— 13 August
yes, of course, anyone is more then welcome to contact me!!!!! the best method is emailing me through email@example.com :)
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— 13 August
Anonymous asked : Shannon, I loved reading your blog...what an amazing time you've had and such wonderful experience. We have a friend from LA that is planning to get married in Italy next summer. I am not sure where yet and so hope we can make it since I have never been to Italy. Would it be okay if I give them your contact details since I know that they are going to need some help with finding venues, photographers, florists, and all that good stuff?
yes, of course, anyone is more then welcome to contact me!!!!! the best method is emailing me through firstname.lastname@example.org :)
Clint gets here TOMORROW!! I can’t believe it. Time just passes.
I perhaps did not plan out our trip as well as I could have, but I think that’s better for us? Or at least I’m hoping it is.
I’m excited to see different parts of Italy - I’ve just really internalized Tuscany as the whole country and Tuscans as Italians, but the south is going to be really, really different, with accents that are harder to understand. Can’t wait!
Tonight after dinner, Ilaria and I are going on our very last walk to get gelato :(
If there’s one thing I’ve learned here (and there isn’t, there’s a million things), it’s that Italians are dead serious about their gelato. Everywhere else in town can be a complete dead zone and there will be thirty people lining up outside the line of the gelato place, especially at weird times, like 11 30 at night on a Tuesday. Whole families with their really tiny children. When you get away from the tourist trap gelato places in Florence, you discover the true magic of Italian ice cream: every time you go back all the flavors are basically entirely different. They’re always throwing together new mixes. Also, a small is two flavors. I hate all these people for somehow eating like this and still being so slim and fashionable.
Maybe tomorrow in the few hours in Florence Clint and I have before heading off to Rome, I’ll take him to Grom, which has the certified Ilaria seal of being the best gelato in Florence and Ilaria is literally a gelato professional.
I feel like everything is ending even though I have two weeks of vacation coming up. It’s almost as if I can’t believe it (I can’t). Today I spent hours trying to force the stupid amount of stuff I brought + the things and gifts I’ve bought in Florence and Paris into one suitcase, one small carry-on and a tiny purse. My suitcase still isn’t closing properly. Oops. Clint better have plenty of room in his luggage for me to transfer all the silly things I own.
I’ll try and update over our trip. Buon viaggio to me!
Last night was my last wedding of the summer, at one of my favorite villas - a color palette of white, lilac and sage green :) Another really fantastic night.
Four weddings and a baptism - not too shabby for two months. And still a little more running around to do; next week on my last couple days of work we have two more inspection days, which means some of my all-time favorite things: venues, menu trials (!!!), dessertsssssss, and Firenze.
I really love this job. I love getting to meet people from all over the world, I love being nitpicky about design details, I love the flexibility, I love the places, and I love staying up til two in the morning dancing with my favorite DJ to wedding songs - which are apparently the exact same wherever you go. (I should not have to mention the food and wine because I have made that painfully obvious.)
Just in case you need a recap, my favorite wedding foods of the summer:
- Apricots and peaches stuffed with soft cheese
- Freshly cut prosciutto and salami
- Florentine steak in a red wine glaze with fat baby onions and potatoes
- champagne risotto with hints of rose petals (divine)
- cake pops
- balsamic ravioli
I am going to stop now because I am getting a little bummed out that luxury Florence catering is no longer in my near future.
If you were expecting this blog to be something besides my love affair with Italian food, I’m sorry you didn’t know me well enough.
Reblog — home stretch
It’s my last week in Tuscany. So strange that it’s all ending already.
This summer was the first time in my life I was really and truly on my own. College definitely does not count. When I got here I admittedly panicked a little, but I’ve gotten to spend plenty of time with a great little Italian family and all their crazy friends. I’ve also been able to spend a lot of time by myself, which has been invaluable. I always knew I liked to bum around alone, but for two months I have gone home every night to my own little apartment, my own space. I’m really going to miss the walks home from Ilaria’s in the evenings with the most lovely landscape in the world spread out before me, and spending my nights making myself some pasta, eating too much parmesan cheese, and reading and writing til late at night. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my own company.
Also, even though it’s been incredibly overwhelming at times, I have put effort into my work, immersing myself in Italy’s chaos and wrangling Florence and dealing with clients (but more so loving many clients). One more wedding and two more inspection days to go. I have met a lot of truly fantastic people - photographers and caterers I would love to keep working with because they are so talented, but also so fun to be around, so funny and kind. Some super solid networking has been accomplished. CELS would be proud.
Reblog — things I’ll miss
Even though I’m gearing up for my cross-Italy vacation with Clint in August (!!!) and I still have two weeks left, Tuscany will soon be behind me, and I’m already cataloging everything I’ll be sad without when I am finally home.
Working with Ila (though we’ll hopefully keep doing it, just a lot farther away from each other).
This woman is amazing. She’s the mother of a six-month-old and the owner of her own business and does 565689833 things in a day. I’ll be lying on the couch with the baby, exhausted and too tired to work anymore after a day of inspections, flower design visits and lantern-making, and she’ll be plugging away at emails on the computer at 7 at night because she hates to make any of her clients wait.
It’s great that we can be around each other so much - normally working from around 9 in the morning til the evening, at least an hour or two in the car just us, then dinner with her wonderful little family - and we get along so well. We love the beach, good wine, shabby-chic French design and Grey’s Anatomy. We always have something to talk about or can sit very comfortably in silence. I love our weird little language of three-quarters English, a quarter Italian (I’m working on it). We laugh a lot, normally when we’re helping ourselves to obscene amounts of tira misu at the weddings we’re supposed to be working at. She’s an inspiration and a delight and I am so lucky to have her both as a mentor and a friend.
While everything else is now going to pale in comparison to Ila, I’ll also miss the beaches at Pisa, the gorgeous warm green water and white sands and all the little bagno along the coastlines with heaping piles of sea food and beautiful views.
Cappuccino. This one is really serious. How will I ever go back to drinking the shit that is American coffee? I won’t, probably.
This picture doesn’t really do it any justice (all of this was delicious though) but in Italian cities during their version of happy hour, a lot of bars offer a deal with a relatively-overpriced-but-not-really-for-the-city cocktail or glass of wine for like 7 euro, then you get to enjoy a complimentary and LIMITLESS buffet of amazing little Italian finger foods: focaccia, pizza, pastries, panini, sauces and seafood. It’s amazing. When I go home, one of the things I’m going to miss the most is sitting with my wine and heaping plate of food at a bar in Florence or Pontedera with Ila while night settles. One of my all-time favorite things about Italy. (Add it to the ever-growing list.)
Reblog — work, and good days
After the absolute trainwreck that was the worst clients/people in the entire universe (I won’t go into detail because no, but I did get my Tiffany’s money back, so yay for not destroying my summer for shitheads) I got up after two days of little sleep and barely eating anything - the latter is particularly strange for me in this country - and put on an absolutely awesome wedding with Ila :)
I don’t know what the customs really are for wedding planners / other hired help for weddings in the US, but here in Italy, the planners (and even the musicians and light designers) are normally, and warmly, invited to enjoy all the food and drink - and not even necessarily off in a corner. We were milling around the party checking everything and moving stuff, but 97% of our work preceded the event itself, so we were able to spend a good amount of time eating our faces off. Peaches and apricots with cheese, bacon-wrapped prunes, baby shrimp, prosciutto… and back in the indoor hall (the reception was outside) the six or seven of us, between work, would run in and grab a few minutes with the latest course, eating everything the wedding guests were eating. Also, when all the guests went to dinner they left a gorgeous international cheese and jelly bar ripe for the picking, so I spent about 25% of the night there basically crying with happiness.
This wonderful bit of Italian hospitality also meant: Belliniiiiiiiiiiiis.
Yeah, we were also working - Ila’s father-in-law built this amazing gazebo for apertivo and dessert time, and we decorated it with the tulle. Ila owns everything so now she can rent it out to all her clients, which is awesome. It was definitely at its high point during the dessert table (more detailed pictures on facebook), which was no joke - the bride wanted cake pops, macaroons, mini wedding cakes, confetti, baby bottle cookies… ALL made from scratch. And of course an enormo wedding cake. I sampled everything even though at that point I was about to fall over. Currently two macaroons and a white-chocolate cake pop filled with chocolate and strawberry filling are sitting in my fridge for later.
Today, we went to check out the venue for our wedding on Tuesday, clients from California. I haven’t been around a group of Americans since May, and I don’t know if I’m imagining it, but I felt a little bit of culture shock. I’ve become really used to not being able to speak to anyone but Ila for longer than twenty minutes or so - my Italian, even after all this time here, is really depressingly bad - and this was a really fun, relaxed and easygoing group that loved to chat. The groom, when he found out something small wasn’t available for their pizza party today, said, “So you failed me? Tell Gianni I want my money back.” Me and Ila looked at each other in misery since this sort of attitude was, after this week, all too familiar to us, and then the groom told us he was kidding, of course, everything was perfect. I hope when I get home I will be able to understand sarcasm again.
Reblog — everything is the worst
Not everything, but today was really and truly terrible. Terrible. Got some good life lessons though? I guess?
On Sunday Ila got contacted by these insanely rich people from another country, I won’t say where, to do a birthday party for their daughter this Friday, now tomorrow. Which seems crazy but they were going to pay her really, REALLY well, so we were overjoyed at the thought of some really luxury clients.
We planned out a gorgeous theme for the girl, whose turning twelve, based on stuff she likes - an Alice in Wonderland theme, only Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Renaissance Florence. Everything we planned was awesome - flower design, private catering in an enormous, gorgeous old palace, this huge spectacle where the kid gets to meet da Vinci and Michelangelo and they make her into statues and paintings. 5 people, 30,000+ euro event, one day, planned in five days.
It all started to go to hell a couple days ago and by today things turned into a real good wreck. We should have suspected that the richest people can be simultaneously the most careless and stingy and these people are absolutely and entirely godawful.
They were supposed to tell me what they wanted for five little gifts, to be delivered with special Alice in Wonderland messages by Renaissance folk throughout the day of the birthday party - very cute - and today I went to Florence to get them, which sounded like a really nice fun day to me, but by this morning they still hadn’t gotten back to us since they take about six hours to answer emails even though we’re planning a full scale event in five days. I went to my first meeting solo at the venue, for which I was embarrassingly underprepared - I had to call Ila twice so it was basically useless having me there.
So, leaving my failure of a meeting, I had nothing else to do in Florence til I heard from the clients, which should be really nice and fun, but the day was progressing, and I needed to buy five different gifts, go have them specially wrapped, and bring them all across the city to the costume shop where I would drop them off to be picked up by the Renaissance delivers AND pick up five different Renaissance costumes for the waiters tomorrow.
I got a call from Ila- they’d scrapped our whole theme the day before the event and dumped a whole lot of shit on the caterer and florist and everyone we have good working relationships with. Now for the gifts, just five charms from Tiffany’s delivered throughout the day and a bracelet. A nice idea. However, I flailed in the store trying to get a credit card payment transfer thing from the clients but they were MIA as per usual, so I just sat outside Tiffany’s for over two hours too scared to go anywhere else because I had so much else to do that day and everything was closing, I didn’t want to risk straying anywhere.
10 minutes before Tiffany’s closed, Ila told me they said to just put the stuff on my card. At first I thought, okay, fine, I’ll get paid back tomorrow. Then - duh, Tiffany’s - the price was well over a thousand dollars and I thought shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit I just did something really dumb. But I needed the gifts and didn’t know what else to do, and I could tell from Ila’s voice on the phone that things were going pretty terribly back in the office too.
As of now I still technically own all of these.
SPRINTED twenty minutes to the costume shop. Got terribly lost because thanks, Florence, for having different street numbers in blue, black and red so you never know where you are ever. Also the street was stupid and for some reason continued on after this enormous piazza.
I arrived drenched in sweat - it was like 95 degrees today - way after closing. The women were super nice, though. I hadn’t eaten anything since 10 in the morning and really needed to pee but had zero time. They told me there was no way I could carry 5 Renaissance costumes back to the train station and called me a cab. They were right; the things weighed about 50 pounds each and I looked like the most enormous, sweaty fool on earth staggering around the station with two purses and 5 costumes.
Who was everyone’s favorite passenger on the train today? Probably me.
Someone from Ilaria’s family was supposed to pick me up from the train station but she ended up having to come herself and I was left on the platform for twenty minutes about to die from the weight of all these stupid costumes slipping out of their cover things, sure that if I tried sitting down they would all fall on the ground and get ruined.
I get picked up by Ilaria and her husband en route to see the clients at 11 oclock at night one hour away from home, and in the car I learned that all day - at three or four hour intervals, never answering phones or emails - these people have been trying to shave down prices from services they’ve already booked to the point that Ilaria would not be paid - they wanted to get the price down by a discount of just over Ila’s complete planning fee. She physically cannot get prices down because she needs to collect full and complete payments for all the vendors, since the vendors have BOUGHT flowers and BOUGHT food - this event is tomorrow - and prices are no longer in any way negotiable.
Ila told me to stay home and now I write this post, which is probably really interesting and exciting, and I’ve realized I have been a complete idiot to lend these people my money when I am going to have international fees and transfer fees, which, even though they said they’d take care of…. now I have no idea if they’ll even pay Ila. I hope she makes them understand I am a twenty year old college kid who can’t just drop money like that? If need be tomorrow I will just take back all the Tiffany’s stuff which are currently 100% mine and be like sorry you lose. I don’t know how we’re going to spend a whole day with these people - after tens of thousands of dollars, the show must go on, and I am assuming some event, in some capacity, is happening tomorrow whether we like it or not (we don’t).
Are you really still reading this?
In other news, now I really, REALLY want everything ever from Tiffany’s.
We have this event tomorrow, a wedding Saturday, and a wedding Tuesday, but I’ll try and do another post soon - besides today, things have been quite great, which I really need to remember.
Reblog — Paris
Remember how I said before I left for Europe that I didn’t want to insinuate that this trip is/was/would be some great, earth-shattering experience? Well, I am now throwing that all out the window. My bad.
I was expecting to have a great time in Paris, but being (pleasantly) forced to completely reevaluate the life I will lead immediately after college is something that blindsided me a little bit.
If you’ve never traveled alone - and I mean, really and truly alone - you must do it. This trip has only made me realize that I need to do it for longer, in more places, with more people.
The first night I got to Paris, I was exhausted from traveling and a little spooked to be in the hostel by myself, so I went to bed pretty early and got exactly zero sleep because everyone kept coming home from the bars and clubs until close to the morning. I really love meeting new people, but it’s something that is incredibly hard for me to do, especially when I don’t have someone I know middlemaning my way to a new acquaintance or friendship.
The next morning, however, I just sat down with some guy at breakfast and he invited me along for the day with some people he had met the night before. We did the Catacombs, which I never would have done if I wasn’t going along with a group - meaning I would have missed the crazily arranged bones of six million dead people in the mining tunnels of Paris - and even fit in Versailles in the same day. That night a bunch of us got bottles of wine and went to go watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at midnight, after which we sat underneath it and argued about feminism until about three in the morning. (No matter where I am or what I do, I always seem to get into an argument about feminism when I meet new people; chances go up if it’s after one in the morning and if alcohol is involved.)
In the following days I went to the Musee d’Orsay, did the whole Louvre-Arc-Notre Dame circuit where I took all the necessary touristy pictures, and scoured the famous flea markets, with people from all over the world.
My favorite night was, without a doubt, the Summer Solstice, when all of Paris throws this enormous musical festival in the streets, and every corner has a different DJ or band playing. People were dancing on cars and telephone booths. Whenever a particular pocket of music was turned off, everyone would shout and boo until it started up again, after which they would cheer a lot, and then the whole process repeated itself continuously until past four in the morning. We were in our hostel’s neighborhood, Montmarte, which is all piled on this crazy topsy-turvy hill. The winding streets leading down from the church became absolutely and truly disgusting. It was amazing.
Towards the end of the week I picnicked and ate out with friends from school who all happened to be traveling through or interning and Paris, which was the perfect little dash of home. Sitting in the Luxembourg gardens, eating goats milk blue cheese on a baguette with raspberry jam and getting inappropriately tipsy with them at five in the afternoon, was the loveliest way to end my trip. Paris coming to a close was bittersweet; while I was happy to go home to Tuscany, I was surprisingly and overwhelmingly sad about leaving Paris.
While it could be easy to think that the trip was so remarkable because I spent so much time with interesting new people, as well as with people I already love, I also felt such a closeness to this city - even when it was raining almost half the time, even when I was being judged by French waiters. Going to Shakespeare and Company and sitting among all the books, imagining Hemingway meeting Ezra Pound at the original store almost 100 years ago, and toying with the idea of going to one of the writer’s workshops they offer - it all made me acutely remember that the only thing I have consistently and most passionately wanted to be, my whole life, is a writer, and I have been putting that aside to focus on more stable and “realistic” jobs. I bought the full collection of Hemingway’s short stories there, went out to the most fabulous dinner of steak and honey with garlic potatoes, and read for three hours as it rained in Montmartre.
Then I went home to the hostel and really started to write again.
Here I am, slipping into dopey college kid territory - but the trip really did make me remember that I am still so young, and by graduating a year early and obsessively thinking about graduate school and career paths I have been cutting short the only time in my life when I don’t have to think about any responsibility besides the stuff I carry around on my back and the stories I carry around in my head. Maybe after school I’ll au pair in Paris, or in Barcelona, or in London. Maybe I’ll just travel for six months, for a year. Maybe a bit of both? I don’t want to rush myself anymore. For now I am twenty years old and I don’t have to do anything at all, beyond finish this wonderful summer planning weddings, and taking pictures, and speaking terrible Italian, and reading books.