Como lake weddign backstage

This wedding amazed many people back in 2015 because of how luxurious it was. It was also one of the most complicated projects in my experience, since it took place at three different locations: the morning of the bride was at the Tremezzo Hotel, the ceremony took place at the most famous villa on lake Como - Villa Balbianello, and dinner was at Villa Erba, which will look familiar to those who watched Ocean’s Twelve.

To work on this project, I came from Russia with my assistant Ksenia. The rest of the staff, such as florists, movers, drivers, installers, and assistants, were local.

By the end of this projects we even created a “Wedding at Como in numbers” list, and here it is:
5 months of preparation
46 hours of Skype conversations
1 crushed car
1800 km of extreme driving
80 kg of candelabras
23 kg of crystal hangers
800 candles
233 sheets of gold leaves
1 happy couple

A bit about the preparation process.

Of course, I visited the venues many months before the wedding. Together with the organizator, we inspected Villas Balbianella and Erba, studying all the nuances - which are plenty at venues like these. I sometimes meet decorators, whom I find crazy, who courageously take up complicated destination projects without seeing the venue or knowing any details. I don’t know just how anyone could do that, because the result could always end up as a total disaster - and the wedding of the innocent couple is ruined. Of course, if you only need to do small arrangements and put around some minor decorations, you don’t need to see the venue in person.

Coming back to Como, this is the beauty that we saw:
Villa Erba

Villa Balbianello

Can you imagine how inspired we were after this trip? We got to work immediately, thinking the project through, drawing sketches and creating moodboards and collages.

Do you remember the mirrors and ornaments on the walls at Villa Erba? I decided to use them as the key element for the whole wedding. They were present in the invitations, as well as in the pillars at the ceremony.

At the same time, we were drawing sketches and creating a presentation for the clients. By the way, this project completely busted the myth that it is hard to work with long distance clients - we only met the bride once. All the rest of our communication was through the agency or via WhatsApp. And still, we managed to communicate and explain everything.

With overseas projects, like this one, it is utterly important to understand what you can bring with you, and what can be found on site, from the very beginning, at the very first step of project development. Sadly, renting wedding decor in Italy isn’t easy, unlike in France, for example. Besides, labour and certain production costs are much bigger than in Russia - sometimes by 5-10 times. Which is why you need to calculate the budget very carefully to understand whether something needs to be manufactured in Russia and brought there or ordered in Italy. Deadlines are another nuance. In Moscow, you can do the absolutely impossible in a couple of days: you could order decor from the manufacturer and receive it in two or three days. In Italy, same as in France, you sometimes need to place orders even two or three months in advance. For instance, the carpet printing for the ceremony will be produced over a week in Moscow - max. In Italy, I placed the order a month in advance - and got denied! They did not have enough time.

Working at a project is very stressful. For some reason, many people think that all we do is relax at a rented villa, sip mojitos looking over the lake, and drive around in our rented car, admiring the views. In reality, we sleep for only two or three hours, eat by fits and starts, get sunburns, travel hundreds of kilometres across the country and fall of our feet, exhausted. And if there is any sort of a force majeure, the stress levels are impossible to describe. In Moscow, it would be easy to find replacement chairs or decorations instead of those which were not delivered, drop in another shop and buy missing materials, stop by another flower base and pick up something you need. In Europe it is much harder, at least for the sole reason that there isn’t such a diversity of shops, rental services, bases and warehouses. And you do need to travel much longer distances than you would in Moscow, which might sound as a paradox. During this trip, I got into an accident, after which the car wouldn’t drive anymore. Thank god it happened on my way back, when I had already picked up the tableware for the wedding - otherwise we would’ve been left without it, since it happened on Friday, and the company doesn’t work during the weekend.

Here’s what my car looked like:

The results - a workday lost. A whole day of one person.

However, we managed to complete this project. We traveled over fifteen hundred kilometres in five days, wasted so much gold leaf and bitumen, lit about 800 candles, and… Yes! We did it! And in the morning, we received a message from the bride, thanking us for making this day unforgettable and just the way she wanted.