Today’s planner interview is with Sally of WeddingBox Italy based in Laveno-Mombello, Italy. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
I’m Sally, a mother of two great kids with possibly the most supportive husband on the planet. We moved from Kent in England in 2007 to Italy where I set up my wedding planning business on the banks of Lake Como.
We love our new life out here in Italy. We have fun in the sun through the summer and ski in the winter. The language was a real hurdle for us but we got there in the end! We love the culture, the stunning scenery, the warm people… the ice cream!
Read the full interview after the cut!
My business, WeddingBox Italy, offers destination weddings to English speaking couples from all over the world. We have dedicated teams of British wedding planners across Italy creating picture perfect weddings on beaches, in beautiful historic villas and castles, on the edge of lakes and right in the heart of Venice. There are so many incredible backdrops in Italy to choose from!
How did you get into wedding planning?
I decided to set up my own business but wasn’t sure what to do at first. I wrote a list to help me decide including my past experience, hobbies, interests and skills. I knew I could call on my previous knowledge of successful event planning, and that I wanted to work both in an office and out in the sunshine. I am very organised, a compulsive list writer and I live in a spectacular picturesque location. Everything just seemed to point towards weddings! I imagined it to be a really fun job working with happy celebrating couples at beautiful venues and it really has turned out to be like that. It’s the best decision I could have made and I haven’t looked back.
It hasn’t always been easy but the rewards are huge. I have met and still remain in contact with a huge number of (now) friends from all around the world. At times they pop back over to Italy to celebrate their anniversaries here and we catch up. Some have made plans to move over to Italy permanently and join the WeddingBox team as the business expanded which has been amazing!
When I started the company, I didn’t expect it to grow and become my whole life. I have a huge list of goals and plans for the business I still want to achieve. I eat, sleep and breathe weddings and I absolutely love it.
Photo Credit: Cristiano Ostinelli
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I’m tempted to tell you about the free cake all summer! But seriously, it has to be the satisfaction of seeing the day come together. You build up a huge bond working with a couple for so long. We’re like friends who have never met after a year or more of planning and working through all the details. It’s great to finally meet the couples and see all the hard work pay off.
I also have a similar experience with the new branches. We train together for so long until they finally go off and make a success of their own branches. Now we’re a little WeddingBox family sharing ideas, skills and successes. It’s wonderful.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding planners just getting started?
It sounds obvious, but be completely honest. When I tour with couples, I joke with them sometimes that I could never be a salesman as I tell them the truth about every venue. If there is a noisy quarry nearby, I tell them. I tell them if there isn’t a good rain option. I tell them if the toilets aren’t the greatest. Of course, I tell them all the wonderful things too and talk them through all the options available to them. I describe how it would look all set up, but there is a good reason why I point out the good as well as the bad. It builds trust.
It can be tempting to side-step the negative points at some venues, but I treat every couple as I would like to be treated myself. This way I find they are even more likely to book with me. My couples are grateful to me for being so honest and they are able to make their decision with all the facts in hand. It also prevents disappointment much later on if they found these things out for themselves and they hadn’t been forewarned.
Photo Credit: Morlotti Studio
What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?
We spend lots of time as a family on the lake. I don’t usually have time to go away in the summer months, but with the lake on our doorstep and the great weather here, there’s always lots to do. We enjoy relaxing days with nice food, take in the stunning views and sunshine at different villages and locations. We’re always on the lookout for a beautiful undiscovered restaurant or venue. Sometimes we hire a speedboat or kayaks to explore and have fun with the kids.
Once the wedding season is over at the end of the summer, I usually fly home to see my family in the UK for a while for a mixture of catching up, relaxing and shopping. I ski, I read, I love to dance (with a little limoncello). I feel very lucky to have such a great lifestyle.
Any great stories from working with a client?
We’ve had so many unexpected, brilliant, funny wedding memories — it’s hard to choose one! The wedding where the Scottish firemen danced shirtless at the end of the night in their kilts will always be one of my personal favourites.
I am usually ‘in’ on all the wedding plans, including any surprises, but at one wedding late in the evening, the groomsmen all mysteriously disappeared. A short while after we saw them running around the venue gardens in glow up stick men costumes. It was hilarious!
We’ve had photographers up trees, over-emotional ushers in tears, doves pooping on the groom… just when I think I’ve seen it all, something else comes along! It seems the unexpected, often unplanned moments can have the biggest impact, making everyone laugh the most and creating the best wedding stories.
Photo Credit: Cristiano Ostinelli
What is your current favorite color combination?
I am an old romantic so I love the traditional tones with pastel shades and hundreds of candles everywhere to set the mood. I love the combination of traditional with modern. It’s hard to pick a specific theme or colour out. Many weddings sparkle in the glamour of glass, bright colours and modern twists, while others are heart warmingly quaint with a shabby-chic and rustic charm.
Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?
Yes! If it was up to me I would absolutely ban the traditional line-up photos and replace them with happy, celebratory, animated shots… Things like guests waving from a boat, running through the streets, hanging out of windows, girls in sunglasses with ice creams, boys with trousers rolled up with their feet in the water. There are a million simple things you can do to make your photos more creative and fun!
Thanks Sally! For more information about WeddingBox Italy please visit her WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to her website.
Do you have any questions or comments for Sally? Add them to the comments below!