If you are planning to get married and want your wedding to be a unique and magical experience then look no further – your dreams will not only be realised but wildly surpassed with My Secret Italy.
Julie Mckenzie is at the helm of My Secret Italy and is ably assisted by her capable and charming daughter Emillie along with a whole host of service providers from the local community. Julie has been organising weddings in Santa Maria di Castellabate (2 hours south of Naples) for around 10 years and has amassed a wealth of local knowledge and contacts enabling her to tailor and deliver your personal fantasy wedding. She puts possibilities on the menu that you didn’t know existed and makes the seemingly impossible come to life in the most extraordinary way.
Nine or so years ago I attended the wedding of my niece in Santa Maria, it was, and has remained the most spectacular wedding I have ever attended (until my own on 17th Sept 2016). It was a collage of wonderment from start to finish and it was Julie who managed the entire event. Not surprisingly, when it came to discussing possible venues for my marriage to Ian (both in our 60s and not first timers) Julie and Santa Maria were at the top of my list. Ian and I wanted non traditional, fun, sunshine, romance, beach, sunsets and surprises in a glorious and intimate medieval setting all wrapped up with the smiles and laughter of our nearest and dearest. Santa Maria brings all this and more….
Every wedding, wherever it is, is special, but a My Secret Italy wedding brings a whole new dimension to accepted and familiar concepts and creates a radically distinctive and memorable experience. THE DAY itself is a series of “Wows” as wonderful surprising spectacles unfold one after the other to the amazement and delight of all.
But before THE DAY there is a huge amount of discussion, planning, coordination, communication and attention to detail that must be invested by a lady who knows what YOU want, who’s who and what’s what. That lady is Julie.
Our wedding comprised 61 people ranging from 16 months to 97 years old, coming from all corners of the globe, all arriving and leaving at different times, all with their own accommodation and travel preferences, some with particular dietary or mobility needs – and the care of every one of them was hugely important to Ian and I. Julie pulled it off like the consummate juggler that she is. Everyone arrived and departed safely, all were transferred to and from the airport without incident, all were delivered to their accommodation and were where they were supposed to be on the day – and laughter and smiles prevailed for the duration. The task is huge and accomplished due to Julie being like a butterfly on steroids flitting from one job to the next in order to fulfil everyone’s needs. “Average”or “adequate” is not in her vocabulary – she wants the absolute best for the bride and groom and the entire wedding party. She is useless at saying NO (even when she should!) and will always go the extra mile – because she wants everyone to be happy and will do whatever it takes.
Words cannot do justice in describing my marriage event. I could use every adjective in the dictionary and it would still fall short. It is invariably not a one day celebration as Santa Maria is such an intimate place that family and friends inevitably meet in the streets, bars and restaurants – laughter rings out from the piazzas and terraces signalling the birth of new friendships and the beginning of the 5 or 6 day party.
My wedding day incorporated the pre night stay at the beautiful Villa Sirio suite where I slept with the gentle lap of the waves for company. The morning was calm but livened up when my two daughters (my bridesmaids) arrived, quickly followed by the hairdresser and two make up artists (all of whom were very talented – utterly brilliant). We had a fantastic time being pampered and preened in sequence, watching the artistry of the experts and quaffing Prosecco – it was an exciting, relaxing and happy time and we all felt absolutely gorgeous at the end of it. Julie popped in now and then – brought Prosecco, delivered the steamed wedding dress and veil, delivered the bouquets AND dealt with a very creased bridesmaids dress. She was there when we needed her but let’s not forget she was also preparing the ceremony venue, the reception venue and looking after our guests – as I say the consummate juggler. Chelsea Shoesmith, our photographer, captured preening moments and then stayed invisibly close by for the entire day.
It was time to go. The vintage Fiat took my son and I to the ceremony venue – the Torre Perrotti (medieval castellated open tower)- via a tour of the town with horn tooting all the way and locals offering greetings – lovely. My two stunning daughters made their individual entrance down the rose petalled aisle, the music played as my son and I beamed all the way to Ian and the officials at the head of the aisle with the ocean as the backdrop, the ceremony took place complete with readings, vows and the official bits, my gorgeous grandson delivered the rings attached to his favourite teddy and the ceremony concluded. Ian and I walked back down the aisle together and were showered with confetti before our circuitous trip in the Fiat to the mayors office to complete the formalities. Our guests assembled in the shady Torre gardens where Ian and I joined them later to chat and celebrate – individual gelato was delivered for all to enjoy. On departure from the Torre gardens there was the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon combined with a fantastic confetti shower. Chelsea, our fabulous photographer, then took Ian and I off for some great textural shots with shabby doors, peeling plaster, shadows, sunshine, rocks and sea, and bougainvillea. Ian and I then walked through the town like the Pied Piper leading our guests to the Belleville bar in the main square for Prosecco with the locals all cheering us on. Then a gentle stroll to our reception venue, the Lido Azzurro, in time for sunset shots and the helium balloon release on the beach. Once inside the Lido – a magician performed at each table in turn, the fresh barbecue was served, speeches were delivered, gifts were presented, and the first dance took place. The band were utterly fantastic and everyone had a brilliant party – it was the best day ever.
It is utterly extraordinary that Julie manages to tie everything together, is omnipresent but not officious, wears a constant smile, solves glitches instantly with willingness not resentment, is so eager to please and satisfy everyone every step of the way, and somehow manages to present a calm and reassuring demeanour throughout. She is not physically with you all the time but she is with and for you – she really is a dream maker.
Julie created this amazing day for us – so full, so rich, so colourful and so unique. We had a blank canvas and Julie created a masterpiece that will be with us for always. Thank you is so inadequate but please be in no doubt that our gratitude and awe for what you did for us is limitless.
Carole and Ian
17th September 2016