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

Planning Tips | 9 - 11 months to go

Continuing with the Planning Timeline series, here are the next steps for your wedding planning, working from 9-11 months before your wedding. Happy Planning!

11 months

Find your venue

Once you’ve thought about where you would like to get married, now is time to think about whether you would prefer to host your wedding celebrations within a venue or a marquee. A misconception I often come across is that marquee weddings are likely to be more cost effective than a venue, but in actual fact it can be very much the other way around. Building a marquee is a laborious task; everything will need to be brought in - including all furniture, toilets, a generator for power, and heaters in case you might need them! These are all items you will need to budget for.

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Kylee Yee Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Kylee Yee Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Wickham House | Image by Julie Michaelsen

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Wickham House | Image by Julie Michaelsen

A venue may have lots of these items already, but others may have a “Dry Hire” offering, which means you will need to hire in all furniture, and bring in your own suppliers for catering and production, for example. This is often my favoured choice as a Wedding Planner, as it allows you to have free reign over which suppliers you use - which allows my creativity to flow freely!

Another point to consider before you make a final decision is where your guests might stay; is there plenty of accommodation nearby for them, and is there somewhere for you to stay the night before / after your wedding? Quite often clients ask me to source a venue which allows them to enjoy a whole weekend of celebrations, from a rehearsal dinner or BBQ the night beforehand, and then perhaps a cricket match or Afternoon Tea the day following the wedding. It’s unlikely you will ever get the same group of family and friends together ever again, so why not make the most of the opportunity and really enjoy every moment!?

Confirm your Minister / Registrar / Celebrant

Once you have booked a provisional date with your chosen venue, it’s vital that you now check availability for your Ceremony to be conducted by your chosen Church or Registrar on your preferred date. If you’re not keen on having a Religious or Civil Ceremony, you could also consider having a Humanist Celebrant conduct your Ceremony. This is a non religious service which is completely personal to you both as a couple. A Celebrant will take time to get to know your personalities and your journey as a couple together, to create a truly special Ceremony which reflects you both and the time you have spent together. I have a number of Celebrants who have conducted incredible Ceremonies for my clients who I would love to put you in touch with!

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Millar Cole Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Millar Cole Photography

Consider a Catering company

Your venue may have an in house catering team who will provide all food and beverage for you, in which case you can leave this task until a little later, as you have plenty of time to consider your menus and drink offerings. If your venue or marquee site allows you free reign to choose which catering company you would like, then it’s time to start researching catering teams to provide a quote for you. There are some incredible catering companies throughout the UK, all offering something a little different, so do take your time to speak to a number of suppliers about what they’re able to offer you. Your venue may be able to recommend some great companies they have worked with previously, so it’s always worth asking, as a word of mouth recommendation is worth 10 online reviews!

The catering will likely come in at around 25% of your overall budget, so choose wisely, and consider as many options as you can before making a final decision. I would aways recommend booking a tasting in too, once you’ve confirmed who you would like to go with.

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Voewood | Image by Julie Michaelsen Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Voewood | Image by Julie Michaelsen Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Millar Cole Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Millar Cole Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Kylee Yee Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Kylee Yee Photography

10 months

Find your Photographer

The best Photographers get booked up well in advance, so this is a task to start researching as early as you can. I can’t stress enough the importance of having the best Photographer you can afford within your budget. Aside from your memories (and video if you decide to hire a Videographer too - in which case, start this search around the same time!), photographs are the only thing you’ll have from your wedding in years to come. So it’s important to make the right choice and feel completely happy with who you have chosen.

Take some time to research the different styles available, and think about whether you might prefer film photography over digital. Do you prefer the moody darker style, or really light and airy? Most of all though, it’s important that you find a Photographer who makes you feel comfortable and who you enjoy talking to. They will be with you for the morning of your wedding and throughout the day, and when you’re not used to being photographed, it helps when you have a Photographer who you feel you can be entirely yourself around, as this will produce the best photographs!

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park| Image by Kylee Yee Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park| Image by Kylee Yee Photography

A Vanilla Rose Editorial at Chiswick House | Image by Julie Michaelsen

A Vanilla Rose Editorial at Chiswick House | Image by Julie Michaelsen

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Millar Cole Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Millar Cole Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Barrie Downie Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Barrie Downie Photography

Find your Florist

It’s also time to start thinking about flowers! This is one of my favourite parts of the wedding planning journey, as I love flowers and think you can never have too many! They add such a wow factor to your day, and can really change the whole feel of a space.

Create a Wishlist of the arrangements you think you would like throughout your day, from your Bridal bouquets through to your Ceremony and Reception arrangements, as well as any other areas you would like to dress. Then the fun part - researching the best florists! There are so many fabulous florists in the UK, and each have their own wonderful style. If you’re hosting your celebrations outside, or in a marquee, you might want something soft and blousy to enhance the garden surroundings. If you’re in a historical building or Palace, something more formal with less or no foliage may suit you better. Look for a florist who has created designs previously in the kind of style you’re drawn towards, as you’ll get the best out of them that way.

Ask each florist for an initial guideline of pricing to see if they work within your budget first, and then build upon that from there.

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park| Image by Kylee Yee Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park| Image by Kylee Yee Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Voewood | Image by Julie Michaelsen Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Voewood | Image by Julie Michaelsen Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Pippa MacKenzie

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Pippa MacKenzie

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Anna Fowler Photography

A Vanilla Rose Wedding at Aynhoe Park | Image by Anna Fowler Photography

9 months

Confirm your Musicians and Entertainment

Consider the flow of your day, from your guests arriving, right through to the end of the evening. Think about how you might see this unfolding, and if you would like to start with something more classic and formal and work your way up to something much more lively and fun for your evening reception. This is an entirely personal choice, and there’s a huge range of talented musicians available - but it’s a fun task researching! You can spend upwards of £7-8,000 for a really great evening Showband, so it’s important to re-visit your budget here.

You can also pair this task with confirming any additional production you might need. If you’re having a band, you may require a stage, or if you’re having a DJ you may need a DJ booth if your chosen DJ doesn’t provide one. Always consider a dance floor and additional lighting, as they (lighting particularly!) have a huge effect on the ambiance of a room in the evening.

Confirm your Stationery Designer

Your invitations will set the tone for your wedding day with guests, right at the beginning of their journey with you, so consider your overall design aesthetic and how the invitations will fit into this. There may be some ready to go collections available which suit your style perfectly, and you’re able to personalise those with your details. Papier and Minted offer some great options. If you don’t find anything you like, most good stationers will offer a completely bespoke service where they will design something perfect for you.

A Vanilla Rose Editorial at Chiswick House | Image by Julie Michaelsen

A Vanilla Rose Editorial at Chiswick House | Image by Julie Michaelsen

A Vanilla Rose Editorial | Image by Jessica Davies Photography

A Vanilla Rose Editorial | Image by Jessica Davies Photography

Think about how long you’ll need for this process, particularly if you decide to go down the bespoke route. Your stationer will be able to advise on this, but you’ll need time for the initial concepts, design, revisions, and then printing and delivery, before you’re then able to send out the invitations to your guests. Aim to send your invitations out approximately 3 - 4 months ahead of your wedding date.


I hope this helps, but do let me know if you have any queries or are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of all of the organisation, and I’d be delighted to help further! I offer a range of Wedding Planning Services, and based centrally to the South East in Oxfordshire I cover the south of the UK.

Jeni x

Planning Tips | Kickstart your wedding plans

If you’re recently engaged, congratulations! It’s such an exciting time, but can be equally quite overwhelming when it comes to knowing where to start. A wedding timeline is so varied, depending on your specific plans and your timeframe. However, this new Wedding Planning Timeline series will hopefully help you on your planning journey to your Wedding Day. My timeline example is based on having 12 months to plan your wedding celebrations, but it can of course be adapted to your own timings. I hope you find this helpful, and if you would like me to include anything specific, or you would like some professional guidance with your wedding plans, then please do get in touch. I still have some limited availability for 2019, and I’m also now booking into 2020, and I would love to hear from you!

12 Months

Write your guest list

  • This is an important first task, as you cannot start searching for venues before you know how many guests you will need to accommodate. You don’t want to fall in love with a venue, only to later discover it’s not big enough, or even too large!

  • Write your full guest list once, and then revisit it a few days later to ensure you haven’t forgotten anyone important and that you still feel happy with it.

  • Don’t feel like you need to invite absolutely everyone who has ever invited you to their wedding. This is your day, and if you’re no longer in touch with some of those old friends, it’s not essential to return the invitation.

  • Equally, don’t feel pressured by your family to invite everyone that they would like to come. Discuss with your family who they might like to invite, but then consider those invites with your fiancé before making a final decision.

Decide upon your overall budget

  • Consider all of your possible avenues of the investment for your wedding and where it will be coming from.

  • Arrange early on to discuss a budget with family members who may have kindly offered to contribute, before you begin to commit to a venue or any vendors.

  • You can begin to put together a breakdown of your overall budget at this stage too, although it might be difficult for you to estimate costs for certain elements if you’re unfamiliar with how much they might be. Top Tip: The budget planning percentages often offered in Bridal magazines are unrealistic, and are based on a national average, so they won’t necessarily apply to your wedding. If you book my Full Planning Service I will create a bespoke budget plan for you, based on our initial consultation, and I will then keep track of expenses throughout our whole planning journey together, saving you lots of time in spreadsheets!

Consider where you might like to get married

  • Discuss with your fiancé whether you would prefer to get married here in the UK or if you would love to investigate the possibility of holding your celebrations abroad, as a destination wedding.

  • Consider the time of year you would like to get married, and whether this lends itself well to a particular location.

  • Is there a particular country / area which is meaningful to you as a couple?

  • Think about the style of wedding you would love. Are you drawn towards having an outdoor Wedding Ceremony, or do you prefer the beauty of British architecture and would love a venue with gorgeous high ceilings, pillars, and plenty of light? I specialise in beautiful Country House weddings in England, specifically within Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, where we are just so incredibly lucky to have so many beautiful wedding venues, and I would love to help you to find that perfect one! Here are a few of our favourites that we have planned weddings for:

Purchase wedding insurance

  • This is something that is very important to book before you begin confirming suppliers, as some insurers won’t cover your venue or certain vendors which you may have booked prior to purchasing an insurance policy.

  • There are many insurers out there who offer wedding insurance, so do shop around for the best deal.

  • Ensure your policy covers everything you need. For example, if you are planning a marquee wedding, make sure your policy offers extra cover for this.

Hire a Wedding Planner

  • If you would like to hire a Wedding Planner to assist you with your planning, now it the time to search for someone to help you, so you can really benefit from their expertise.

  • If your spare time is limited, a Wedding Planner can help with keeping that time for yourself, and they will ensure that you’re always on track with your wedding plans.

  • Perhaps you have lots of inspiration and ideas about what you would like for your wedding, but are really unsure where to even start in bringing your vision to life. Working with a Wedding Planner would be perfect for you; I have worked with so many vendors and venues, and have a wealth of experience in planning luxury weddings.

  • When looking for a Planner, it’s important to find someone you get along well with, as you will be working with them for the next 12 months. Every Planner has a different style, and way of working, so it’s a good idea to research a few Planners and meet them / arrange a Skype call before making a final decision on who you would like to work with.

  • My advice would be to book the best Planner that you’re able to afford. There are lots of Wedding Planners who are new to the industry and charging much less than experienced professionals. Wedding Planners with higher fees have years of experience and consistently produce beautiful weddings which run like clockwork. Don’t make a decision solely based on their fees, as booking an inexperienced Wedding Planner could end up costing you a lot more in the long run!

Gather design ideas and inspiration

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  • Start by considering the season in which you will be getting married in, what the weather is likely to be like, and the surrounding location. Brainstorm some ideas of ideas what might work well with these as a starting point.

  • Are you drawn to a particular colour palette? Don’t just select one or two colours, as it will appear very two dimensional. When creating a Design Plan for my couples, I tend to bring together a colour palette of at least 5 or 6 complimenting hues to really add texture and movement into the wedding design.

  • Think back to weddings you’ve been to previously. What did you really enjoy / dislike?

  • Do visit Pinterest for inspiration, but don’t allow yourself to get carried away! Many of the images on Pinterest are from styled shoots and editorials, and although work beautifully on a smaller scale, wouldn’t necessarily work when applied to a real wedding scenario with many more guests.

To find out more and enquire about my wedding planning services, please click here. I only work with a limited number of clients each year to ensure I can provide the time, care, and attention to detail they deserve.

Jeni x