think outside the villa: a restaurant reception (with no venue fees!)
just Paying for what you eat and drink and no venue fees?!
That almost makes too much sense.
One of the best things I found out about weddings in the Lake Como area is that many restaurants and Hotel restaurants don't gouge you with a venue fee. You pay for what you consume! In the states when I was researching, I often felt like you attach the word 'wedding' to an event and all of the sudden you're out $10k to book it and not even a chair has been included. Villa Cipressi's restaurant La Contrada didn't have an enormous venue fee either, just a deposit, and I'm sure there are many other locations that operate similarly.
I know I'm a broken record, but if you can find a place for your reception that is a well-oiled (dinner) machine, the better off you are. Caterers and bringing in individual vendors can work with outstanding coordination, but you can't beat the convenience of having your wedding dinner at a place that already has every napkin, tablecloth, chair, and fork. And, given that they serve dinner to high volumes of people daily, you can trust that they will do a good job.
Another great perk? A rain back up plan! Spring and summer showers are not uncommon and having a rain option gave me incredible peace of mind.
Ristorante Sottovento is located south of Varenna in a town called Lierna. While they do not do ceremonies, they can be booked out privately and even allow a DJ/dancing under certain circumstances, which is unusual for a restaurant. Guests can be shuttled from ceremony sites in Varenna (i.e. Chiesa di San Giorgio or Villa Cipressi) and back to their lodging. It is recommended that accommodations be on this side of the lake so after hours guests can get back by car or bus and do not have to be at the mercy of ferry schedules.
The latest pricing I saw was 95 EUR on weekdays and 110 EUR on weekends as the full menu per head pricing. This does not include wine or dessert.
To get exclusivity of the terrace, up need to pay for 60-80 adults (depending on the day). 500 EUR gets you a late license for dancing until 1am. Keep in mind, you'll need to pay additional fees for a music license and a DJ.