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 | June 2017

It feels like Summer has finally arrived this month, with a mega heatwave taking hold last week. We seem to spend all Winter wishing for sunshine, and as soon as we get some, it's too hot and we can't cope! Of course we all rush out to buy emergency fans, and everywhere has already sold out. Note to self: be prepared!! 

Anyway, it's been a great month here, and I'm excited to share a little about what I've been up to in June:

Business

I've had two fabulous weddings this month, which have both been simply amazing. I know I say this a lot, but I'm so lucky to be able to work with such fantastic teams. Here are a couple of sneak peaks from a wedding at Aynhoe Park last week:

Paula Rooney Flowers Aynhoe Park Vanilla Rose Wedding Planner
Cakes by Krishanthi Aynhoe Park Vanilla Rose Wedding Planner
Paula Rooney Flowers Aynhoe Park Vanilla Rose Wedding Planner

Aside from running the two weddings, I have mostly been working on upcoming plans for my weddings later in the year; with a couple of floristry meetings, site visits, a client menu tasting, a final run through for a fabulous July wedding, and a couple of design brainstorm meetings with new couples. Although everyone always thinks being a Wedding Planner is such a glamorous job (and don't get me wrong, it absolutely has it's glamorous moments!), I spend a lot of my time behind a computer at my desk getting down to the finer details that planning a wedding entails. At any one time, I'm usually surrounded by a number of folders, notebooks, spreadsheets and stationery samples, alongside a lengthy To Do list (in my beautiful Lifestyled Planner no-less!)

 

Home

We haven't actually been home much this month, so I'm not sure I have anything to add here! I've mostly been nurturing the flowers in my garden, enjoying the last of the peonies, and I was excited to discover that the cauliflower plants actually have cauliflowers growing on them now! I haven't tried growing them before, as I usually stick to the fail-safe options like rhubarb, strawberries and tomatoes, so I wasn't convinced they would work out, but I now have 5 small cauliflowers which already look delicious (it's a shame no-one else in my house likes them apart from me - not sure what I'm going to do with 5 cauliflowers that will all be ready at the same time - any suggestions?!)

Sarah Bernherdt Peonies

I've been following a few interior and lifestyle bloggers on Instagram recently, and I'm now making plans for our Utility Room to have a makeover after feeling envious of some I've seen. My husband thinks I'm mad when I come up with lots of grand ideas for what is essentially a room to house the washing machine and tumble drier, but you know, these things are important in life. Right...?!

 

Family

At the end of last month's post, I mentioned that we were in Ibiza for a short family trip. It was such a lovely time away, and I'm currently daydreaming of Formentera beaches as we speak...! My husband travels to Ibiza frequently for work, but I haven't been for a number of years (since we got engaged there in 2012), and I was instantly reminded of how much of a beautiful island it is! Soft white sands, clear blue waters, and the constant background Ibiza chillout tracks playing as you lounge by the pool! This was our first trip to Ibiza with Bella, and she was just so happy playing in the sand, or splashing around in the pool! We took her to a "Go Ape" adventure park, which had a fab smaller course for little ones - which she absolutely loved (once she'd got the hang of it!). We found some new favourite restaurants whilst we were there, and I'm looking forward to heading back there and discovering some more with a couple of my girlfriends for a long weekend once wedding season has ended, as a little treat to myself! 

Madame a la Plage straw tote bag
Ibiza Hotels
Ibiza Bougainvillea
Formentera Ibiza

Mid month, we hosted a brunch for my parents at home, to celebrate my dad's birthday. We don't often get time to sit down and have a meal together at our house, as we're all super busy. My parents currently split their time between our family home in Dorset and their home in Oxfordshire, and they often host us for lunch, so it was lovely to be able to re-pay the favour and enjoy a delicious brunch at home with them. The same day we also welcomed some friends for a late lunch, so we were suitably full come dinner time!

We also spent a weekend in Polzeath, Cornwall, with my parents in law, for Fathers Day and my Father in Law's birthday. It was during the heatwave week, and our apartment was literally right on the beach, so it was a perfect escape to the cool sea for a few days before returning to the sauna we called home early last week!

Polzeath Cornwall Coastline
Polzeath Cornwall Coastline

We're gearing up for Bella starting school this September, and the information has been pouring in thick and fast about term dates, uniform requirements, and what feels like endless forms to fill in. I'm so excited to see her truly flourish when she starts school - she's such a clever little girl, and I'm definitely going to be one of those mums crying at the school gates on her first day! 

 

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

 

Love,

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | April 2017

Happy Monday! And it's a Bank Holiday, so hopefully no Monday blues for anyone this week! I've been super busy this month, so here's a snippet of what I've been up to...

Business

April has been the beginning of wedding season for Vanilla Rose, so I've been busy beavering away in my studio finalising all details for my first wedding of the year, which took place over this weekend at a private residence in Buckinghamshire. If you follow my Instastories, you may have seen some sneak peeks of what we got up to! It was a fabulous weekend with just the loveliest family and team of vendors, so I can't wait to see the official photographs! 

I've also been finalising all of the plans for a May wedding at the beautiful Voewood in Norfolk. It's such a beautiful house, and I can't wait to work with another fabulous A-Team of vendors to bring together two years worth of planning with my lovely couple! This is just my favourite part of the journey; when everything that we have all been working so hard on for such a long time finally leaps out of my brain and becomes a reality - and always even better than I had ever envisaged it to be! I am so lucky to have the support of the best vendor teams at my weddings, which I have worked hard to build over the years. 

I spent a fun filled day at my all time fave, Aynhoe Park a few weeks ago with one of my couples for next year, to catch up on stationery designs, photography, floral design and catering. It was a bumper meeting, but I'm so exciting for the plans to continue over the coming months - it's going to be a beauty of a celebration - watch this space! The house have some exciting expansion plans happening very soon, and I cannot wait to see the results!

Image by Barker Evans Photography

Image by Barker Evans Photography

I had the pleasure of attending the Unique Cakes by Yevnig's launch of their 2017 collection at the beginning of the month, which took place in The Ritz. Always lovely to catch up with industry peers and of course eat cake! If you haven't come across Yevnig as yet, you really should take a look at her gorgeous and intricate creations. She is a very talented lady, and I could spend hours pouring over her beautiful designs!

Home

I've been busy planting lots of extra cutting flowers in the garden this month, as I love nothing more than seeing a garden full of colourful blooms in the Summer and being able to cut a selection for the house each week. I love Spring, when everything buds up and begins coming into bloom. I went a bit mad last year planting SO many peonies and soft blousy roses, so they're all looking amazing this month ready to bloom in a few weeks - I can't wait!!

Family

It was my mum's birthday on Friday, but as she was looking after Bella for me whilst I was on site at this weekends wedding, we spent the day yesterday together - for a long walk and stopping for lunch at Daylesford Organic. We just love it there, and wish we lived a little closer so we were able to just pop in more often! 

My husband is currently away in Miami with some friends...okay, on a stag weekend :-| !! So it's been a challenging week with juggling childcare and a big wedding this weekend, but luckily I've had my fabulous parents around to help and it's flown by super quickly! We had a few days away in Marrakech last month, but I've been feeling jealous of his vitamin D top up whilst it's been grey and even a little frosty last week here. So I'm looking forward to another mini European break with some sunshine in May with family. It's so important to us to take frequent short trips as a family whenever we can, to make up for all the weeks we don't get to spend much time together at all during the Summer season. Bella will be starting school this year too, so we're making the most of not being restricted to going away during the school holidays whilst we can! 

 

Hope you're all feeling ready for the Summer (are we skipping Spring UK weather this year?!).

Love,

Jeni x

 

Monthly Round Up | January 2017

Happy New Year! I know I'm a little late to the party, but I recently realised that my last blog post was in July last year, and I've had a number of requests for the return of my monthly round up posts, so I've decided to start again this year with the aim of writing one for every month! January is such an odd month, and I spent the first half still feeling in the Christmas Holiday mindset, and the second half starting to feel really quite excited for the year to come and back to normal life routines! I always end each year re-visiting my goals for the year and feeling a sense of achievement in seeing just how far I have come in the last 12 months (and of course feeling disappointment at the fact that I still haven't lost that bloody stone that has now been on my list for 3 years running). 

How has your January been, have you made any resolutions or goals for the upcoming year? Here's what I have been up to this month...

Business

Of course, I've been working on my 2017 weddings with my clients, and we're almost getting to more of the detailed design stage for each of my couples. I LOVE this part of the planning process, and is something I get most excited about when working with my clients. I create a lengthy bespoke design plan when I begin working with each couple, but it's a little later down the line when I break those elements down and really get to grips with sourcing the beautiful linens, silk ribbons, textured papers and calligraphy touches which will bring everything together and really become that gorgeous wedding setting my clients dream of. 

Design Details for Vanilla Rose Clients

I'm so excited about each and every one of my 2017 weddings. I will be working at some of my favourite venues, and still have lots of enquiries rolling in for couples who feel they need some additional support with Wedding Day Co-ordination. I do still have some select availability for this year, so if you are considering hiring a professional Planner for your wedding this year, I'd love to hear from you and see how I'm able to help! 

I've also started putting together some plans for a select number of styled shoots for this year. I only did one shoot (right at the end of) last year, because it was just such a busy year for me, but it made me realise that I actually really missed doing them. It's such a great opportunity to be even more creative, and to collaborate with some amazing vendors to curate something truly beautiful as an inspiration for couples planning their big day. 

I know I touched on this a little earlier, but I've always been a lover of lists, so I begun the month by compiling a list of my business specific goals for 2017 in addition to my personal ones (yes, shifting that stone is still on there....!). 2016 was such a milestone year, and when I definitely turned a corner in my business, so I really would like to build on that success for this year and I have set myself a number of challenges which I would like to achieve success in before the year is out. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do every single day, and feel it's important not to get too comfortable along the way. I never take any of my clients for granted, and I work super hard for each of them to exceed expectations and ensure they have not just the best day ever, but also an amazing planning experience with me! 

2017 Business Goals

One of those goals for this year is to spend at least one day a month in London, to meet with other industry suppliers; whether that be someone I have known and worked with for years, or someone who is completely new to the industry, to inspire and motivate each other. It can often be a lonely industry to work in outside of peak season, especially when many of us work from home or a studio alone, so it's great to be able to get together with other like-minded professionals and chat about the industry! So if you're based in London, or plan to travel there over the next couple of months, please do get in touch as I'd love to meet with you! 

During my January trip to London, between client meetings, I caught up with the lovely Julie Michaelsen for lunch at The Arts Club in Mayfair, and met Louise from Taylor & Porter at Daylesford in Marylebone. I find both ladies truly inspiring, lovely to be around, and both incredible photographers in their own right (seriously - go and check out their work. I promise you'll be swooning!). 

I have also begun 2017 as a Writer for a top wedding blog B.LOVED, so do make sure you look out for more features by me each month. I'm super excited to become part of the writing team, and I'm really looking forward to collaborating with even more amazing vendors! 

 

Family

Many of you will have seen on my Instagram feed that we spent a couple of days at Soho Farmhouse at the beginning of January (If you haven't, where have you been?! Even my Chiropractor knows all about it!).  I have been trying to persuade Chris since before the Farmhouse opened that we should have membership, as it's just the perfect place to meet clients and friends/family for coffee, lunch and gatherings (oh and of course monthly spa treatments!). I'm still yet to convince him, so in the meantime, I surprised him with a couple of days there for his Christmas present. I know, it was probably just as much for me as it was for him, but I also once bought him Elton John tickets which were definitely really for me, so he's used to this by now (Sorry Chris....!). We had just the best time, and really didn't want to leave by the end of our trip. My parents had Bella overnight (which was a 3:45am wake-up call type of catastrophe - Sorry Mum....!), which meant we enjoyed all of the child-free activities that we don't get to do most of the year. We each had 3 spa treatments; a facial, pedicure (reflexology for Chris!) and a massage, all of which were amazing and we felt completely zen afterwards with a dip in the pool and lazy half hour in the hot tub. It's the perfect destination for a weekend retreat either with or without the kids, and there's so much to do there to keep everyone happy. Now, for that membership.....! 

One of my best friends came to stay for the weekend last week, which was super lovely as we haven't managed to catch up properly since October last year (partly because she was galavanting in Australia for most of December!). Last year I didn't get to spend much time with friends (apart from at my 30th bohemian garden party, which you can read more about here) as many of my weekends were taken up with weddings and work meetings, so I've promised myself to make much more of an effort to spend quality time with friends and family this year. I've even booked a short trip to Ibiza with two of my closest friends for the end of wedding season - something lovely to look forward to, and will be well deserved by the time it comes around! 

If you follow my Instastories you may have seen that on Saturday we spent a wonderful afternoon with friends strolling along the Thames in Richmond, before settling down for a late lunch at Petersham Nurseries. If you haven't yet taken an opportunity to visit the "Garden Centre", you should absolutely add it to your list. It's a lovely place to spend a few hours, with plenty of eye catching home and garden wares, and the food is simply delicious too! 

Home

It hasn't particularly been a productive month for this, but we did put together a list (yes, another one - are you starting to realise my love for them yet?!) of tasks we would like to achieve for the house this year. We did so much on the house and garden last year, that there aren't too many more tasks for this year, but a couple of things left for the garden - including having our pizza oven rebuilt as it had a crack in it at the end of Summer last year, which we didn't do anything about, and the frost/water has crept in and blown the clay apart on the top layer of the oven. Luckily the craftsman who built the oven for us is going to rebuild it again so that it's ready in time for the warmer weather when we'll start using it again. 

We thought about having some more fitted wardrobes built into our Master bedroom, as we have some already but you know, we have too many clothes (and Chris has way more pairs of shoes than me!), so thought it would be a good idea to have another set built in! We had an initial quote back of £9,500, which I almost choked on my tea at (!), so I think we'll hold off on those for the moment and concentrate on having a clear out this Spring instead!! 

 

I hope you've had a great month, and I look forward to catching up again in February!

Love,

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | April 2016

Last month I started a new trend for my blog, with a monthly round up of behind the scenes here at VRW, and it sparked a really lovely positive response from you all, so here I am again with what I have been up to in April!

Business

I have had a huge influx of new enquiries this month from some super lovely Brides-to-be, so have been busy with initial consultations, and learning more about their plans. I absolutely love this part of my job; meeting a new couple for the first time, and hearing all of their exciting ideas and inspirations for their wedding day. I've noticed that more and more couples are hosting their Receptions at home, either in their barn or within a marquee, and it's such a lovely idea which will turn into a truly personal celebration. There can be many more logistical issues to consider with this option however, so be sure to think these through before committing to hosting your wedding at home. Some guidance and advice available for weddings at home on Boho Weddings here.

At the beginning of the month, I was invited to attend the Quintessentially Atelier at The Dorchester in London, which was a really lovely experience for a 'wedding show'. All of the suppliers were delightful, and absolutely the best in their game, and I picked up some great ideas for my clients (as well as tasting some amazing cake!!).

I also got together with the lovely Susie and Kate from The Little Top, to get to know them both a little better and about what they have to offer in the way of childcare for weddings. I absolutely adore their concept of creating an amazing environment for the little people at weddings to really enjoy themselves and am really looking forward to working with them for two of my weddings later this year...I think I might sneak into the tent during the film and popcorn evening to enjoy a bit of Toy Story myself!! ;-)

The rest of the month has been full of client meetings, finalising plans and those last few details for their weddings this year. Some couples I have been working with since mid-2014, so I'm really very excited to see our plans to come to life in just a few short months! 

I have been so lucky that I have received so many amazing applications in response to the position I have available for a summer work experience Assistant. I've been quite overwhelmed by just how many people would love to come and work with me to experience some beautiful real weddings this summer. I'll be scheduling some quality time next week to sit down and read through every single application and CV, before inviting a shortlist of candidates to a Skype interview. Sometimes working in this industry can be a little lonely, especially when working from home most of the week, so I can't wait to share this amazing experience with someone else who is as passionate about creating knockout weddings as much as I am! 

Family & Friends

I enjoyed an afternoon and evening in London with some of my closest friends at the beginning of April, to celebrate my best friend turning 30 in June. I know it's a bit early...but my hectic wedding season means I sadly won't have time to celebrate with her in June, and of course, any excuse for a glass of bubbles or two! We had a lovely dinner at The Ivy Chelsea Garden (their Chocolate Bombe dessert is to die for.....!), followed by cocktails and dancing in at Jaks.

I stole some time with my 2 year old daughter when we had some great weather a few weeks ago (doesn't that feel like forever ago already....?!), and we had a walk and picnic in Christchurch Meadows in Oxford, which was just the loveliest day. Being self employed, I still find it hard to effectively manage my time between family and my business, so it's really lovely to spend quality time with Bella and take a break from emails and phone calls! 

My Grandparents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on the 20th April, which is a huge achievement, and amazing to even imagine (considering I have not yet been married 2 years!). My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary back in February, and I turn 30 in the summer, so 2016 is a big year for celebrations in our family. And today, we're going out for dinner for my mum's birthday, which was on Thursday! 

Speaking of celebrations, I'm a Bridesmaid in June for my friend Caylie (eeeek!), and so we enjoyed a weekend having beauty treatments, and making cocktails in London last weekend for her Hen Party, which was a lot of fun...although this was only the beginning, as we're going to Vegas in May for some slightly warmer hen festivities. May the pre-Vegas diet begin.....!

Home

We have been busy working on our garden plans for this summer, and I've planted in my vegetables (although I was a bit eager with the tomatoes, and the frost has already killed them off!). We've just ordered a pizza oven to be built and currently planning the decking design which has been in the pipeline for about a year, since we bought a summer house! It looks a little lonely at the bottom of the garden at the moment, so I'm excited for bringing that corner to life this year, and using it as an outdoor dining and entertaining space! 

I've played around with some of the decor in my office, and finally got around to hanging the tassel garland from Bubblegum Balloons, which has been packed away in a box since our wedding in 2014! But it's such a lovely reminder of our wedding day, I'm pleased to finally have it up! 

 

Hope you've all had a great April, and I'll be back again at the end of May to share what I've been up to (if I've made it back from Vegas in one piece!!)

Jeni x

Summer 2016 Work Experience Opportunity

Now hiring: Work Experience Assistant for Summer 2016!

If you're passionate about weddings and events, love working with people, are super creative, brilliantly organised, and enjoy working as part of a team, I would love to hear from you!

I currently have a position available for a Work Experience Assistant to work alongside me at a number of weddings throughout this summer. It's an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in the wedding industry, gain experience in wedding and event planning, and to play an important part in ensuring our couples have the most incredible wedding day!

The Assistant role will involve:

  • Pre-Wedding Admin

  • Co-ordination of supplier deliveries and set up

  • Assisting with the set up and creative styling on the day of a wedding

  • Supplier co-ordination

  • Event breakdown

To apply, you must be based in Oxfordshire, have your own transport, and be available this summer, from June to September. The majority of my weddings are on Saturdays, so please bear this in mind when applying. Please send an email to jeni@vanillaroseweddings.co.uk with your CV, and a heartfelt introduction to you, your life, and why you would like to work with Vanilla Rose Weddings this summer. Think about what makes you stand out from the crowd, and what you can bring to the team. Be original, creative, and most of all honest. I can't wait to hear from you!

Please note this is an unpaid position, although travel expenses will be paid.

The closing date for applications is Friday 29th April 2016, with interviews taking place in early - mid May. Good luck!

Planning Tips | 10 Questions to ask a Wedding Photographer

Choosing someone to photograph and document your wedding day is one of the most important decisions you will have to make during your planning journey. I can't stress enough just how important the photography really is, and I always advise my couples to book the best photographer they can afford. They never regret it.

You will of course always have memories of your day, but it is the work of the photographer that you will visually look back on for the rest of your lives. It is so important to invest time in meeting with at least 2 or 3 potential photographers before making a decision on who you wish to book. I don't usually attend those meetings with my clients, as I feel it's a personal decision, and important for couples to feel comfortable around the photographer without my presence and input. It always makes for the best photographs, as my couples know they can relax and it also avoids the stiff, awkward poses on a wedding day!

As such, I'm often asked by my clients which questions they should ask a potential photographer when meeting with them. Often they feel nervous about meeting with a photographer, as it's something new, and not everyone feels comfortable with having their photos taken, so can feel a little awkward discussing exactly that! It's completely normal to feel this way, and it's often a good feeling to have, as it means it gives the opportunity for you to notice if you relax once in the company of the photographer!

Photography: Our Labour of Love

Photography: Our Labour of Love

Of course you'll have your own questions to ask, but to get you started, here are my top 10 questions to ask potential photographers:

1. What do you love about photographing weddings?

Hopefully all photographers love their work! But see how they answer this, and if you can feel the passion in how they describe a wedding day and their work. Are they enthusiastic about their career and weddings?

2. Can I see a recent wedding, from Bridal preparations through to the first dance?

They should be able to show you a full set of images from a recent wedding. That way you're able to get an overall idea of their style, and not just select "best" images they have selected to show you.

Photography: Mark Lord

Photography: Mark Lord

3. Can I see an album?

An album isn't always included within a photographers package, but if you would like to have one, it's useful to look at the finished product to assess the quality and design. See that the album tells the full story of a wedding day from beginning to end, by displaying a selection of both people and detail images.

4. Have you worked at my venue before?

If they have previously worked at the same wedding venue before, ask if you're able to see a selection of images from that wedding. This will be hugely beneficial, as they'll have already scoped out the best locations for group pictures, cute little couple spots, and how the light works best within various rooms.

5. How long will it be before I receive my wedding photographs?

Find out when you will be able to see your wedding photographs. The usual timeframe tends to be between 4 and 10 weeks, depending on the time of year and how busy the season has been for that photographer!

Photography: Judi Checketts

Photography: Judi Checketts

6. Do you work alone or with a second shooter?

Some photographers offer the option of having two photographers for your wedding day. This is a brilliant idea if it's offered to you, as firstly it means photographs can be taken simultaneously. For example, if you are getting ready in a completely different venue to your Groom, the second shooter can be with the boys in the morning, and also shooting the details of your venue and decor setup whilst the first shooter is with you and your Bridesmaids. Secondly, each photographer will shoot different perspectives throughout the day, offering a much more varied (and often natural) collection of images.

7. What happens if it rains?

Unfortunately the British weather is unpredictable, so it's important to plan for the event that it might occur on your wedding day. A photographer should have a back up plan for group photos and Bride & Groom couple shots should the need arise.

8. What happens if your camera breaks?

All photographers will usually carry a second camera and lense with them, for this exact reason. But never assume, ask!

Photography: Michelle Wiggett

Photography: Michelle Wiggett

9. Do you have insurance?

Just like any business offering a service, a photographer should have liability insurance should anything go wrong. This will cover you if they fall ill, or in the unlikely event that they lose your images.

10. What are your payment terms?

A good photographer will offer a contract and ask for a deposit to secure your wedding date. A contract is an absolute essential, and I wouldn't book a photographer without one!

Photography: Mckinley-Rodgers

Photography: Mckinley-Rodgers


I hope this enables you to feel a little more confident in choosing the right photographer for you, but please get in touch if you'd like any further advice on selecting the best suppliers!

Jeni x

Real Wedding | Andy & Alice

I have so many beautiful weddings to share with you from this year, but today I wanted to share one of my favourites with you. Hosting a wedding reception at home has been a popular choice for my couples this summer, and I hope many more couples feel inspired to do the same. If you're lucky enough to have the space, as it's such a wonderfully personal and unique venue to choose. 

Alice grew up at this beautiful family home in the picturesque Cotswolds village of Ascott-under-Wychwood. She knew they wanted to get married in Alice's childhood Church, so it was the perfect venue being just a stones throw from the Church gate. 

I started working with Andy, Alice and her family 8 months before their wedding, to help with the more complex logistics and planning that come with arranging such a large and important event at home. Although they had hosted larger parties at home before, they had never arranged a wedding. With many more suppliers involved, a more complicated setup and detailed design arrangements, this was an incredibly important occasion for them. 

Hosting a wedding reception at home presents it's own challenges and logistical issues, and there are often many more things to consider than you initially think. But this wedding just goes to show that it is absolutely worth the effort! 

Guests spent the weekend glamping in the most gorgeous Bell tents, and spent many hours relaxing in the wood fired hot tubs before getting dressed up to celebrate Alice & Andy's wedding on Saturday afternoon.

Alice  Andy Wedding Photographs  Michelle Wiggett 2015 (29 of 577).jpg

One of the highlights of the day was the moment when Alice's family Shetland Pony Jemima made an appearance to top up champagne glasses during the drinks reception. Jemima was joined by Alice and Andy's pugs; Hector and Blossom, who looked a whole bundle of cuteness bounding around the garden!

Following a beautiful Church Ceremony in the village Church, reception celebrations were hosted within the most glorious Papakata Sperry Tent. I am a HUGE Papakata fan, and am delighted that they have now opened an office near me in the South of England (after always being located in Yorkshire!). Sperry Tents are brand new to the UK, and are certainly the prettiest marquees I have worked with. They have an elegant unique shape, and are the perfect blank canvas to add your own style and personality. 

Alice and her sister created the beautiful blackboard menus which you can see in the images below. They started life as a stable door, which were painted with blackboard paint, and then creatively written with chalk pen. They looked beautiful in the tent, and were a great talking point amongst guests throughout the day. Mabel & Rose provided the vintage prop hire, which I styled with LOTS of plants and flowers to complete this rustic country garden style.

The place settings were my favourite. I used my favourite crockery from Classic Crockery, and also their beautiful vintage glassware. Alice and Andy lovingly made bottles of sloe gin and chutney for their guests months before their wedding, and added a stamped name tag so that the favours could double up as place names.

The lovely Amanda and her team from Eden flowers created over 60 jars of beautiful florals which looked absolutely stunning and fitted perfectly with the table design. They potted a variety of herbs in chalkboard zinc pots which acted as table names, and I also used them to create a table plan using a old painters ladder and chalkboard signs. 

Event Planning, Design & Styling: Vanilla Rose Weddings | Photography: Michelle Wiggett | Sperry Tent: Papakata | Floral Design: Eden Flowers | Wedding Cake: The Pretty Cake Company | Bridesmaids Dresses: Maids to Measure | Rustic Prop Hire: Mabel & Rose

 

Testimonial

"We asked Jeni to help us plan our Sperry tent wedding at my parents house and she couldn't have been more wonderful. From the moment we met until the moment it was all over she was a marvel. So many great ideas and helpful suggestions, including lending us her coconut shy. She took over all the planning in the last couple of months and co-ordinated the day itself brilliantly which meant we were able to have a wonderful stress free day that we (and our guests) will remember forever! Thank you so much Jeni!"  Alice | The Bride

Design Inspiration | Styling your venue: Marquees

It's been a busy year for VRW with a number of marquee weddings, and although they come with their own logistical challenges, they're great fun to style as they're a blank canvas for design. Here are my top tips for styling your marquee venue:

 

Create Key Zones

It's easy to become overwhelmed by such a large blank space when you start considering design elements, so the best solution is to segment the marquee into zones; considering your dining area, bar and casual seating, and any areas for dessert tables, cake displays, or buffet serving spaces - depending on your catering options. Once you've established your key zones, it will feel much more manageable when considering your decor options.

Image Credit: The Pearl Tent Company

Image Credit: The Pearl Tent Company

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Look Up!

Marquees generally have a great ceiling height, which can often be forgotten when thinking about decor. Use this space to create atmosphere within the marquee by considering your lighting; uplighters can offer stunning mood lighting into the evening with just a simple change of colour, strings of fairy lights layered either across the whole ceiling, or just across a key area such as the dance floor will create a pretty canopy, and chandeliers will offer that truly luxe feel when suspended above your dining tables. 

A Vanilla Rose Marquee Wedding Image Credit: McKinley Rodgers Photography

A Vanilla Rose Marquee Wedding Image Credit: McKinley Rodgers Photography

Image Credit: Axnoller

Image Credit: Axnoller

A couple of weeks ago I featured a blog post by Chic Rustique Design, which offered advice from Floral Designer Miriam on how to introduce hanging floral installations into your venue design. These are a perfect example of how to create a stunning feature for a marquee with a blank canvas, and there are so many different ways to do this. Your Florist will be able to suggest ideas for something to tie in with the rest of your floral designs, and Friend of Faux has the most beautiful faux floral garlands which look just beautiful draped across a marquee centre. Papakata offer wooden yew swings which can hang along the centre of their Sperry Tents. For a recent VRW wedding, the swings looked just fabulous with draping foliage and church candles, with hanging tea lights hovering over the central dining table.

Image Credit: Carly Bevan

Image Credit: Carly Bevan

Interactive Stations

Unlike a traditional wedding venue, where you might have a series of different rooms to utilise for each aspect of your day, a marquee has one large space where your guests will be spending the majority of the reception (in addition to being outside, whether dependent!). It's therefore important to keep your guests entertained, and continue to introduce little elements of surprise at various points throughout the day. One way of doing so is to offer interactive stations which invite guests to participate in a certain activity (as well as creating a great talking point amongst them). Your guest book is a great opportunity to be creative for this exact purpose. There are so many inventive ways to create memories of your guests for you to look bacon in years to come, and the signing of a book is just the beginning....! Over the last few years, we have created polaroid photo booths, a wish tree, typewriter desk, fingerprint trees, tree slices, and many more brilliant ideas for involving guests! 

Interactive food stations have been popular for a while, and are a really lovely idea of bringing some excitement to food service. Whether it be a seafood, antipasti, or pancake station, it's sure to get your guests talking and getting involved with the wedding food service. They can also take over a corner of the marquee which may not otherwise be used!

Champagne table by Vanilla Rose Weddings Image Credit: McKinley Rodgers Photography

Champagne table by Vanilla Rose Weddings Image Credit: McKinley Rodgers Photography

Dessert bars are one of my favourite interactive stations for a wedding, and I love designing the styling for these, as well of course as which treats will grace the table top! I say table top, but you can of course be as creative as you like here, and use anything other than a table to create this space - a horse's cart, wine barrels and mirrors have all been utilised at previous Vanilla Rose Weddings to create a dessert space for guests to feast their eyes upon once the wedding breakfast has worn off...!  We also created a digestif bar last year, for a Groom who works in the drinks industry, and very keen on his after dinner drinks. This went down a storm with the Gents long into the evening!

Digestif Bar by Vanilla Rose Weddings Image Credit: Judi Checketts Photography

Digestif Bar by Vanilla Rose Weddings Image Credit: Judi Checketts Photography

I hope this post has given you some initial ideas to start feeling inspired for creating your dream marquee space. If you are quite taken with the idea of holding your reception in a marquee, but not sure where to start, we offer an initial consultation service to help you on your way, or a comprehensive planning and design service if you are feeling completely overwhelmed by the prospect of planning such an important chapter in your lives. To find out more, please visit our Services page or contact us.

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