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By Madeline Fox  |  Photo by Ilaria Cicchetto

Raised in the hills of Chianti, Stefania Nencioni fully understands the Italian business landscape. Meanwhile, the Florence, Italy, resident is equally affluent as a global entrepreneur, having worked for several international companies, including Minneapolis-based Pentair Inc.

“I worked in Florence, but (Pentair’s) headquarters were in Minnesota, so I understood the way of American business,” Nencioni says. “It was also a start-up company, and I was a part of the growth of the company from the start. I think this was a most helpful learning experience for what I’m doing now.”

Nencioni has helped operate Weddings International since 2005, when she partnered with the company’s founder, Barbara Bertini-Platt. An Italian national, Bertini-Platt had married an American in 1996 and, in the process, discovered how difficult it was to get married abroad. At that point she started the company, which coordinates weddings and corporate events across Italy.  “We do everything from A to Z — location scouting, documentation, decoration, music, accommodations, concierge, and activities around Florence for the guests,” Nencioni says.

Weddings International works with couples from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Brazil, Australia, Nigeria, Canada, France, Russia, Hong Kong, and China.

“Generally people come to get married abroad when there is a crossing culture mix; for example, if someone grew up in one place but lives somewhere else or the bride and groom are from different countries,” Nencioni says. “As language is such a difficulty when dealing with public officials and vendors, it is very important to have a local planner when getting married abroad. It’s very important to understand your customer and create a trusting relationship with them.”

Nencioni says British, American, and Canadian customers are “very reactive and want a response immediately. So we always give them a 24-hour response and provide them with a very organized step-by-step master plan of how everything comes together.” Customers from South America, Europe, and Russia are more “last minute and less organized. This can sometimes make things easier but also more difficult and is the reason we always need to be flexible toward different cultures,” she says.

Business operations do not differ much among countries, although some countries boast varied bank operations. On the regulatory side, there are few challenges, she says. “The only laws or regulations that may create an issue are the legal documents for the marriage,” she says.

As a female entrepreneur in Italy, Nencioni says women sometimes lose focus when they are trying to do the extraordinary. “Especially in a country that is less open minded, you want to show that you are doing high-quality services, but the first steps are achieving the good,” she says. “My words of wisdom to women in the business world are to act like a man but always be a woman. Women sometimes lose their femininity as they are trying to be like men in the business world. You cannot do business without putting a little bit of your heart into it. Do not limit yourself just because you are a woman, and always think that anything is possible.” 

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(Editor’s note: Madeline Fox is a student at Kent State University, where she is currently studying at the school’s branch in Florence. Says Robert D. Hisrich, Bridgestone Chair of International Marketing at KSU, “My goal is to have every student that is majoring in international business and every MBA student have a passport experience.”)

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