Lake Como, Italy is heaven on Earth. Planning a lake Como elopement though? Hellish. I get it. So I created this guide with a Como local to get all the insider tips! This guide is for laid back couples who want equal parts luxury and adventure on their elopement day, with as little stress as possible.
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Water, warmth and Italian culture. Everything you could want in a honeymoon is here, and you can easily hop on a train and head south through Tuscany, the Amalfi coast and Rome. Lake Como has world class restaurants, hotels, shopping and entertainment. There are plenty of amenities for you and your guests of all ages and abilities.
Yes, Como is expensive. It’s not a budget elopement option. There is no way around that fact. How expensive is a matter of taste, and what you as a couple value most when allocating your money.
These are the biggest factors to consider when setting your budget:
The average cost for a Como elopement or intimate wedding is around €10,000. That includes 2 international economy flights, 5 days of accomodation for two people, basic florals, hair and makeup, and a full day of photography coverage.
Here’s the breakdown for a modest “just us” summer elopement booked 9+ months in advance:
This total comes to around €9,000. However, be sure to plan in around 10%-20% on top of your final tally to account for tips, additional costs and a little bit of shopping!
The closest major European city with an international airport is Milan. It takes about 45 minutes to arrive there by car. Alternatively, a train ride takes about 120 minutes, and is a great option. There are about 30 trains a day, leaving every 30 minutes.
Parking in Como is very difficult, particularly in the high seasons of July and August. If you can avoid renting a car in this area, you should. Public transportation is very good, and you can always use hotel shuttles or taxis to get around the city.
Explore the lake by bike, on foot or grab a boat tour around the lake with a private guide. If you want views from a higher perspective, take the funicular to Brunate, above the city of Como.
Or wander around the manicured grounds of Villa Olmo with a great view of the lake.
Villa del Balbianello is one of Como’s most iconic villas. It’s been a movie set for scenes in Star Wars, and the venue of choice for weddings ranging from humble and intimate to star-studded glamor.
If you would like to book a wedding services at Villa del Balbianello, consider the following:
Booking an event at Villa del Balbianello is a great option for couples who want an iconic and luxury Italian villa as the backdrop to their wedding experience. It’s also great for couples who have invited guests.
If it will just be the two of you, consider buying a regular entrance ticket and simply walking the grounds and gardens during the normal visiting hours!
Figli dei Fiori – (bistrot) veggie forward, italian with a modern twist, (osteria) plates to share
Osteria di Gallo – Italian comfort food, changing menu daily
Rino – Tuscan food, Florentine steak, homemade pasta
La Vita Bella – fresh salads and lighter options
Sakura – sushi and japanese dishes
Un Puglia di Po – baked goods, meats, cheeses (all from Puglia)
Momi – classic Italian, known for its scenic location on Lake Como and terrace (in Blevio)
Pro Tip: at least once, just grab a pizza along the lake and enjoy a super casual and impromptu picnic!
For Meeting People / Hip hostel: Ostello Bello, activities every day, live music on weekends, excellent bar, super fun
If you’re looking for an intimate boat ride with a knowledgeable local, hire a private boat tour with Michele Mazza. His local knowledge and fluent Italian and English makes for a blissful day on the lake, learning about the local architecture and historical bourgeoise villa gossip.
Tosca – organic vineyard serving “slow” food and wine near Bergamo (45 min from Como)
Como has a range of entertainment, whether you’re an urban explorer or a hiker. For something super different and an aerial view of the lake, hire a puddle jumper plane with Aeroclub.
There are also lots of swim clubs around the lake (it’s not super common to swim directly off the shore).
Villa Olmo: rotating exhibits and a great place to view the lake from
Teatro Sociale di Como: Italian opera, music, theatre & art culture
Figli dei Fiori describe themselves as an “all around concept store” – NOT just a flower store. If you want flowers which capture a certain aesthetic and beauty, I highly recommend them. The deliver boutique elegance with excellent craft and artistry.
Don’t worry – you don’t need to do a crazy hike to get to beautiful locations near Como. There are many moderate and well maintained hiking areas, and even a funicular to the top of the mountains.
Sentee di sort (Cernobbio to Moltrasio) hike: 5.1-km out-and-back trail near Cernobbio, Lombardy. A moderately challenging route which takes an average of 2 hours to complete. It is a great opportunity for birding as well, but a busy trail. You will likely encounter other hikers.
Mt Bisbino (from Cernobbio): this area has many hiking trails, and I would recommend starting from Cernobbio closer to the mountain. The higher you are able to hike, the more privacy you’ll have on the trails.
The Como-Brunate Funicular (built in 1894): the funicular car leaves every 15 minutes and can be booked anytime, but there is often a long line. Plan ahead for this if on a schedule. It takes seven minutes to zip up 720m to the rustic village of Brunate. From there, it’s just a 30-minute walk and 143 steps to San Maurizio, where you can climb to the top of the iconic Volta lighthouse. Be prepared for the steep 30-45 minute climb!
Hike to From the Lighthouse to Torno, and take the ferry back to Como to make it a day trip.
The best way to plan a legal marriage ceremony in Como is to hire a local wedding planner. They know the ins and outs and can help you with the Italian paperwork.
There is no residency requirement to get married in Italy, but you will need to gather a number of documents. Use this resource here to figure out what you need based on nationality.
No. Due to the presence of the Vatican and the influence of the Catholic church, differences in sexuality and gender still face some conservative restrictions in Italy.
Sexual acts between people of the same sex are legal.
Same-sex marriage is not legal.
Same-sex couples can legally enter into civil unions or register as ‘de facto couples’ under Article 1 of Law no. 76/2016.
A marriage entered into by a person who thereafter changes their legal gender is automatically converted into a civil union, if the relevant couple does not want to dissolve their union, as per Article 1 of Law no. 76/2016.
Same-sex couples cannot jointly adopt children as adoption is reserved for married couples under Article 6 of Law no. 184/1983.
Recently, courts have started to grant secondparent adoption to samesex couples under particular circumstances (e.g. Court of Cassation, 22 June 2016, no. 12962).-Stonewall.org.uk
Make sure to consider these points when choosing to celebrate your marriage in Italy. Even if these laws don’t affect you directly, you may prefer to plan your elopement somewhere that aligns with your personal values surrounding marriage equality and support of the LGBTQIA+ community.
I am a proud LGBTQIA+ ally, so regardless of Italy’s state views, I am 100% behind you and your love.
Bespoke Elopement Photographer and Professional Third Wheeler, Mariah Arianna
“To celebrate our anniversary and a new chapter in our lives, we chose Mariah to capture some photos of us in our new home Como, Italy. The experience is best described as a special night out, not a photo session, because it was natural, fun, and effortless. We started by getting ready at home, pulling out special pieces from our wedding, sentimental jewelry, and the perfume I wore down the aisle.
After a champagne toast on our terrace, we wandered through the gardens, through Villa Olmo, and across the lakefront to catch a boat ride. We even made an impromptu pizza stop along the way!
Mariah followed our lead, making sure we were having fun, and nothing felt forced. The focus was on celebrating our love story. We laughed a lot and felt free to be ourselves. Mariah is down-to-earth but at the same time very professional, she strikes the perfect balance, which lends to a very comfortable and joyful experience from start to finish. She is thoughtful and intentional, which is evident during the shoot and in her photos.
The gallery of our photos tells the story perfectly. She captured our emotion so authentically but also creatively. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough, for any couple wanting to document a special occasion. Especially for the adventurous, fun-loving couples who want to do things differently, who care more about the experience than the perfect shot (she just happens to get those too!).
We will cherish these photos forever and plan to work with Mariah again in the future. She is simply fantastic!”
– Stephanie & Ethan, post wedding anniversary celebration, Lake como, Italy | june 2022