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Love in "Portofino"

The famous Italian singer Andrea Bocelli sings a beautiful song about finding his love in Portofino, but honestly my wife and I found our love in Positano. Why then is the title of this blog "Love in Portofino," you ask? Let me tell you.

While my soulmate was found in the ever romantic town of Positano, Italy on the Amalfi Coast, we declared our love for one another in marriage in the seaside village of Orlando, Florida! Yes, you read that correctly. My lovely bride and I were on a short getaway about a year and four months ago, and we chose to stay at Universal Orlando's Portofino Bay Hotel. It was during that stay where we were given the inspiration for having our wedding at that very location. We were sitting by villa pool one day listening to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra sing some old Italian favorites and it hit us. Why would we not get married right here? It had everything we were looking for. It was themed after the beautiful seaside village of Portofino. It was closer to home than Italy, naturally. And it had the weather needed for an outside wedding. So we perused the property and saw the villa lawn, and it was done. We made the decision right then and there. It was the perfect place for an Italian-themed wedding outside of Italy itself.

Fast forward and here I sit now writing about how amazing that wedding turned out to actually be. It exceeded the dreams we had about it all for that year and four months. I hope more love birds will consider the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando for their destination wedding.

Let's start with the hotel itself. Our guests raved over the size of the rooms, the cleanliness, and the overall beauty of the property and manicured grounds. All guests said that it truly made them feel like they had been transported to Italy for our wedding. The staff made sure everyone had a wonderful and relaxed time, including my bride and me. They handled all the small details of getting things delivered to our guests' rooms and went above and beyond to help accommodate our group with last minute dining decisions. The proximity to the Universal theme parks allowed our guests to visit the parks at their leisure without any advance planning (unlike their competitor down the street) and allowed guests to enjoy a vacation as well as our wedding. Everyone loved the ease of taking the complimentary water taxi to City Walk when they felt like doing some shopping or eating. Throw in the multiple resort pools, spa, and onsite bars, and it was a one-stop vacation/wedding shop, so to speak for everyone in attendance. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. The resort was a gigantic success for us and our guests.

Our choice for our welcome dinner/pre-wedding celebration was Mama Della's Ristorante right at the Portofino Bay Hotel. This is one of the reasons why we felt the Portofino was the obvious choice. It had everything right there on property for the wedding and our guests. No transportation or organizing needed to some off-site venue. They could hang at the pool all day then head to their room to get ready and simply walk to the night's festivities. Needless to say, Mama Della's also did not disappoint. We arrived a little early to make sure things were set up for our 50+ guests, and they were already prepped and ready. The food was delish! And trust me, we had a tough crowd of about 50 Italians, and they all said the food was a hit! From the antipasto to the homemade lasagna to the scrumptious tiramisu. Everything was fantastic. The servers were great and accommodating, and the musicians who come to the table to sing Italian faves were a home run with our guests. It was such a fun night, and most said, "I have no idea how you will top this."

Not to take away from Mama Della's, but when we got to the reception...everything to that point had been topped. We chose BICE Ristorante and again, it was right there on the hotel's property. We decided to do a full restaurant buy-out, and we are so glad we did. The chef, the pastry chef, and the staff were all there just for our special day and made it so incredibly awesome. The food was absolutely amazing. Their handmade pasta is to die for, as is their chilean sea bass and veal chop and aged black angus NY strip and...get the picture? The bar and wait staff were attentive and ready to get you anything you needed. Food service was seamless as well. And BICE went the extra step to recreate the "Positano Cocktail" that my wife and I enjoyed on our first date in Italy. Grazie BICE, Grazie!

Everyone came up to tell us that this may have been the best food and service at a wedding they have ever had. Needless to sa,y that made us feel great about food and venue selections.

The space inside of BICE is perfect for weddings. You have ample space for seating all of your guests as well as a nice area for dancing. And the ambiance...five-star luxury all the way, especially considering our Italy theme.

To summarize our destination wedding experience with Universal Orlando and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel: it was the perfect choice for us, as we know it will be for other brides and grooms. Everything is right there onsite, making it simple for guests as well as the husband and wife to-be. The three pools, eight-plus choices for food and drink, the service and most importantly the beauty of the property make it a winner the whole way around.

Epilogue: We have to make mention of the incredible team of professionals that were hired in order to make this destination dream wedding a reality. Thanks to Chris Gillyard and his amazing photography skills. He did an amazing job capturing the moments that made this day so special. Also a huge shout out to White Rose Entertainment. They kept the music going and had everyone up and dancing and having a fantastic time. Our two DJ's were awesome. And the wedding theme was captured beautifully by our wonderful florist, Kevin, from Cheryl's Distinctive Creations. They were such a pleasure to work with. And we would not be married officially if it were not for our awesome officiant, Lon Tossi. He is the man! And the whole wedding day was pulled together nicely and went exactly according to schedule thanks to Leanna at Just Marry. Thank you so much Leanna!

All of these vendors made the planning process so easy and fun and we highly and I mean HIGHLY recommend them to anyone getting married in the Orlando FL area.

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