Valentina from the Stars Inside is a wedding planner and stylist, she’s also the sweetest person you’ll ever meet and that’s on top of being insanely talented.
I met Valentina at a Styled Shoot organised by Photography Farm at Walcot Hall in Shropshire this September. She was responsible for planning and styling on the day – coming up with a theme, choosing vendors, planning everything to make the magic happen. You can see how the day turned up below.
She kindly agreed to talk to me about planning intimate weddings. In the current situation this might be the perfect solution for many couples who would love to get married soon, but don’t want to be held back by the pandemic.
Valentina’s advice can be universally applied though, in my opinion, regardless of the size of your party. Some things just stay valid in all situations.
Welcome to the blog Valentina, first of all, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you fell into wedding planning
Hello, and thank you so much for having me, Bo! Such a pleasure to chat with you for your blog, and for your readers.
Yes absolutely – so I plan, style, and design intimate weddings and elopements all over the world, and I do so from a cute little townhouse in North London, where I live with my husband James. I’m Italian by family and passport, but I’ve actually lived and travelled all over, so I’ve kind of learned to make a home wherever I am! I have an American accent from living in New York when I was young, and now I just puzzle everyone I meet, as they can never guess that I’m from Rome!
In terms of my professional journey, wedding planning wasn’t really something I expected – I fell in love with it while working with a planner for our own wedding, actually, soon after becoming engaged in 2015. Those two years of wedding planning alongside her were so much fun, and I realised I wanted to be that person for other people – while using both my creative and analytical skills to equal degree.
I like surprising people by telling them I have a degree in Astrophysics, that I was a circus performer for a while, and that I’ve traded stocks for an investment bank too, hehe! The truth is, my path definitely has had a lot of plot twists, but now I’m so grateful and feel very much at home, finally. There is nowhere I would rather be than here, and love my job, and all the people I do it with and for.
What should couples keep in mind while planning their wedding in current times? What would be your 5 top tips?
My top tips for any couples planning right now would be:
1. Keep open and honest communication going with your suppliers, your guests, and, of course, each other.
2. Try to stay positive and flexible, and not make any impulsive decisions while you’re feeling upset or vulnerable.
3. Keep everything in writing, and make sure you’re well versed in any contracts or policies you’re signing.
4. Hire expert help so that you have the support you need and a team you trust.
5. Take however much time you need and accept how you’re feeling – if you need to take a break from planning, do so and be kind to yourself; or if you’re feeling excited to make some progress, go for it, without feeling any guilt or doubt.
The most important thing to say is that you have every right to feel what you’re feeling. If you decide you want to swap a large celebration that is causing you too much stress, with a quiet, intimate elopement – or maybe an adventure somewhere new – then enjoy every moment of having made the decision that was right for you. Try to use this as an opportunity to reprioritise what matters most to you, and create an experience you’re even more excited about. In difficult times like these, joy and hope are even more important and need to be protected, so don’t ever feel bad about investing energy into your wedding.
Could you share some of the benefits of having small, micro weddings, intimate weddings or elopements versus big celebrations?
Yes, absolutely! I’ve been specialising in small, intimate celebrations since before this pandemic – and I would love to reassure couples that they can really be a wonderful decision, if it’s right for them. There is no reasons these small weddings should be any less special, unique, or exciting, and they can actually free brides and grooms to have a day that reflects their values in a more authentic way.
Generally speaking, elopements allow for more spontaneity and more freedom. By stepping away from the traditional wedding framework, couples can design a timeline that is all about what they actually want to do. They can be in full control of how the celebration unfolds – and, not only that, they’re also more likely to actually feel present and mindful during that quality time they spend with people they love.
Smaller weddings are much more agile when it comes to heading abroad to exotic destinations, so if you like the idea of incorporating travel, this might be for you! You will have very few limitations when it comes to locations, and you can easily ask a small group of guests to join you in a special place you’ve chosen. By having a limited guest list, you’ll have a much broader choice of venues – you can look at hiring areas of restaurants, bars, clubs, townhouses, terraces, and so many stunning places outdoors too.
A small wedding also allows you to be more intentional and strategic with your expenses: how much you spend in total will be up to you and what YOU are comfortable with, and you can skew the investment much more towards the experience itself. You will be able to save on the wedding elements that aren’t meaningful for you, and you can decide whether you want to invest that elsewhere in your life or use that saving to make room for things you’re really excited about, or elevate the experience in really impactful ways.
Proportionally, the budget per person will be much higher than it would be in a large wedding, which means you can use that to curate a completely bespoke experience for every single one of the guests attending. Another perk of microweddings is that they are generally, logistically, quite a bit lighter and more streamlined than larger weddings. This means having a more relaxed planning experience, and also that you can be flexible in case of any last-minute changes.
Wedding vendors LOVE supporting couples having elopements or intimate weddings, so that’s another benefit many couples like. For suppliers, it’s a welcome chance to offer a more personalised service, and to exercise more creativity too! With elopements and microweddings, there is generally more potential to build relationships with your suppliers that are very tight-knit, familiar, and fulfilling.
A small wedding makes it easier to prioritise YOUR values and your story: you can customise details, splurge on your favourite things, and share an experience that is so much more than a party. These intimate celebrations can help couples let go of expectations, pressures, and preconceptions, and enjoy every moment of this wonderful day.
Why is working with a wedding planner a good idea and who should consider it?
I would say generally that a wedding planner can be a fantastic partner for any kind of couple, as we adapt ourselves to what our couples need. If they’re really tuned into the admin and logistical side, we can take on more of a stylist or creative director role, while if they’re all over the aesthetics, we can be their problem solver and their maker-happener. And if they need support in both the creative and practical sphere, then we do both of course!
Working with a planner can be a really fun, rewarding, and impactful decision for any couple who is open to that partnership; the best and most successful relationships are based on trust, so that’s definitely a really key element. We’re here to be their expert – someone on their side, dedicated to making the day the best it can be, in every way. Every couples’ needs are different, and that’s why we do our best to be there for them in a very bespoke, personal way.
It might be that they are looking for a planner because they want to use the little time they have in the most effective way; maybe they are working to a tight budget, and need help making the most of it; maybe they want a partner to elevate the look and feel of the day; maybe there are a lot of emotional or logistical challenges that they are looking for help with; maybe they know exactly what their priorities are, but are worried about doing them justice; or maybe they just worry about the stress or anxiety taking over the experience, and want to invest in this planning journey being more mindful and fun.
There are a lot of reasons that couples seek the help of a wedding planner, and as long as they take the time to meet and speak to a few in an open and honest way, they will definitely find one that is right for them. That relationship has the potential to really change the experience completely, and entirely for the better.
If you were looking for the top reasons for working with a planner, I would say:
SAVE TIME & GAIN PEACE OF MIND. Working with a wedding planner means having someone to bounce ideas off whenever you need – someone to give you straight-talking, un-biased, experience-based advice from the heart. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that everything will get done at the most natural pace and that nothing will be forgotten, or slip through the cracks. A planner will look after all the most time-consuming responsibilities, allowing you to be efficient and intentional with the time you spend on wedmin – while also creating the space and time for you to do more of what you love and actually enjoy looking forward to your wedding.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR INVESTMENTS. A planner will help you allocate your budget in a realistic and smart way, prioritising all the things that matter most to you. We use our expertise to ensure you’re getting the best value for the investments you make, while also leveraging our relationships with vendors to secure discounts and perks you may not otherwise get. We give you honest, unbiased advice about where the money will have the most impact, while also educating you about why things cost what they cost – this clarity and understanding will allow you to actually enjoy spending money on your wedding, because you’ll know the value of the things you’re investing in.
DISCOVER FRESH IDEAS & UNLOCK YOUR VISION. A planner can help you curate your day so that every supplier, every detail, and every decision reflects the story YOU want to tell. A stylist will start from your ideas and help you elevate them, modernise them, and bring them to life in a way that is totally unique to you. We help you unlock your style, weave your personality into every part of the wedding, and design a day that you are truly proud of. We love helping couples discover which elements of the wedding framework they actually want, while helping them let go of the parts that don’t reflect them: it’s all about their priorities and their values, and what is right for THEM.
ASSEMBLE & MANAGE A DREAM TEAM OF VENDORS. A planner will guide you in finding a team of talented suppliers that you trust and that align with your vision – so that you have the peace of mind of knowing that every element of your day is in the safest of hands. We can give you hand-picked, vetted recommendations of vendors who align with your budget, your style, and your vision. As you build your relationship with the suppliers you’ve chosen, we’ll help you ask the right questions, brief them, and foresee consequences so that, on the day, everything feels entirely seamless.
ENJOY THE MAGIC OF THE DAY TO ITS FULLEST. On the wedding day, your planner will be on hand to problem solve, smooth over, tidy, keep the schedule ticking, look after guests and suppliers, oversee every transition, protect your interests, surround you with beauty, and make sure you smile ALL DAY. We’re the first ones in, and last ones out, working tirelessly to ensure all your hard work pays off, everything is more beautiful than you even imagined, and that you have the most magical day!
Lastly, where does your inspiration come from when you are planning a wedding?
I would say it definitely comes from the couple themselves! I love listening to all their favourite things, getting to know them, asking them about their happy places, their fondest memories, and the passions they share as a couple. Sometimes it’s an unforgettable holiday, or a moment in their history, or maybe it’s just a feeling that they want to share with their guests. Inspiration can come from all of that, and over time we refine it so that the day is a breathtaking and completely irreplaceable celebration of their love.
Thank you Valentina for your time and your expertise!
If you’d like to see more of what Valentina does, please visit her website: https://thestarsinside.com/
you can also follow her on Instragram https://www.instagram.com/thestarsinside/
or listen to her podcast: https://thestarsinside.com/podcast
If you’re interested in more wedding advice, check my article about Wedding Confetti