With almost 80 exhibitions dedicated to newlyweds, Italy is one of the first major European marketplaces for this target that in the last few years has reached the dimensions of a real transversal business also for Italy incoming travel.
From wedding planners to specialized travel agencies, from PWOs (Professional Wedding Operators) to catering companies, and from floral decorations to photo agencies, the market of marriage in Italy is worth over 450 million euros today. It has about 1,600 professionals in the sector and a related involvement of almost 56,000 companies [Unioncamere data]. The stock exchange alone, that takes place every year in Rome – and has become a reference point for those dealing with foreign spouses – holds a record of at least 32 foreign countries interested in marriage Italian style.
In the recent Destination Wedding Report in Italy curated by the Center for Tourism Studies (CTS) of Florence, in 2017, Italy was the location of 8,085 wedding events organized by foreign couples for a total of about 403,000 arrivals and 1.3 million overnights, with an average cost per event that amounts to around 55,000 euros. The main region favored by foreign couples is Tuscany (31.9%), followed by Lombardy (16%), Campania (14.7%), Veneto (7.9%), and Lazio (7.1%) ), while Puglia(5%) is also growing.
With regard to the locations chosen for the wedding, the luxury hotels are at the top (32.4%), followed by villas (28.2%), restaurants (10.1%), farms (6.9 %), and castles (8.5%). The most popular rite is civil (35%), followed by religious (32.6%) and symbolic (32.4%). The uncontrollable desire to marry and spend a holiday in Italy seems to spread in various countries of the world, starting from the United States that holds the lead with a market share of 49% and an average expenditure for each event that exceeds 59,000 euros.
Next comes the United Kingdom (21%), Australia (9%), and Germany (5%). The emerging countries (on a wedding in Italy) such as Russia, India, Japan, and China are also very promising. As for the last two countries, the peculiarity of a reduced number of guests from the country of origin emerges (less than 25), while India stands out with at least 45-50 guests per event and a high-spending capacity whose average is 60,000 euros, and also because the spouses almost always belong to a medium-high social class. For Indians, to celebrate marriage in the “homeland of lifestyle” is a status symbol.
The indication that the wedding market is the true Mecca for Italy incoming travel is proven by the average annual growth of weddings, which according to the CST of Florence, the turnover rate is more than 60 million euro a year. Another peculiarity of the segment – as pointed out by Alessandro Tortelli, Director of CST – is seasonality. The preference, in fact, is for the months of May and September. This is why it is a particularly interesting market to strengthen falling away from pick season. Whether it is a business where it is worth it for travel agents to specialize in incoming, it is a confirmed fact that the average increase from the years 2015 to 2017 is 350 weddings a year.
Designer, Calligrapher, and Music Coordinator
With the exploit of the business of weddings and honeymoons, new (and old) professional figures are taking hold in Italy. It starts with the wedding planner or even from the master of ceremony, to continue with the wedding designer (who takes care of the “scenography” of the event). It follows the dress designers for the couple, photographers and video makers (for albums and movies), the head of catering, the make-up artist (for the makeup of the bride and the groom). In addition there is the flower designer, the music coordinator (for the music during and after the ceremony), and even calligraphers, who organize the personalized handwritten invitation cards.
Winter Party and Weekend Wedding
Many wedding planners in Italy suggest celebrating the wedding in winter, even close to Christmas, perhaps with the magic of snow and just as wedding weekend fashion is spreading. In this case, it is a real kermesse that usually lasts 48 hours and almost always takes place in a farmhouse, a farm, an ancient village, or a medieval castle, where guests are involved in a long party in conviviality and the game, with moments of relaxation and aggregation, not only during lunch or dinner, but also at breakfast time.