Remember the first few birthday parties we had as we became young adults, and our parents stopped gathering our classmates for pizza & cake in a laser tag center or for an arts and crafts activity?
Yes, we didn’t care much by then. It could be a dinner in a local restaurant, a round of beers in a pub, a movie with friends or a weekend of hiking.
But time flies and now that we have families and grown up kids of our own, successful careers and some money to spend, we start to think more about creating a truly unique experience for ourselves and our loved ones, such as a multi-day adventure in another country.
The options are countless but let me suggest to you two incredible destinations: Lago Maggiore in Italy and Cote d’Azur in Southern France.
I felt excited and elated to organize and take part in two such delightful events where long-time friends and families got together, gathering from all around the world to spend a few wonderful days filled with beauty, culture, great food, music, surprises, and joy.
Each multi-day event required rigorous organization and planning. Though exciting, it is also a time-consuming process, and professional help is indeed a must.
The results were spectacular, and all the participants will forever be able to cherish the happy moments of being together, eating together, laughing and celebrating together.
Here are a few tips, which can help to create a successful event:
1. Find a pro. Yes, team up with a person who has experience in organizing destination events and can help you decide on the destination and an overall vision. A bit of self-promotion: I lived in Europe, mostly France, for years, am fluent in French and Italian and for almost 30 years have kept exploring France and Italy, looking for quaint places, beautiful venues, cultural curiosities, great food and wine, and all kinds of entertainment.
2. Select the destination: the country, a particular region, and the venue. What do you prefer? Are you a city person, a country person, or a bit of both? Do you like water or would you mostly enjoy some vineyard-soaked hills? Do you mind driving or do you prefer to be in proximity of public transportation? You and your guests will be traveling to another country and things like logistics and practicality need to be seriously considered. It is unlikely that all your guests are experienced travelers. How far is the venue from an airport? Does it require organized transportation? What type of lodging can you recommend or offer to your guests? How long will the event last? All these needs to be discussed with your planner as it will help you find the best location for you to address all these considerations.
3. List all the activities you would like to enjoy and offer to your guests and, unless you have an unlimited budget and endless time, prioritize! Day trips, sea trips, vintage car rides, cultural enrichment… the choices are endless. But some popular activities need to be researched and booked well in advance.
4. Entertainment and décor. Do you want to convey a particular mood? Do you plan to tell your own personal story through music, lighting, performances, speeches? Do you need a ton of flowers or a particular wine you love? Thinking about that improves your mood and stimulate the creative process. Again, a professional may offer you suggestions you would not think of otherwise.
5. Food. Did I mention Italy and France? Both countries are the world's most famous gastronomic treasures. Fresh pasta with seafood? Truffles? Mozzarella in all shapes and sizes? Foie gras? Petit fours? An infinite list of “gourmandises” needs to be thought-through and finalized for every meal. Some of your guests may have food allergies or restrictions, and it should be taken care of as well. I love food and all these pictures certainly reflect it:)
6. Wine? The same as above: Italy and France offer some of the finest wine options, and you may want to have some tastings ahead of time.
7. Practical things: sunscreen, bug spray, heel protectors, water bottles. Makeup and beauty services for the big celebration. These little necessities mean a lot. It’s important to be thoughtful, and your guests will be grateful.
8. Daily programs and schedules, WhatsApp group chat, and a clear dress code. Despite all efforts, some of your guests will never read your updates and all the details until they arrive. They are simply too busy with other things. Help them to be on time and prepared for each offered activity!
9. Photo & video. After all these efforts and money spent, it is a must to have professional services to record all these precious moments for you and your guests. Yes, there will be iPhones and Instagram posts. But nothing beats professional photography and video! Consider this as it will later allow you to enjoy your memories, delivered to you in an album or as high-resolution photos and videos.
10. Book your flight tickets, pack your luggage, take a flight, arrive at your destination, meet your friends, relax and enjoy!
Photography: Alessandro Giannini Photography, Primavera Dreams