Planning a wedding can be so many things – exciting, wonderful, inspiring, fun – but also overwhelming and even anxiety-provoking when there are just sooo many balls in the air at one time. Throw in work, life, and all the other bits and pieces we deal with daily, and the ideal solution is to get expert help. As a destination wedding photographer, one such expert that I look up to and admire greatly is the wonderful and talented Valentina of The Stars Inside. The lovely Valentina so kindly agreed to provide some important tips about planning your wedding or elopement.
Hello lovely Lynn – thank you so much for having me! Such a joy to be featured on your blog. So my name is Valentina, and I’m a wedding and elopement planner based in the UK. I work with couples all over the world, and honestly I absolutely ADORE partnering with them to bring to life their celebrations. My business was born three and a half years ago, after falling in love with the wedding industry from the client side; we worked with a planner for our own wedding in Tuscany in 2017, and I discovered a passion and calling that I never knew was there. Now, there is literally NOTHING I would rather be doing! My specialty is creating magical, heartfelt, intimate wedding atmospheres – days that feel joyful and effortless. I want couples to know that their unique love story was woven into the day with care, with love, and with meaning – and that they can take pride in doing things THEIR way.
As soon as they are ready! The sooner we start working together, the better I can get to know them and the more intentional and cohesive their decision making can be. I work very closely with my clients every step of the way, and typically we begin the journey together at the very start. Having said that, I do encourage couples not to rush to start planning immediately after being engaged – this is the beginning of such an exciting new chapter, and there is plenty of time for them to enjoy it and breathe it in. Don’t feel pressured by magazines and social media, and do things your way, at your pace.
The process of bringing their vision to life is all about taking small steps – I want them to know that everything will get done in its natural order, and no detail will fall through the cracks as I will be there to help them keep on top of it all. I start with a Discovery Questionnaire that allows me to get to know them better, what they love doing as a couple, their priorities for their wedding, and lots of little tidbits about them. I set up a profile for them on a project management tool that I give them access to, with checklists, budget breakdowns, RSVP management, and lots more. Then we begin assembling their dream team of venues and vendors, which involves very thorough and bespoke research. For each vendor, I recommend trusted, vetted professionals that align with the style, budget, and preferences of the couple. Alongside this, I also work on a tailored design lookbook that embodies how each part of the wedding will look and feel. We work through everything together, from both a logistical and creative point of view: I’m there to guide and empower their decisions, provide expert advice, and generally be there in any way they need me. For the wedding itself, I’m there from the day before to the day after, first one in and last one out, making sure everything comes together seamlessly and beautifully, timeline is followed, and all vendors and guests are looked after.
I specialise in smaller celebrations, and the number one advice I find myself saying to my couples is: make it yours. Having a more intimate guest list gives you more freedom with the budget, order of the day, location – pretty much with everything, actually! So make the most of it by staying true to what actually excites you and matters to you. Go exploring to find your perfect venue, change outfit three times, include naps in your schedule, make personal gifts for every guest… whatever luxury means to you, treat yourself to it.
Having a joyful and midful wedding planning journey when organising a celebration abroad is all about patience, open-mindedness, and record-keeping. The process is always a little bit slower and a touch more complex – but I wholeheartedly believe that it’s 100% worth it! Embrace the colours, seasonality, and culture of the place you’ve chosen – go with the flow – and remember that not everywhere has the same conventions. Protect yourself by getting everything in writing, getting wedding insurance, and working with a wedding planner that knows the area (or is confident planning internationally) so he/she can help you ensure your team of vendors is professional and come highly recommended.
I think this year (due to COVID) without weddings will have some long-lasting effects on how people think of their celebration, for sure. On the one hand, I’m seeing a lot of couples downscale their plans so they can focus the day more around quality of time spent with their loved ones. On the other side of the spectrum, I’m also seeing couples using the return to freedom as a chance to have an even larger and more joyous day. Either way, the trend is for showing personality through decor, outfits, and locations- and making sure the couple’s values take centre stage.
Absolutely! Wedding styling is about storytelling – it could be a colour story, a theme story, or a personal story. I encourage my couples to think about their favourite memories, places, scents, movies, literary worlds… and use those as seed for inspiration. Pinterest is a VERY valuable tool for seeing how your ideas might look in real life, but it’s important to remember that it’s a curated collection of images – NOT a rule on how weddings (or brides, or grooms) are “supposed” to look. Think about how you would decorate your home if budget was no object: what colours and items would you surround yourself with? What makes you happy? Styling is all about making a space and a day FEEL like you. If you were a room, what would you look like?
Honestly, my favourite moment is around 10pm on a wedding day – the bride and groom dancing, laughing, carefree and full of joy. Seeing them surrounded with love while their friends and family celebrate them – there is nothing better than being a part of the creation of those happy memories. My feet aching, my hair messy, and my heart full, telling me there is nowhere else I would rather be in the whole world.
Thank you so much to the lovely Val for her incredible input into planning a wedding or elopement. You can get in contact with Val via her website The Stars Inside. And if you are planning your own destination wedding or London elopement and are looking for a Europe wedding photographer, please be sure to get in touch as soon as possible right here.