So nearly three weeks have now gone by since our amazing beach wedding in Santa Maria di Castellabate and now that the dust has settled a little and we are getting used to call each other husband and wife the time seems just right to tell our story and our experience with My Secret Italy and the fabulous Julie McKenzie.
Like most other couples that have been lucky enough to come across Julie’s website, our quest simply started by searching ‘beach wedding in Italy’ on Google. I am Italian and it was really important to me to get married in my own country; also having a small and intimate ceremony on the beach was something I had been dreaming of and that was an absolute must for us. So when I came across the My Secret Italy website and read previous testimonials of couples who had got married in this little sparkly gem called Lido Azzurro I just knew it felt like the perfect setting.
Julie rang me very shortly after my initial email enquiry and I was immediately struck by her bubbly personality, her passion for what she does and how totally fond of each and every one of her couples past, present and future she is. At that point Paddy and I hadn’t made any real plans or decided on a date for the wedding, so I kept in touch with Julie and made plans to fly to Italy to check out Santa Maria in May 2013 to see if it was the place for us. Needless to say we both fell in love with the town and its charm and the surrounding area, from the hilltop medieval village of Castellabate to the submerged city at Punta Licosa, is simply stunning! We also love the fact that it is still a relatively secret spot that Italians like to keep to themselves and little known to tourists.
Fast forward 12 months and on June 18th this year we arrived back in Santa Maria where we would celebrate our intimate beach wedding in front of family and close friends on Saturday 21st June. It was really lovely to have a couple of days to ourselves before the big day to go through all the last few details with Julie (needless to say she had everything well on hand), do make-up and hair trial and a bit of pre-wedding pampering and have a couple of lovely evenings sampling the restaurants and bars, il Vichingo in Piazza Santa Lucia becoming our absolute favourite from day one. I would totally recommend any future couples to get to Santa Maria a few days before your guests arrive just to take it all in, meet the lovely locals and generally take it easy before the madness starts! 🙂
We already knew the hotel Garden Riviera from having spent a long weekend there last year and couldn’t wait to go back! The hotel has truly stunning views over the Cilento coast (with pretty special sunsets), a really lovely pool area and its staff are the most welcoming and friendly people you will ever meet. Nothing was too much for them and they really did make everybody feel so welcome.
On the Friday afternoon our families and friends both from Northern Italy and Ireland arrived, just in time for everybody to meet in the square for a World Cup match and a few pre dinner drinks. Dinner at Le Gatte that evening was chaotic but truly fantastic and the night was made even more special as we were celebrating my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. It was a very emotional night and it really did feel a bit like passing of the torch from my parents to me and my future husband.
The morning of the wedding was totally relaxed, which was one of the biggest surprises to me. We all got up for breakfast around the same time and chilled by the pool in the glorious sunshine for a while, we did an impromptu and also pretty hilarious rehearsal of the ceremony and then around midday Paddy and I said goodbye. The next time we would meet was going to be on the beach at the Lido to get married at 6.30pm that afternoon!
Later that day the girls and I got ready at the amazing La Belle Vie Bed & Breakfast. I was very proud to be Julie’s first bride to get ready there and she made me promise I would write a glowing review. 🙂 She really didn’t need to ask because the place is truly fab, the perfect space for any bride to be and her girls to get ready in. With the most stunning views (you are practically in the sea you are that close) and spacious, bright, airy rooms, La Belle Vie is a really wonderful place where to enjoy the pre wedding chats, giggles, excitement and nerves together with a few very welcome glasses of chilled Prosecco. Paddy and I stayed there the night of our wedding and went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning lulled by the sound of the waves. A truly enchanted place and top marks to Domenico and Francesca the owners, really lovely people!
Getting married on the beach of the Lido Azzurro, making my entrance to Queen’s “You are my best friend” and exchanging our vows in front of family and friends was a real special moment and something I will never forget. The Lido just sparkled that evening, the sky was a mix of pink and deep blue and the setting was just perfect, exactly what I had been dreaming of and more. Rosanna, the owner of the Lido, did an amazing job and don’t get me started about the food… pure heaven, you will just have to go and try it! The band was a huge hit with our guests and we loved dancing and singing along to their great set list until late.
I now can’t t wait to see the photos from our amazing photographer, Inta Photography! I am so happy we decided to go with a professional photographer in the end. Julie I am so grateful you made us realise how important it is, after the party is over and the dust has settled, to have some amazing photographic memories to treasure for the rest of our lives.
Julie is a true professional and very loving, fun person to be around. From the word go I had no doubts she would make our wedding day exactly what we had been dreaming of, but she went even beyond that. You can totally see that she truly loves what she does, cares about her couples and wants to make them feel really special, adores Santa Maria and its people and really takes pride in her work.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Julie and thank you to your beautiful daughter Emillie, it was so great to meet you both and we can’t wait to see you again in someday soon Santa Maria.
Lolly & Paddy