By Daniela Degrassi
Viridi Weds is the first green focused event company born in Italy from the vision of Donatella D’Anniballe. One day she was having a walk with a friend talking about what she’d love to do in her life (apart from ‘that boring job in a sad office in front of a computer’ she quoted) Her dream was to be surrounded by happy people, creating and organizing events to make their lives better and doing it green, to make the planet a better place. In 2017 she took her dream to the next level and studied at the Events Academy in Rome and got an American Certification as Green Wedding Professional. Soon after, Viridi Weds was born.
This one-woman show is based in the heart of Italy in the beautiful natural settings of the Abruzzo region. Donatella expands her services to the North and the South of the enchanting peninsula only needing her laptop, and two site inspections on location, where she meets the local vendors.
Donatella, is the ‘green weddings’ trend growing in Italy?
At the moment I’m the only one planning green weddings. Some competitors plan weddings, travels and other events, but sadly there are very few ‘green focused’.
What’s the process of planning a destination green wedding?
I become the couple support from the first time we get in contact to the day after the wedding. I first meet them in a video call to learn about their values and their expectations. I love to hear about their love story, how they met and about their projects together. It’s so important to get to know the couple and understand if I am a good match for their event, as we’ll need to be in contact for at least 9 months to plan such an important day in their lives. We need to build trust and respect for each other.
Once the connection is there, we work together to find every vendor needed considering their final budget. I love making the couple saving some money, instead of ending it with useless stuff. That’s part of a green, sustainable wedding: making it worth. Creating a virtuous circle of choices that makes everyone happy. I follow them along every step they take till the wedding is over and I’m always with them to check up on every possible risk and solving it as soon as it comes up, so the couple doesn’t have to worry about it. The goal is to accompany the couple to the wedding in a calm, serene and satisfying mood to make their memories unforgettable.
In a country like Italy, where food culture is so deeply rooted, how difficult is it to plan a vegan wedding?
Actually the origins of our food history are based basically on earth fruits, as most people were poor and meat/fish were elitist food for the rich ones. So it’s not so difficult to plan for a vegan wedding. What is difficult is to find a chef that wants to give up on his usual recipes if he’s not vegan. Luckily alternatives for a vegan wedding are spreading, and it’s a relief.
It never happened to me to plan a total vegan wedding yet, but among my connections I wouldn’t say that it’s difficult to find vegan options. I think it’s difficult to realize that if you choose to be vegan and have a cruelty free wedding, you really can’t choose a synthetic wedding dress because it’s harmful for the environment, therefore for animals too. I noticed that people here in Italy, care about animals, but not as much about the environment, and it seems that they forget about the environmental impact of their choices.
Will the impact of Covid-19 pandemic change the general approach? How it effected your business?
Covid-19 was a big problem, no question about it. In 2020 I was planning to officially launch my innovative business also through my own wedding, which I obviously had to postpone. Being impacted so personally, my business strategy keeps changing and unfortunately this involves many delays in the development of Viridi.
The only thing that is in my favor is that with this quarantine, people have had the opportunity to slow down their busy life and reconnect with nature. Staying at home has awakened that dormant need to be outdoors, to enjoy life in a respectful and sustainable way, to spend money on what is really important and necessary. The needs of the green pre-pandemic niche have become the needs of many during and after the pandemic and this means that there is an even wider audience that may be interested in a green wedding that protects nature and allows you to leave a better world to our children and grandchildren.
Luckily, my 2020 couples have simply postponed their weddings to 2021 and I am already receiving contacts from couples who want to get married in 2021. However, the mood is not the best. There is a mixture of fear, enthusiasm and frustration that does not allow to have a clear mind or a peaceful heart. With the last couple left for December 2020, we are considering whether to proceed with the organization or not, because they are in Milan, in the epicenter of the pandemic in Italy and, how to blame them, they do not feel safe!
How do you envision events after Covid-19?
The pandemic has given me the opportunity to reflect on the priorities of my business, the environment and people. Here in Italy we are already in phase 3 and I am resuming business again, slowly, and with awareness; sharing my knowledge to make informed choices not only in our daily lives, but also on the occasion of exceptional events such as a wedding! The waste accumulated during this global pandemic made the threat of plastic that is suffocating us even heavier and as soon as we can start again with the events, I plan to organize events around Italy, then who knows, maybe even abroad, to raise awareness to the wedding audience.
What kept you busy during quarantine?
I activated the free SOS Coronavirus service to give all brides and all suppliers the possibility to contact me for support and to deal with the delicate situation together, to listen to brides’ concerns and/or advise them on the best moves to make. I also decided to be present on social networks as much as possible right away! I started on March 11th to give hope, support and a little joy to my followers with a direct theme of marriage, sustainability and well-being. Staying close to my brides and followers seemed to me the most important thing to do, instead of getting caught up in the moment. Some days I would feel discouraged about the Covid-19 blow, but my followers were also very helpful and comforted me.
It was a good time, despite everything, that confirmed to me that social networks make strong relationships and that those who are united by a disproportionate love for the flora and fauna of our planet, have a bigger heart!
Dreaming of a post pandemic destination green (and vegan!) wedding in Italy? Explore Viridi Weds website and blog for many tips on how to stay green on your wedding day and contact Donatella to help you make your dream a reality and stay connected through her Instagram.
An incurable enthusiast and independent spirit since she could remember (her childhood heroines were Pippi Longstockings and Katharine Hepburn) Daniela Degrassi found her creative outlet as a lifestyle photographer, working mainly in Northern California. Currently splitting her time between SF Bay Area and her native Italy to continue to be her autistic sister’s primary caregiver. Vegan since 2014, she found a perfect way to carry her message of compassion while celebrating her love for the wedding industry launching The Kind Bride in February 2018.