Wedding in a castle: what you need to know before you even start

Are you dreaming of a wedding ceremony on a green lawn in front of an imposing medieval castle? Jasmine Lazzari from the The Wedding Co. can make it happen!

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Jasmine Lazzari, Founder and Creative director
Artiom Ganin of @Castles_and_Palaces has sat down with Jasmine Lazzari, the founder and creative designer of The Wedding Co., which takes care of all aspects of planning, producing, managing and designing exclusive weddings for multiple day events. The company has been on the market since 2007 and has gained the reputation for its outstanding service. If you want an extraordinary wedding ceremony The Wedding Co. is the right place to turn to. The company makes sure that only the best industry professionals with vast knowledge and expertise are involved in your wedding or your special event. Jasmine has shared some industry secrets with me and has confirmed that you have to be quite a well-off person to be able to have your wedding ceremony in a castle. Why is it that expensive? Well, there are many things which you have to take into account like the venue hiring costs and the exclusivity factor.

WHY WEDDING IN A CASTLE IS EXPENSIVE

Castles_and_Palaces (CnP): For some people a wedding in a castle is a dream – is it this difficult to implement?
Jasmine Lazzari (JL): The fairy-tale narrative is strong for some couples, so we do have some requests for castle weddings. Portugal has some famous castles and palaces, so luckily for us, we can pull off that dream castle/palace wedding look!

CnP: The general perception is that it is expensive, super expensive, mega expensive – is it true?
JL: This is because castles and palaces are designed for royalty and aristocracy! There are many castles that do not allow private event hire, so there is always an exclusive factor that is associated with a castle venue, yes. Hiring costs also vary from country to country and some are more accessible than others.
CnP: What's the minimum amount you should have to be able to have your wedding in a castle?
JL: Guest count dictates many things, including budget and what can be done in each venue. I would say that for 100 guests you would need a minimum of 100k for a wedding.
There are many castles that do not allow private event hire, so there is always an exclusive factor
CnP: I see – 1000 per 1 person – quite a budget! What was the most expensive wedding you organized?
JL: Some of the smallest weddings have been the most extravagant because of the level of detail and the type of vendors that we have worked with. The largest budget however was just over a seven figure number!
CnP: How can one get a discount?
JL: Reduce your guest size or even better, if you are related to the actual owners, they could be open to give a discount.

CnP: Which countries do people tend to have their destination wedding ceremonies in?
JL: In Europe, the South of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal are the most sought after countries.

CnP: Which country is the cheapest for a wedding ceremony in a castle?
JL: I have no information regarding this, but if people are on a budget, look for a venue that works with packages.
CnP: My understanding is that it depends upon the state of the country's economy – e.g it should be more expensive to make a wedding in a UK castle than in a Portuguese castle because economically the UK is more advanced.
JL: Of course, pricing is determined by the countries' economy, however when you have a small economy or small country as Portugal, the supply and demand of things is different and in some cases certain things are priced the same as in the UK for example.

CnP
: What's the best season for a wedding?
JL: The best season in Portugal is from Mid-May until end of October, as we still have good weather here. We work in Portugal and sometimes in Spain too.

PLANNING A WEDDING CEREMONY

CnP: Did anyone asked for a wedding at a snow-covered castle in the Game of Thrones style?
JL: I think they would need a country that has some snow and a medieval back-drop! Our clients aim for a look that is more old-world, elegant and aristocratic.

CnP: I bet you have had some extravagant requests from the couples – could you tell me about those please?
JL: We have had some peculiar requests, one client wanted a tiger and two peacocks in their palace wedding. We managed to give them their dream: stuffed tigers and peacocks (from a taxidermist).
CnP: So you've received a request, how do you proceed and what are your next steps. Could you please describe the process from A to Z?
JL: We always book a call with our couples so we can have a talk through their entire wedding and make sure that we are the right fit and can offer what they are looking for. We then send a detailed visual and written proposal and start the whole process from there! Our offer is complete planning and design, so we cover all aspects of a destination wedding.

CnP: Certain castles offer accommodation for the guest but what if they don't?
JL: We often find that our couples prefer to stay in a comfortable hotel with all their guests nearby. There are some amazing 5 star hotels near all the venues we work with so we never are out of choice.
CnP: Do you offer your services as a package – the castle, catering, photo shoots, the clothes, accommodation, transfer, etc?
JL: Our service is bespoke, which means we don't have set packages as we approach all our weddings with a clean slate.

CnP: We see what the end result is, a beautiful façade of a wedding day, but producing this day takes a lot of preparation and many different suppliers, is that correct?
JL: Yes, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to preparing a wedding, and especially when you have a private venue such as a castle or palace. We offer a design service with our planning service too, so take into consideration all of the decoration, which often is always talked through with the people managing the properties, just to make sure that they are in agreement. We outsource all other suppliers and in one day, depending on what the couple want, we have a huge team to manage for the event.
CnP: What should a couple know before they even start organizing a wedding in a castle?
JL: That castles are not modern buildings so anything old looking is part of the charm and needs to be respected. Extra care needs to be taken, as often properties have precious artwork and tapestries, so it's important to be mindful of that.

CnP: How much time does it normally take to organize a wedding in a castle?
JL: We like to give up to one year for the full planning and design of a destination wedding. We have done some speedy weddings in 6 months though!
CnP: Which wedding do you still remember as something which was absolutely special?
JL: I'd like to say that all weddings are special, and they are. Some stand out more than others and often it's because of the couple. We have done so many since we launched in 2007 that it's hard to pinpoint one!When the weather is perfect, dancing in castle on top of a beach has to be a moment to treasure forever!

CnP: Do you have a database of castle partners in Europe?
JL: No we don't, but we do have an extensive venue database.
CnP: What was the most unusual wedding ceremony you organized?
JL: We've never had anything unusual because weddings are usually quite traditional. The party part of a wedding can be a bit wild, which is always fun, but never weird!

CnP: I can imagine that people don't like to talk about bad experiences in a wedding – have you had such experiences when a wedding you took care of, was a failure?
JL: We've never had a failure or bad experience. In this kind of business, reputation is extremely important, and if we had failed there would be no way we could run a business. I always like to have a solid plan B in case of rain, because we have had some last minute surprises, but luckily in the end it all went to plan! We can't control the weather!
CnP: What about castle owners – can they be the guests at a wedding?
JL: Sometimes the owners have popped over to see how everything was being set up, and I do enjoy talking with them. They are always in awe of how we can transform their property in such short amount of time.

CnP: What if a couple who asked for a wedding suddenly break up, let's say weeks after they signed a deal with you and the process is underway, but you have to terminate it. What do you do in such cases?
JL: We have a contract with all these clauses and now we have Covid so we had to cover this too. We've actually had this happen and we managed to turn the event into a family party, some time later. It's all about managing things properly and having good natured clients trusting the process.
CnP: And what if someone wants to shift the dates due to an illness or something like that?
JL: Again, that is not an issue and we have those clauses in our contract. We are here to find solutions and help where possible.

CnP: How was 2020 for you? Did your business suffer due to the COVID pandemic?
JL: Our industry has been badly hit, so naturally 2020 was all about adapting to a new reality and damage control. We are looking forward to better times and can't wait to get back to doing what we love!
We very much hope that you liked the interview with Jasmine Lazzari, the founder of The Wedding Co.

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Photo credits: Agata Mendes, Brancoprata, Cinzia Bruschini, Erich McVey, The Wedding Co.

You can always get in touch with us via castlesandfamilies@gmail.com