Realistic decor expectations when getting married in Southern Europe

Apr 16, 2024


In a nutshell: a travel addicted, 40 something international wedding planner and business strategist. A mamma, a wife, a lover of God, an expat, always seeking the deeper things in life.

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Hi, I'm Elisabetta

I always say that 70% of what we do as wedding planners is managing expectations. And sometimes managing expectations starts from the very first call we have to each other before you’ve even booked us. From explaining why we think the budget might not stretch, to clarifying the weather myth that in Italy you get guaranteed sunshine in summer… There are so many news we’re constantly having to break to you – news that some couples appreciate receiving, while others feel we’re probably just looking out for our own interest [like, telling you that you need to set aside €5-15k+ for a marquee for a marquee if you get married in May in Tuscany, as if that news is more for our own bottom line than to give you a solid plan B… go figure…].

Honestly, managing expectations isn’t fun for wedding planners. When I have to break bad news to my clients I usually say “Here’s some considerations you might want to bear in mind…” because somehow this sounds so much better than saying “Just to manage your expectations…”! 😅

One wedding expectation we hate shuttering

This post is about one very specific wedding expectation that we don’t like bringing to your attention, but we almost always have to:

If you want to get married in Southern Europe, please accept that the standard of decor and rentals is not the same as in the US, Canada, Australia, or the UK.

There. I said it.

Wedding table in a period venue in South Italy, with terracotta details

Those stunning creative weddings, with funky fabrics, matchy matchy patterns carried through from the aperitif to the bar— those things, as exquisite as they are, are completely bespoke. And that level of bespoke means throwing money at it, quite literally. Behind them there are full service wedding planners who probably has a background in interior design and architecture, or has on her team a designer who can bring it all to life. This isn’t to say that a wedding planner who doesn’t have that background can’t do it. In fact, many of us have the vision and then we work with a CAD specialist or a sketcher to put that vision onto paper so we can brief the creative teams and production companies. But that level of work is not standard wedding planning service.

Full production is a beast of its own that requires a luxury wedding budget. And when I say luxury, I don’t mean €100k for 100 guests. I’m talking about wedding budgets of hundreds of thousands, and likely very close to the millions.

Of course, as planners we wish we could achieve anything that tickles your fancy, but that’s not always feasible, even with the healthiest of budgets.

A luxury wedding table with lots of white vases with red, pink and blush flowers, tapered candles and napkins alternating in colour

One of my couples really wanted a specific type of plates for their wedding in south Italy, but despite having the budget to rent them from a supplier in the north, the supplier told me they just wouldn’t commit to delivering 350 plates to the south of Italy even if we met their minimum spend requirement + delivery (close to €10k). No matter what, they didn’t feel it was worth their while.

So we often find ourselves getting custom plates made, requesting specific chairs well in advance to see if the supplier feels it’s worth sourcing them out and adding them to their catalogue [we often get told yes, and then at the last minute get told they couldn’t make the miracle!], getting linens made bespoke from local or even international suppliers, flying suppliers across countries to do draping because locally we can’t find anyone… All things that, if we’re honest with ourselves, have a major impact on the environment and exacerbate that dichotomy between wanting to achieve that aesthetic you’ve been dreaming of and making conscious choices, making smart choices and throwing the budget out of the window.

But there is no point in you going into planning a wedding in southern Europe without knowing the reality and the real cost of it all.

So please do know that when during a consultation we tell you that we don’t think if we can achieve your vision, we’re not ramping up costs for our sake.

We have no interest in lying to you. We know other planners will tell you the truth.

At EW we value transparency. The last thing I want is to tell you we can make it all happen, lock you in, start planning and then announce that you need to find additional tens of thousands to achieve the dream.

It’s hard as it is when the cost of everything is constantly creeping up, thus making our budget breakdowns look inaccurate. We really would never want to promise things we can’t achieve.

So look at the bigger picture. That’s the key.

A wedding in Mediterranean countries is all about the experience. Those breathtaking natural backdrops, the history and the character of the period venues, slow living and quiet luxury… All these things can do way more than a million opulent, redundant details.

And please trust your planner. We do this day in day out. We know what’s possible.

And if the majority of planners is telling you the vision isn’t achievable, don’t fall for the one that tickles your ears and tells you it is. She might be inexperienced or used to a caliber than isn’t aligned to what you wish for. Don’t go from planner to planner searching for the one that tells you exactly what you want to hear. There are no secret suppliers that can supply materials other planners can’t get their hands on. There are no suppliers who can achieve the vision for a fraction of the cost.

The costs are the costs. Full stop. One planner might leverage her relationship with suppliers to negotiate some added value, but usually that’s about it. It’s very unlikely that planners will be able to secure pricing that others can’t get access to. Believe us, our industry is SMALL. And when I say small, I mean it. If my suppliers were giving significantly lower rates to my competitors it takes nothing for me to find out!

Did I say trust your planner? 😉

Drop us an email if you have questions on the process.

We’re here to help, demystify information you might have read online, and give you clear, honest feedback on the real cost of high-end and luxury destination weddings in Southern Europe.

xo Elisabetta

Photo 1 @noramphotography || Planning and styling @elisabettawhitewed || Venue @chiostro_dei_domenicani || Flowers  @flower_addicted_angelica

Photo 2 @ninawernicke || Planning and styling @elisabettawhitewed || Venue @quovadissoho || Flowers @johannetrubyfloraldesign

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Realistic decor expectations when getting married in Southern Europe

This post is about one very specific wedding expectation that we don’t like bringing to your attention, but we almost always have to:

If you want to get married in Southern Europe, please accept that the standard of decor and rentals is not the same as in the US, Canada, Australia, or the UK.

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