Monthly Round Up | February 2019

How is it March already? I feel like I’ve blinked and we’re almost in Spring, which actually is a super good thing. I feel like I’ve been wearing coats and boots forever, and I for one am looking forward to wearing something on my feet other than knee boots or Uggs, and releasing the Spring/Summer wardrobe that’s been packed away for months on end!

I hope you’ve all had a good February, and are starting to thaw out a little now…! Here’s a little insight into what I have been up to over the last month:

Business

At the very beginning of the month, when we had the heavy snow here in Oxfordshire, it was the weekend of Alexa & Tom’s gorgeous Winter wedding in Surrey, where there was no snow (in comparison!). On the Friday morning I had to dig my car out of 6 inches of snow to drive down to the marquee site in Surrey for a set up and styling day. Working with a fabulous team all day, but I think it was actually colder in the marquee than it was outside. Fiona from our floristry team had the ingenious idea of wearing a heated gilet - she was toasty and we were all super envious. One for the Amazon shopping basket for next Winter for sure…!

The wedding was a huge success, and WHAT a party! We had glow sticks, confetti canons, disco flashing trainers, a glitter station, lava lamps, roller skates - the works! It really was such a fun weekend, and the marquee looked spectacular. Official pictures to come soon, but here’s a sneak peak from some of my iPhone pictures, and a few official photos of the gorgeous Bride & Groom from Hajley Photography:

For the rest of the month, I have filled my days with a mixture of office admin, emails, Skype calls, planning meetings with my clients for upcoming 2019 weddings, and a few menu tasting and floristry meetings with clients and suppliers. What I really love about my job is that it’s so varied, and no two days are the same. Having worked in London in an office 9-6pm 5 days a week prior to starting Vanilla Rose Weddings when we moved to Oxfordshire, I just knew I didn’t want to do that again when we left London. Having the daily variety works perfectly for me, and now having two children in the mix, it also allows me to strike a good work/life balance and plan my days to suit me and the business. Being a mum and a business owner can be hard, but I’d do it all again a million times over, as it allows me to spend lots of quality time with my children, whilst having a career I love. All the heart eyes, and apologies for the gushiness ;-)

Family & Home

February is always a busy month in our household; Valentines Day, my husbands birthday and half term. Which actually, always all fall almost within one week!

For Valentines Day, my parents looked after the children and we went out for a lovely meal in Oxford at The Trout Inn - one of our firm local favourites during the Summer months as they have a gorgeous terrace by the river, so we thought we would give it a try in the Winter. It was so cosy with the fires going, and they had a delicious Valentines menu!

Jeni Amey Vanilla Rose Weddings
The Trout Inn Oxford

For my husbands birthday, we went with my parents-in-law to another of our favourite local restaurants - The Woodspeen, near Newbury. A Michelin Starred venue which never disappoints. The setting, food and service is always perfect, and we love going there for a treat. They also have a cookery school, with a variety of courses and workshops, which is on our list to try soon. This time we went for Sunday lunch, which was amazing, and I can highly recommend it if you’re local and haven’t been before! Later in March, we’re escaping for a night and going to Lio London for a grown ups night out! We both have always loved Lio Ibiza, and visit whenever we’re there. They are running a pop up in London for 6 weeks from the end of February so it was always a must for us to visit!

Half Term whizzed by in a flash, as it was only a week. But we had a combination of work days, family bowling, play dates with school friends (to Blenheim Palace and for walks in the forest climbing trees!) and some friends came to stay for the weekend with their gorgeous new baby girl.

Blenheim Palace Day Out
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up

Finally, I indulged in a Spa evening last week at Nirvana Spa with a friend, which was utter bliss. We both had a treatment, followed by a healthy dinner and relaxing/chatting in the new Hydro-pool. It’s so important to take time for yourself every now and again - especially when running your own business and have children, as time can be limited, and it’s one of the first things to fall off the list! I make sure I find time for self care, as I think it’s so important for wellbeing and mental health - along with exercise. But my recent first experience of Clubbercise (complete with glow-sticks) is a story for another day….!!

It’s been a really fun month actually, looking back on everything I’ve been doing. No wonder time is flying…! I’m catching back up with my blog posts now, so keep your eyes peeled for a Real Wedding post coming up in mid March - it’s a pretty one!

Jeni x

Planning Tips | 9 - 11 months to go

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

11 months

Find your venue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confirm your Minister / Registrar / Celebrant

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

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

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

Consider a Catering company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 months

Find your Photographer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find your Florist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 months

Confirm your Musicians and Entertainment

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

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

Confirm your Stationery Designer

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

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

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

A Vanilla Rose Editorial | Image by Jessica Davies Photography

A Vanilla Rose Editorial | Image by Jessica Davies Photography

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


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

Jeni x

Planning Tips | Kickstart your wedding plans

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

12 Months

Write your guest list

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

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

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

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

Decide upon your overall budget

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

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

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

Consider where you might like to get married

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

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

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

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

Private Estate Wedding, Kent | Image:  White Stag Weddings

Private Estate Wedding, Kent | Image: White Stag Weddings

Purchase wedding insurance

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

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

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

Hire a Wedding Planner

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

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

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

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

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

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Gather design ideas and inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

Jeni x