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

Monthly Round Up | February 2019

How is it March already? I feel like I’ve blinked and we’re almost in Spring, which actually is a super good thing. I feel like I’ve been wearing coats and boots forever, and I for one am looking forward to wearing something on my feet other than knee boots or Uggs, and releasing the Spring/Summer wardrobe that’s been packed away for months on end!

I hope you’ve all had a good February, and are starting to thaw out a little now…! Here’s a little insight into what I have been up to over the last month:

Business

At the very beginning of the month, when we had the heavy snow here in Oxfordshire, it was the weekend of Alexa & Tom’s gorgeous Winter wedding in Surrey, where there was no snow (in comparison!). On the Friday morning I had to dig my car out of 6 inches of snow to drive down to the marquee site in Surrey for a set up and styling day. Working with a fabulous team all day, but I think it was actually colder in the marquee than it was outside. Fiona from our floristry team had the ingenious idea of wearing a heated gilet - she was toasty and we were all super envious. One for the Amazon shopping basket for next Winter for sure…!

The wedding was a huge success, and WHAT a party! We had glow sticks, confetti canons, disco flashing trainers, a glitter station, lava lamps, roller skates - the works! It really was such a fun weekend, and the marquee looked spectacular. Official pictures to come soon, but here’s a sneak peak from some of my iPhone pictures, and a few official photos of the gorgeous Bride & Groom from Hajley Photography:

For the rest of the month, I have filled my days with a mixture of office admin, emails, Skype calls, planning meetings with my clients for upcoming 2019 weddings, and a few menu tasting and floristry meetings with clients and suppliers. What I really love about my job is that it’s so varied, and no two days are the same. Having worked in London in an office 9-6pm 5 days a week prior to starting Vanilla Rose Weddings when we moved to Oxfordshire, I just knew I didn’t want to do that again when we left London. Having the daily variety works perfectly for me, and now having two children in the mix, it also allows me to strike a good work/life balance and plan my days to suit me and the business. Being a mum and a business owner can be hard, but I’d do it all again a million times over, as it allows me to spend lots of quality time with my children, whilst having a career I love. All the heart eyes, and apologies for the gushiness ;-)

Family & Home

February is always a busy month in our household; Valentines Day, my husbands birthday and half term. Which actually, always all fall almost within one week!

For Valentines Day, my parents looked after the children and we went out for a lovely meal in Oxford at The Trout Inn - one of our firm local favourites during the Summer months as they have a gorgeous terrace by the river, so we thought we would give it a try in the Winter. It was so cosy with the fires going, and they had a delicious Valentines menu!

Jeni Amey Vanilla Rose Weddings
The Trout Inn Oxford

For my husbands birthday, we went with my parents-in-law to another of our favourite local restaurants - The Woodspeen, near Newbury. A Michelin Starred venue which never disappoints. The setting, food and service is always perfect, and we love going there for a treat. They also have a cookery school, with a variety of courses and workshops, which is on our list to try soon. This time we went for Sunday lunch, which was amazing, and I can highly recommend it if you’re local and haven’t been before! Later in March, we’re escaping for a night and going to Lio London for a grown ups night out! We both have always loved Lio Ibiza, and visit whenever we’re there. They are running a pop up in London for 6 weeks from the end of February so it was always a must for us to visit!

Half Term whizzed by in a flash, as it was only a week. But we had a combination of work days, family bowling, play dates with school friends (to Blenheim Palace and for walks in the forest climbing trees!) and some friends came to stay for the weekend with their gorgeous new baby girl.

Blenheim Palace Day Out
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up

Finally, I indulged in a Spa evening last week at Nirvana Spa with a friend, which was utter bliss. We both had a treatment, followed by a healthy dinner and relaxing/chatting in the new Hydro-pool. It’s so important to take time for yourself every now and again - especially when running your own business and have children, as time can be limited, and it’s one of the first things to fall off the list! I make sure I find time for self care, as I think it’s so important for wellbeing and mental health - along with exercise. But my recent first experience of Clubbercise (complete with glow-sticks) is a story for another day….!!

It’s been a really fun month actually, looking back on everything I’ve been doing. No wonder time is flying…! I’m catching back up with my blog posts now, so keep your eyes peeled for a Real Wedding post coming up in mid March - it’s a pretty one!

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | January 2019

It’s been 16 months since I last published a monthly round up post, and I’ve actually kind of missed them! I took some time away from weddings in 2018 as we welcomed our second child into the world in June last year. Leo has been such an incredible (final!) addition to our family, and although I think I’ve been riding a whole rollercoaster of emotions over the last 12 months, I honestly couldn't be happier, and I’m so delighted that our family is now complete!

I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging this year, and I’m making a promise to myself that I am going to keep these up for the whole of 2019. I need you all to keep me accountable for that too, and I’d love for you to get in touch and request any specific topics you would like me to cover and I’ll do my best to get those added into the schedule for this year!

2018 was a busy year for me on a personal level, but I’ve been super excited to start 2019 back at work and I have some absolutely beautiful weddings planned for this year. Here’s what I have been up to in January…

Business

I started off the month with a final planning meeting for a beautiful upcoming early February wedding in Surrey. It’s promising to be a gorgeous marquee celebration with a true party vibe for a fun-loving couple, so I’m very much looking forward to kicking off my wedding season with a bang! Follow along on my Instagram this weekend, and I will be sharing some sneak peaks of the action!

I’ve also had a number of wedding planning meetings both in Oxfordshire and London with my couples for the rest of this year, whilst scheduling appointments and tastings for clients with their key suppliers, confirming lots of new details, and responding to lots of lovely enquiries which have come in over the Christmas period. A lot of time has been spent in the office this month, getting to grips with 2019 plans, but I also visited a couple of new wedding venues in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire which was incredibly exciting, and I hope to share more with you soon.

Alongside my weddings in 2019, I am also working on a couple of editorial projects for the Spring, which I promise to share more with you about when I can, but in the meantime I’ve been working on details for those which will be super pretty!

Family & Home

When I said 2018 was busy, I wasn’t kidding! We ended the year by moving into our new home the weekend before Christmas(!!), so this month has been spent unpacking approximately 167 boxes slowly. Isn’t it incredible how you seem to accumulate so much in such a short space of time?! We only lived in our previous house for just over 6 years, but somehow we seemed to have acquired enough to keep us going for life…! I managed to condense our belongings a little in the months leading up to our move, but the removal team did an absolutely amazing and speedy job of packing our entire house in just two days. I did go all Marie Kondo before we moved and had a huge de-clutter in a bid to reduce the amount I would need to unpack once we arrived to the new house, but we do all still seem to have much more than we need!

Leo has learnt to sit up by himself this month! He’s a super happy baby anyway, but he’s now even more delighted that he can sit up and play with his toys around him and see much more of what’s going on!

We have enjoyed a few weekends seeing friends that we haven’t seen for a while, which has been lovely, and I managed to escape to London for a few days to catch up with two of my best friends - one for wedding dress shopping as she’s getting married this year, and another for a delicious (and definitely not part of my New Year Diet!) Afternoon Tea at my favourite, Ham Yard Hotel.

I hope you have all had a January filled with positivity, planning, and an abundance of Gin (no time for Veganuary or Dry January in this household!), and now feel like you’re now fully ready for whatever 2019 will bring! Catch up next month….

Jeni x