So many couples these days form part of a "non traditional" family. They come from different states, different social and economic backgrounds, have different cultures and religions, different beliefs - sometimes from each other as well as from their respective families and relatives. The coming together of these different worlds, for an event as important as a wedding, can be potentially stressful, difficult to co-ordinate, and compromising: however you act, you are bound to tread on somebody's toes.
For these reasons, many couples choose to get married in an alternative ceremony. Going abroad to get married means limiting the number of guests: it's a way to avoid a traditional two hundred guest wedding, without hurting feelings. It's a way to make the wedding a sincere exchange of vows between husband and wife, witnessed by the people they care for. Going abroad often means not conforming to the traditional values. Not ending up with a patched together mix of what is expected of you, what will not offend, what is neutral, and very often, boring and insincere.
At Italyweddings, in the last twenty years of assisting couples with their weddings in Italy, we've had more couples from mixed religious backgrounds, couples who wanted to personally express their vows, couples who wanted to do it right the second time round, couples who were reaffirming their vows - than "normal" couples.
Perhaps the way couples are looking at their wedding day is changing. Of course, this generation is aware that "'til death us do part" has a different meaning to them, than it might have had for their parents. The way we live together, the way families are structured, is changing; and so the way we want to form a family unit through marriage is also changing.
Here in Italy, the choices for non residents are basically threefold: a civil, non religious wedding, a Church blessing, or a Symbolic, non religious blessing.
The choices in the United States or England for a non religious wedding are often limited to the purely formal. Choosing to have a civil wedding in Florence is a real event. The wedding take place in the Sala Rossa: the "red room" - a beautifully maintained hall in the Palazzo Vecchio - perhaps the most famous medieval building in Italy. The room itself, full of tapestries, gilt chandeliers, period mirrors and velvet padded chairs, was the bedroom of Cosimo di Medici - patron of the Florentine Renaissance and the Uffizi gallery - and he conceived three of his many children in this room.
Choosing a Church blessing is a beautiful way to exchange your vows. The Catholic Church arranges very few weddings for non residents in Italy, and so most couples prefer to perform their service in one of the Anglican Churches in Italy. The service is a complete, religious wedding, and differs from a traditional Church service only in the legal situation. Couples choose to have a simple wedding in their home town before coming to Italy, with a Justice of the Peace, and are therefore free to perform the religious service here without the stress of the paperwork.
The beauty of these weddings lies in their flexibility, the personality of the couple is expressed in the wedding choices they make. The landscape, the culture of Tuscany, make the perfect backdrop for what is essentially their day.