Although English proficiency in Italy has improved massively over the last couple of years, you may still find a certain number of people who do not speak English fluently or at all, especially amongst the older generation. If you are handling a lot of the communication with vendors yourself (and not through an Italian speaking wedding planner) you may run into some communication issues and run the risk of some important details getting lost in translation.
Here are a couple of ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen:
Prioritise Email Communication
Many Italians that you come into contact with may be far more proficient at reading and writing English than speaking it. If this is the case with your vendors, you may want to limit your phone communication and concentrate on arranging everything over email. It is also a good idea to email them after any phone calls to make sure that everything has been understood and to recap whatever you have discussed on the phone.
Find/Hire an Interpreter
If you are finding that you are having significant communication issues due to language barriers, it may be a wise idea to enlist an Italian speaking friend to help you. If the details are going to take a while to iron out, you may even consider the idea of hiring an interpreter to make sure that the vendor understands exactly what you need. Although this is an added expense it is definitely worth it in the long run.
Learn some Italian
If you are up to the challenge, you could consider learning some basic Italian in order to better communicate with your vendors. Italian is not a particularly difficult language to pick up at the beginner level, especially if you are already familiar with other Romance languages such as French, Spanish or Portuguese. Words are pronounced exactly as they are written, and you can make yourself understood without perfect grammar. Even if you do not reach a very high level of proficiency, your vendors (and anyone else you run into during your time in Italy) are sure to appreciate the effort!
There are plenty of apps and websites dedicated to studying Italian, and you are sure to find an Italian speaker to practice with in basically any major city in the world.
Keep it Simple!
Try and keep in mind that even very proficient English speakers in Italy may have trouble understanding you if you speak quickly or use a lot of unfamiliar slang. Most Italians have studied either British or American English, and may experience difficulty with accents from other English speaking countries ( Ireland, Australia, New Zealand etc.)
Try and speak slowly and stick to simple words and expressions if you notice that the person you are speaking with is having trouble understanding you.
Although we haven't quite arrived at the sci-fi world of seamless translation via our mobile phones, google translate has made leaps and bounds in recent years. If you want to communicate a short piece of information it may be easiest to just type it into google and show it directly to the person you are interacting with.
Italians are famous the world over for their love of gesticulation. in general you will find that most Italians are very well attuned to the nuances of body language, and you will be able to convey a lot of information this way. If you combine this with the tips outlined below under the keep it simple section, you should avoid any significant misunderstandings. This is of course most useful in situations where you are interfacing directly with vendors in person.
This is most important if you are working with an Italian speaking hairdresser or make up artist who isn't entirely grasping the look you are going for. Simply show them a photo of your ideal outcome and let them work their magic!
So there you have it! If you are having any issues with communicating with your vendors effectively we would be more than happy to advise you on the best way to proceed!