“The MOST bizarre thing is how time has vanished… I know it’s June, but I swear it’s actually March?” Valentina Ring of The Stars Inside on the strangest thing that’s happened during lockdown
Valentina Ring, the founder of The Stars Inside, is quite something to behold. As – in her own words – a “Londoner by address, Italian by blood, and explorer by spirit“, this beautifully creative wedding and elopement planner has an innate ability for crafting and curating the true, glimmering wedding day of your wildest imagination. This “head storyteller, serial traveller and professional third wheel” is the maker of dream weddings, where every detail (from the elegantly folded napkins to the glow of your celestial bridal crown) is utterly, unequivocally perfect. Plus, she can create a mean fashion-forward bridal editorial too (seriously, they’re literally SWOON-WORTHY). I caught up with Valentina (digitally, of course) to get the low-down on her lockdown…
“I plan, style, and design experiences for heart-on-sleeve people.” Valentina Ring, Head of Storytelling for The Stars Inside
#1 Provide us with three words that sum-up how you were feeling about lockdown when it first started, and then three words about how you feel now:
Before: “Anxious, determined and introspective.”
After: “Grateful, productive and calm.”
#2 What time do you get up? Has this changed? Is life a little slower? Talk to us about your new daily routine…
“I actually still wake up at the same time – my work hours have lengthened, if anything! My husband and I wake up slowly around 7:30am, shower and get dressed, have breakfast together downstairs in the kitchen or living room while reading a book or browsing, and then we both come upstairs to the studio to start work at about 9am. I’ve been working from home for about three years now, but since he’s joined me in lockdown, our computers are side by side on the same desk, so we’re sharing a workspace – and it’s been lovely! Life is a little bit slower in the sense that I allow myself to take breaks when I need to – taking a slightly longer lunch break or walk for example if I’m spending time with James – but I’ve loved keeping busy with work. I’ve had lots to do including helping couples postpone weddings, looking after couples marrying in 2021, and just generally staying proactive and positive within my business.”
#3 How is lockdown impacting your business, and how can people support you?
“In a way, I feel very lucky: as a wedding planner I have the luxury and excitement of helping couples plan for all the amazing celebrations that will happen after this pandemic – so in that sense, I’m keeping busy and am looking forward to a fabulous 2021. I know weddings will play a central role in helping society grow and heal after all this, and I’m so thankful to be able to play a small part in that narrative.
On the other hand, it’s also definitely true that not being able to deliver all the wonderful 2020 weddings I had in my diary for spring and summer 2020 has impacted my business. My cashflow has changed very suddenly, which in turn has affected my family. I’m also feeling the consequences of the lack of exciting visual content and happy testimonials that usually arise in a “normal” busy wedding season. Staying active and visible on social media platforms and on blogs is definitely much harder when I don’t have any new work to showcase, which means it’s harder to connect with lovely new clients – but of course I’m so grateful that this lockdown has kept people safe and saved lives, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
In terms of supporting me – thank you so much to anyone wanting to do this! Generally engaging with/sharing my work on social media has a huge effect, and is always very welcome! I’m taking bookings for 2021 and 2022, so if any couples out there would like some support in mindfully planning or styling their wedding or elopement, I would absolutely love to hear from you. I have also started offering gift cards – so if you would like to send one to a loved one who you think might benefit from some wedding planning support, do get in touch! My e-shop is being constantly updated with new bits, so watch this space!”
#4 Name three local businesses you are supporting or would like to support more…
In my neighbourhood:
No.1 “Kai from My Lady Garden (Hackney, London).”
No.2 “De Beauvoir Deli (Islington, London).”
No.3 “TRADE Coffee Shop (Islington, London).”
#5 What’s your favourite isolation snack?
“A warm, sweet, milky coffee with a few Lotus biscuits (vanilla syrup when I’m feeling particularly indulgent!)”
#6 What’s your most recommended quarantine pick-me-up when you’re feeling down?
“For me, a guaranteed way of cheering myself up is spending time with my husband doing silly or fun things, or making our home more welcoming. We’ve framed and hung up some of our favourite photos of our travels, we’ve started gardening together, we’ve been playing board games and had dinner-and-movie at-home date nights, upgraded our PCs so we can play exciting videogames, going for walks – and just generally making the most of this extra time at home we’ve been gifted. We’ve been trying to change our mindset from things we “have” to do, to things we “get” to do as a result of all this.”
#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dream continuously about)…
“Hot dogs. Yes, I’m 33, but hot dogs are a seriously underrated lunch food! Also, those Jus Rol bake-at-home pain au chocolat…”
#8 What’s the strangest thing that’s happened during your lockdown period…
“It’s been pretty surreal to slowly see all the gardens around us being completely renovated – and have firework displays outside our window every Thursday. Walking around central London (we live in N1) and seeing deserted streets has also been very strange. Oh! And we decided to learn to rollerblade and my husband fractured his wrist AND his elbow! But probably the MOST bizarre thing is how time has vanished… I know it’s June, but I swear it’s actually March?”
#9 Favourite app for keeping in touch digitally with friends and family?
“I’ve been using Whereby the most – such a great lightweight and easy platform to chat on video. I’ve also used Zoom, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to keep connected with all my favourite people.”
#10 Name your lockdown hate:
“Definitely not being able to meet up with friends and family for hugs and catch-ups. I’m a huge coffee shop, restaurant, and cinema lover so I do miss going out! My heart also breaks for every couple out there who has had to postpone their wedding – I truly empathise. Oh! Also, how much washing up and laundry I seem to be doing…”
#11 Name your lockdown love:
“I’ve been really grateful for the chance to slow down, and be more intentional about the time spent at home. I love having my hubby around all the time! I’m also quite an introvert at heart, so seeing all this great productivity happening via video calls and emails is making me happy!”
#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?
“Probably my husband’s cousin (and my dear friend) Fran, and her adorable little guy Teddy, who is also my godson. I’m also in withdrawal of real-life catch-ups with my friend Kayleigh, a fantastic make-up artist and dear, dear friend. Oh! And my wonderful Bryony (who owns the wedding venue The Barns at Lodge Farm) had a baby during lockdown and I haven’t met him yet – I can’t wait! Actually you know what, I can’t pick one, there are too many!”
#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated?
“I’ve been really blown away by the kindness shown to me by so many wonderful people in the wedding industry – people supporting me, sharing my work, checking in with me – it’s really filled my heart with love. Also, some truly wonderful gifts (by post) on my lockdown birthday back in April!”
#14 Talk to us about what’s new at your brand?
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few months reflecting on my brand story and my business – so I actually have a few new things I’m super excited about! I’ve just launched a podcast, which I had been wanting to do for AGES, and the response has been awesome. I’ve refreshed my website and logo, and had Natalie at 315 Press create some magical new graphics and business cards for me, which I love. I’m also in the process of creating some helpful digital assets that couples can download, and also designing some mindful, organic gifts for my e-shop – cute tees and totes coming soon! I’m also creating an IG filter which I’m also really excited about releasing. Lots of little bits to modernise and grow my brand in a way that I can be proud of.”
#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:
No.1 “The support network within the wedding industry – from suppliers, colleagues, blogs and couples too.”
No.2 “The patience and support I’ve received from my husband and my family.”
No.3 “The opportunity to be more intentional with my time and energy.”
#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted?
#17 What series have you now completed on Netflix? Any recommendations?
“I’ve been watching quite a few series, some new and some old! Lately I’ve been watching (and would recommend) Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Stranger, I Am Not Okay With This, You, The Sinner, Next in Fashion, Dead to Me, The Terror, The Witcher (twice!), and The X-Files (again!). We also went on a True Crime watching spree and went through Tiger King (like, what?!), Don’t F with Cats, Making a Murderer, MindHunter, and Wild Wild Country.”
#18 What would be your quarantine book list?
“I’ve been reading a lot of psychological crime lately – at the moment I’m half way through The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler. I also read The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine, and loved it – reminded me of the incredible trip around Scotland I had last year.”
#19 And, finally, your quarantine cocktail/tipple of choice?
“As it’s been quite warm and sunny lately, I’ve been favouring the cool and crisp G&Ts with some fruity/herbal additions like elderflower or grapefruit. I’ve also really been enjoying fruity, mellow ciders! And a little taste of red wine with dinner is always welcome :).”
Want to discover more about The Stars Inside and the services Valentina offers? Simply click here.