a Wedding Showcase at La Plage Resort

Hands up how many of you lucky girls and guys went back to work this New Year sporting a sparkling new ring on your left hand. Christmas and New Year is a time for love and romance so it is no surprise that it is the most popular time of the year to get engaged, closely followed by Valentines Day.

Weddings abroad can often be more intimate, less costly and a lot less stressful with beautiful weather which is why more couples are opting to get married overseas creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Italy has always been a favourite choice offering romance and a variety of options.

Over the past five years wedding tourism in Sicily has increased dramatically. This includes the initial reconnaissance of the region, meetings with wedding planners and their venues and suppliers, the actual wedding day, guests who travel to our beautiful island to witness this momentous occasion and happy newlyweds who decide to stay on for their honeymoon.

There are many beautiful venues to choose from across the island ranging from 5 star hotels and resorts, ancient palazzo's, castles, luxury villas, baroque churches, vineyards, country estates, even ancient Tonnara (old tuna fishing farms) don't dismiss this until you have seen one of these unique farms styled for an event.

Last year Italian model and social media influencer Chiara Ferragni married Italian rapper, singer and songwriter Fedez near the south eastern town of Noto, putting Sicily into the destination wedding spotlight.

Through my Blog I am super lucky that I get invited to visit some of these amazing venues and places.

The town of Taormina is a popular place for tourism and weddings. It is one of the most important international tourist centres in the Sicilian region, known for its natural landscape, sea views, beautiful beaches and historical monuments. The town is surrounded by much beauty and breath taking views of the smoking volcano Mount Etna.

I have had the pleasure of working in the wedding industry in the UK for many years so when I see a wedding in Taormina it always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I have been asked to be a witness at a few elopement weddings and by strange chance once ended up with an impromptu re-newel of wedding vows with my husband in the Duomo of Taormina. (You can search my Blog archive for that story).

Last October I was invited by my lovely friend Carmela Guardione from Sicilian Bride to a wedding showcase at the 5 star La Plage Resort Taormina.

I met Carmela through another Sicilian friend Luisa Ingoglia who is the manager of the London restaurant Tasting Sicily UK Enzos Kitchen. Luisa introduced me to Carmela and her daughter/partner Eliana and we bonded straight away over our love of wedding and event styling whilst eating granita and we have remained friends ever since.

Based in the beautiful town of Francavilla di Sicilia, Carmela and Eliana have a wonderful luxury gift and interior design shop and as Sicilian Bride they have been styling events for many years providing beautiful and stunning props, flower design and wedding favours.

Last year I was delighted to hear that Carmela had got her dream job and had become the dedicated wedding and events co-ordinator at La Plage Resort Taormina.

A member of the Ragosta Hotels Collection, La Plage Resort is located inside the Isola Bella Nature Reserve in Taormina, surrounded by pine trees and fragrant gardens. The hotel is situated directly on the beach, just a few steps from the cable car station that links the historic town centre with its beaches. From any spot at La Plage you can enjoy stunning views of the bay of Isola Bella and it boasts 59 rooms which include bungalows and suites. It also has a restaurant, a beach club and spa.

Its exclusive location makes it an ideal venue for a wedding and Carmela can take care of all your needs including organising the event, the flowers and helping you choose your menu.

Symbolic wedding ceremonies can be held on the beach.

On the day of the showcase, on arrival I walked through the entrance tunnel that cuts through the mountainside down towards the hotel. The tunnel was decorated beautifully with romantically candlelit lanterns and glass voltives.

The first area to explore was the inside reception room which had been set out with styled tables by Carmela with different themes and colours, set with eye catching sparkling plates and dishes, glassware, pristine white tablecloths and linen napkins and gleaming cutlery.

Next I headed out to the beach club where the decking area showed off a long table set for 20 guests adorned with a lush garland runner of delicate cream and peach roses with subtle candles and Isola Bella in the background, a back drop setting formed by nature.

Now it was time to head to where the magic was happening on the hotels amazing panoramic terrace, aptly name the Isola Bella Terrace where wedding parties can be held. Magic meaning food, fun and entertainment.

Heading to the terrace and along the cobble stoned pathways there were more beautiful candlelit lanterns. Once there I was greeted by director of La Plage Resort, Gianluca Taglialegne.

Whilst sipping cold crisp prosecco I could admire the beauty of Isola Bella up close whilst being personally serenaded by a Sicilian folk group. I knew the singer well, a vivacious character who I have seen performing on other occasions and he always makes me laugh with his animated songs that tell of old Sicilian stories and tales.

Isola Bella was bought in 1890 by a Scottish lady called Lady Florence Trevelyan. It is a rocky outcrop only attached to the mainland by a narrow sandy path off the coast below Taormina. Florence built a house and established a garden on there. In among the native Mediterranean plants, she planted non-native trees, rare shrubs and grasses. It also became the home of various sea birds and some interesting lizards. It is with thanks to Florence that we have such a beautiful island in Taormina. Isola Bella is now protected by WWF and it has been declared a nature reserve thanks to its beauty and untouched nature.

Whilst admiring the little islet I was accosted by a mime artist who was busy going around entertaining the couples and guests who had come to the showcase with the view of choosing La Plage as the venue for their perfect day.

So I know you are dying to know what I ate.

Guests were spoilt with tempting canapes Sicilian style, including mini parmigiana di melanzane, gazpacho, polpo (octopus), sarde a beccafico (stuffed sardines), carpaccio of tonno and salmone (tuna and salmon) and other seafood delicacies fresh from the Sicilian sea. There was also huge platters of locally produced cheeses that you could drizzle with honey from the Mount Etna town of Zafferana Etnea.

There was also an area where you could sample freshly made panini and focaccia filled with local ham, salami, cheese and tomatoes and an area where tuna tartare was being prepared in front of your eyes, amazing. Then there was one of La Plage's chefs making one of my favourite things to eat in Sicily, arancini filled with either vegetables, Nebrodi pig ragu or pesce spada (swordfish).

However my favourite dish of the day was Nebrodi black pig ham which was being hand carved by the lovely Mario, head waiter of La Plage.

The Nebrodi Mountains are in north east Sicily and are home to the indigenous black skinned pig called suino nero. The black pig is a precious patrimony for its high quality meat and is consumed fresh or transformed into salami, ham and bacon. Today I was enjoying it on baked whole meal bread paired with a ragusano cheese fondue. Ragusano is one of the oldest cheeses in Sicily with evidence dating back to the 1500's. The cows that produce this wonderful cheese are fed on fresh grasses and hay in the provinces of Ragusa and Syracuse. It is an Italian PDO protected cheese and as fondue it is absolutely fabulous.

At this point Carmela introduced me to head chef Cristhian Busca who I was delighted to be able to compliment on his wonderful cuisine.

However the best was yet to come ...

Of course food at a wedding is of the utmost importance and after several delicious courses the dessert table is always very popular, originating from the "Venetian Hour" which is actually an old Sicilian tradition of having an array of pastries, fruits and cakes in great quantity.

The dessert table today was heaving with mouth watering pastries topped with fresh fruit and pistachios, chocolate truffles and little pots of jellies and Bianco Mangiare which is like a blancmange made with almonds.

The perfect way to end the day.

The food was delicious and perfectly presented and set a precedent to the hotels restaurant which I am looking forward to visiting in the new season.

The hospitality was superb and I was really made to feel at home by Carmela and her family, the showcase suppliers and the staff at La Plage Resort.

I would like to say a big thank you to Carmela for inviting me, it is always such a pleasure to write a Blog post for friends.

If you are considering a wedding in Sicily my top tip is to hire a locally based wedding planner.

These guys are hyper-organised people who will find you the best deals with venues and local suppliers and they will act as your translator. They will have local inside knowledge and will have a good relationship with venues and the local town hall where all your important complicated paperwork needs to registered and often chased up in person.

Please feel free to contact me for my recommendations of wedding planners in Sicily who boast years of experience and wedding expertise. 

La Plage Resort Taormina  www.laplageresort.com
Carmela - Sicilian Bride info@sicilianbride.com

Please Note that I have not included suppliers in the post.

For more information on the music, entertainment, photographer, beautician, car and florist who displayed at the Wedding Showcase please contact Carmela at Sicilian Bride or La Plage Resort.


With Valentines Day in mind
if you enjoyed this Blog post then you might enjoy these ones too from the archive:

"15 Romantic Things to do in Taormina"

"12 Sicilian Love Stories"

Photo Gallery
all photos are my own

... and finally time out with
Left to right, Carmela, Eliana, Luisa and Me

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Love Sarah & Daisy x


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