Jim Edmonds and Fiancée Kortnie O'Connor Tease Upcoming Wedding in Italy: It's 'Meant to Be'

Jim Edmonds
Jim Edmonds
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White-Klump Photography

Jim Edmonds and Kortnie O'Connor are in the midst of planning their dream wedding.

Edmonds and O'Connor announced their engagement in August 2021, more than a year after they first went public with their relationship.

Now, the pair tells PEOPLE exclusively that they're preparing to wed in a "very small" ceremony on Sept. 25. The romantic occasion, boasting the theme of "All Roads Lead to Amore," will take place at Villa D'Este in Lake Como, Italy.

"As I'm sure everyone knows, this isn't Jim's first time around. So we just wanted to make it about enjoying everybody — all of our close friends and family. An adventure for everybody to enjoy, not another wedding in the church," says O'Connor. (Edmonds was previously married to Real Housewives of Orange County alum Meghan King, Allison Jayne Raski and the late LeAnn Horton.)

"I planned it in Italy for that reason," she continues. "Jim's never been there. I thought it might be an experience for his kids, and just to celebrate our relationship and let everybody enjoy it as well. So that was the focus, as well as Lake Como is a really beautiful destination."

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O'Connor, whose wedding dress is designed by Lee Petra Grebenau, says she's "just doing everything on the fly" to get everything ready for the big day. "It's a challenge, but it's really fun. So I'm excited," she says.

Italy was chosen because Edmonds told O'Connor they could wed "wherever" she wanted. "Italy was the first thought, actually. And it all started coming together. It just seemed like it was meant to be," O'Connor adds.

The garden ceremony at Villa D'Este will be followed by dinner overlooking the lake. The day before the early fall gathering, guests will get to embark on a welcome cruise around Lake Como.

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Jim Edmonds
Jim Edmonds

White-Klump Photography

According to Edmonds, the biggest obstacle they've dealt with while planning the wedding is the time change — Italy is six hours ahead of eastern standard time and nine hours ahead of pacific standard time.

"We're getting calls at 5 in the morning and having to respond, and they're about, basically, done with their day," says Edmonds, 51. "So it's not a challenge, but ... your normal phone call or your email chain might take a couple of days to get something across. And I think it's like anything, if you embrace, it's the fun part as long as far as it is the challenge, too.

Edmonds says the duo capped their guest list at 30 "tight friends and family," which is also expected to include all of the pro baseball star's children — including his youngest ones with King, 37. He wants all his kids to "be involved" in the big day as well. (The former couple's son, Hart, currently suffers from periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), which is a condition impacting brain tissue.)

"We want them to enjoy our day, our special day, our relationship and then the area," he says. "Like [Kortnie] said, I've never been there, and I thought it was pretty special that if we can get all there and comfortable and let them see stuff that they've never seen — I've never seen — I think that's a big deal. My dad always instilled, 'Hey, when you travel, pay attention and look around, and buy a shirt.' When I worked, playing baseball, I never got a chance to really do too much of that."

As for what's next for the couple, Edmonds and O'Connor have talked about possibly moving to a more secluded location.

"I think that we've been looking maybe to moving more towards Tennessee a little bit to look for a farm. Either that or somewhere out away from everyone," says Edmonds, adding that he's interested in "getting off the beaten path for at least portion of the time and not being in the mainstream."

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Similarly, O'Connor says having "a little more privacy" will be good for them.

The pair have also discussed the possibility of expanding their brood, with Edmonds saying they've "talked about everything."

From having another one to maybe adopting, especially with this situation coming up," he continues. "Everything is open and on the table right now for us. We're having such a good time, there's really no pull back on anything."