Often overlooked in favour of more widely publicised areas such as Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast, Puglia is one of Italy’s most exclusive, authentic settings for a destination wedding. With many matrimonial plans now on hold or set to be rescheduled, we profile Giusy d’Ambrosio, one of Puglia’s most renowned planners, to offer advice on getting started and inspire couples looking ahead to 2021.
Can you tell us about your introduction to the wedding industry?
“I’m an Italian interpreter and translator; I turned into a wedding planner by chance. When I moved to Puglia over 11 years ago, I met a professional photographer, who captured British couples getting married here. She introduced me to the world of destination weddings and the ways that couples require assistance. And here I am!”
What do you like most about planning weddings?
“The planning process is magic in all its parts, but what makes me really happy is the personal relationship I develop with couples, which continues after the wedding day. I have connected with couples from all over the world, from different cultures and with different habits – it’s a precious gift that enriches mind and spirit, and it is not common to all jobs.”
What questions should someone ask a wedding planner?
“Do you work on commission and do we sign a contract with you? These essential questions will ensure cost transparency and mutual protection of the rights of both parties. Transparency plays an important role in choosing a planner, as well as empathy. You are choosing a person who you’ll be in almost daily contact with, to share doubts and anxieties with and to rely on. The planning process has to be joyful and therefore requires a person who you can trust, but who you like, too!”
How do you begin to build a wedding around a couple?
“I need to understand their expectations, so listening skills are essential. It is their wedding, not mine. Once I have collected the information I need, I prepare a visual presentation of the event they have described to check we are on the same page. Then we work together on any necessary amendments. If there are issues with their preferred style or in the logistics or the budget, my work is to offer solutions.”
Why is a wedding planner necessary?
“A wedding is like renovating your house. You can do a pretty good job yourself. However, hiring an architect makes the difference: they know how to rationalise spaces, to allocate your money most effectively, to select materials and choose consistent styles, to plan and schedule work, to manage suppliers and workers – they direct everything. Not surprisingly, the houses reviewed in magazines are renovated by architects!”
What is it that sets Puglia apart as a destination?
“An amazing mixture of excellent food and wine, breath-taking landscapes, and a unique lifestyle that prioritises family. Here, life is slower and people enjoy the smallest things because everything they have is authentic. Old towns like Ostuni and Alberobello, ancient masseria buildings, farm-to-table ingredients and traditional dishes, high-quality wine at very fair prices, a beautiful coastline and countless activities – add to this the warm hospitality of the inhabitants and Puglia is the ultimate destination for holidays and weddings.”
What makes Masseria Torre Maizza a special wedding venue?
“It’s an authentic, ancient farmhouse and you can definitely feel it the moment you walk in. The stones speak for themselves as well as the old olive trees that populate the estate. It has been renovated masterfully to host guests from all over the world and let them enjoy the Puglia experience to the fullest. Moreover, there’s room to create an itinerary that sees guests move between dedicated areas at different moments during a wedding – with spaces including terraces, orchards, the pool, the olive grove, the beach, the restaurant and more. This creates surprise and increases expectations as the property is gradually revealed to guests.”
If you had no limitations, what would a dream wedding at Masseria Torre Maizza look like?
“Tradition has marked most of the weddings in recent years, with women making orecchiette, cheese masters making mozzarella, taranta musicians and dancers performing, and twinkling lights recreating the atmosphere of a typical village celebration.
The masseria dates back to the 16th century and once belonged to the aristocracy, so it would be amazing to organise a wedding in the style of the old Italian aristocracy with a white tie dress code and ball gowns. An outdoor reception would feature unlimited flower arrangements to replicate the flowering of springtime – so many couples don’t get to enjoy that first bloom of colour as they prefer to marry in summer.”
What are the latest wedding trends?
“Staying up-to-date is important for couples to avoid their wedding looking outdated, but I always suggest following trends moderately, to avoid laughing at photos years later! I remember seeing my parents’ black-and-white wedding photos when I was a teenager (and therefore extremely judgmental) and finding them surprisingly beautiful and timeless. That said, greenery endures this year as a decorative theme, secondly, the use of non-traditional flowers as well as bridal headpieces and, finally, a strong attention to lighting as an additional decorative element, rather than candles.”
How can couples help guests get a sense of the destination before and after the day?
“Destination weddings always develop over at least three days, to allow for a welcome party the day before and a farewell party the day after the wedding. The before and after events might include activities like local wine tastings, Puglian cooking shows and boat excursions, which are usually much appreciated.”
Finally, can you tell us a little about your own wedding?
“I wasn’t a wedding planner at the time and, for different reasons, our families were not very happy about the marriage. The only thing that mattered to my husband and I was getting to the altar! I had my dress tailor-made following a design I’d had in mind since I was 10 and I told the florist that all the flowers had to be passionately red, including my bouquet. That’s all, and this is probably why I love caring for every single detail of other people’s weddings. I had 280 guests, heavy rain and my heart full of joy. We celebrate our 25-year anniversary this year!”