Today Federica Nascimben lets us in on the secrets of Italian weddings for international couples.
What prompted you to choose wedding planning? Tell us about your experience.
I would say that this job is one of the rare opportunities in my life that did not occur at all by chance. I have always worked hard to give form and substance to the passions I hold. Firstly, my love for foreign languages and cultures has led me to travel, discover, to influence and change me continuously ... But also the pleasure of planning, organizing, studying the detail involved in events and travel, but most importantly the love and pride towards our country and the willingness to exhibit it and let it shine. I can’t think of a more perfect line of work in which I would be lucky enough to live out my dreams this way on a daily basis and realise my aspirations. Precisely for this reason I feel like I have been doing this forever ... I remember fondly and will never forget my first ever contract with an American couple, all the way back in 2005!
What were the first steps you took that led you here and how did you learn the tricks of the trade?
After earning a degree in Foreign Languages and Literature from the University Ca' Foscari of Venice I had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge in the field of event organization with a year long placement year at the prestigious University of Sussex in Brighton, followed by a masters degree at the University of Rome in Entertainment management. Soon after which I left for an internship in the United States at a multinational leader in the events industry, including weddings. But their way of working, especially with the clients I felt was too conventional, too impersonal. They did, however give me the opportunity to learn about the American and Anglo Saxon market in general, which require specific knowledge and do tend to differ from those in Europe. Long story short, I wasn’t prepared to give up my own, very personal, genuine and authentic approach. So I decided to take a risk and founded The Italian Wedding Event.
What are your clients looking for and what expectations do they have when they choose Italy as their wedding destination?
First of all they are searching for someone they can totally rely on. They seek a professional counselor who has a deep knowledge of the territory from which to draw ideas and advice regarding the locations with which to work, the hotels for their guests, vendors and suppliers to use for the event ... but above all they need a interlocutor with whom they feel completely at ease. A good wedding planner who works with foreign clients must also be a patient mediator, should know how to convey the differences between the two cultures, which inevitably exist, seeing them as wealth and not as a limitation. The secret is to be able to cancel the situations that might pose barriers and consequently, satisfy and surprise.
Where are the most popular locations?
Surely among the most requested is the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Tuscany, Venice, Lake Como and Portofino. Personally, I have always tried to incorporate and propose locations which are not as well known by the big international tour operators, but no less fascinating. For example, it is for this reason that in recent years I have organized many weddings in the medieval towns of Umbria, in the enchanted and surreal areas of Lake Orta, of Sardinia and in Sicily.
What kind of decòr is most popular amongst your clients?
We work with different nationalities from all over the world which in turn makes it very difficult to define a certain style that is most requested or popular. It certainly depends a lot on the chosen location and season of the event. The character, personal tastes and culture of the couple is most important. Every wedding we organize are personalized to the couple and studied around them, this takes into account all these aspects and enables them to "marry" well together.
And what about the menu? I guess that good food is one of the main reasons why couples choose Italy, right?
Surely our cuisine, for which we are famous for all over the world, helps a lot and becomes an important factor. It’s funny to note that at a special occasion when we Italians are perhaps more curious and open to experimental and gourmet cuisine, our clients from abroad look instead towards tradition and simplicity. I would say that Italy is successful in attracting a multitude of people, because it is regarded as the "Land of Love" by definition ... everything as an air of romance in their eyes: from the musicality of the language, to the jovial spirit of the hospitality and friendly warmth, not to mention the unique historical and artistic heritage.
Which nationality contacts you most and how do they find you?
Our main window is definitely the web, where past and future customers can discuss amongst each other, exchange views, experiences, photos ... With regard to nationality, standing out as our most frequent clientele would be British, American, Irish, Canadians and Australian clients. However, in recent years we have received a lot of interest from China, Brazil and Russia. It is always so interesting to work with couples from all over the world, to collaborate with them and explore cultures so different to ours, of particular interest and most recently with countries such as Lebanon and within Northern Europe.
Are your clients demanding or picky with a exact ideas from the start, undecided... or do they rely completely on you?
Obviously there is a bit of everything, there are those who rely on us completely because they have absolutely no idea how and where to start! There are also those who have already created their ideal wedding in their minds, and then it is up to us to make it happen and even better! Our customers certainly have very high expectations, because they are accustomed to very high standards: an aspect of my work I've always found to be vital is to be able to consistently continue to grow and improve.
The most beautiful wedding that you've organized so far?
I have often been asked this question and I always feel a great difficulty in answering. How so? The answer is simple; during my career I have organized very luxurious and unforgettable events, such as a wedding on the terrace of a lighthouse in Capri that had never been open to the public. I also remember with particular pleasure an event organized for a couple of Hong Kong, in which every detail was hand made by craftsmen, a celebration of Italian art: painters had participated in the production of wedding favours and place cards, tenors from La Scala opera house of Milan surprised the Guests at the dinner, and the event finished with an extraordinary fireworks display from a barge in the middle of Lake Como. The list of fairytale places and events that we have been able to arrange is endless, but for me what makes a wedding memorable is the smile in the eyes of my clients and our friendship which remains throughout the years.
Tell us briefly about the stages of organizing a wedding. What in your opinion the most sensitive?
It starts with the first contact, mainly via email, in which, following a request for our assistance, we enquire as to the details which we need to formulate the most suitable proposal. We need to know the number of guests, preferred style, budget, etc.. Sometimes they already have a precise location in mind, other times we are asked for a number of proposals in different particular areas. Once we have identified the clients needs we then send a proposal with various ideas and indications of the costs. This allows the customer to be able to calculate a budget for the type of event they are dreaming of. Once you have selected the location and set a date, we start to study all services, such as flowers, decorations, music, photographer, etc.. In my experience the most difficult step is that of the choice of location, since in most cases, our customers do not see the location before the actual wedding.
What are the qualities and skills needed for a wedding planner who want to dedicate themselves to foreign clients who choose Italy to get married?
In addition to a deep knowledge of the area, the locations and venues, all the suppliers, and an innate ability to communicate, a good wedding planner must be patient and understanding, but at the same time must be resolute and enterprising: the bride and groom should not have even had time to realize that a detail of their wedding has not gone exactly as it was planned, because at that precise moment the problem has been solved already!
Is there a lot of competition in Italy between agencies in this sector? If so, how do you differentiate yourself?
I always thought that the competition is a positive aspect of the market, if responsible and honest. Unfortunately, in this business there is a lot of improvisation. A couple of years ago, the maitre of the prestigious Cala di Volpe in Porto Cervo told me that television broadcasts on the organization of weddings had brought major disruption to certain venues, because many people had decided to become wedding planners by just following these few tips. I have nothing against these type of programmes as they can serve to inspire and inform. But becoming a wedding planner involves much more ... to all aspiring wedding planners I would say to be wary of those expensive courses that claim to teach you all the tricks of the trade in a week. Training is essential, but it requires time, dedication and a lot of tireless perseverance.
Does word of mouth work between foreign clients?
Of course, for obvious reasons it is a word of mouth network, but it is without a doubt the main source of our incoming business.
The greatest satisfaction that you’ve received from this career to date?
All of our couples have been able to give me different emotions and satisfactions that I wouldn’t be able to list in order of importance. Of course there are sensational acts such as flying back to see me a year later to tell me that they were expecting their first child in person, or the gift of the wedding dress as recognition for providing them with an unforgettable day are just a few examples of moments that could only a job as special as this can give.
It is said that those who organize weddings love to do it for others, and never for themselves. Is that true?
I must admit to be part of that group but also just from my experience it looks like I will be confirming this theory! Or rather, perhaps, but it will surely be something completely different from a wedding, just to allow me to enjoy the day without having the feeling of being "in service"… I think that will be a sort of flash mob wedding, it could even become a new trend!
Text by Marta Mentasti