Here at the Academy, we are proud to say our student community is made up of an exciting mix of people from around the world, who all share a passion for weddings and events. Some of our students come from other unrelated professions and backgrounds, driven by a dream to work in this fabulous industry. Others join the Academy as existing wedding & event professionals looking to gain new knowledge and skills, to expand their services by enrolling on one of our expert courses. One such student is Melina Nicholson,
co-founder of prestigious Italian destination wedding planning agency Cinque Terre Wedding.
In business for six years, Cinque Terre Wedding has ranked in the top five percent of wedding professionals in Italy for three consecutive years and boasts a practically perfect 4.9 in the Wedding Wire vendor rankings. To top this off their work has been featured in some of the industries’ most loved publications including Cosmopolitan Bride, Wedding Chicks, Magnolia Rouge, Smashing the Glass and Junebug Weddings. That’s a hefty list of achievements! So we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to ask Melina to share her inspiring wedding business story with us and find out more about her motivation for taking a course with the Academy. Take it away Melina!
“I guess it’s a case of all roads lead to Rome, or just a little north of Rome, the Cinque Terre to be exact. I have a communications degree in broadcast journalism which saw me work for ten years in the communications industry in Sydney, London and the US, mainly for NGOs, where organising press conferences, campaign launch events and international press trips were on the daily to-do-list. An internationalist at heart (born in Scotland, to an Italian mum, but brought up in Australia) it’s not surprising that 13 years ago my gipsy spirit saw me head to the Cinque Terre, the region where my mum was born, and fall in love with the place and then a local, Matteo – my now husband.
While living in London we organised our destination wedding in the Cinque Terre by ourselves, which I thought would be easy given my fiancé was a local, but the rash of hives that appeared all over my body two weeks before the wedding day was testament to the process being far from simple.
There was a lot of anxiety around the unknowns and a myriad of cultural differences. For instance, in the north of Italy they don’t have bridesmaids dressed the same so my mother-in-law misunderstood the midnight blue dresses of the bridesmaids to be the dress code for the day. In the end, I had 180 guests turn up wearing midnight blue and around the village it was called the wedding of the smurfs! But it was also praised for being one of the best weddings ever and it definitely was for us. I wanted to do it all over again – smurfs and all!
After our wedding, the venue started receiving requests for more weddings, and at the same time, my husband and I decided to move back to Italy, while in Australia my sister, Justina, was winning awards for wedding planning on cruise ships. And so, in 2011, I joined forces with my sister, and with support from my husband, launched Cinque Terre Wedding. We are now a full-service destination wedding planning agency and the team also includes brilliant wedding planner and stylist Sarah Pozzi.
We are the only destination wedding planning agency in the world solely dedicated to the Cinque Terre — the oldest collection of medieval fishing villages on the planet, and includes the five villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The old-world setting is the inspiration behind our signature wedding style – natural rustic chic. We live here, work here and love here and our aim is to gather the best local suppliers to provide destination wedding couples with the tastes, the style, the character and spirit of an authentic Cinque Terre wedding on the Italian Riviera. As a result, our couples enjoy the exclusive, friendly, intimate and eco-friendly nature of the Cinque Terre and its breathtaking beauty without the anxiety, hives and smurfs!
I am a strong advocate for up-skilling so I decided to study the Certificate in Event Design to officially add the expertise of wedding event styling to my bag of tricks. The course has so far given me not only the theoretical background to event design but also practical tips and tools that I now use every day. Who knew there was such a trick to tying a simple bow? Now even my gift wrapping looks amazing! And the more I learn the more I want to know.
It has also improved my appreciation of the difference between wedding planning and wedding designing. I have learnt that they are two completely different skill sets, requiring distinct qualifications and should be recognised as separate services. If you can find an agency that can provide both services, planning and design, you’re set!”
If planning your own wedding has inspired a career change, or perhaps like Melina you are an existing professional looking to expand your skills and services, then one of our specialist wedding & event courses might be the perfect next step for you.