Real Wedding | Hailey & Michael

Today I would love to share with you the absolutely gorgeous wedding of Hailey & Michael, which took place at Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire towards the end of last Summer. Hailey & Michael really are just the sweetest pair, and I couldn’t have enjoyed working with them both more. This truly was a dream to plan, and I miss not chatting with them every week!
Here are a few images of their wedding day, captured by Anna Fowler.

Venue: Aynhoe Park | Photography: Anna Fowler | Full Wedding Planning: Vanilla Rose Weddings | Floral Design: Larry Walshe | Stationery: Merrie & Bright | Balloons: Bubblegum Balloons | Production: Box Productions

Monthly Round Up | April 2019

May. We made it! It’s felt like a super long Winter this year, but we have now finally landed in the “Summer months”, and I am so excited to welcome the longer days, the increased hours of sunshine, and to now re-open the Summer wardrobe! I think it’s now safe to pack away the knitwear and long coats - but you never do know with the British weather, so maybe I’ll leave it for a few more weeks just in case! How about that Bank Holiday weekend a few weeks ago though? Now it’s proved to us we can do hot Bank Holidays here in the UK, I’m expecting this to become a regular occurrence! Particularly as I have a beautiful garden wedding coming up over the May Bank Holiday.

I’ve tried to get a little more active on my Insta-stories recently, so if you follow me (or if you don’t, you can follow me here), you can see more of a glimpse into my every day life and my life as a Wedding Planner. Anyway, here’s a little more of what I’ve been up to this month:

Business

I’ve mainly been busy in the office for the last few weeks, getting to grips with the scheduling and final details for a couple of upcoming VRW weddings which will be happening over the next month. One will be a gorgeous garden wedding in Kent, and the other at the beautiful Orangery at Blenheim Palace. The last couple of months in the lead up to each wedding is when I pull together all of the final logistics and timings for an event, and put it all together in a super comprehensive schedule. I have a bumper master copy for myself and my team, and then a bespoke copy for each main vendor working with us on the wedding. It’s truly a labour of love, and I’m incredibly proud of my schedules, even if I do say so myself! I love a plan, and I couldn’t be without this across my wedding weekends! My master copy is usually around 20+ pages, and contains absolutely everything that is happening across the events.

I’ve also had a number of meetings and catch ups with some of the lovely suppliers that I currently work with, and would love to work with in the future. It’s important to keep in touch with everyone face to face, as we often speak so much by email and phone, but I still love catching up for a coffee when we can.

I went to the beautiful Cowley Manor for a site visit, and it was just the perfect day to visit. The sun was shining, so the grounds looked perfection - the lake was glistening in the afternoon sun, the sunlight was flooding through the huge terrace windows, there were guests enjoying the outside pool at the spa, and it was just a joy to explore the hotel and grounds at its best! If you are looking for a wedding venue in the Cotswolds, I would definitely recommend paying them a visit. The hotel is available for exclusive use throughout the year, and it would make the perfect setting for a luxury wedding celebration with views across the lake and perfectly manicured gardens!

I also attended the second Oxford Wedding Breakfast Club last week, which is a new arm of the London club. Likeminded wedding professionals get together once a month to network and discuss topics which we all share experiences and advice on. As it’s the start of the financial year, this months topic was finance. One thing which can be dull, but is definitely one of the most important aspects of running any business, and it was really great to discuss how to improve processes to improve client experiences and streamline the admin! If you’re a wedding supplier in Oxfordshire, we would love to welcome you to our next group in May!

Family & Home

The majority of April has been taken over by the Easter school holidays. Bella has been off school for three and a half weeks, so we’ve tried to fill it with as much family time, seeing friends, and planning days out as possible. For the first week, we were at Center Parcs in Longleat with friends, which was incredible amounts of fun for the children, and exhausting for the parents! That was our first ever Center Parcs experience, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but we had a great time! There is just SO much to do there, and Bella particularly loved swimming every day, the indoor climbing, and exploring the forest. The food wasn’t brilliant, but I don’t think I’d gone there with very high expectations for that so it was ok…! Although we do really love our holidays abroad, sometimes it’s nice to have an “easier” trip away within the UK. We could just pack all of the baby paraphernalia in the boot, and not have to worry about any luggage weight restrictions, or trying to cart it all through the airport! Longleat is also only about a 90 minute drive for us, so it was a stress-free car journey with two little ones!

We spent the rest of the two weeks seeing friends, enjoying days out, and making the most of the Easter Bank Holiday sunshine! We spent a lovely day at Blenheim Palace on Easter Sunday with some friends, and took a picnic. It felt so lovely just sitting outside for hours chatting and drinking Pimms, whilst the children played nearby! We have an Annual Pass for Blenheim, which we don’t use nearly enough, so I’ll definitely be visiting more over the coming months for long walks in the sunshine, as it’s just such a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. We also spent a day at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, which is always a great day out for children!

Cotswold Wildlife Park Pink Pelican
Cotswold Wildlife Park Giraffe
Cotswold Wildlife Park Ring Tailed Lemurs

We also managed to squeeze in a date night at the launch of the new cocktail menu at Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood Hotel in London. The Rosewood is one of the most iconic luxury hotels in London, and Scarfes is a beautiful gentleman’s club style bar which oozes sophistication. Their new menu takes you on a journey through a number of music genres, with cocktails inspired by the iconic caricatures of Gerald Scarfe. Every drink was beautifully presented and I loved them all!

Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood Hotel cocktails
Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood Hotel cocktails

Hope you’ve all had a lovely April, and do please say hello over on Instagram if you’re following me!

Jeni x

Venue Spotlight | Holywell Hall

I’ve aways loved British architecture, and can easily lose myself for hours wandering around towns and villages in the Cotswolds that I haven’t been to before marvelling at the beautiful homes and buildings. I love the stonework, the windows, beautifully arched doors, and of course the gardens filled with English Roses, Lavender and Rosemary, filling the air with the most breathtaking scents in the Summer. Now the buds are starting to blossom with colour, and the sun is making more of an appearance, I’m super excited for the upcoming Summer and all it will bring.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to have been invited for lunch and to explore one such beautiful private estate which has recently opened up their calendar for hosting intimate wedding celebrations. Holywell Hall is an incredibly beautiful hidden gem situated near the gorgeous town of Stamford in the Lincolnshire countryside (just under an hours train ride from London). The owners are offering their family home for a select number of dates each year for weekend hire, and with their own Church, St Wilfred’s, within their grounds, it truly is the perfect secluded jewel to host an intimate celebration with your family and closest friends. The grand main house is simply stunning, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings

Fellow Wedding Planner Katrina Otter (Holywell’s resident Wedding Co-ordinator) invited me, and a handful of other UK Wedding Planners, to experience Holywell Hall for ourselves, and it certainly lived up to its expectations. A quintessential English Grade II listed 17th Century family home, which has been lovingly restored, the estate also boasts extensive gardens including the most beautifully designed walled garden, fountains and lakes, an island, an Orangery, a fishing pavilion, and ancillary cottages available for the Bridal couple and their family to stay for the weekend. It even houses its own bowling alley!

Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings

Following a glass of Champagne, we were treated to a tour of the house and grounds by Katrina and Owner Dawn, followed by a delicious lunch curated by local Cambridge based wedding caterers Crown Catering. The four course menu was amazing, and gave us an insight into how an intimate dinner party might go in the Garden Room flooded with the sunlight early evening with family and close friends. The Garden Room has a very pretty Art Deco style bar, making it the idyllic entertaining space for a pre-wedding dinner.

To start, we dined on soy glazed duck breast with pickled enokitake mushrooms, mushroom purée, wasabi crumb, light soya jelly and puffed nori cracker. For mains we were then treated to not one, but two courses of pan roasted halibut and then an assiette of pork. Finally, for dessert, we were served a bespoke Black Forest gateaux “sphere” that perfectly complemented the overall autumnal tone. This literally tasted as incredible as it looks - such a showstopper!

Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings

Brigitte from Moss & Stone was the mastermind behind the incredible floral displays on the day.

Brigitte says “The long banqueting style table conveyed a sense of opulent elegance whilst still allowing the guests to chat easily. The tablescape featured three low bowls of garden style flowers with additional glass bud vases of single stems dotted down the table length. Raised bowls of tumbling fruits falling onto the table, dark plums, figs, blackberries, apples, quince and blueberries were also interspersed amongst the flowers alongside beautiful tapered lavender coloured candles in glass holders.  A chocolate cosmos finished off each guest’s place setting – a simple dark rich plum coloured flower with a beautiful chocolaty scent – delicious! 

The fireplace was similarly dressed with a garden style tumbling display of fruits and flowers echoing the tablescape and adding another floral focal point to this beautiful room. 

Many of the flowers were sourced from local British growers, including the last of the dahlias and garden roses, a delicious dark plum grapevine with black grapes, phlox crème brûlée, grasses, hydrangea and of course all the gorgeous dark foliage.  All the flowers were also arranged into water avoiding the use of floral foam. Flowers are more jubilant and last longer in water and the wider environment is much happier if micro plastic floral foam isn’t used too! Reducing the environmental impact of a special event should always be considered and given the beauty of Holywell Hall and its stunning landscape, caring about this whilst enjoying a spectacular lunch makes even more sense!”.

Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings

Holywell Hall is quite frankly, spectacular, and if you’re looking for a wedding venue in Lincolnshire or within an hours reach of London to host your celebrations for 2020 or beyond, I would highly recommend a visit! Find out more about hiring the house for your celebrations via Coco Wedding Venues here. Thank you to Katrina Otter and her fabulous team for such a lovely afternoon!

CREDITS

Venue Holywell Hall | Planner Katrina Otter Weddings | Photographer Hannah Duffy Photography | Caterer Crown Catering | Florist Moss & Stone Tableware Duchess & Butler | Stationery Bureau Design | Chairs Wedhead | Linen Just 4 Linen | Assistant Rachel Dalton Weddings

Monthly Round Up | March 2019

Business

This month has been busy with lots of office days, at my desk, working on creating fabulousness for my upcoming weddings. My friends frequently tell me I have such a glamorous job. It certainly can be, but what they don’t realise is that I spend an awful lot of time behind a computer and on the phone/video calls! I’ve always been an organised person, with lists, notebooks, and folders for everything, so it seems I’ve found the perfect way to channel my inner Monica!

Earlier this month I spent a couple of days on a First Aid Course. I regularly keep myself updated with First Aid, just as a precaution. You never know when it might be needed, and I’ve seen a fair number of injuries / incidents at weddings - not necessarily alcohol induced(!), so it’s important for me to be able to assist as much as possible if I’m there. This time we were learning about Paediatric First Aid for children and babies, and having two children myself, I feel much more confident in responding to an emergency situation should it arise at home or at work.

The first ever Oxford Wedding Breakfast Club took place mid March, which is a networking / business brunch with likeminded Wedding professionals to get together and discuss different topics each month. This months topic was Client Relationships. One of my favourite elements of having my own business is that I truly care so much about the clients I have, so I love getting to know them throughout our planning journey together, building a firm relationship, so I can provide them with a wedding that is truly reflective of their personalities and their relationship. I also love to spoil them with gifts during our time together, as well, who doesn’t love receiving gifts?! Planning a wedding is such a wonderful experience anyway, but I endeavour to make that journey as fun and enjoyable as possible for all of my couples. It can be stressful, but my aim is to alleviate the stress and turn it into a fun process, which ultimately all leads to the best day ever!

I spent a day at a family private estate in Kent, in preparation for a beautiful upcoming May wedding. We had a thorough walk through with my couple, and both the catering and marquee teams, to discuss each element of the wedding weekend celebrations. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I’m hopeful this gorgeous weather continues into the next few months for some lovely outdoor weddings I have this year. The marquee for this wedding will be set by the lake, and we’re planning to bring the outdoors in (if you read my Instagram post a few days ago, you’ll know how much I love to incorporate greenery and the great British countryside into my designs, and this one is promising to be beautiful!).

Finally, I have been collaborating with some amazing teams over the past few months to create a Spring editorial project, alongside Jacquie from White Olive Designs, to showcase some of her new stationery collections for 2019. I shared a few sneak peeks on Instagram this week of what we got up to, but the rest of the images are under wraps until a bit later this year…!

Vanilla Rose Wedding Styled Shoot

Family & Home

At the beginning of March, we enjoyed a gorgeous dinner celebrating a friends birthday at Milos in Mayfair. It’s so lovely to get groups of friends together when we can (a rarity now we have children!). It was a fab evening, and makes me realise just how much I love dinner parties! I definitely will endeavour to host more this year, as I love that process of getting everyone together, planning a menu, and hosting great friends!

On the note of going out, my husband and I celebrated his birthday (belatedly!) with an evening at Lio London. We both love Lio Ibiza, and when I found out that they were bringing a pop up show to London this month, I booked some tickets! It was a great night of entertainment; the cocktails (Lychee & Rose Martinis - my favourite!) and food were delicious too! If you’re planning a trip to Ibiza this Summer, I would highly recommend a visit to Lio!

Cocktails at Dandelyon London
Lio London Neon Sign

I’ve started going along to a Clubbercise class each week, which has been a bundle of laughs, and also shown how un-coordinated I can be. It’s in a dark room with glow sticks, and you can tell who’s out of time as everyone elses glow sticks are all going in the same direction! I’m currently hiding out towards the back until I learn the routines and feel a bit more confident to move forwards!!

Since moving into this house in December, we haven’t had our garden landscaped, as it’s just been too wet. But now the weather has changed, we’ve made a start on the garden plans and the groundworkers have been in this week with the diggers preparing the ground for paving and turf. We loved the garden in our previous house, and we spent a lot of time in it each Summer, so I’m excited to finally start getting to grips with this one now!

We also have had no window dressings since moving in, as we ordered shutters fairly soon after we arrived. They finally have now been made and fitted, and I absolutely LOVE them. It was a big investment, but they have totally changed the feel of the whole house, and it’s really lovely to close them each night now to make the house feel cosy!

Hilarys Blinds Shutters - Home of Vanilla Rose Weddings

Finally, we hosted a Mothers Day Afternoon Tea at our house at the weekend, with homemade everything - finger sandwiches, mini tartlets, cheese and fruit scones, and a selection of cakes. Afternoon Tea is the best, and I wish we had it more! It takes some effort, but I love baking with my daughter (who’s almost 6, so she loves getting messy and licking the bowls!), so it’s worth taking the time over.

Afternoon Tea for Mothers Day
Afternoon Tea for Mothers Day

I hope you’ve had a wonderful March, and feeling brighter now Spring has finally sprung! The majority of April is Easter holidays for us, with 3 and a half weeks off school, but we have some fun trips and days out planned, so I’ll share more of those with you next month :-).

Jeni x