Inspiration Boards | English Garden

As I’m sure you know my now, my signature style is based around the idea of hosting a beautiful wedding celebration in the surroundings of a gorgeous English garden, with an abundance of greenery and blousy blooms and lots of soft, feminine touches. I put together this inspiration board a little while ago for some clients, and thought I would share it with you today, as I love the colour palette and the softness of the textures used.

This concept began with the image of the secret garden gate with the most amazing leafy and floral canopy, and I wanted to bring some of those elements into a luxury marquee wedding hosted within a lovely walled garden. I’ve used a colour palette of soft sage and olive greens, blended with a scallop blush and soft lavender grey, with an ivory base. These colours work like a dream together, and allow the overall design to have a softer feel but still keep a little depth.

Planning a wedding at home can have its challenges, but it’s the perfect setting to host a special celebration, and often allows much more flexibility and freedom than a venue may allow. 50% of my clients tend to host their wedding at home in Oxfordshire or the Cotswolds, and they have been some of my favourite projects over the years. I will share another blog post on tips for getting married at home later this year, but in the meantime, do get in touch if you’re planning to host your wedding celebrations at home and would like to enquire about my planning services.

View some of my English Garden weddings here in my Portfolio!

Monthly Round Up | May 2019

I can’t believe how quickly this month has passed by. There has been so much happening, I feel like I’ve barely blinked and it’s June already! Hope you all had a great May, and enjoyed some of the gorgeous weather we have started having. There’s been far too much happening this month for me to spend forever writing about, but here’s a little of what I have been up to this month!

Business

With two upcoming weddings, I’ve been busy finalising details, meeting suppliers, and arranging logistics for them both. I have also been creating the stationery for a beautiful wedding at Blenheim Palace for the beginning of June, which has been a labour of love, but I’m really pleased with how they’ve worked out and I actually really enjoyed doing them. Sneak peeks of those to come in June’s Round Up post!

I have been to a few new wedding venues this month, including the simply gorgeous Heckfield Place, which is super close to where I live. A 1790’s country estate in the Hampshire hills has had a mastermind makeover, spanning 10 years - but was certainly more than worth the wait! The owners mission to create an eco-friendly hotel is now in full swing, with over 70% of the ingredients for their restaurant dishes sourced from within the 400 acre grounds (they have their own bio-dynamic farm!), and they are well on the way to achieving the same target for their clean energy too. The 45 bedrooms and suites are impeccably designed, with every last detail thoughtfully catered for. The Ochre room in the main house has a bathroom bigger than the already vast bedroom, with a slate-grey rolltop bath to sink into after a long day! Heckfield Place are now able to host weddings throughout the year, and have a number of licensed rooms for a Ceremony, and a beautiful space for dining.

Finally, the Bank Holiday weekend saw N&A’s beautiful Kent wedding at their private estate. This had been a long anticipated wedding, and it didn’t disappoint! We’ve been working incredibly hard on the planning and details for this celebration, and it was amazing to see everything come together as we had planned. Here are a few sneak peeks of the Ceremony and Reception:

Geo Dome Kent Wedding by Vanilla Rose Weddings
Geo Dome Kent Wedding by Vanilla Rose Weddings
Luxury UK Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Luxury UK Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings

Family & Home

It was Bella’s 6th birthday last week, so we held a birthday party for all her friends mid-month, and then spent a family day at a theme park for her birthday which she absolutely LOVED. She must have been on the log flume about 8 times, and couldn’t stop talking about the backwards rollercoaster all the way home! I’m not sure how I’ve created a thrill-seeking child, because I am terrified of rollercoasters and fast rides! I went on almost all of them with her, but my squeals were more of fear than hers of excitement and adrenaline!

It was the long awaited viewing of Magic Mike Live in London this month, with my friend Juliana. We booked it about a year ago, so it was a nice surprise when it came around! What a fun evening…!! I wasn’t really sure what to expect - as I hadn’t read anything about it, or seen any previews before we went. I wasn’t disappointed - it was fun, entertaining, and just a great girly night out with a few cocktails!

Chris and I also managed a date night a few weeks ago, to go and see Rocketman at the cinema. I’m a lifelong Elton fan, so I absolutely loved it, and the music was brilliant. It’s quite an emotional film depicting some of the hardest times in his life, but I would highly recommend it.

June is also going to be fairly busy, with a gorgeous wedding in Oxfordshire, a weekend in Amsterdam, Leo’s 1st birthday, and also a girly few days in Ibiza - another amazing month! See you then :-)

Jeni x

Real Wedding | Hailey & Michael

Today I would love to share with you the absolutely gorgeous wedding of Hailey & Michael, which took place at Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire towards the end of last Summer. Hailey & Michael really are just the sweetest pair, and I couldn’t have enjoyed working with them both more. This truly was a dream to plan, and I miss not chatting with them every week!
Here are a few images of their wedding day, captured by Anna Fowler.

Venue: Aynhoe Park | Photography: Anna Fowler | Full Wedding Planning: Vanilla Rose Weddings | Floral Design: Larry Walshe | Stationery: Merrie & Bright | Balloons: Bubblegum Balloons | Production: Box Productions

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

Venue Spotlight | Holywell Hall

I’ve aways loved British architecture, and can easily lose myself for hours wandering around towns and villages in the Cotswolds that I haven’t been to before marvelling at the beautiful homes and buildings. I love the stonework, the windows, beautifully arched doors, and of course the gardens filled with English Roses, Lavender and Rosemary, filling the air with the most breathtaking scents in the Summer. Now the buds are starting to blossom with colour, and the sun is making more of an appearance, I’m super excited for the upcoming Summer and all it will bring.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to have been invited for lunch and to explore one such beautiful private estate which has recently opened up their calendar for hosting intimate wedding celebrations. Holywell Hall is an incredibly beautiful hidden gem situated near the gorgeous town of Stamford in the Lincolnshire countryside (just under an hours train ride from London). The owners are offering their family home for a select number of dates each year for weekend hire, and with their own Church, St Wilfred’s, within their grounds, it truly is the perfect secluded jewel to host an intimate celebration with your family and closest friends. The grand main house is simply stunning, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings

Fellow Wedding Planner Katrina Otter (Holywell’s resident Wedding Co-ordinator) invited me, and a handful of other UK Wedding Planners, to experience Holywell Hall for ourselves, and it certainly lived up to its expectations. A quintessential English Grade II listed 17th Century family home, which has been lovingly restored, the estate also boasts extensive gardens including the most beautifully designed walled garden, fountains and lakes, an island, an Orangery, a fishing pavilion, and ancillary cottages available for the Bridal couple and their family to stay for the weekend. It even houses its own bowling alley!

Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings

Following a glass of Champagne, we were treated to a tour of the house and grounds by Katrina and Owner Dawn, followed by a delicious lunch curated by local Cambridge based wedding caterers Crown Catering. The four course menu was amazing, and gave us an insight into how an intimate dinner party might go in the Garden Room flooded with the sunlight early evening with family and close friends. The Garden Room has a very pretty Art Deco style bar, making it the idyllic entertaining space for a pre-wedding dinner.

To start, we dined on soy glazed duck breast with pickled enokitake mushrooms, mushroom purée, wasabi crumb, light soya jelly and puffed nori cracker. For mains we were then treated to not one, but two courses of pan roasted halibut and then an assiette of pork. Finally, for dessert, we were served a bespoke Black Forest gateaux “sphere” that perfectly complemented the overall autumnal tone. This literally tasted as incredible as it looks - such a showstopper!

Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Wedding Planner Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings

Brigitte from Moss & Stone was the mastermind behind the incredible floral displays on the day.

Brigitte says “The long banqueting style table conveyed a sense of opulent elegance whilst still allowing the guests to chat easily. The tablescape featured three low bowls of garden style flowers with additional glass bud vases of single stems dotted down the table length. Raised bowls of tumbling fruits falling onto the table, dark plums, figs, blackberries, apples, quince and blueberries were also interspersed amongst the flowers alongside beautiful tapered lavender coloured candles in glass holders.  A chocolate cosmos finished off each guest’s place setting – a simple dark rich plum coloured flower with a beautiful chocolaty scent – delicious! 

The fireplace was similarly dressed with a garden style tumbling display of fruits and flowers echoing the tablescape and adding another floral focal point to this beautiful room. 

Many of the flowers were sourced from local British growers, including the last of the dahlias and garden roses, a delicious dark plum grapevine with black grapes, phlox crème brûlée, grasses, hydrangea and of course all the gorgeous dark foliage.  All the flowers were also arranged into water avoiding the use of floral foam. Flowers are more jubilant and last longer in water and the wider environment is much happier if micro plastic floral foam isn’t used too! Reducing the environmental impact of a special event should always be considered and given the beauty of Holywell Hall and its stunning landscape, caring about this whilst enjoying a spectacular lunch makes even more sense!”.

Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings
Holywell Hall Vanilla Rose Weddings

Holywell Hall is quite frankly, spectacular, and if you’re looking for a wedding venue in Lincolnshire or within an hours reach of London to host your celebrations for 2020 or beyond, I would highly recommend a visit! Find out more about hiring the house for your celebrations via Coco Wedding Venues here. Thank you to Katrina Otter and her fabulous team for such a lovely afternoon!

CREDITS

Venue Holywell Hall | Planner Katrina Otter Weddings | Photographer Hannah Duffy Photography | Caterer Crown Catering | Florist Moss & Stone Tableware Duchess & Butler | Stationery Bureau Design | Chairs Wedhead | Linen Just 4 Linen | Assistant Rachel Dalton Weddings

Monthly Round Up | March 2019

Business

This month has been busy with lots of office days, at my desk, working on creating fabulousness for my upcoming weddings. My friends frequently tell me I have such a glamorous job. It certainly can be, but what they don’t realise is that I spend an awful lot of time behind a computer and on the phone/video calls! I’ve always been an organised person, with lists, notebooks, and folders for everything, so it seems I’ve found the perfect way to channel my inner Monica!

Earlier this month I spent a couple of days on a First Aid Course. I regularly keep myself updated with First Aid, just as a precaution. You never know when it might be needed, and I’ve seen a fair number of injuries / incidents at weddings - not necessarily alcohol induced(!), so it’s important for me to be able to assist as much as possible if I’m there. This time we were learning about Paediatric First Aid for children and babies, and having two children myself, I feel much more confident in responding to an emergency situation should it arise at home or at work.

The first ever Oxford Wedding Breakfast Club took place mid March, which is a networking / business brunch with likeminded Wedding professionals to get together and discuss different topics each month. This months topic was Client Relationships. One of my favourite elements of having my own business is that I truly care so much about the clients I have, so I love getting to know them throughout our planning journey together, building a firm relationship, so I can provide them with a wedding that is truly reflective of their personalities and their relationship. I also love to spoil them with gifts during our time together, as well, who doesn’t love receiving gifts?! Planning a wedding is such a wonderful experience anyway, but I endeavour to make that journey as fun and enjoyable as possible for all of my couples. It can be stressful, but my aim is to alleviate the stress and turn it into a fun process, which ultimately all leads to the best day ever!

I spent a day at a family private estate in Kent, in preparation for a beautiful upcoming May wedding. We had a thorough walk through with my couple, and both the catering and marquee teams, to discuss each element of the wedding weekend celebrations. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I’m hopeful this gorgeous weather continues into the next few months for some lovely outdoor weddings I have this year. The marquee for this wedding will be set by the lake, and we’re planning to bring the outdoors in (if you read my Instagram post a few days ago, you’ll know how much I love to incorporate greenery and the great British countryside into my designs, and this one is promising to be beautiful!).

Finally, I have been collaborating with some amazing teams over the past few months to create a Spring editorial project, alongside Jacquie from White Olive Designs, to showcase some of her new stationery collections for 2019. I shared a few sneak peeks on Instagram this week of what we got up to, but the rest of the images are under wraps until a bit later this year…!

Vanilla Rose Wedding Styled Shoot

Family & Home

At the beginning of March, we enjoyed a gorgeous dinner celebrating a friends birthday at Milos in Mayfair. It’s so lovely to get groups of friends together when we can (a rarity now we have children!). It was a fab evening, and makes me realise just how much I love dinner parties! I definitely will endeavour to host more this year, as I love that process of getting everyone together, planning a menu, and hosting great friends!

On the note of going out, my husband and I celebrated his birthday (belatedly!) with an evening at Lio London. We both love Lio Ibiza, and when I found out that they were bringing a pop up show to London this month, I booked some tickets! It was a great night of entertainment; the cocktails (Lychee & Rose Martinis - my favourite!) and food were delicious too! If you’re planning a trip to Ibiza this Summer, I would highly recommend a visit to Lio!

Cocktails at Dandelyon London
Lio London Neon Sign

I’ve started going along to a Clubbercise class each week, which has been a bundle of laughs, and also shown how un-coordinated I can be. It’s in a dark room with glow sticks, and you can tell who’s out of time as everyone elses glow sticks are all going in the same direction! I’m currently hiding out towards the back until I learn the routines and feel a bit more confident to move forwards!!

Since moving into this house in December, we haven’t had our garden landscaped, as it’s just been too wet. But now the weather has changed, we’ve made a start on the garden plans and the groundworkers have been in this week with the diggers preparing the ground for paving and turf. We loved the garden in our previous house, and we spent a lot of time in it each Summer, so I’m excited to finally start getting to grips with this one now!

We also have had no window dressings since moving in, as we ordered shutters fairly soon after we arrived. They finally have now been made and fitted, and I absolutely LOVE them. It was a big investment, but they have totally changed the feel of the whole house, and it’s really lovely to close them each night now to make the house feel cosy!

Hilarys Blinds Shutters - Home of Vanilla Rose Weddings

Finally, we hosted a Mothers Day Afternoon Tea at our house at the weekend, with homemade everything - finger sandwiches, mini tartlets, cheese and fruit scones, and a selection of cakes. Afternoon Tea is the best, and I wish we had it more! It takes some effort, but I love baking with my daughter (who’s almost 6, so she loves getting messy and licking the bowls!), so it’s worth taking the time over.

Afternoon Tea for Mothers Day
Afternoon Tea for Mothers Day

I hope you’ve had a wonderful March, and feeling brighter now Spring has finally sprung! The majority of April is Easter holidays for us, with 3 and a half weeks off school, but we have some fun trips and days out planned, so I’ll share more of those with you next month :-).

Jeni x

Real Wedding | Beanie & Gawein

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

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

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

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

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

A few words from Beanie & Gawein:

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

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

Monthly Round Up | February 2019

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

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

Business

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

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

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

Family & Home

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

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

Jeni Amey Vanilla Rose Weddings
The Trout Inn Oxford

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

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

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

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

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

Jeni x

Planning Tips | 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

Monthly Round Up | January 2019

It’s been 16 months since I last published a monthly round up post, and I’ve actually kind of missed them! I took some time away from weddings in 2018 as we welcomed our second child into the world in June last year. Leo has been such an incredible (final!) addition to our family, and although I think I’ve been riding a whole rollercoaster of emotions over the last 12 months, I honestly couldn't be happier, and I’m so delighted that our family is now complete!

I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging this year, and I’m making a promise to myself that I am going to keep these up for the whole of 2019. I need you all to keep me accountable for that too, and I’d love for you to get in touch and request any specific topics you would like me to cover and I’ll do my best to get those added into the schedule for this year!

2018 was a busy year for me on a personal level, but I’ve been super excited to start 2019 back at work and I have some absolutely beautiful weddings planned for this year. Here’s what I have been up to in January…

Business

I started off the month with a final planning meeting for a beautiful upcoming early February wedding in Surrey. It’s promising to be a gorgeous marquee celebration with a true party vibe for a fun-loving couple, so I’m very much looking forward to kicking off my wedding season with a bang! Follow along on my Instagram this weekend, and I will be sharing some sneak peaks of the action!

I’ve also had a number of wedding planning meetings both in Oxfordshire and London with my couples for the rest of this year, whilst scheduling appointments and tastings for clients with their key suppliers, confirming lots of new details, and responding to lots of lovely enquiries which have come in over the Christmas period. A lot of time has been spent in the office this month, getting to grips with 2019 plans, but I also visited a couple of new wedding venues in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire which was incredibly exciting, and I hope to share more with you soon.

Alongside my weddings in 2019, I am also working on a couple of editorial projects for the Spring, which I promise to share more with you about when I can, but in the meantime I’ve been working on details for those which will be super pretty!

Family & Home

When I said 2018 was busy, I wasn’t kidding! We ended the year by moving into our new home the weekend before Christmas(!!), so this month has been spent unpacking approximately 167 boxes slowly. Isn’t it incredible how you seem to accumulate so much in such a short space of time?! We only lived in our previous house for just over 6 years, but somehow we seemed to have acquired enough to keep us going for life…! I managed to condense our belongings a little in the months leading up to our move, but the removal team did an absolutely amazing and speedy job of packing our entire house in just two days. I did go all Marie Kondo before we moved and had a huge de-clutter in a bid to reduce the amount I would need to unpack once we arrived to the new house, but we do all still seem to have much more than we need!

Leo has learnt to sit up by himself this month! He’s a super happy baby anyway, but he’s now even more delighted that he can sit up and play with his toys around him and see much more of what’s going on!

We have enjoyed a few weekends seeing friends that we haven’t seen for a while, which has been lovely, and I managed to escape to London for a few days to catch up with two of my best friends - one for wedding dress shopping as she’s getting married this year, and another for a delicious (and definitely not part of my New Year Diet!) Afternoon Tea at my favourite, Ham Yard Hotel.


I hope you have all had a January filled with positivity, planning, and an abundance of Gin (no time for Veganuary or Dry January in this household!), and now feel like you’re now fully ready for whatever 2019 will bring! Catch up next month….


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

Real Wedding | Lindsay & Will

One of my favourite weddings in 2017 was this beautiful weekend celebration for Lindsay & Will. They were just the sweetest couple to work with, and oozed style by the bucket load. They had selected the stunning grounds of Wickham House for their Reception, preceded by a Ceremony in the venues own Chapel. The gardens of Wickham House are simply gorgeous, so I designed their day as an extension of the lush green surroundings, housed in a beautiful sail cloth marquee overlooking the estate.  

Here are a selection of images from their day, but to read more about the fabulous team of vendors and to see plenty more images, head over to Rock My Wedding to read the full feature.

A few words from Lindsay & Will:

"We met one total disaster wedding planner right at the beginning of the planning process and were worried we might never find someone right to help us plan the big day. But then we met Jeni; fun, energetic and super organised; this was the woman for us! I am also super organised, but her to-do lists (always written on the snazziest stationery) put me to shame! From the get-go, she totally understood what we wanted and despite me being a bit of a control-freak at times, I was more than happy to let Jeni do her thing. The day was totally stress-free, all thanks to Jeni. What an absolute star!"

Venue: Wickham House | Photography: Julie Michaelsen | Full Wedding Design, Planning, Management & Prop Hire: Vanilla Rose Weddings | Marquee: The Sail Tent Company | Floral Design: Forage & Blossom | Catering: Spook Cooking | Bar: Cock & Tail