Julie Bussell is the type of woman that you would want on your side in a crisis: tall, attractive, elegant, with a hint of steel beneath her calm friendly exterior. On meeting her, you would have no doubts at all that she could actually kill someone if they were foolish enough to come between you and the wedding of your dreams.
The fact is that Julie Bussell is a very successful wedding planner with over 200 Mallorca-based weddings under her belt – and she didn’t reach this enviable landmark by being either “girly” or simpering wistfully at the first sign of trouble whilst delivering a client’s very special day.
The wedding “industry” has grown very quickly in Mallorca. Once, couples in Britain, Germany, Ireland or Scandinavia marrying abroad would head either for a sultry Caribbean island or romantic Tuscany; increasingly, Mallorca has become the wedding destination of choice.
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How did Julie’s business start? “I owned an event management company in the UK and, after 10 years, sold it to a publishing group. When I arrived here 12 years ago, I took a little time out and then found myself organizing my daughter’s wedding. I guess after that experience a little light went on in my head and I simply decided to employ my skills to become a wedding planner.”
Listening to Julie, it became apparent that organizing weddings requires a deep sense of responsibility: “You have to remember that you are responsible for planning and delivering one of the most important days of a person’s life; it has to be right, it has to be enjoyable, it has to be memorable.”
Bussell’s company My Majorca Wedding has managed weddings as small as ten guests at an intimate venue, to hundreds of guests, attending three-day events requiring multiple venues, scores of contractors and logistical challenges akin to a medium-sized military operation.
I wondered how she coped with all the various elements of a wedding. “I think you have to stick to the basics – that is, knowing what you want and what you need to do to achieve it; also it’s a good idea to surround yourself with the best possible contractors. I spend a lot of time in the winter visiting new venues, talking to caterers, photographers, entertainers and hair and beauty people, as you are only as good as your key contractors. Otherwise, I guess it is that old adage: check, double-check and then check again; assume nothing.”
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It was obvious that Julie has a very close relationship with her ‘brides’ and it was touching when she described the relationship that she has developed with many of her clients. “You have to remember that with many of my clients, by the time they’ve got married, I’ve been like an older sister to them for sometimes almost eighteen months. Occasionally I have to be a bit tough with them, other times I’m a shoulder to cry on; it’s quite unbelievable the pressure some brides put on themselves.”
By this time, I have to confess, my neck was aching with all the empathetic nodding I was doing, but what I really wanted to know was . . . come on, Julie, you must have had a few shockers in your time, haven’t you? Well, apparently, mothers-of-the-bride are usually great, but not always, and – yes – a few brides can be self-obsessed. Then there was the bridegroom who broke his leg dancing at a seedy club on his stag night the day before the wedding; the blushing bride wasn’t very impressed with him at all when he limped up the aisle on crutches. Add to this, a best man fainting during his speech, and a bridesmaid dislocating her ankle tripping on cobblestones on the way into the church, and you get a good idea of the perils awaiting the unwary on a wedding day.
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Do you ever get emotional watching one of your brides getting married? I asked. “Yes I do, sometime I struggle to keep it together, especially if I have been working with the couple for a long time – they do become friends you know.”
She told me of a chance encounter with a former client, at the Villa Italia in Puerto Andratx last summer. “I walked across the terrace and there sat Jenny and Dan, who were clients five years ago; they had with them two small children and they were celebrating their wedding anniversary at the venue where they had got married.” Julie discreetly dabbed a very small tear from the corner of her eye and gave me a lovely smile. I have to say, the next time I get married, Julie Bussell has got the gig!
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