THE WEDDING DIARIES – The Sicilian venue search

Sasha PallariWedding Diaries

12 hours into being engaged we’d already found our venue, because obviously when you type ‘Italian Wedding’ into that Pinterest search bar… it’s going to happen. Fast forward 5 days when we received the email back from said venue, informing us that it would be £7,000 per day for exclusive use, on top of the already extortionate hire costs – we definitely had not found our venue.

I was super lucky enough in April 2018 to have been sent on a press trip with Wedding Ideas magazine to The Amalfi Coast, which was where we thought we were getting married. However, from the time we’d booked the trip to the time we’d got there – the incoming venue quotes and costings were making it pretty clear that The Amalfi Coast wasn’t going to be where we were getting married. I also think I’d have lost a Bridesmaid on route because that drive from Naples airport to the coast is beautifully scenic but jeepers… I couldn’t stop deep breathing.

David & I in The Amalfi Coast (Grand Hotel Royal, Sorrento)

I quickly realised that unless you speak the language or know the country well – you 100% need to hire a wedding planner. I started trawling the internet and Instagram but I’d had email responses that looked no different to junk mail, and so many people were saying it was far too early to plan a wedding for 2 years away… call back next year. As you can imagine, if I have to plan my life one year in advance then I don’t really have much option but to plan my wedding further away than that. Instagram can be such a minefield within the wedding Industry; you see the same thing constantly, everything merges into one and I was starting to question if we were doing the right thing because I wasn’t getting anywhere.

A few weeks later I came across Marica. Her Instagram came across professional but personal and I could see who she was straight away. Through this tiny corner of the internet, it was instantly obvious she was passionate about her work. I sent her a direct message and as her response was finished with ‘By the way, I LOVE your work!’, I just knew I was going to love her (anybody who writes the occasional word in caps for added drama is the one for me).

David & I had a skype session which I just found hilarious, it was basically David being his usual sensible self with me beside him, trying my absolute best to do the same. I think I’d introduced Marica to Franco within 5 minutes, lifting his 32 kilo backside onto my lap as an ‘ice breaker’ (drama school wasn’t wasted). We spoke about the type of wedding we wanted and our reasons for choosing Italy – but being Sicilian and having planned weddings all over the world, she’d very quickly convinced us that Sicily would be a great option for us and seriously worth considering.

Ortigia (one of the things that excites me the most is that our guests are going to experience the absolute beauty that this City has to offer)

We all met up in London soon after the skype session and I’d decided to take my Dad along (who yes, is still apparently wearing a white suit) – my smart thinking was that if she could endure an hour with him insisting as part of the deal, he wanted a personal invite to her Grandmother’s home in Sicily for a traditional meal, then she can handle the #PALLARIWILLIAMS wedding planning for two years, no problem.

We flew out to Sicily in June for a week to view the venues. By this point I’d become fully aware that Marica was not only 100% fluent in English and that I didn’t need to talk to her like a robot anymore, but also that she had more of a British sense of humour than most people I know. Her amazing assistant Antonella had joined us on the trip and it wasn’t long before David and I felt completely at ease and realised that we had most definitely made the right decision. As much as we loved The Amalfi Coast, it was filled with tourists and lacked a lot of the atmosphere we had hoped for. Sicily is so much more traditional in its culture and there wasn’t a single area we visited that we didn’t fall in love with.

Looking like we hadn’t endured one single argument…

Aside from viewing some of the most breath-taking wedding venues I had ever seen, we spent the entire week laughing, eating, getting to know each other and drinking Espresso’s on tap. As per usual whenever there’s a long car journey (and there were A LOT) I did my absolute best to introduce them both to Musical Theatre shows that I loved and deeply cared about whilst David just looked out the window questioning his life! We really did have the best time exploring one of the most beautiful countries I’d ever been to. Of course, I still tell Marica regularly that she’s not allowed to have this much fun with other couples and constantly check in that we’re still the favourites (I send her GIFS on WhatsApp most days, poor woman).

After a long time trying to make a decision, we were sat having a coffee in one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever been to (which we’re now going to be staying in over the wedding week) discussing all our options. We’d come up with so many different ideas and all the venues were stunning and had their own uniqueness, but as soon as we’d visited this particular hotel, a big spanner (a good spanner!) was definitely thrown into the works. David then came up with a mic drop suggestion; Marica hadn’t given us any opinions, she was letting us work through it all over the duration of our stay and thought maybe now was the time to ask her what she thought, because this was a 360 turnaround of what we’d originally had in mind. “David’s right, this is perfect” (Shock he’s right, for a change). I looked at Antonella and she just gave me that look of ‘I know you don’t want him to be right but he is right’. After I’d stropped for 15 long minutes because the venue I thought we were going for had served me up some exceptional spaghetti in a red wine and parmesan sauce the night before, I agreed. And at that point, I couldn’t have felt more excited.

5 days of listening to me attempt to speak Italian, 7 venues, 4 towns, 350 glasses of Aperol Spritz and enough pasta to roll me back to the UK, we’d found our dream venue.