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

Real Wedding | Beanie & Gawein

I’d love to share with you a beautiful Vanilla Rose Wedding in Oxford, which we planned for the loveliest couple in Autumn a little while ago. Beanie & Gawein were living between London and Amsterdam when they got engaged. So with Gawein being Dutch, and Beanie having a South African background within her family, they felt strongly about bringing touches of both cultures and heritage into their wedding celebrations.

The Ceremony took place at St Mary’s Church in Oxford, followed by a Reception at Aynhoe Park. I used a deeper colour palette of greens and navy, teamed with a handful of softer hues, such as blush, lilac and ivory to add depth. Of course there were hints of brass and gold too, which worked perfectly with their Reception venue. Rachel at The Rose Shed truly nailed the brief, and created the most incredible arrangements for both the Ceremony and the Reception.

Kylee Yee, who is an incredible fine art photographer, and the loveliest person to be around, captured this wedding beautifully. You can enjoy some of her stunning imagery from Beanie & Gawein’s wedding day below.

Beanie & Gawein’s wedding was also recently featured on The Knot, and you can read the full feature here.

If you'd like to work with Vanilla Rose Weddings for assistance in planning your celebrations, find out more about my full-service wedding planning service here, or get in touch to schedule a complimentary discovery call. I am based in Oxford, Oxfordshire, but love to travel - so I’d love to hear more about your plans to see how I may be able to help.

A few words from Beanie & Gawein:

“Thank you again SO very sincerely for helping us to host quite simply the MOST extraordinary wedding weekend.  To quote Gawein, “it was the wedding to end all weddings” (well… certainly for us, though hopefully not for you!) and we both loved every minute.  As indeed did all our guests who were blown away by Aynhoe, the food, the flowers… all just fabulous.”

Venue: Aynhoe Park | Photography: Kylee Yee | Full Wedding Design, Planning, Management & Prop Hire: Vanilla Rose Weddings | Marquee: Marquees & Pavillions | Floral Design: The Rose Shed | Catering: Stones Events | Crossback Chairs: Wedhead | Cake: Princess Patisserie

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

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