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

Monthly Round Up | July 2017

We're now into the second half of the year, and I'm super proud of myself for posting one of these round up posts at the end of every month so far. I was determined to keep the momentum going, and it's actually really nice looking back at previous posts to remind myself of how much I've achieved in the last 6 months. I'm not usually one for constantly looking back, I prefer to spend my time planning for the future, but sometimes a little reflection is just what's needed to allow myself to continue to grow and flourish (particularly with my business). Here's a little of what I've been up to in July:

Business

I had a super busy final few weeks in June with two big weddings, so for the beginning of July, I made sure I dedicated plenty of time to my couples for the rest of the summer. I ensure I'm as organised as possible with the plans for every wedding before the busy season starts in April, and I always stay in touch with my couples throughout the summer months. However, it's such a busy period for all industry vendors, so each task can take a little longer around this time! 

If you haven't yet come across the fabulous venue that is The Lakes by Yoo, then please do take a moment to check out their website. They have recently made the decision to offer The Barnhouse as a luxury venue for weddings, so I spent an afternoon there earlier this month absorbing all that the exclusive development has to offer. The interiors at The Barnhouse have been exceptionally designed by Kate Moss, and it is now available for intimate weddings. If you'd like to find out more about The Lakes by Yoo as a venue for your wedding, please do get in touch and I'd love to share more about it with you!

Last weekend saw a gorgeous wedding in the Great Hall and Long Library at Blenheim Palace, with floral gorgeousness created by the fabulous Joanna Carter Flowers. It's always a pleasure working with Joanna and her team, and they created some spectacular arrangements which were perfect for the grandeur of the Palace. The cake in particular was certainly a showstopper, and many of you sent me lots of messages on Instagram about this one....!

Asian Wedding Cakes | Wedding Planner at Blenheim Palace

Home

I have tried to embark on a huge decluttering mission this month, as we seem to accumulate so much which we really don't need. I have succeeded in clearing Bella's wardrobe and drawers, which took me a couple of hours one rainy afternoon (with her help!), and ended up with two bin bags of good quality clothing which we donated to our chosen charity. It was much easier than I thought, and I'm not sure why I've been putting it off so long - so in August I'm planning to tackle my own wardrobe (and this gives me an excuse to buy a couple of new pieces - just don't tell my husband!!). 

I'm planning a new gallery wall and Library space at the moment, with some new family photographs by the lovely Sarah Hannam Photography from our mini getaway to Ibiza last month, so this is next on my horizon (along with the Utility Room plans which are now underway!).

Sarah Hannam Fine Art Family Photography
Sarah Hannam Fine Art Film Family Photography

Family

We were in Tuscany for a wedding at the beginning of this month, and then spent a couple of days child-free at a beautiful Italian spa resort before heading home. It was really lovely to spend some quality time together, as it seems such a rarity these days; so a pool overlooking the beautiful golf course with a couple of spa treatments thrown in was just what the doctor ordered! 

I met some girlfriends for lunch one Saturday afternoon at the new Ivy Garden in Marlow, which was a lovely treat to ourselves. The food was absolutely delicious and the setting was lovely, but we came to the conclusion that the Chelsea Garden outlet is still our absolute fave for an all round experience! The following day we welcomed some friends for a pizza afternoon at home in our garden. The pizza oven hasn't had many uses this summer yet, so it was great to fire it up and enjoy some delicious stone baked pizzas, alongside a few healthy salads to balance them out! 

It's been my birthday and also our wedding anniversary this month, so I have been rather spoilt to say the least! We spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon at Cotswold Lavender, near Broadway wandering through rows and rows of purple gorgeousness (somewhere I've been meaning to go to every July for the last 3 or 4 years!) followed by a lovely Sunday lunch at Willow Crossley's new venture - The Swan at Ascott, for our anniversary weekend.

Cotswold Lavender Farm
Cotswold Lavender Farm

For my birthday, we spent a lovely day in London catching up with friends over wine and cocktails at my favourite Ham Yard Hotel, before spending my actual birthday a couple of days later having brunch with my parents, and a family day with Bella at Bristol Zoo, followed by an amazing evening at The Pig near Bath. If you haven't been to The Pig before, you absolutely should! The ambience, service and food were all just incredible, and we couldn't have enjoyed it more. The setting of the hotel is just lovely, with an array of home grown produce finding its way to the majority of their delicious menu. It was so difficult to choose what to have. As a vegetarian, I often find when eating out that restaurants only offer one choice, which of course isn't actually a "choice" at all. You either have it, or you don't! At The Pig, there were around 5 or 6 vegetarian options, and all of them sounded equally amazing! After much deliberation, I opted for a few of the small nibbles as a tapas style starter, followed by a preserved tomatoes and burrata salad with fresh basil and edible flowers, teamed with a side of chilli quinoa. For dessert, we shared a bread and butter pudding (divine!) and the Piggy Fours - a fun take on Petit Fours, which were delicious! We're always looking for new pubs and restaurants to discover in and around Oxfordshire, so if you have any recommendations which you think we'd love, do get in touch! 

Hope you've all had a fab month! :-)

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | June 2016

Wow. June has literally flown by. I mean, the last time I looked, it was the end of May and I was in the final preparation stages for two weddings, one corporate event, and a friends wedding, which were all within a two week timeframe. If there were ever a time to be the most organised Planner, this was it! 

It's been a phenomenal month, and I have loved every second of it, so I'm excited to share some snippets of what has been happening in my world this month with you today.

BUSINESS

I'll start at the beginning! The first week in June was spent finalising all of the smaller details for my upcoming events. With the lovely weather, I spent lots of time in the garden at home arranging on the day stationery from Megan Riera, putting together Order of Service booklets with the most gorgeous custom dyed silk ribbon from Kate Cullen, and preparing photo booth props, cushions and decor details for a corporate summer party. I also accompanied one of my Brides to her final floral meeting with the lovely Rachel at Green & Gorgeous. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting Rachel's flower farm in Oxfordshire, you should definitely add it to your To Do list! Acres and acres of beautiful blooms grown especially for your wedding, and the ability to walk through the farm a week or two before your date to select exactly which florals you'd like to include within your designs is such a special touch. Not to mention the scents floating around - perfection! 

H&J renewed their vows at Greyfriars Church, Oxford, followed by the most beautiful reception at the Bodleian Library. It was the first time I've had the honour of attending one of my couples Ceremonies, as I'm usually busy co-ordinating the Reception setup during this time, but we weren't able to access the Reception space until later that afternoon. It was truly a joy to witness such a heartfelt Ceremony, and the Bride surprised the Groom with a performance of a song close to their hearts along with the Choir. The Bodleian Library looked spectacular for the evening, with stunning table arrangements by Joanna Carter, luxury stationery from Megan Riera, and blush pink glass charger plates from Duchess & Butler. It was an absolute pleasure to work alongside such an amazing team of suppliers. Here's a sneak peek at a few images from the day by Julie Michaelsen.

The following weekend was the long anticipated wedding of my gorgeous couple E&S. I have been working alongside them for two years planning their festival inspired wedding in Oxfordshire, and I feel sad that it's now over. They have been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I truly hope we stay friends now that my work is done! Their wedding weekend was spectacular, and I loved working alongside such a great team - both at the venue and externally. Everyone worked super hard to bring so many logistical elements together to make this day happen, and I am so grateful for having such a supportive and motivated team around me. We spent a day and a half in raincoats and wellies setting up each different tent and area, before the rain finally stopped and the sun shone in time for a 2pm Ceremony on Saturday! A special thanks to Things by Laura and Merrie & Bright for being incredible on Friday, and to my Assistant Esmee for being my right hand woman on the day, especially when we nearly didn't have any flowers due to the florists van breaking down on route! Who says being a Wedding Planner is glamorous?! Needless to say, everything came together in the end, and here's a couple of sneak peek images from the day by Martin Beddall Photography.

The rest of the month has been spent preparing for a special tipi wedding at Aynhoe Park which takes place this weekend, and also final meetings for a country wedding at the end of July. I love seeing all final plans come together, and it's such a privilege to be so closely involved in orchestrating each couples special day! 

FAMILY

Although this month has mainly been spent working, I managed to sneak a day off for Father's Day, which we spent as a family together with my parents at the Blenheim Palace Flower Show. It was a beautiful day, and I always love visiting Blenheim. There were flowers aplenty, with lots of local growers showcasing their best blooms. We also enjoyed a date night one Friday, venturing out for dinner and drinks in Oxford - a rare occurrence, but something we always plan to try and do each month! 

Last weekend we spent a few days in Leicestershire for our friends wedding, for which I was a Bridesmaid. It was my first time ever being a Bridesmaid, and it was such a lovely experience - both families were so welcoming and I honestly felt like one of the family for the weekend. Caylie & Ben's wedding was held at Ben's Uncle & Auntie's house in a marquee on their grounds. The marquee looked gorgeous when it was set up, and the thunderstorms miraculously parted over the marquee and outdoor Ceremony at just the right time! It was lovely to see Zena Birch again, who conducted the most special Humanist Ceremony, and I'm looking forward to seeing the images from Holly at Belle & Beau Photography, whom I've adored the work of for a long time! I already adore the sneak peek Holly has posted on her Instagram from Saturday of the Bride & Groom, which you can see here.

HOME

When we were at the Blenheim Palace show, we finally purchased some chairs for our summer house, so I'm looking forward to them being delivered in a couple of weeks, ready for my birthday! The garden is starting to look gorgeous now that all of the flowers are coming into bloom, and the colours are super pretty! Our pizza oven build is well underway, and should be finished (weather dependent!) this weekend, so I've been practising my pizza dough skills ready for a summer of dining outdoors. Any recipes or tips for cooking with a wood fired pizza oven would be well received! 

Phew! Hope you've all had a wonderful June, and I look forward to catching up with you again at the end of July! 

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | May 2016

Hello! Hope you have all had a wonderful May, which seems to have incorporated all seasons and weather conditions available...but I'm so pleased that at least some hints of summer have finally arrived, as it's felt like we have been in the depths of Winter for far too long now!

This month has been very busy indeed, so prepare for a long post....!

Business

This month I have been busy with meetings and admin, finalising arrangements for June weddings. I have been creating super detailed schedules, confirming a few last details and logistics with key suppliers, finalising the floral and tablescape designs, on the day stationery, and collating final numbers and guest menu choices and dietary requirements, before arranging the seating plans to send to the catering team. The last four weeks leading up to each wedding are crucial in ensuring every last detail has been thought of and covered, and planning deliveries and setup times so that everything runs as seamlessly as possible on the day itself. 

Vanilla Rose Weddings Oxfordshire

Consultations with couples planning their wedding for 2017 have been popular this month, with a few planning celebrations at home, and the others in beautiful Oxfordshire venues. In addition to a couple of exciting new weddings for next year, a luxury Oxford wedding for later this summer, a bohemian summer office party is also now in the planning for early summer, so something a little different for me, but an exciting challenge!

At the beginning of the month I travelled to Norfolk with some clients to meet with potential caterers for their wedding next year at Voewood. We had such a wonderful day, and travelled to all four corners of Norfolk in a day to see everyone, so a long day but super productive. It was so lovely to see their venue again, and at the same time of year as their wedding day (Top Tip: try to do this with your wedding venue if planning more than a year in advance, as it will be invaluable to you when planning what the gardens will look like, and where the sun/light is throughout the day).

I held a final run through of timings for my first two weddings in June with the venue teams to ensure everyone is up to speed with the plans, and of course to identify any logistical issues that may occur or have been missed. 

Excitingly, I have now found an Assistant to work alongside me for this summer. I spent a lot of time earlier this month reading carefully through all of the applications I received. It was a really hard decision, as every single person I interviewed would have been amazing, and I'd love to have worked with them all, but I only had one position available, so please welcome the lovely Esmee to the VRW team!

 

Family

The main event from this month is that my little girl turned 3 at the weekend! I'm not entirely sure where the last 3 years have gone, but I'm so proud of the clever, thoughtful and caring little girl that Bella has become. She makes me laugh every single day, and although she is without doubt a challenge most days too, I wouldn't have her any other way! We had a family day on Friday last week at London Zoo to celebrate her birthday, followed by a full bank holiday weekend of celebrations and all round spoiling! We spent the afternoon on Saturday at Blenheim Palace for their Food & Drink Festival, and Bella thoroughly enjoyed the Pleasure Gardens and live music!

I spent 4 days in Las Vegas mid month too with friends to celebrate a Hen Party. I'm not quite sure how I expected Vegas to be, but it was a truly amazing fun-packed long weekend! Walking along the Strip almost feels like you have dived right into a film set; with the most elaborate hotels, fountains, gardens and signage. We took some time to explore some of the hotels, and one of my favourites was the Venetian, with it's gondola filled canals, ornate wall murals and huge shopping centre! We stayed in the Aria, which was amazing, and contained everything you could ever need (and some....!). We dined at some incredible restaurants, with my favourite being Hakkasan. I've never been to the London venue, as it's not the type of cuisine I would normally choose, but I will definitely be visiting after experiencing it's Vegas establishment. So Delicious! 

The Fountains at The Bellagio

The Fountains at The Bellagio

Gondolas at The Venetian

Gondolas at The Venetian

Home

We have spent some time this month getting to grips with the garden, and finally starting our decking area and pizza oven base, ready to take delivery of a wood fired oven in June. Our Summer House has looked a little lonely at the end of the garden for the past year, so I'm really looking forward to making the most of it this summer as it becomes part of our outdoor entertaining area.

A few months ago I planted up a cutting flower bed, full of pretty blooms to cut later in the summer. There's nothing better than filling the house with fresh flowers, and the peonies are doing especially well at the moment, almost ready to burst with colour! 

 

June is a super busy month for me, as it's when my peak wedding season begins. I have two beautiful and very different weddings, a corporate bohemian party and I'm also Bridesmaid for a friends wedding! 

Hope you have all had a great May, see you again in a month!

Jeni x

Design Inspiration | Styling your venue: Stately Home

I am working on a number of weddings at the moment which will be held in a stately home or a building of grandeur status. They can be spectacular wedding venues, and will truly allow you to feel like a princess for the day! Nothing is too over the top here, so they are the perfect backdrop for your fairytale wedding. When considering your decor, I would advise "the bigger the better"! In fact, anything too small can be at risk of being overpowered by it's surroundings. It's important to make an impact, make the most of any historic large opulent features... Hello candle flooded fireplace!!

Image by Robert & Kathleen Photographers via Style Me Pretty

Image by Robert & Kathleen Photographers via Style Me Pretty

Banqueting rooms often offer high ceilings, and are crying out for oversized (and tall) centrepieces to make the most of the space. Crisp white table linen often looks best, but don't be afraid to experiment with colour if the venue surroundings would suit this look. Grey or navy linen look spectacular with pink and white florals, but remember to just select two or three colours to create an elegant look - any more will look messy. Using gold rimmed or decorative crockery and glassware with gold cutlery will really enhance the historic grandeur (Helene Millot Furnishings have a beautiful range of these). 

Image by Anouschka Rokebrand via Helene Millot Furnishings

Image by Anouschka Rokebrand via Helene Millot Furnishings

If there isn't enough natural light in the dining space, it will give you the perfect excuse to fill the room with candles (always make sure the venue are happy for you to do this first!), but if the room already has plenty of natural light flooding in through beautiful large windows, allow the light to take over, and save the candles for your evening reception. 

Venue: Bowood House

Venue: Bowood House

Timeless and classic stationery styles work best with historic buildings, such as letterpress printed onto luxury paper stock, and paired with an essence of calligraphy throughout the design. If budget allows, offer a personalised menu for each place setting, along with beautiful calligraphy place names. Be creative with your table plan...is there a feature within the house which you love, and could be used for hanging escort cards or table plan cards from?

Stationery by Oh So Beautiful Paper

Stationery by Oh So Beautiful Paper

When it comes to your menu, opt for a traditional 3 or 4 course meal. But that doesn't mean you need to stick to traditional dishes - work with your caterer to come up with some creative options to really impress your guests. Perhaps an amouse-bouche between courses, a Heston Blumenthal style chocolate dessert with dry ice smoke when guests lift the lid, or offering a different wine to complement each course. All of these have gone down very well at previous Vanilla Rose weddings!

 

Here are a few of my favourite stately home venues:

Fetcham Park, Surrey

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Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire

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Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

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Sezincote House, Gloucestershire

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Cliveden House, Buckinghamshire

I hope that has given you some ideas for using the space within a stately home to its full potential, but if you're planning a wedding in a historic building and would like a little extra help, I would love to hear from you! 

 

Jeni x