PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF
Thank you so much for having me on the blog today! My name is Valentina, and I’m the founder, creative director, and head storyteller here at The Stars Inside. I plan, style, and design intimate weddings and soulful elopements all over the world – offering holistic and comprehensive support to couples who want to have a celebration that is true to them, mindful of their values, and full of meaningful beauty.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
My journey to the wedding industry was a very organic one – I hadnʼt actually planned for this! My husband and I had the great joy and pleasure of working with a wedding planner for our own wedding, and I absolutely loved what she did for us. She helped us through so many difficulties, and truly made it so we could enjoy and embrace the time we had, which was invaluable. Her and I became friends and got to know each other quite well, and she was actually the one who first suggested I consider starting a business as a wedding planner. I remember so vividly the way that felt – it was like everything just clicked! She was our rock throughout the whole wedding planning journey, and I wanted to be that person for other people. I loved the idea of supporting couples through this joyous and momentous period of their lives, helping them grow stronger together, and also putting all my creative and analytical skills to use at the same time to bring to life new experiences. Iʼm so grateful to have had the opportunity to explore this new path, and I canʼt imagine it any other way now!
HOW DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
In normal circumstances (that is, not in lockdown!), my days vary a lot week to week, which I love! Some days will be focussed on admin, emails, or other computer-intensive tasks like research, blogging, marketing, finances, or itinerary / schedule / moodboard creation, which means I’m firmly in the zone at my desk all day. Other days might be back-to-back meetings and calls, discovering beautiful venues around the UK, networking with suppliers, or joining my couples at their suppliers meetings or venue visits. Most weeks are a mix of the two, and I love making sure every week includes opportunities for meeting new people and getting to know new places. You’ll also find me attending wedding showcases, running photoshoots and editorials, and hitting up exhibits and galleries for the latest in art, interior design, and fashion. During the week before a wedding day, my time will be focussed on all the final elements of preparation, and I’ll usually be on site at the wedding venue for at least three days. Being a wedding planner and a stylist means something different every single day – each wedding and each couple is different, which I love!
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
What I always love most about my job are the relationships I build with amazing humans: the couples who trust me with their celebrations, and the suppliers I partner with to make it all happen. The happy, tired smiles at the end of the day stay with me forever!
AND WHAT IS THE WORST PART?
I’d say the worst part is that sometimes weddings do involve some difficult conversations – tricky relationships with wedding vendors, tough financial decisions, or for example unexpected things happening that are outside everyone’s control (hello, pandemic!). It’s never nice when anything causes couples any sadness or worry – as a planner, I’m always wholeheartedly invested in them and their families, and always want their celebration to be THE most awesome day it can be. In a way, I ride that emotional rollercoaster with them! But of course I work tirelessly to reduce stress, prevent any issues, and protect them from having to deal with it! :)
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOUʼVE BEEN GIVEN?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is: “be yourself”. I know it seems obvious, but it wasnʼt really until I learned it myself that it truly started to make sense in a business context! When I first started my business and my brand I was taking steps to appeal to more types of couples, to fit in, and to do and say what I thought I was supposed to. It didnʼt really feel right, so over time I started voicing the quirks and kinks of the way I think and talk – and though it was scary at first, I noticed that I slowly started connecting with exactly the kind of awesome couples and suppliers that I dreamed of working with. As wedding planners, we all offer the same services, we all write the same blog posts, and we all express ourselves with the same tools on the same online platforms: so the only way to stand out, and let couples fall in love with YOU and what you do differently, is to embrace who you are. Itʼs also, I believe, the only way to build a business that is sustainable and FUN for you in the long-term.
WHAT WOULD YOU WANT COUPLES TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I think the key thing I would love to express to couples considering working with a wedding planner is that we will be there for you in more ways than you might imagine – and that we are 100% on your side, all the way through. Wedding planning can be different things to different people, but first and foremost it is an investment in you – the value of your time, your peace of mind, and your story. Working with a wedding planner, to me, means being in it together, from day one to day of. It means having someone to bounce ideas off whenever you need – someone to give you straight-talking, un-biased, experience-based advice from the heart. Youʼll know that everything will get done at the most natural pace: nothing will be forgotten, or slip through the cracks, because Iʼll keep my finger on the pulse of each to-do. Weʼll refine both the creative and the practical side until every supplier, every detail, and every decision reflects the story YOU want to tell. But this isnʼt a case of style over substance – a wedding planner will also go through budgets, contracts, timelines, emails, accessibility, schedules, floorplans, and so on. A good planner will help you be as efficient and intentional with the time you spend on wedmin as possible, giving you the space and time to have fun, feel inspired, and look forward to your wedding. On the wedding day itself, no task is too big or too small – Iʼm 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 so hard all day that your face hurts. I plan every wedding with joy and care, and will always be generous with my time because I know just how important this moment is to your life and legacy as a couple.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR COUPLES PLANNING A WEDDING?
I have SO MUCH! But honestly the single most important advice I can give is to take your time and be purposeful when it comes to choosing what to invest in. Those lifelong memories will be most meaningful and full of joy, for both you and your guests, if you embrace telling YOUR story in whichever way is right for you. Try to gently let go of any preconceptions, expectations, or pressure youʼre feeling, and be really honest with yourself and with each other about what matters the most to you. Being clear on these priorities will make budgeting, communicating, and making decisions easier and more fun, and will also allow you to be more present on the day itself.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU DIDNʼT WORK IN THE WEDDING INDUSTRY?
That’s such a fun question! I’ve actually had a few careers before this one (astrophysicist, circus performer, investment banker…) and now I finally feel like I’ve found my home and my people. I think if The Stars Inside were to evolve it would be to widen its scope within the wedding industry – I absolutely adore floristry, graphic design of stationery, and even bespoke prop design!
If I wasn’t in the wedding industry, I would absolutely love to be a travel writer and photographer – it’s a passion my husband and I share, and would be incredible to explore together!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR TIME OFF?
I love reading books, playing videogames, trying new recipes, going to the cinema, hanging out with my hubby, and – most of all – travelling to new places!
At the moment, I’m daydreaming about spending weeks in an arctic wilderness – somewhere remote and dramatic! But to be honest, I get really excited about going anywhere I’ve not been before :)
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
For the first time in my adult life, I feel comfortable and confident that I’ve found where I belong – which is an incredible feeling! I see myself growing and grounding The Stars Inside to be an authentic brand that couples and vendors trust and love, offering various services all aimed at making wedding days the most awesome they can be. I will probably have moved out of London by then, and hopefully will be living in a cosy hideaway somewhere remote and immersed in nature!