How to Plan a Lake Como Elopement (Full Ultimate Guide, 2023)

How to Plan a Lake Como Elopement (Full Ultimate Guide, 2023)

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A young couple cuddles on the back of a boat during their sunset elopement on Lake Como, Italy

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.

Table of Contents

Skip to what you’re looking for:

  1. Why Elope at Lake Como?
  2. How to Budget for a Lake Como Elopement
  3. How to Get to Como, Italy
  4. Where to Go for Elopement Photos
  5. How to Book a Wedding at Villa del Balbianello
  6. Best Places to Eat in Como
  7. Where to Stay in Como
  8. Other Activities to do Near Como
  9. Best Lake Como Florist
  10. How to Plan a Legal Marriage Ceremony
  11. Is Same Sex Marriage Legal in Italy?
  12. Hiring a Lake Como Elopement Photographer

Why You Should Elope at Lake Como

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.

Average Budget for a Lake Como Elopement

€10,000.

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:

  1. Entertaining Guests. As soon as you include guests in your Lake Como Elopement budget, things will increase in cost (and stress) quickly.
  2. Hotels. You can book a 4 star luxury spa resort at €700+ a night, or more modest accommodation at around €150.
  3. Photo or Ceremony Location Permits. You can explore the city and neighboring villages for free, or book an event at Villa del Balbianello for as little as €2,100 or as high as €31,000+.

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:

  • 2 round trip economy flights, nonstop from NYC to Milan: €2,000
  • 10 hours of photography coverage: €4,900
  • 5 days of 3 star hotel stays near Como city center: €750
  • Florals (bouquet, flower crown): €150
  • 2 hour sunset boat tour on lake: €200
  • 7 days of food, and one splurge for elopement dinner: €850
  • Hair and makeup artist: €200

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!

How to Get to Como, Italy

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.

Where to Go for Elopement Photos Near Lake Como

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.

How to Book a Wedding at Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como, Italy 2023

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:

  • Number of guests: parties between 10 and 50 come with large savings. Non-private events during the week where the villa remains open to the public are cheaper.
  • Day of the week: Saturday events fetch a premium. Mondays and Wednesdays are more expensive, as they are reserved for private events.
  • Ceremony only: max 2 hours
  • Ceremony plus cocktail hour: max 3 hours
  • Ceremony, dinner and cocktail hour: max 6 hours
Villa del Balbianello 2023 rental prices lake como weddings and elopements
VILLA DEL BALBIANELLO 2023 VENUE RENTAL PRICE SHEET

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!

Restaurants: Best Places to Eat near Lake Como, Italy

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!

pizza date and elopement ideas in lago di como italy

Hotels: Where to Stay near Lake Como, Italy

For the scene: Hilton, for the rooftop pool and bar terrace, Terraza 241. There is live music or a dj every weekend, and a wellness spa

For a five star experience: Vista Lago di Como, Michelin star restaurant Sottovoce

For Meeting People / Hip hostel: Ostello Bello, activities every day, live music on weekends, excellent bar, super fun

Where to Rent a Boat tour on Lake Como, Italy

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.

Best Wineries near Como Italy

Tosca – organic vineyard serving “slow” food and wine near Bergamo (45 min from Como)

Other Activities to do During your Lake Como Elopement

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).

Lido swim clubs: Giuletta, Nato como, Lido di Olmo

Villa Olmo: rotating exhibits and a great place to view the lake from

Teatro Sociale di Como: Italian opera, music, theatre & art culture

Best Lake Como Florist

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.

big boho bouquet by Figli dei Fiori florist in lake como
Bouquet by Figli dei Fiori, Lake Como

Great Hikes around Lake Como, Italy

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.

Is Same Sex Marriage Legal in Italy?

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.

From Stonewall.org:

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.

Hiring a Lake Como Elopement Photographer

Bespoke Elopement Photographer and Professional Third Wheeler, Mariah Arianna

REVIEW: KIND WORDS FROM SOME VERY COOL PEOPLE

“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

CONTACT MARIAH (hi, it’s me!) FOR INFO ON COMO ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY

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