Getting married in Venice – a close up

From film festivals to summer fireworks, Venetian regattas to the Rialto market there is always something to see in Venice. It makes living here quite an adventure, as you never quite know what you’ll find turning the corner into an old piazza or promenading along the canal. But few things make a soppy, old romantic like me happier than watching a wedding in this beautiful city. And boy did we spot a grand one up close yesterday!

Not that my friend and I were invited to the ceremony, sadly!

Waiting outside a strictly invitation only wedding in Venice

A strictly invitation only wedding in Venice

We just happened to have front row seats for the arrival of the wedding guests as we’d stopped for a well-earned cold drink in a Cannaregio café, opposite the church. Talk about good fortune!

Guests arriving at the Venice wedding

Guests arriving at the Venice wedding

So while Gianini, aka Little John, the gondolier entertained us with his robot Dad-dancing to the café’s 80’s soundtrack and we settled into our second round of drinks (ahem!), the Campo Santa Maria Nova was transformed into a design-house catwalk. Large hats, French fashion and simple elegance were the order of the day.

Gondolier Gianini, Little John, dressed in the traditional black and white striped shirt and straw boater strikes a pose on the Ponte Santa Maria Nove, Cannaregio, Venice

Gondolier Gianini, Little John, strikes a pose on the Ponte Santa Maria Nove, Cannaregio, Venice

Wedding guests arrived on foot with the men striding out confidently as their ladies teetered and tottered across the Venetian stone paving in ever-more precipitous heels.

Close up of the shoes of a couple at a Venetian wedding - the man is wearing suede loafers whilst the woman is wearing very detailed, strappy red stilettos.

Comfort vs style! Men and women have a totally different approach to shoes suitable for a wedding, it seems!

Hats, it seems, are most definitely in this season with many of the chiefly French-speaking ladies sporting large, soft brimmed creations or fancy feathered designs to protect against the scorching summer sun.

Photo of two wedding guests both wearing large, wide & soft brimmed wedding hats

Large brimmed hats were very popular with the wedding guests in Venice, Italy

Their dresses stunned too as family and friends sported what we can only assume was the cream of the French fashion houses’s summer season.

Photo of a slim lady in a fuchsia pink slim-fitting dress with  a small cape to the back standing on Ponte Santa Maria Nove, Venice

This wedding guest particularly caught our eye in her fuchsia, caped dress. She was absolutely beautiful

And finally, after a few tense minutes, the bride arrived in a motoscafo taxi festooned with flowers.

Photo of the bridal flowers decorating the front of the mahogany coloured traditional motoscafo water taxi transporting the bride to church

Wedding transport is a bit different in Venice – beautiful flowers festoon the bridal motoscafo taxi

There was a slight hiccup before she could alight, as a Venetian family had accidentally chosen that exact moment to offload a small flat-full of furniture onto the canal-side. Exactly where the bride’s boat was due to dock! Clearly all the planning in the world can’t legislate for everything!

But fortunately the wedding organiser, calm in a crisis, gently press-ganged her team into action to help clear bed frames, tables and an old desk so the bridal boat could pull alongside.

Removal man moving a desk off the canal side so the bridal party can dock

Removing the last of the furniture from the canal side so the bride could pull alongside

By now a small crowd of tourists, visitors and well-wishers had gathered.

Photo of a lady and her small dog watching the bride arrive

Wishing the bride well from the Ponte Santa Maria Nove

And as one of the organisers straightened her veil, the bride gently stepped off the boat on her father’s arm, we assume, to cross the last little bridge, Ponte Santa Maria Nove, to the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

Her dress was breathtakingly delicate and stunningly sexy all in one.

In what looked like haute couture, the lace-bodiced dress used its delicate threads to highlight and accentuate the bride’s beautiful figure with almost see-through finery, whilst delicately protecting her modesty. It was a subtle, stylish vision of lacy layers and suited the demure young bride perfectly.

The bride arrives in a gorgeous lace dress

The bride arrives in a gorgeous lace dress (Photo credit : Clare Johnston, @ClareInvents)

The bride’s destination, the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli is a popular spot in Venice for weddings.

The front of the church of Santa Maria die Miracoli, Cannaregio, Venice

The front of the church of Santa Maria die Miracoli, Cannaregio, Venice

Known as the “marble church” or “jewel box” because of its beautiful coloured stonework, inlaid with polychrome marble panels in geometrical patterns, the Renaissance church was built in the late 1480s. Legend has it that stone leftover from the construction of St Mark’s Basilica was used for the church of miracles. What is more certain, however, is that it was commissioned to house Nicola di Pietro’s 1408 painting of “Virgin between two saints”.

Photo of the interior of the church of Santa Maria die Miracoli, Cannaregio, Venice

Getting married in the church of Santa Maria die Miracoli in Venice (Photo credit : Didier Descouens under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

The painting, also known as The Miraculous or I Miracoli, was originally intended to be placed outside a house. However, locals began to associate it with miracles and donated funds to build the church in its honour. The designer,Renaissance architect and sculptor, Pietro Lombardo, is also credited with Venice’s San Giobbe church, the tombs of 2 Doges and the tomb of the famous Tuscan writer Dante Alighieri, father of the Italian language no less.

And so, as the late afternoon sun cascaded over the white marble and through the rose windows, the bride and groom sat at the top of the flight of stairs leading to the altar as the ceremony was conducted in French and English.

Photo of the bride and groom sitting at the top of the stairs in front of the altar as they prepare to say their vows

An intimate view of the bride and groom at the altar

Violins and sopranos serenaded the couple throughout the service until finally a beautiful, moving rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria signaled the end of the formalities and the wedding guests erupted into applause.

The small crowd of well-wishers waiting outside was rewarded with the sight of the couple, as they emerged from the church a few minutes later. Friends and family showered the newly weds with traditional handfuls of rice, symbolising a shower of fertility.

Photo of little packets of rice for the family and friends to throw over the couple as a fertility blessing

Rice is on hand to bless the newly weds

And several of the crowd playfully called for “Baci baci baci!” or “Kiss kiss kiss!”

The newly weds kiss on the doorstep of the chiesa Santa Maria die Miracoli

The newly weds kiss on the doorstep of the chiesa Santa Maria die Miracoli as a little page boy looks on!

And so ends the story of how a simple Saturday afternoon pit-stop for cold refreshment in one of the hundreds of little courtyard cafes of Venice turned into a close-up of French fashion, romance and a wonderful French-Swiss marriage. The wedding party left to continue their celebrations in one of the palazzi, palaces, dotted around town no doubt. And we left to explore more of the labyrinthine streets of Venice. If you’ve discovered a secret spot in Venice, leave me a comment. In the meantime, maybe we’ll fall over another hidden gem tomorrow, or the next day – here’s hoping! And remember to keep your eyes open as you never know when you’re going to get a close up of something special like a wedding in Venice!

Congratulations to Isabelle and Nicolas & best wishes for a long and happy life together!

Photo of the newlyweds outside the church

The happy couple greet their guests outside the church

Useful information

The Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli is well hidden in the labyrinth of narrow Venetian streets. The easiest way to find it is from Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, via Calle Larga G. Gallina and Fondamenta Piovan. The Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli can be seen from Campo Santa Maria Nova.

PS If this has inspired you, maybe now is the time to pop the question to your beloved and here’s How to ask “Will you marry me?” in Italian

A beautiful flower girl heads off to the wedding reception

A beautiful flower girl heads off to the wedding reception

Close Up

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19 Responses to Getting married in Venice – a close up

  1. lulu says:

    For an uninvited guest, you got great photos!

  2. Cecelia Pierotti says:

    Another wonderful look at happy accidents and intimate Venice Liz….beautiful descriptive writing !!! Even without a picture I could see how the bride looked!!! Thanks for the great view of the happy event….

    • lizbert1 says:

      Thanks Cecelia! The bride’s dress was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and she looked stunning in it! I bet the groom was suitably impressed when he caught sight of her coming down the aisle!! A beautiful day!

  3. Lyn says:

    I really like the women’s dresses. Simple but very elegant

    • lizbert1 says:

      Exactly, and everyone seemed to have such elegance! I wish I’d taken more photos but we were too busy talking to the ladies and telling them how beautiful they looked!

  4. I love the shoe comparison photo, him in his comfy but cool loafers and her in her crippling but fabulous ‘works of art’ stilettos…and that bridal dress, so demure and so sexy all at once, bella!

    • lizbert1 says:

      Totally! I couldn’t quite believe that the guy hadn’t gone in dress shoes but hey, anything goes at a wedding I guess! The ladies’ shoes were stunning although I wouldn’t have dared walking across the Venetian pavements in them! As for the bride’s dress, wow! It took our breath away and I’m sure the groom was impressed too!

  5. joanfrankham says:

    How wonderful to be there – ‘in the right place at the right time’. your photos are wonderful. Thank you for entertaining us.

  6. That was so much fun!!! Thank you.

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  8. ishitasood says:

    Nice dresses and stylish too!

  9. Lisa says:

    Wow! What great photos!

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