Andy welcomes Rachel Birthistle to The Wedding Biz. Rachel is the Owner and CEO of The Lake Como Wedding Planner based in Como, Italy. In addition to her own events, she has worked with people like Lisa Vorce on Chrissy Tegan and John Legends wedding and many others. She says she is predominately a wedding planner in a destination rather than a destination wedding planner.
Rachel’s father was in the fashion industry, and from a young age, she worked in his factory doing tasks like snipping thread and packing items. She found the place fascinating and knew that being in the fashion industry was where she wanted to be. She started making her own clothes in school even though her friends thought her fashion style was a little out there!
Rachel discusses going to design college, finding a job with a large retailer in London, traveling all over the world, and her decision to stay home. She speaks about going back to college for sports therapy and starting a clinic in her home. Her life took twists and turns but eventually led her to a position with a wedding planner and, ultimately, her decision to start her own extremely successful business.
Rachel strives to make each client’s wedding an event starting when they get off the plane for their first meeting with her. With an itinerary of possible venues in hand, she begins to analyze the client’s style, how they interact with each other, and begins the design process in her head. Creating a sequence of contrasting events for her clients is what she loves most.
What is your dream? If it’s to start your own business, what are you waiting for? You will never know if you can do it until you take a leap of faith and try. Rachel is someone who did just that; she found areas that were lacking in the wedding planning industry in Lake Como, Italy, and set out to change it. This is a learning experience for anyone with a dream, so sit back and listen to this very insightful episode.
[03:16] Welcome to the show, Rachel!
[03:34] She has a view of Lake Como from her office and says it’s hard to beat.
[04:22] Rachel discusses her childhood and how she knew she was going to be in the fashion industry as a small child.
[05:09] She didn’t know what part of the industry, but the design side fascinated her.
[05:44] Did you have a strong sense of what your style was?
[06:05] Rachel started making her clothes because she didn’t have a lot of pocket money.
[07:03] She went to school for design in London but didn’t finish because she left to have her daughter.
[08:37] She says if you are positive when looking for opportunities, you can be successful, but don’t be afraid to leap.
[09:29] She started working for a retailer in London who focused on menswear and got to travel a lot.
[10:41] Rachel explains the twists and turns she took from fashion into planning.
[12:32] She got introduced to the wedding industry from a friend who needed help and moved from there into her own company.
[13:22] She discovered that the wedding industry was missing various things and made it her mission to fill in the holes.
[15:08] What was available to rent for weddings lacked style, so she started buying items to use.
[16:27] Rachel interprets what clients want and puts ideas together for them.
[18:50] She gives us her process for meeting a client, finding the venue, and understanding their style. She then can start thinking about the design.
[21:28] Lake Como is unique, and her goal is to have contrast within the flow of events.
[24:09] From the time her clients arrive at the airport, she puts together an itinerary for showing them locations and giving them an experience.
[26:23] She also does planning with other agencies that need a local planner to support them.
[28:09] Rachel talks about working with Lisa Vorce doing Crissy Tegan and John Legend’s wedding and the different people she has worked with.
[30:44] Her reputation and weddings benefit the venues and get them exposure and business.
[33:03] Having a mix of photographers through the various seasons allows her to have different types of photos for each wedding.
[35:20] Rachel’s daughter works in the business and helps curate their library of images.
[38:18] She is learning to delegate and put the right people in the right positions so she doesn’t have to be present every minute of each event.
[41:17] She has a team that knows many different languages, which helps her deal with vendors/creative partners and clients.
[42:19] Where do you want to be in five or ten years?
[43:23] Rachel has also started a furniture rental business, which she is now allowing other companies to use.
[44:50] Thank you so much, Rachel, for joining us today.
[45:50] If you enjoyed this episode, please give us a review and share it.
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