Hello lovelies, I hope you are having a good start of the week. Today, I am glad to have Elisabetta over, to answer some questions about her job and the British wedding market. Elisabetta and I met by chance on Twitter a couple of months ago, and since we share a certain approach, and we both have a double career (still doing some marketing on the side of wedding planning), we immediately got along. Plus she lives in the city where I feel most at home in, so it’s always a pleasure discussing things with her.
Elisabetta went into business in 2012, and although she already had some wedding planning experience, she devoted her first year of activity to collaborating with well established colleagues, in order to gain as much experience as possible on the field. This is also the reason why I asked her to premiere this new series on the blog, where I will interview colleagues and vendors asking them to provide you their unique view on the industry. Elisabetta naturally did this by talking about the British wedding industry.
1. How long have you been working in the wedding industry in the UK?
In 2009 I attended the Business Practicalities course at UKAWP because I wanted to make sure that my long running passion for weddings and planning was real and could turn into a job. However, I decided to park the idea for a while, as my daily job as Account Manager in a marketing and media agency was very demanding and left me little time to think about anything else, let alone starting my own business. That is why I waited until the beginning of 2011 before creating Linen and Silk Weddings.
2. Which do you reckon are the main differences between weddings in Italy and in the UK?
I think couples do make choices reflecting their culture and nationality, so vendors in the UK possibly have a slightly different approach to weddings. For example, in the UK the average wedding breakfast is a three course meal, while something similar in Italy would probably raise eyebrows. Budgets for English couples are probably similar, or just a bit lower than those of Italian couples, but the way the budget is spent is where the real difference is. Italian couples give a lot of importance to elegance and giving a satisfying experience to their guests; while British couples are more interested in the details, in unique and bespoke decor ideas. I also think the Italian approach to weddings is still very much about tradition, while British couples love to experiment with different ideas, quirky solutions. And British vendors leverage that, as they can use such weddings as an opportunity for good PR.
3. In your experience, what are British couples looking for in an Italian wedding?
For foreign couples, Italian weddings are the epitome of elegance, good taste, and quality food. Couples, particularly mature ones, don’t come to Italy because they look for the remote destination wedding, but for a unique and memorable location to share with a few friends and relatives. Talking to brides and grooms, it’s clear that what they really appreciate is our cuisine, our wines and the Mediterranean landscape, particularly old manors and vineyards.
4. Which trend do you think is the strongest in UK, right now, DIY or vintage?
This is an endless topic, but I think that the combination of vintage and DIY is what goes the most at the moment. They say that the ‘vintage-DIY’ trend started out in the US at the beginning of the credit crunch, with couples having to reduce their budgets due to financial difficulties and look for bargains at thrift markets to decorate their wedding (i.e. an old typewriter or mismatched china). As wedding blogs began to showcase low cost weddings with lots of DIY details, vintage do-it-yourself has become the KEY wedding trend for 2011/12… However, there’s a lot of talking about the trend being on its way out, so watch this space!
5. Are British couples willing to buy second hand gowns and props for their weddings?
I’m not sure about that. Generally speaking, brides with average budgets would still buy a brand new gown, or look for sample sales to save a little. The Oxfam Weddings project has been quite successful so there certainly is a market for second hand.
However, there are now so many online alternatives (just think of Etsy), that even brides with smaller budgets can buy new at low cost. But the real issue for me is the amount of eBay sellers providing made-in-Asia gowns at ridiculously low prices. This is bad competition for wedding boutiques because it pollutes the market with poor quality products made of terrible fabrics. Brides often find themselves with terrible gowns or no gown at all (so often they don’t turn up!) for the sake of saving money, to then having to rush around at the last minute hoping that a boutique can miraculously solve their issues just before the wedding.
6. Do you think there is a negative perception of Italian wedding planners abroad? What’s the British situation like?
To be perfectly honest I have never heard anything bad said about Italian wedding planners. If anything, I have heard people complaining about the fact that their planner or suppliers had a very limited English, which can be a real problem if difficulties arise, as the planner/vendor doesn’t know how to properly explain the situation leaving the couple in a limbo. And this is a real shame, because it gives the perception that working with Italian planners is always a bit of a gamble.
Also, in the UK, and I’m sure the situation is similar in Italy too, there are lots of recent brides who improvise themselves as new wedding planners just because they enjoyed planning their own wedding. Every year the market will have new ‘pop-up’ wedding planners who might build a site with stock images but have no skills or adequate cover to fulfill their job efficiently. These planners apply very low fees, thus undermining the general perceived value of the wedding planning service, and often disappear after a few months or so… I personally don’t have a real issue with them, as I feel established and experienced planners shouldn’t feel threatened, but I would recommend anyone who thinks that setting up as a planner is THAT simple to think about it carefully, because this job requires a lot of time, resources and dedication.
In the UK we are very lucky to have an association like the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners which set up to promote professionalism and good practice in the industry – all its members have to abide to a specific code of conduct that covers various aspects, from replying to all enquiries within 48 hours, to respecting clients’ confidentiality, to informing the couple if recommending a supplier she has any vested interest in etc.
That’s all. What do you think? Did you find this first interview interesting? If you feel like getting in touch with Elisabetta you can do so via Twitter, @Linen_and_Silk.