Where are you based? 

I’m based in North London, in the UK, and I also have multiple bases in Italy. I do travel quite often for work, which I love, but will always have my mobile and laptop with me, so can support you from wherever I am. I work with clients worldwide, though of course I have wider connections with suppliers in the UK.

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How long before the wedding should we contact a planner?

As soon as you're ready! The timescale for a "Full plan" is typically anywhere between 9 - 18 months, but planners and stylists can help you through every step of the journey, whether you got engaged yesterday or are getting married tomorrow ♡ If you have your heart set on having a planner, and maybe even a particular planner whose work you admire, then I would recommend to start reaching out as soon as you can. We tend to only accept a certain number of "Full plan" clients per year, in order to give you as much of our undivided attention as we can. If your wedding is over 18 months away, the planner may create a schedule that involves getting a few key bookings in straight away (venue, for example), and then pausing for few months and picking up again around the 1 year mark. For all other services, like partial plan, styling, supplier search, consultancy, and so on, there's more flexibility with time - but I would still recommend starting to have a look around as soon as you know you might want to get a planner on board.

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How many meetings should we expect to have with you?

Generally our first consultation will be a 45 min - 1 hr session run either over the phone, Skype, or in person; this is so I can learn a bit more about you, your planning so far, and your ideas, and so you can ask any questions you may have as well. The information we both share about ourselves in this occasion is really important for you to find the best fit for you - and also allows me to put together a quote/proposal for services best suited to you. I would encourage everyone considering hiring a planner to speak to more than one, and schedule as many meetings as you need until you're absolutely sure; the journey you will take together is a long, exciting, and emotional one, and it's really important that you feel safe, supported, and really comfortable with the planner you choose. It's all about affinity ♡ Once you've booked, I offer my Full Plan couples a combination of: unlimited email, phone, and Skype communication during office hours (though of course emergencies will be dealt with immediately wherever possible); evening and weekend calls, to be scheduled; up to 3 x 2h face-to-face meetings in London to run through wedding plans, discuss any decisions that have to be made, or accompany you to local supplier meetings; and two full-day venue visits.

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What should we bring with us to the initial meeting?

You don't really need to have anything with you - just your ideas! I will have a questionnaire to run through with you during your first consultation, in order to obtain all the key information to create a proposal tailored around your needs. Depending what stage of your planning you are at, we can go in more or less detail, as appropriate - and there are a few topics that are very beneficial to touch on as soon as possible. If you can discuss these with your partner ahead of the consultation, we'll be able to make the most of the meeting, directing the conversation towards topics most relevant to you. If you can, be ready to answer:

Do you have an idea about the location and time of year you would like?
Do you have a style, concept, or theme in mind?
Do you know the approximate number of guests you expect to invite?
Which, if any, suppliers have you already spoken to or booked?
What is your estimated wedding budget?
What are three words that you feel describe you / your ideal wedding? 

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How do wedding planners' fees work?

Planners typically quote the price of a "Full plan" as a percentage of the overall wedding budget (typically between 10 - 15%), but will also have a minimum fee. You may have seen on the Wedding Services page that my fee structure says "12.5% of budget, minimum fee applies"; what that means is that the fee will equal 12.5% of the budget until this percentage dips below the minimum fee. The budget that the percentage is applied to is the total organizational  budget spend of the wedding, excluding the apparel, honeymoon, and the planner and/or stylist fee. We will keep track of the budget together, and I will guide you on ways to stay within your chosen budget; if however you choose to go over your original budget, the last payment you send me will reflect that change (that is, I will calculate 12.5% of the updated budget and charge you the balance remaining).

The minimum fee structure may seem to set a budget below which it no longer becomes "cost effective" to hire that planner; the reason for this fee structure is that, even on lower budgets, the planner is still doing between 250 - 400 hours of planning work. A set fee may be completely inadequate, or in some cases excessive, while basing the fee on the budget means there is complete transparency. Most planners have this fee structure, which means you can easily compare services on a like for like basis. Please do keep in mind that, as much as I love my job, I do run a small business, not a hobby; my fee is such that I can offer you the service you need, and still remain in business while paying taxes, covering my business expenses, maintaining an online presence, having the necessary insurance, paying for membership to various professional associations, and running a physical office. 

The fees for other services - like a "Partial plan", supplier searches, consultancy, styling, on-the-day, and so on - are usually set as fixed fees, rather than as a percentage of budget; you can see my prices here. These peripheral services can be a great way of having the support of a planner on a tighter budget, and can usually be booked more flexibly as and when finances allow it. Do keep in mind that this price outline is by no means universal, and other planners will price themselves differently.

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What are commissions, and how do they affect what I pay?

Commissions ("kick backs") are quite widespread in the event industry, and standard practice in some circumstances and geographical areas. In the wedding industry, it means that a planner will receive/negotiate a financial incentive from suppliers in exchange for recommending them to their clients. There are a number of considerations on this:

(1) A wedding planner who accepts commission can charge their client less money, while still profiting on the side, and so there will be an inevitable lack of transparency when it comes to the total profit or fee.

(2) A wedding planner who accepts commission may find themselves in a position of conflict of interest, where the supplier that offers them the highest commission is not the best suited to you. It may be beneficial to them to create a network of suppliers that have guaranteed them commission, and always work with those same people due to a vested interest.

(3) Suppliers may choose/need to increase their prices by 10-15% in order to pay commission to the planner, which means the prices you pay for those services will be inflated. So although the wedding planner's fees may be lower, the wedding may in fact end up costing you more due to this undisclosed inflation / commission effect.

Accepting commission isn't a guarantee that something dishonest is happening, but due to the considerations above I would highly recommend you have an open conversation about this with your planner.

As an associate member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, I will never accept any discounts or commissions from the suppliers or companies I work with. If a commission is offered, I will always disclose this to you and ask for that to be passed on to you in the form of a discount. You can find out more about the UKAWP Code of Business here. These are requirements that distinguish a professional planner and we take pride in guaranteeing to our clients peace of mind.

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We want this <IMAGE> from Pinterest: is it possible to recreate?

The answer is: yes, but the circumstances for it may be very different to your own, so best to keep an open mind to avoid heartaches ♡ Differences in budget, scale, geographical location, availability, and so on, can all be reasons why Pinterest may have set you up with unrealistic expectations. Having said that, the platform is a wonderful source of inspiration, and using it to start narrowing down your style, and to find photos to use to brief suppliers on your likes and dislikes, can be very valuable. I would recommend freeing yourself from the burden of replicating visuals you see on Pinterest, and rather think about what really matters to you, what you both love, and how you can tell YOUR story as beautifully, creatively, and meaningfully as possible. A planner can help you "unlock" your style, and find unique ways of using concepts, inspiration, and themes as a unifying narrative for the day.

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How much can we incorporate in terms of our own designs/style/theme?

As much or as little as you want! A wedding can range anywhere between fully DIY to completely prescribed, and where your day falls in that spectrum is entirely up to you. If you are looking to make fewer choices and simply pick from a selection of ready-made packages, then the best type of venue for you might be a large, well-established hotel; on the other hand, if you would like complete control and freedom over every aspect of your wedding, the type of venue that might suit you better is a dry-hire "blank canvas" kind of space. Some venues have restrictions on decor, external suppliers, and timings, and may offer a choice between various packages where the costs are split between venue hire and a per person package cost - while others may simply charge a per day hire fee, and leave it to you to bring the rest of the day to life as you choose. This is worth keeping in mind as you visit venues and narrow down your choices - if you have your heart set on a festival-style street food truck dinner for example, do make sure you ask the venue about what is and isn't allowed on site, to avoid any disappointment later down the line. Once your venue is secured, the asthetics of your day will come down to decor and style of suppliers, and your planner and/or stylist can help you find most unique, creative, and budget-friendly ways of personalising your wedding to your exact specifications. 

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Will working with a planner restrict the suppliers we can use? Do you have a recommended list?

Wedding planners have the great joy and luxury of getting to know and work with some of the best suppliers in the country, and we'll always use our network of contacts to find you the most suited and most highly recommended suppliers. A planner should never force you to book a vendor that you are not 100% happy with, and we'll always be happy to advise you as much or as little as you need in the process of deciding who to get on board the team.  When researching a particular supplier for you, I will produce a pack shortlisting 3-5 suggestions, where I take into account their geographical location, budget, style, and colleague/personal recommendations. The pack will include examples of their work, their packages and fees, their availability, and any other notes I have on my experience with them. Though I do have a database of trusted suppliers whose work I love, and whose work ethic I respect, my suggestions will always be entirely tailored to YOU, your needs, and your vision. Of course, I am happy to work with any suppliers you have already booked or researched yourself.

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We want to plan an elopement / intimate wedding for a small guest list, can you still help?

Yes, of course! I would be absolutely delighted to help you with your wedding or elopement, no matter the size. Please note that my fee structure is different for weddings with fewer than 50 guests, so the best plan of action is to reach out so we can get a consultation booked, and I can prepare a proposal tailored to your needs. 

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We want to plan a wedding outside the UK, can you still help?

Yes, absolutely! I work with venues and suppliers locally here in London, nationally in the UK, and internationally. In particular, I'm fluent in Italian, and have built a strong network of professional connections in Italy - but am more than happy to travel to wherever you need me to be!

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What is the difference between a wedding planner, a wedding stylist, and a venue wedding coordinator?

A wedding planner will, for the entire duration from booking to wedding day, be at your complete disposal. The planner's goal is to ensure your wedding is the most memorable, happy, and relaxed day that it possible can be for you, which is accomplished by bringing together the best team, providing you with as much support as you want, and being on top of every logistical detail of your wedding. A good planner will be your source of knowledge, your maker-happener, and your calm best friend. In addition to the practical side, some planners also provide design or styling services, helping with the creative specifics of your wedding day - but not everyone, so if this is something that is important to you, make sure you discuss it during your consultation.

A wedding stylist (or "wedding designer") will usually have chosen that title because he/she focuses solely on the aesthetics of your wedding, which can include floor plans, lighting design, flowers, furniture, decor, linens, and attire. The stylist's aim is to give your event a cohesive, unified look and feel, and is your own personal "artistic eye" for all things visual.

Finally, venues may often have wedding coordinators, who are representatives of the venue who can help with logistics and aesthetics of the wedding day. They will typically speak to you at the time of booking, and then be in touch again a few weeks before the wedding (or a few months, depending on the level of service) to make sure venue staff have the information needed, and can be great sources of venue-specific assistance on the day itself. They will want to be in the know of things like deliveries, guest count, timeline, and so on - and a good wedding coordinator works alongside your planner and/or stylist from behind the curtain to be certain that everything is executed seamlessly. The two roles of planner and coordinator are very distinct, but very much complementary. The key thing to keep in mind about venue coordinators is that they are usually shorter term than planners, and not tied to your wedding. Turnover among in-house venue coordinators can be high, and may change more than once over your planning period; you may also find that the person you have been speaking to prior to your wedding is not the same one present on the day, due to staffing availability and hierarchies.

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Do you keep or share any of my personal data?

You can use my website without the need to provide any personal data should you wish to. If you want to purchase any services, the processing of personal data will become necessary in order for me to fulfill my contract to you to the best of my abilities. I will store data deemed to be needed to support you during our time working together, and I will only retain your personal data for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes it was collected for.

Your trust and security is very important to me, so I take all reasonable steps to ensure that data is held and processed securely, and encrypted where possible. 

You can read my full privacy policy here. If you have any queries or concerns please do get in touch at valentina@thestarsinside.com.

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