International Destination Weddings - Italy Part I: Puscina Flowers

Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking…reflecting on my business, how my business has developed, and where I want to see it go…lots of good quality soul searching.  2017 marked five years for Events by Reagan, so naturally I’m asking myself the “where do you see yourself in five years?” question.

The last five years have been fantastic.  Every year seems to outdo the last.  Each year I am able to add a new US destination to my list, which means working with fresh faces and blank canvases.  New challenges, new victories.  It is incredibly rewarding and I’m ready to keep growing.  To keep moving forward.  To expand my reach….internationally.

And that is my goal for the next five years: to begin serving couples who look beyond US destinations for their wedding while still serving those who choose to get married within the states.


Image from Sansaara Photograph

As part of this journey, I recently traveled to Italy for both pleasure and business development.  It was everything I had hoped for an more!

First and foremost, the Italian people blew me away.  Their hospitality and generosity as a whole was unlike any other culture I’ve ever experienced…yes, maybe even rivaling our Southern hospitality…{don’t kill me}.  Complete and total strangers felt like lifelong friends and their willingness to trust and give their talents to an event planner they’ve never met before was inspiring.

Our travels took us from Rome to the Tuscan countryside, then Florence, ending in Venice.  I spent two days working: one in San Quirico and Pienza in the Val d’Orcia region and the other on the outskirts of Florence with Duomo views from on property.

The Tuscan countryside embodies every romantic notion of Italy I’ve ever had.  The rolling hills, the ancient villages, the church bells forever tolling, the old weathered women walking down old winding roads in their floral dresses and canes…  Life is strikingly simple in the Italian countryside and that is what I think is so attractive to so many people.

I had the pleasure of working with two florists while in Italy, both incredible women and two who I cannot wait to work with again.

Puscina Flowers, Tuscan Florist, Pienza, Italian Wedding

Image from @puscinaflowers

Puscina Flowers reminds me of something out of a storybook.  Tucked away in Pienza on the family farm they grew up on, this team of three sisters built a flourishing flower farm.  Every single bloom that is tucked into any arrangement they create was planted, cared for, and carefully selected and harvested on their land.  Talk about a labor of love!

I contacted Mara Cugusi, the lead floral designer of Puscina Flowers, for a bouquet and boutonniere for a vow renewal.  Before even meeting her, I fell in love with their philosophy of finding beauty in nature’s imperfections and embracing simplicity.  So often we try to dictate nature rather than letting nature shine.  I loved her organic approach and thought it would be perfect for the carefree vow renewal I had planned.

When we arrived down to the dirt road that lead to their farmhouse, Mara embraced me with a hug and kisses, then joyfully invited us on a tour of their garden, which we eagerly accepted.  I’m not sure if it was the dahlias the size of my head or the hanging grapes that Mara casually picked for us to snack on as we walked that had me pinching myself.

Puscina Flowers, Tuscan Florist, Pienza, Italian Wedding
Puscina Flowers, Tuscan Florist, Pienza, Italian Wedding
Puscina Flowers, Tuscan Florist, Pienza, Italian Wedding

Images from @puscinaflowers

After walking the grounds, Mara took us to her design barn where she presented me with one of the most beautiful bouquets I have ever seen.  She held it to her chest and looked at me saying, “I really like this bouquet…”  It was clear that Mara had designed this from the heart and it was almost too beautiful to take from her.  To pair, she had designed an incredibly artful boutonniere that included the tiniest, most intricate blooms.  It was a small masterpiece.  We were offered espressos before selecting ribbons for the bouquet, all the while listening to the soft clanking of the bells around the necks of the sheep just outside.  The entire experience was beyond dreamy.

I was on a high after meeting Mara touring her flower farm for quite a while.  Here, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, is Puscina Flowers who is an incredible talent and has been featured in some of the top US publications including Once Wed and Wedding Sparrow.

Reagan Barnes, Events by Reagan, Puscina Flowers, Bouquet, Tuscan Florist, Pienza

Giddily leaving Puscina Flowers.

The next morning, we rose at 4:45am to prepare for a sunset vow renewal at the famous Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta.  This abandoned chapel is the most photographed church in all of Tuscany.  At sunset, you’ll see landscape photographers lining the roads with their long lenses capturing this idyllic setting.  Even the best camera doesn’t do this justice.

Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta, Events by Reagan, Tuscan Vow Renewal, Italy Wedding, Italian Chapel

Image from Sansaara Photograph

After traveling unmarked dirt roads in the darkness of early morning, we met photographers Anul and Bijal Shah of Sansaara Photography where the road ended and traveled the rest of the way to the church on foot.  It was chilly and quiet and we had this treasured gem all to ourselves.

This incredibly intimate photo session lasted for a few hours beginning at the threshold of this old church, followed by a stroll down the stone streets of Pienza, breaking midday before ending with an incredible tour of the Tuscan countryside where we stopped for photos on the side of the road for some of the most picturesque settings in all of Italy – each scene carefully mapped out in advance by the meticulous Anul.

I told my husband that when I die, it will be memories from this day that flash before my eyes.  It was more beautiful than I can put into words.

But the journey didn’t stop there.  The next day, we left for Florence for an incredible shoot at Villa Medicea di Lilliano.  I was certain the experience from the Tuscan countryside could not be topped, but the untouched 16th century frescos and lemon tree lined landscaped that awaited us took my breath away.

Italy Part II coming soon…