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 | May 2017

Hi All! I hope you've had a great May, and have enjoyed the few Summers days that this month has (reluctantly!) offered us! Here's what I've been up to this month:

Business

The end of April saw a fabulous weekend for Grace & Dan's wedding celebrations at a private residence in Buckinghamshire, and the Mother of the Bride left me such a lovely review on my Facebook page:

"Having organised my son and daughter-in-laws wedding 8 years ago I was confident to do my daughters. However after booking all the suppliers I started worrying about all the last minute organisation and how I was going to get everything done and still enjoy the actual day. 
I found Jeni after doing a search, I think I had an image of horrendously bossy wedding planner taking over the day......nothing could have been further from the truth.
I met Jeni about three weeks before the wedding when she came to our home (where we were holding the reception) she was so lovely and calm, putting me completely at ease and filling me with confidence right from the start. I handed over all the relevant information on suppliers to her and discussed our vision for the reception, and she took all the worry and anxiety away from me. 
All my suppliers have said to me that she was an absolute pleasure to deal with.
On the day before the wedding she was amazing, styling and decorating our home and marquee, it was literally breathtaking .
On the day of the wedding Jeni seemed to float around us all like an angel, sorting any queries or problems out without me even knowing about them, she liased with the caterers ,band, florist and photographers effortlessly; leaving myself,bride and bridesmaids to relax and enjoy our special time.
I could go on and on about how wonderful she was.... 
Put simply, Jeni made what was always going to be a special day into a truely wonderful day!
I have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone who is planning a wedding,she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Thank you Jeni!"

I absolutely love hearing feedback like this following a wedding day, as it truly means everything to hear that I've ensured each and every couple have had the best possible celebration they could have imagined, and it re-affirms my love and passion for what I work so hard for in my business :-)

Buckinghamshire Wedding Planner
Buckinghamshire Wedding Planner
Buckinghamshire Wedding Planner
Buckinghamshire Wedding Planner
Buckinghamshire Wedding Planner

All images by Green Antlers Photography

I've had a number of enquiries this month for weddings later this year, and have been busy with consultations and proposals for lovely new couples. I still have some select dates available in the Autumn and Winter, so if you're struggling with those last few months of planning, or feel you might like a Wedding Day Co-ordinator, then I'd love to hear from you!

Last weekend was a wedding that has been long awaited! I've been working with Jamie & Christian since July 2015 to plan their nuptials at the simply stunning Voewood in Norfolk. I have absolutely loved every moment of working with them to guide them through their wedding planning journey, and I've been so excited about seeing everything come together since the beginning of the year! It certainly didn't disappoint; it was a fabulous weekend, everything looked incredible, and I had just the best team by my side! Thank you especially to the lovely Annabelle at Florentina who made everything possible! Here are a couple of sneak peek images from their beautiful outdoor Ceremony:

Images by Julie Michaelsen Photography

Home

I've spent a lot of time catching up in the garden this month; potting up lots of new Lavenders and Cosmos for the front of the house and my plant stand, cutting back some of the wild Eucalyptus that seems to grow at an outstanding rate(!), and keeping everything watered during a super dry spell at the beginning of the month. I think we even had a couple of days of frost towards the end of April/beginning of May, which took effect on some of my hydrangea, the fig tree, and tomato plants. I was mistaken for thinking it was the tail end of Spring, but the weather had it's own ideas, and it's taken me all month to get them back to being healthy again! We had a pizza evening in the garden with our neighbours, which was super lovely, and great to be able to use our pizza oven again. I can't wait to use it every week throughout the Summer (or am I wishfully thinking with the awful weather we had a couple of weeks ago...?!)

Garden Wood Fired Pizza Oven
home grown Lavender
Garden Wood Fired Pizza Oven

Images by Julie Michaelsen Photography

Family

In between a few London days and evening industry events, I enjoyed a rare date night with my husband halfway through the month for a trip to the theatre in Oxford. I've missed being able to go to the theatre spontaneously since we moved out of London 5 years ago, so this was especially exciting for me!  

It was Bella's 4th birthday a couple of days ago, and we had made sure she had a special weekend of celebrations! We went to Peppa Pig world on Friday with some friends, which she absolutely loved! We went a couple of years ago for her 2nd birthday, and this year she was able to enjoy so many more of the rides. We all (the adults!) needed a glass of wine after a day surrounded by small people however. It's definitely a special occasion trip! Over the weekend we held a Frozen party for her with a group of friends from pre-school. She had just the best time, and we had a craft company come to do lots of Frozen themed crafty activities with the children, which was much more structured and calming for the (parent!) soul than just letting them all run loose on a bouncy castle! 

We're currently in Ibiza for a few days of 'Vitamin Sea'. It's been a super busy start to the year, and in the midst of our January Blues, we promised ourselves that we would take regular, short breaks throughout the year to continually keep us feeling motivated and energised. We got engaged on the simply idyllic island of Formentera (which is a small island just a short boat trip from Ibiza) almost 5 years ago, so we just love going back there to spend some quality family time together, as it's somewhere very special to us. Here are a couple of my iPhone snaps from Fomentera, as it's just too pretty not to share, and the colour of that water is the stuff of dreams!

Fomentera, Ibiza
Illetes Beach, Fomentera, Ibiza

I'll write more about our trip when I'm back in the June Round Up :-). 

We spent four days in Marrakech back in March, and we're off to Tuscany at the beginning of July for a wedding and a short break. It's so important to me to take these breaks, as we don't get to spend much time as a family throughout wedding season, particularly as 90% of my weddings take place over a weekend. Bella will be starting school in September, so this is also the last year we're able to take advantage of booking trips outside of school holidays!

June will see two super gorgeous weddings, so I'll look forward to sharing those with you next month too.

Until then....

Jeni x