Having a Wedding Planner is Like Hiring a Friend for a Year…

Every time I go back to Rome to visit my family I always love to enjoy breakfast in a bar in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, ordering my usual cappuccino and cornetto (croissant)… Today I enjoyed it even more being in company of  Francesca Stunell. A Londoner with italian roots, in 2009 she was inspired to move to Rome with the goal of improving her italian…Her Italian now is excellent and she is a “perfectionist” wedding planner of Italian Wedding Events.

I was curious to know how she felt about being part of a wedding, an honorary “relative” considering the close relationship with the couple during the wedding plan …

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What do you love about your job?

The moment after the first dance and everyone is enjoying themselves and the event has gone without a hitch. I know my colleagues would agree. It makes us glow! I love the creative aspect too, taking a couple’s ideas and making them a reality. I love the rapport of trust and friendship between us and the client and exchanging fresh and innovative ideas with my colleagues.

Which is the most popular location in Italy?

I would definitely say it is a tie between Lake Como, Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast. Of course there are others  but it is easy to see how a couple can find what they are looking for between these 3 key areas as they have so many incredible venues in each place. Lake Como is certainly a very luxurious place with its lake side villas. Tuscany offers many rustic & country-style options that have seen a huge boom in recent years. Many people don’t realize that the Amalfi coast is made up of several towns, all offering something very different in style. What they have in common is their sea views and neopolitan fun and sunny atmosphere! The vicinity to water, whether the sea, a lake or river, is often important to couples. Not only have they and their nearest and dearest travelled over waters to get to their location, but you are guaranteed for idyllic settings and wonderful photo opportunities (bridal arrival by boat anyone?!) There are many gorgeous relatively unknown water-side locations in Italy that we love to share with our clients looking for their individual perfect spot, such as the lakes just outside of Rome or the beaches of Apulia. The grand canal of Venice…I could go on for hours! We are so spoilt over here for choice.

A wedding which was close to your heart?

This is a difficult one! There are many, however I would have to say one that I think upon very fondly would be for a young American couple in a castle in the Tuscan hills. It goes without saying that when you are planning something as sentimental as a wedding and speaking almost daily for a year or more, you tend to become friends with your client, but in this case I truly felt as if I was planning a close friend’s wedding. We had spent a lot of time finding the right venue (exploring both the north and the south of Italy together). By the moment it had all been put together and she squeezed my hand before walking down the aisle, looking at what we had created before walking in, she thanked me with tears (happy ones!) in her eyes…It was very moving. It’s a moment I cherish and we are still in touch today.

What do people love about you?

Through reviews and thank you cards (which planners keep forever by the way) all of them mention my attention to detail. I am a perfectionist, which in daily life is a task but in my profession it is great! I do tend to go above and beyond the call of duty, purely because I put myself in the bride’s shoes, it makes me work even harder. Planners do many weddings per year, it is important that their couples feel like they are a priority and are able to trust what is being planned overseas. Someone once compared me to a hired best friend for a year – very easy to get on with and always honest!

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Your ideal wedding…

The atmosphere, the people and their love for you make any wedding, first and foremost!

We plan some very extravagant weddings and also some more simple, delicate ones. Whatever the choice, I like to create an event that is personal to the couple that reflects their personalities and tastes, what’s important to me is that I can weave these details into the chosen venue’s style, so that they compliment each other and don’t clash.

After years of planning weddings I now find myself planning my own which is quite strange for me, but exciting too! To pin point some ideals – I love an evening reception with a late afternoon ceremony, photos during “golden hour” while the sun sets. Good wine and maybe a signature cocktail, live entertainment, local delicacies from your chosen region, peonies and candlelight. One of the Italian traditions that I will always try and implement in weddings is the “confettata” and no, this is nothing to do with paper confetti! Confetti in Italian are sugared almonds of different flavours that taste nothing like anything you’ve ever had before. It is essentially a beautifully prepared candy table with the world’s best candy.  Is it obvious that I’m addicted?

What would you never want to see at your wedding?

Fake wedding cakes, fake flowers/petals…anything fake!

What was your most challenging wedding?

Now that would be telling.. Our job certainly has its challenges. It can be from separating Uncle Sam and Aunt Sally to avoid a scene, to the bride forgetting her bouquet and having approximately 30 seconds to create something beautiful in a nearby garden! Every planner has a story or 50…a few not to be shared! A memorable one was a storm in Lake Como, probably the strongest rain and wind I have ever seen. All I cared about was getting the bride to the altar looking as immaculate as possible and her to enjoy the day despite the unfortunate weather. After covering her in plastic to protect her hair, carefully folding her train and holding the umbrella over her while we ran through the rain and against the wind, she arrived on time and looking perfect. I looked as if I had actually jumped into Lake Como!

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