Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake could have picked any spot around the globe for their highly-anticipated nuptials, which took place on Friday, but they opted for the always romantic Italy — like many celebrities before them, from Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes to Emily Blunt and John Krasinski.
It was actually a famous friend who turned Biel and Timberlake on to Italy. According to Us Weekly, the couple visited the southern town of Ravello in 2008 to attend the wedding of Biel's pal and "7th Heaven" co-star Beverley Mitchell — and immediately fell in love with the country. So it's only fitting that earlier this week Mitchell was seen at a pre-wedding beach party for Biel and Timberlake in Puglia. The bash — also attended by "Saturday Night Live" star Andy Samberg — featured jazz music and a 10-minute fireworks display. The following day JT — wearing one of his trademark fedoras — was photographed at a grotto in Lama del Trappeto, where guests relaxed in white recliners next to fire pits and sipped local wine. The couple's main event took place on Friday. While details are still scarce — the wedding was reportedly held at Francis Ford Coppola's Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda — the newlyweds issued a statement to People magazine, saying the "ceremony was beautiful. …It was so special to be surrounded by our family and friends."
Italy has proven to be a special place for many other celebrity couples as well. As we mentioned, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, whose fairytale came to an end in June, said "I do" in Rome in 2006. In 2010, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski became man and wife in Como. Sofia Coppola and Thomas Mars were married in 2011 at Palazzo Margherita, which is owned by her family — and the rumored location for Biel and Timberlake's ceremony. New parents Giuliana Rancic and Bill Rancic sealed the deal in Capri in 2007. And Mena Suvari wed Simone Sestito in Vatican City in 2010, but it was a quick marriage — they're already divorced!
So why Italy? "Why not Italy? It's one of the most romantic places in the world," Harmony Walton, the founder of The Bridal Bar and its sister site, Jet Fete, tells omg!. "It has everything a celebrity couple could want — a rich history and culture, incredible food and wine, wonderful people, talented designers and wedding professionals, views of the ocean or the countryside, boutique hotels and big luxury villas, major cities and easy access for travel from anywhere in the world, and lots of other activities to keep guests entertained on an extended vacation. It also doesn't hurt that the location that is rumored to be their wedding venue is American-owned by a family who understands their privacy needs."
Walton's wedding concierge company, The Bridal Bar, assisted Cruise and Holmes in planning their nuptials, which took place at the 15th-century Odescalchi Castle outside of Rome, and she says celebrity couples usually spare no expense when they plan that type of an event. "The most common things that I've seen is picking up the tab for travel — both in hotel rooms and air and transportation costs — and often for everything spent during that week or weekend, including things like room service bills." And when the couples arrange for guests' travel, it helps let them control the information that gets out to the press beforehand. In the case of Biel and Timberlake, they flew all their guests to Germany first, then they boarded another flight to Italy in hopes of throwing any paparazzi off their trail.
Often these spare-no-expense destination weddings also serve as high-level getaways for guests. "Hosts typically plan other events to show their guests the location and give them a bit of vacation, too," explains Walton. "So near the coast of Italy they might take a yacht out for the day or go wine tasting in the private tasting room of a local winemaker's home. Most often these activities involve getting into the local culture and experiencing all the location has to offer. That can be anything from a private cooking class with a celebrity chef from the region to water sports. We worked with one couple who planned rather adventuresome activities for their guests (like a ski day in a destination wedding in the mountains) and since Jessica and Justin are athletic types, they may incorporate some sport or even competition into the weekend."
One other thing to note about these celebrity destination weddings — there's also a possibility that Biel and Timberlake were married prior to their Italian wedding day. That was the case for Cruise and Holmes, who exchanged vows in Los Angeles before traveling abroad. We also saw that recently when Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds were hitched in South Carolina over the summer — they actually privately got hitched several days after their elaborate wedding ceremony.
"Couples need to be armed with a lot of information before getting married in Italy — or anywhere for that matter, especially out of the country," says Walton, explaining that to marry there is a complicated, multi-step process. "At the end of the day, it would require appearances in both countries, a lot of paperwork, and several waiting days, if not more. In my experience, when paparazzi are involved, planning under the cloak of darkness or in the privacy of their own homes is required. If Jessica and Justin want to keep the day under wraps, then it's probable that they will skip this process and wed in the States. However, if they are truly sentimental and they want their 'big day' to also be their wedding day, then anything is possible."
Well, we'll be eagerly awaiting all the details, including Biel's dress — which is sure to be showstopper.
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