotel and diving in the ocean.
So Australian. We don't muck around where summer and the ocean are concerned right?
As well as wanting Tippy to see this gorgeous little town before hitting Positano, we'd planned to walk the Il Sentiero degli Dei or Path of The Gods and the most impossibly stunning 8km trail high up in the clouds. We decided to take the path from Praiano (between Amalfi and Positano) to Positano and all the way into the town before catching the ferry back to Amalfi.
We walked 15km in the searing Italian summer heat.
Dripping with sweat, stumbling upon farmhouses and ancient churches, looking down at the sparkling blue ocean and pinching ourselves the entire time - a day I'll never forget.
After a few days in Amalfi, we headed away from the ocean and up to the small hilltop town of Ravello. Known best for the incredible Villa Rufolo, built in the 12th century and still as breathtaking as ever.
One of the greatest meals we enjoyed was in this charming town which most people only bother to visit on a day trip and a destination I'd dreamt of visiting since 2011 on my first trip to the area.
Vineyards, expansive vistas over the Mediterranean, seriously friendly people and the largest lemons I've ever seen!
After a few days alone, we packed our bags once more and headed to Positano.
Ahead of us were 7 nights in a majestic Italian villa, loved ones, our wedding and a whole lot of fun.
Our first port of call on that Saturday morning was wedding related and we spent it checking out the town hall where our ceremony would take place, meeting our translator, sampling yummy things for the big day and confirming the flowers already partially organised.
By 2pm, we met part of Tippy's family arriving at their villa over the other side of the town and returned to check into our own home for the week to come!
Tippy's parents had arrived and after saying our hellos, getting a tour of the place and somewhat unpacking - I literally ran to the pool.
Even now I remember precisely how calm and grateful I felt floating around in this gorgeous pool all of our own overlooking one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen.
By evening, all but 2 of our guests staying at the villa with us had arrived and the week was just getting started.
We spent the next few days beaching, relaxing, laughing and eating together. Molto eating!
Enjoying the company of guests from Brazil, New York and Australia. It was so fabulous and we tried to soak up as much as we possibly could wondering how we got so lucky!
One of the greatest gifts throughout those days, was hearing about everyone's journey so far as well as what was to come for them.
Sharing in their excitement and our own, together.
I mentioned eating right?
Over these days, Tippy and I solidified our plans with the villa staff and my sister was an enormous and completely invaluable help in communicating what I wanted when I wasn't there.
I had a make-up trial with a fellow Aussie who lives in Positano. We triple checked that our paperwork was in order for the ceremony and ran through weather contingency plans.
We even made my marinated orange + rosemary olives for the special day. Yes we did!
On Monday 21st July I went to sleep knowing that in the morning I was following through on a choice that I'd made 11 months earlier.
Nowhere to be found where nerves or fear.
All that could be found was peace, gratitude, pure joy and a quiet prayer that it wouldn't rain.