Not All That Glitters Is Gold – Insights from the Venice Wedding Planner Alessia Santa.

Why Venice? Venice is not the only city where I work, but it is where I founded White Emotion. Fifteen years on, I am lucky enough to look back at my career with pride – so many successes have been achieved in what has always been my dream job, and one to which so many aspire!

And yet, is the reputation of being not just a wedding planner, but the Venice wedding planner all sweet and candy? What does it take for a wedding planner to be successful?

All of us have at least heard of this role. Many have watched movies or TV series about it. However, fictions only tend to depict the bright side of my job, making it sound as one of the most fascinating and romantic on Earth. Well, not all that glitters is gold.

I have no intention to downgrade my own job – in fact, I hope I might even dignify it. I love my job, but just like any activity that is not carried out as a simple hobby during our free time, planning events requires commitment and sacrifice. Even when love and dedication are the main drivers, even when field magazines point you out as the Venice wedding planner, there will still be days (or longer periods) when the thought “I must have been mad to get into this!” will rise spontaneously.

Let’s consider what it takes to become the Venice wedding planner, that is, to stand out from the crowd of competitors and, most importantly, provide a truly valuable contribution to one of the most special moments in many people’s lives.

When I say I am a wedding planner, 99 out of 100 people exclaim: “OMG, that’s amazing, it’s such a romantic job!”. You see, this job is really not that romantic. Romantic is what we offer to our clients; romantic is the atmosphere that we will ensure is in the air on their wedding day; romantic is the moment when vows and wedding rings are exchanged, and the cutting of the cake… This, however, is not our job; based on my experience, all this is simply part of it, a part that is limited to the few hours a wedding generally lasts for. All the months of work that lead to that day are miles away from romantic.

Contrarily to what some may simplistically think, White Emotion’s reputation as the Venice wedding planner was not built on improvisation. Planning an event involves months of office work to schedule days, meetings with providers, meetings with the couple to define their budget, meetings for the venue, set-up, menu and timeline… Gradually, as the event approaches, all details become clear, until everything is defined and… Last-minute changes present! Everyone needs to be ready on the wedding day and each party must be aware of what will happen and of what their role is, but I cannot deny that last those few hours do require some improvisation to solve last-minute inconveniences and variations, which will inevitably present.

What makes a wedding planner’s job more fascinating under certain aspects – and more complex under others! – is that it requires being masters of all trades; the ability to turn into whoever is needed at that moment. Of course, I rely on professionals such as florists, set-up specialists, caterers, etc. located in Italy and abroad; however, each of them ultimately refers to “the Venice wedding planner” for clarifications, doubts and confirmations. And trust me, as the wedding gets nearer, the telephone starts to ring every minute – a frequency that doubles if the weather forecast is bad!

Wedding planners need to be creative talents, graphic designers, accountants; working with foreign couples involves being translators and polyglots as well as travel agents, music experts, enologists… They are the main reference and parachute for many people during those hours.

This job requires time, a lot of time, time that is often impossible to quantify, especially during the wedding season (May to September, with a short break, usually in August). During this period, in addition to carrying on with office work to arrange all the final details, all weekends are booked with weddings. On top of that, couples planning to get married the following year have heard that the Venice wedding planner might be fully booked if they wait any longer and will start sending availability requests, quotes and ideas for their reception. And they certainly cannot be left waiting.

The present is just a short summary of what being a wedding planner means. Besides, I am sure that the feeling of not being understood or represented in a way that is faithful to reality is common to many professionals across all sectors. Still, today I wanted to share these thoughts as I believe that, with so many things on our plate, we wedding planners often tend to neglect this aspect and newbies tend to underestimate the challenges they will face.

My call to aspiring wedding planners therefore is: never stop on the surface of things. Be curious, delve in deep, ask yourselves how much of your “free time” you are willing to sacrifice and how capable you are to cope with stress, because people and the working world often get more intricate – and interesting – only when you get to know them better. The surface of things is tricky and even the most romantic and frivolous job hides sacrifice and hard work.